The Minority in Parliament is demanding that the Minister for Health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, the Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, and the Frontier Healthcare Service who were honoured with national awards at the just-ended 2023 National Awards ceremony should be stripped off their honours.
According to the NDC MPs, not only are these individuals undeserving of the awards, but they are also the subject of a parliamentary probe into the management of Covid-19 expenditure – upon which they were awarded.
Addressing a press conference in Parliament, Ranking Member on the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, said that “the Minister for Health, the Minister for Information and others cited in the Auditor General’s audit of COVID-19 funds and other undeserving awardees should be stripped of their national honours in order to maintain the sanctity of the awards otherwise we risk a situation in which deserving Ghanaians will shun the awards altogether.”
He explained that this is the first time in Ghana’s history that persons whose conduct are currently being investigated by a Parliamentary Committee of Enquiry are publicly decorated with high honours.
The MP for Juaboso believes that this is “a desperate attempt by the President to finalize the corruption clearing process that he began during the message of the State of the Nation Address in Parliament.”
“It beats the imagination of reasonable Ghanaians how a Health Minister who not so long ago was investigated for the manner in which he flouted our procurement laws to award an overpriced contract for the procurement of Sputnik V in what looked like an underhand dealing to defraud the state was given the high honour of the Order of the Volta,” he added.
Mentioning the Information Minister, Mr Akandoh said that Mr Nkrumah was cited in the Auditor General’s report for having made unauthorized allowance payments to the staff of his office during the pandemic.
The Ranking Member said that it is disturbing to see the minister given the high honours of the Order of the Volta before his conduct or misconduct is fully investigated and cleared by the Parliamentary Committee of Enquiry.
“Of greater concern is the conferring of national honours on Frontiers Healthcare Service Limited, a company whose ownership is opaque and whose formation and operations were brought into being by a contract that Parliament is yet to be apprised of for so-called national security reasons of which most Ghanaians are of the opinion that Ghanaians were fleeced of their mega resources during the pandemic,” Mr Akandoh said.
He stated that the awards, given to recognise hard work, dedication and commitment towards the maintenance and advancement of the state with reference to COVID-19, should be proffered on the frontline workers.
He explained that many of them worked extended hours, and sacrificed their health and lives to ensure that several others did not die.
“Some 6,543 of them who actually contracted COVID-19 with some dying in their line of service are still waiting to be paid those meagre insurance packages promised them since the year 2020. Their awards wait in perpetuity even as we hurriedly confer national awards on those whose actions are yet to be justified before a parliamentary committee of enquiry.”
Mr Akandoh believes that these honours not only test the sensibilities of Ghanaians but also lower the high standards previously set and maintained by previous awardees by comingling deserving and undeserving awardees at the event.
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