Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu

Private Legal Practitioner, Martin Kpebu, has called on the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu to resign immediately for his role in the illegal procurement of Sputnik V vaccines for the country.

According to Mr Kpebu, the Minister’s responses to questions posed to him during the ongoing Parliamentary probe into the procurement of vaccines, have so far shown that Mr Agyeman-Manu is not cut out for the job.

Speaking on Newsfile on Saturday, he referred to the “I couldn’t think properly” comment by the Health Minister and several errors made by Mr Agyeman-Manu to demand his release from office.

“The answers are not convincing, to say the least. This is not the first mistake. You remember he (Health Minister) had signed an earlier (agreement) for $25 and the Presidency stepped in and they cancelled it. So that should have put him on notice, that he was on slippery grounds. So this coming back and saying that he was not thinking straight and the rest, appears an afterthought.

“A month ago, when this thing first broke, I thought the least the Minister could have done was just to have stepped aside; to have just resigned. The position is not his private property. There are many other persons,” he told host, Samson Lardy Anyenini.

His comment follows a revelation by Health Minister, Agyeman-Manu on July 19, that he was unable to seek approval from Parliament before signing an agreement with Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum to procure Sputnik V vaccines.

This, according to the Minister, was because he was frustrated and couldn’t think ‘properly’ due to his desire to prevent further deaths related to Covid-19.

“In my frustrations to try to get vaccines for us in the heat of our second wave, I relied on the Executive Instrument (E.1) 61 which was passed by Parliament to hide behind emergency clauses that have been invoked to try and see if I could do that and come to inform Parliament that this is what I have done, therefore, I need regularization, I need the approval to buy it.

“We were in dire need of the vaccines and I had the [responsibility] to try to procure the vaccines to vaccinate Ghanaians to protect our lives. Those were not normal times and I was seriously in a situation that couldn’t make me think properly, the way we think now,” Mr Agyeman-Manu had said.

On Wednesday, March 3, 2021, the government signed a purchase contract for 3.4 million doses of the vaccine after it received an initial 15,000 doses from Sheikh Al Maktoum.

However, the contract with Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum got terminated on July 15, 2021, after the Minority in Parliament raised alarm over the procedures the Health Ministry employed to procure the vaccines.

But the Health Minister explained that Sheikh Maktoum’s reason for terminating the contract was because he “is struggling to raise vaccines.”

Meanwhile, Martin Kpebu has alleged that the Health Ministry had offers from some persons to provide the state with the needed vaccines at a unit cost of $12.5.

However, the Ministry failed to engage with such persons and decided to proceed with arrangements that provided the vaccines at a higher cost.

“We also walk around, we hear stuff. There are other suppliers in town. People offering the same vaccines for $12.5 per dose to the Ministry. The Ministry is not willing to talk to them and they keep hanging onto the $19. Let’s get it clear. People have offered $12.5 per dose and the Ministry is not willing to talk to them and was willing to talk to the Sheikh at $19.

“Today, there are people who can show up and show that they have been at his (Health Minister) doors with the $12.5 and he wasn’t meeting them. In the 9th June letter that the Chief Director signed, they said they couldn’t establish government to government contract. There are some of the suppliers who claim to have a direct agreement with the manufacturers, yet the Ministry is not meeting these people,” he alleged.

For this reason, he reiterated his call for the Health Minister to be relieved of his duties, adding that his presence at the Ministry gives the impression that the country lacks the human resources needed to head the Health sector.

“Ask the Minister, isn’t it true that there are people in Ghana who have exclusive agreements with the Russians? The least this man can do for us is to just go away. He should just walk away from this job because every day he sits on, it is as if we are bereft of talent for that position,” he said.