The mayor of Accra, Alfred Vanderpuije, claims he has not received any instruction from the president to halt his decongestion exercise. That’s strange and throws up all sorts of questions.

First, who should we believe – Vanderpuije or the two state-owned dailies – Ghanaian Times and Daily Graphic, which reported that the president had ordered the mayor to stop beating the hawkers off the pavements in Accra’s central business district.

Whiles claiming that he has not received any such directive, Mayor Vanderpuije, suggests that the Graphic and Times cooked up the story. And that’s where the second question comes in: how can both Graphic and Times get it so wrong on the same day with the same story? That hardly happens.

But the mayor claims that the president called him to apologise for the stories in the two newspapers. Why will the president do that? The editors of the two newspapers are in no hurry to apologise to the mayor and so why is the president saying sorry?

It’s all so confusing and annoying!

Something very fishy is going on. The only one who can give us the clearest picture is the president and his men. Yet they are all mum, shying away from interviews on the subject.

The only ‘big’ man who has spoken about the issue is lawyer and NDC apologist, David Annan, who is pretty close to some of the top guys at the Castle. He says Vanderpuije is a liar. In this case, Mr. Annan’s story seems quite plausible.

Having listened to different sides, I think I have an idea what has actually happened. What is playing up in my mind is not as clear as what we’d have if someone from the presidency spoke about the issue. But here is how it goes.

Vanderpuije did attend a meeting with the President, who ordered him to go easy with the decongestion exercise. Vanderpuije agreed to do as he’d been told. But the discussion was not supposed to be made public in order not to reverse whatever “gains” the mayor claims to have made. Someone in government, however, decided to leak the outcome of the meeting to the Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times.

The mayor feels hard done by and that could explain why the president called him to salve his ego and to tell him to concentrate on other pressing problems in the city – and not to apologise because the president is not the Graphic and Times. But whether he likes it or not, the mayor knows that he wings have been clipped and he’s been forced to tamper his overzealousness with common sense and to rethink the whole decongestion exercise. That’s why he dares not go out there to chase the hawkers who are back on the pavements.

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