The Funeral Planning Committee (FPC) for late President John Evans Atta Mills is virtually operating a blank cheque on all the expenditures for the programmes and activities that will culminate in the late president’s funeral, DAILY GUIDE has gathered.
The committee, headed by Kofi Totobi-Quarkyi, has so far conducted several massive activities across the country in all regional and district capitals to mark the one week memorial of the late president, without a designated budget estimate which may be drawn from the discretionary accounts of government.
Activities for the late president’s funeral peaked on Tuesday, July 31, 2012, when the one-week mourning period was capped with an elaborate service at the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park and other parts of the country including regional and district capitals.
In spite of the flurry of activities, a working budget is not readily available to ascertain the quantum of financial resources that have already been sunk.
When asked by DAILY GUIDE, yesterday, about the budget and its monitoring mechanisms, the committee chairman responded: “We are dealing with a crisis, and we have not been able… (pause) we have an idea of the cost, the various sub-groups are developing the budget lines.”
Critics, especially from the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), have called for a strict monitoring system to ensure transparency in spending for the two-week long national chain of activities. The NPP contended that the late president’s funeral could be used as a fertile ground by unscrupulous officials to pocket state funds.
The deputy communications director of the NPP, John Boadu, cautioned the committee to be mindful of the expenditure for the funeral.
Speaking on Peace FM’s ‘Kokrokoo’ yesterday, Mr Boadu alluded to a similar committee tasked to organise a burial service for eight out of the alleged 44 Ghanaians murdered in The Gambia in 2005 which he said engaged in profligate spending.
According to the committee, which was tasked for the funeral rites of the eight Ghanaians whose bodies were exhumed in The Gambia, it used part of the $500, 000 compensation money the Gambian authorities had remitted to the families of the deceased for expenses including GH¢ 25,000, for reception and payment of GH¢5,000 to the media as ‘soli’, even though journalists said no money was given to them.
Mr Boadu stated that per the accounts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rendered to parliament on the funeral, some expenditure the government made were not prudent and were totally outrageous such as the GH¢25,000 used for funeral reception for over 600 persons; GH¢11,200 for construction of tombs and other related expenses; GH¢12,200 for transportation of bereaved families who attended the funeral among others.
The NPP man said that in as much as the late president deserved a befitting funeral, the committee should also bear in mind that Ghana was a country with scarce resources and as such could not be involved in such outrageous spending as witnessed by funeral rites for the Ghanaians murdered in The Gambia.
The only assurance that the chairman of the FPC, Mr Totobi- Quarkyi, gave when he met the press yesterday to outline the various activities earmarked for the final funeral rites for President Mills, was the fact that the late president was a prudent person and would not allow his funeral to become a financial burden on the country.
“We want to assure you that knowing the late president, he would not want this committee to expend any undue amount of money on his funeral.”
Mr. Totobi-Quarkyi explained that even the members of the committee were carrying out their tasks without remuneration or allowance. “Everything we are doing is gratis,” he said.
The committee outlined an extensive list of programmes and activities for the final funeral rites.
The activities will commence from Wednesday, August 8, 2012 to Friday, August 10.
On Wednesday, August 8, the casket containing the mortal remains of President Mills would be conveyed to the State Banquet Hall where it would be laid in state.
The general public including members of the Diplomatic Corps would be allowed to view the body and pay their last respect to the departed soul.
President John Mahama would be the first to pay his last respect and would be subsequently followed by members of the Diplomatic Corps.
This would be crowned by an all-night musical performance by members of the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA).
The following day, a tall list of civil society groups and the general public would be allowed to conduct a procession around the body lying in state for their last respect.
Friday, August 10 would mark the climax of activities of ex-President Mills’s final funeral rites.
His corpse would be conveyed from the State House to the Black Star Square where the final funeral would be held. The whole programme is expected to last within two hours.
The corpse would then be conveyed through selected principal streets to the Castle driveway, where ex-President Mills would be buried in the specially designated presidential cemetery.