Minority leader in Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu

The Minority in Parliament has described as inaccurate, claims by the Ministry of Health that it engaged representatives of the Russian government in its quest to procure the Sputnik V vaccine directly.

“Ministry of Health has not engaged the Russian government as the said authorities have at all times been willing to deal directly with Ghana, ” Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu said in Parliament House Thursday.

The Ministry of Health in a press statement issued on June 19, stated that, “the MoH has, since early this year, made several efforts to procure the Sputnik V vaccine directly by engaging the Russian authorities, such as the Russian Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the CEO of Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the CEO of Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), and the CEO of Limited Liability Company ‘Human Vaccine’. Meetings were also held with the Deputy Ambassador of Russian in Ghana.

“The MoH also engaged individual Ghanaians and companies for the supply of various types of Covid-19 vaccines. Unfortunately, none of these efforts have yielded any results till date.”

But the Tamale South MP, who addressed the media noted that checks made by the Minority group about the unlawful procurement of vaccines revealed otherwise.

“Indeed our checks indicate that the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has opened direct engagements with over 30 Governments as at February this year including African countries such as Kenya, Rwanda, Tunisia, Guinea and Algeria. We have a copy of a statement RDIF issued in Moscow confirming this fact.

“It is worth pointing out that contrary to the claims contained in the official press release of the Ministry of Health dated 9th June 2021, there is no Deputy Russian Ambassador in Ghana,” he noted.

Portions of the Minority’s press statement further alleged that, “we have also established that the dubious middlemen government is dealing with, have no authorization on behalf of RDIF or Russian authorities to hold themselves out as agents. At best, they are imposters.

“The NDC caucus can also confirm that these middlemen made no efforts to engage the Russian Embassy when they arrived in Accra. Our government did not also contact them for any due diligence neither were Russian Embassy officials invited into the meetings with these shadowy characters,” the Minority added.

The Minority, therefore, found it frightening that President Akufo-Addo, who once served as Foreign Affairs Minister will boldly bypass the appropriate and legal processes by engaging middlemen rather than the Russian authorities despite the cordial relationship that exists between the two countries.

Mr Iddrisu further registered disappointment over the inability of the Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirely Ayorkor Botchway to leverage the historic diplomatic ties between the two countries, to strike a deal.

In light of this, the Minority Group is calling for the immediate withdrawal of Mrs Ayorkor Botchway from post.

“It is also clear to us that our Foreign Ministry led by Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey has let this country down. The abysmal failure in leveraging historic diplomatic ties with the Russians at a time we in the Minority have unfettered access to the Russians is most embarrassing. She ought to be fired if she cannot meet the basic expectations of her office,” they stated.

Also, the Minority has disclosed its intention to, “explore further avenues under our Constitution and Standing Orders to hold the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu accountable for this graft of international proportions.”

“We the minority believe that this contract is not in the interest of Ghanaians and whether payments have been made or not, the contract is null and void and government must as a matter of urgency put in the necessary steps to abrogate the contract,” Mr Iddrisu concluded.