President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo recorded the first of a series of corruption scandals under his government on January 27, 2017, barely a month after taking the oath of office. He promised to protect the public purse during his inauguration, but nearly four years in office, it is rather the purse that is protecting his government.
The government has since January 2017 recorded more scandals within the space of four years that it has become a monthly routine. The scandal pattern under the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) is now one-scandal-one-month and it appears Ghanaians have learnt to put up with it.
I will highlight a few of these scandals under the Nana Akufo-Addo government which Ghanaians may have completely forgotten.
January 2017 – Boakye Agyarko bribery scandal
On January 27, 2017, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, revealed how the sum of GHS3,000 was handed to all Minority lawmakers to ensure the smooth approval of the then Minister of Energy-designate, Boakye Agyarko. Mr Ayariga said the money was given to Parliament’s Appointments Committee Chairman, Joseph Osei Owusu and later channelled through the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak to the opposition legislators.
Although the Joe Ghartey Committee that was set up to probe the matter says it found no evidence to support the bribery claim, Mr Ayariga and other Minority lawmakers disagreed. Also, some lawmakers confirmed it is standard practice in Parliament for nominees of government who appear before the Appointments Committee to “bribe” their way through. They claim this is not bribery but rather gifts.
January 2018 – Cash-for-seat scandal
On January 5, 2018, the Minority in Parliament moved an urgent motion for the House to investigate the alleged extortion of $100,000 each from some expatriate businesses that participated in maiden Ghana Expatriates Business Awards in Accra. The money was exacted from ex-pat businessmen for exclusive seats beside President Akufo-Addo at the ceremony.
This is the popular cash-for-seat scandal involving the Minister of Trade and Industries, Alan Kyerematen. The Minister confirmed the monies were taken from the businessmen but he insisted it was not extortion. Also, a five-member Committee that probed the matter concluded there was no extortion.
April 2018 – Pius Hadzide visa racketeering scandal
At least 50 persons claiming to be reporters from Ghana were repatriated when they went to Australia to cover the Commonwealth Games in 2018. Mr Hadzide and the acting Director-General of the National Sports Authority (NSA), Robert Sarfo Mensah were suspended and later reinstated after they were cleared by the police.
February 2019 – Charles Bissue and Anas’ Galamsey Taskforce expose
Ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas and his TigerEye PI team revealed how some government appointees playing various roles in the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) are extorting various sums of monies from some illegal miners despite the government’s efforts to end such practices that pollute the environment.
A presidential staffer and Secretary to the Committee, Charles Cromwell Bissue, was caught on camera promising to protect the investigative team posing as illegal miners in exchange for money. But the Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) said Mr Bissue did no wrong and did not compromise the laid down procedures in favour of ORR Resource Enterprise, the company at the centre of the controversy.
February 2020 – Missing 500 excavators
The Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Professor Frimpong Boateng revealed the mysterious missing of 500 Earth-moving machines (excavators) that had been seized from some illegal miners.
At least six people, including a suspended NPP Central Regional Vice-Chairman, Horace Ekow Ewusi were arrested by the police in connection with the missing excavators. However, nothing has happened again and the government does not know the whereabouts of the machines seized from the illegal miners.
October 2020 – Contract-for-sale scandal involving Public Procurement Authority CEO
An investigative report by Manasseh Azure Awuni revealed how the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), Adjenim Boateng Adjei sold contracts it won through single-source and restrictive tending, to the highest bidder. Mr Boateng has a company, Talent Discovery Limited (TDL) which was responsible for selling these contracts.
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in its report to the President on the matter incriminated Mr Boateng. The anti-graft body said: “the totality of the evidence showed that the Respondent had put himself in a position where his personal interest (financial and relational) conflicted with the performance of the functions of his office as CEO and Board Member of PPA.” Mr Boateng has since been sacked.
These are a few of the many unforgivable scandals that have taken place under the Akufo-Addo-led administration despite the many promises to protect the public purse. “…we must restore integrity in public life, state coffers are not spoils for the party that wins an election but resources for the country’s social and economic development. I shall protect the public purse, by insisting on value for money in all transactions,” President Akufo-Addo said during his inaugural speech.
His government has since cleared all the people who were at the centre of these scandals of any wrongdoing.
But imagine what would have happened in this country if these corruption scandals had taken place under John Dramani Mahama.
I am convinced that Mr Mahama would not have escaped attacks from the so-called neutral and righteous civil society groups and anti-corruption campaigners such as Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), and Occupy Ghana, among others.
We don’t build a nation by taking sides, especially when you claim to be neutral as many of these anti-corruption groups do.
The author is a freelance journalist, development communications practitioner, essayist and a novelist whose works focus on communication, politics, gender, migration, international relations and development. He could be reached atBrakomen@outlook.com