The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has released details of how 54 Members of Parliament (MPs) from across the political divide, ministers and some public officials benefited from the tractor facility at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA).

The acquisition of some of those tractors was the basis on which CHRAJ investigated the former Presidential Spokesman, Mr Mahama Ayariga.

Confirming the list to the Daily Graphic, a Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Nii Amassah Namoale, said about 1,000 more applications had been received from members of the public, including some MPs from different parties, adding that they were being considered by the ministry,

Mr Ayariga’s acquisition of five tractors from that facility, which is a Japanese grant for increased food production (2-KR), created a wedge between CHRAJ and Parliament over whether or not the outgoing presidential spokesperson had abused his office in that transaction.

While the Appointments Committee of Parliament has decided to launch its own investigations into the matter, CHRAJ had earlier cleared Mr Ayariga of any wrongdoing.

Disclosing the list of beneficiary MPs and public officials, CHRAJ indicated that the facility had been instituted in 1981 to enable farmers access mechanisation services such as tractors, pumps and maize shellers. But at a subsidised price of GH¢ 18,000, it was realised that the tractors were beyond the means of most farmers and MoFA, therefore, instituted a scheme whereby anyone, including MPs and public office holders, could buy the machines and put them at the disposal of farmers.

According to the list obtained by CHRAJ from MoFA, the beneficiaries include the Youth and Sports Minister, Akua Sena Dansua, who obtained a Lidini tractor in March 2007; the former Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, Hajia Alima Mahama, who acquired two Farmtrac tractors in September 2006 and January 2009, respectively; the former MP for South Tongu, Mr Kenneth Dzirasah, who acquired a Farmtrac tractor in February 2006; the former Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Plarming and MP for Old Tafo, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, who obtained a Farmtrac tractor in March 2006, and a former Minister of State at the Presidency, Mr Charles Bintim, who obtained a Farmtrac tractor in October 2006.

Others captured on the list are Dr K. K. Apraku, the former MP for Ofinso North, and Alhaji Mohammed Mummuni, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who acquired a Shanghai tractor each in April 1998 and June 2000, respectively; Mr Ambrose Dery, the current MP for Lawra Nandom, who acquired a pumping machine in May 2007; Mr Inusah A. B. Fuseini, the MP for Tamale Central and Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, and Hajia Mary Salifu Boforo, the MP for Savelugu, had a Mahindra tractor each in February and March, 2009 respectively.

Mr Joseph Adda the MP for Navrongo Central acquired a Farmtrac tractor in June 2005; Mr Kwame Osei Prempeh, the MP for Nsuta Kwamang, had a Farmmtrae in May 2008, Mr Moses Dani Baah, the People’s National Convention (PNC) former MP for Sisala East, had a Farmtrac Tractor each in April 2008, while Mr Alban Bagbin the former Majority Leader in Parliament and now Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, and Moses Asaga, the MP for Nabdam, acquired a John Deere tractor each, with Mr John Tia, the MP for Talensi and Minister for Information, acquiring a power tiller in December 1999.

Mr Ernest Debrah, a former Minister of Food and Agriculture and MP for Tano North, as well as Mr Dominic Nitiwul, the MP for Bimbila, acquired a Farmtrac tractor each, while Messrs Victor Mathew and David Agorsor, both at the Presidency in 2000, also benefited from the scheme in 2000.

Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, the Eastern Regional Minister, had a Shanghai tractor in February 2000, while other beneficiaries of the scheme were the Ministry of Trade and Industry, which acquired 20 Farmtrac tractors in December 2007, with the Ministry of Youth and Sports acquiring seven Shanghai tractors in January 1998.

The list was part of the documentary evidence that CHRAJ used in reaching a decision that Mr Ayariga was not in the wrong in the acquisition of the tractors.

The Commissioner of CHRAJ Mr. Justice Emile Short in his comment on the list said what could not be ascertained was that the ministries of Trade and Industry and Sports did with the tractors they acquired, while the list clearly showed that all MPs and public officials had the same benefits under the scheme during the period of its existence notwithstanding their political affiliations.

Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana