The government, will soon be parting away with sumptuous packages to the dismissed officials of the National Youth Authority (NYA) as their end of service benefit, according to a letter signed by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Isaac Asimah.
The Minister in three separate letters, had directed the sacked NYA bosses; Emmanuel Asigri and his two deputies; Bright Acheampong and Richard Ebbah Obed “to handover” ……..to Emmanuel Anaman-Mensah, Director of Technical Projects of the Authority, and proceed to collect any terminal benefits or facilities due you under relevant law”.
It is not clear, why the Akufo-Addo government will want to pay end of service benefit for someone sacked over a wrongful conduct by awarding a whoppingGHC4.5 million NYA contract to train some 500 youth in streetlight installations and repairs without tender and approval.
The dismissal letters, were each copied to President Akufo-Addo, the Vice-President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Chief of Staff, Frema Opare, Secretary to the President, Mercy Yvonne Debrah-Karikari, Board Chairperson to NYA, Francisca Oteng Mensah, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Kwabre East in the Ashanti Region,.
There had been many incidence of fraud, negligence, procedural abnormalities, procurement irregularities and financial malpractices, been recorded in the Ministry of Youth and Sports with the latest being the GHC4.5 million NYAcontract to train some 500 youth in streetlight installations and repairs.
It has been established that, an amount of GHC1. 810 million out of over the GHC4.5 million procurement contract, was paid to Prefos Limited by Emmanuel Asigri, the NYA’s boss, on March 4, 2019, but the said training has not yet been carried out.The trainees were to be drawn from 254 districts and municipal assemblies across the country.
But even before the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), could commence its intended investigation into the procurement contract doled out to the company reportedly owned by Asigri’s friend, Isaac Asimah, hurriedly terminated Asigri’s appointment and asked him to quickly collect his end of service benefits.
The Youth and Sports Minister’s strange decision, to pay end of service to the dismissed NYA officials has left many asking if he was out buying the silence of Asigri by gagging him with an end of service benefit, instead of allowing him to resign, interdict him or wait for the PPA instigators to complete their work into his conduct.
The Minister who has supervisory role over the NYA, had outwitted a directive from the Chief of Staff, FremaOpare, to Asigri to immediately resign from his post at a meeting held last week.
The instruction was issued to Asigri in the presence of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Samuel Abu Jinapor and the NYA Board chairperson, Francisca Oteng Mensah, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Kwabre East in the Ashanti Region, at a meeting at the Jubilee House.
However, the minister did not only sack Asigri, but his two deputies who insiders have told The Herald, sounded the alarm on the scandal and had collaborated with the NYA board’s subcommittees on Legal and Finance which was chaired by the National Service Boss, Mustapha Ussif with one Lawyer Dennis Owusu-Appiah Ofosuapea, acting as co-chair.
Insiders told The Herald, that the NYA board committee, had long before last week’s brouhaha submitted, its report to the Minister who had refused to take action on the matter forcing the one of the board member Arnold Boateng to resign over what he described as serious issues” in his letter to President Akufo-Addo.
The PPA has the power to slapped criminal charges on public officers who flout procurement laws, but with the quick termination of appointments, it is not clear if it will still go ahead with its investigations to establish the criminal nature of Asigri’s conduct.
After dishing out the contract, The Herald is informed Sin-Nyet Asigri, had allegedly tried to use his contacts at the beleagued Public Procurement Authority (PPA) to give a retroactive approval to the contract after it was detected by the board and commenced an investigation into the transaction, but the PPA through a letter dated June 20, 2019, kicked him out and decided to probe the deal instead.
The suspended PPA boss, Adjeinim BoatengAdjei, had in a letter titled “Re: Request for ratification for use single source procurement method” addressed to Emmanuel Sin-Nyet Asigri stated “Your letter No. NYA/PPA/VOL.3/76 of 27th May, 2019 requesting for ratification of your use of the Single Source Procurement Method to engage Prefos Ltd for the training of five hundred (500) young people in the areas of streetlight installation, maintenance and repairs refers.”
“At the Board Technical Committee Meeting No.27 (027/2019) held on Wednesday, 19th June 2019, the Board noted the content of your request and decided that, a team of investigators from the PPA should be assigned to your firm to investigate the circumstances that gave you cause to undertake the procurement activity without prior approval of the PPA to enable us to process your application”.
The board, as far back as March 28, 2019, discussed the contract after detecting some breaches and fraud in the transaction and raised alarm.The board demanded some document from the management of the Authority led by Sin-Nyet Asigri with Bright Acheampong, Deputy in-charge of Programmes and Operations with Rocky Obeng, Deputy in-Charge of Finance and Administration.
The minister, himself is yet to properly justify his 2019 AFCON expenditure covering the Black Stars preparation in Dubai to the finals in Egypt. It has variously been described as outrageous. It is reported that his US$4.5 million expenditures for tournament did not get parliament approval as required by law.
Some of the key components of the expenditure comprise stadium tickets for supporters, airfares for both players and fans, accommodation, feeding, per diems, winning bonuses among others.Indeed, ahead of the Black Stars campaign, the Minister of Sports, had contracted a company called, White Oak Limited to take care of Ghanaian football supporters to Egypt to support the senior national team. It was unclear if the contract went through competitive bidding.
Meanwhile, one of the sacked Deputy CEO of NYA, Richard Rocky Joojo Obeng says he has no hand in the recently reported procurement violations at NYA in the Profos deal. According to him, he discharged all duties assigned to him at the authority with the highest level of patriotism.
He said “as a young entrepreneur turned public servant, who was offered a rare opportunity to serve, it is imperative to put out this information as I graciously accept the decision to have my appointment terminated. I am happy that I discharged my duties with the highest level of patriotism and integrity and didn’t bother even if it meant becoming a victim of collective action such as this”.
In a press release Wednesday, September 4, 2019, Mr Obeng noted that, during his service as a schedule officer responsible for approving payment vouchers at NYA, he declined the signing of over GHC1.8 million cedis to Prefos Company to train about 500 youth on streetlight.
He said “as the Schedule Officer responsible for approving payment vouchers, I refused to ever approve any payments intended to that company (Prefos). I did not approve the over one million and eight hundred thousand Ghana Cedis (GHC 1.8 million)”.
To prove his innocence, he said: “I pray that the investigation is speedily carried out to serve justice to all who stood for the right things and punish those who in a blatant way dented the image of this government with this matter”.
Bright Acheampong, has also broken his silence in a statement he has issued saying “A 24-hour reflection on the termination of my appointment on a letter signed by the Hon. Minister for Youth & Sports is enough time for me to reflect, rebuild, especially so that, I was not given a hearing on the matter.
To safeguard the Party and Government from impending danger, I did not only act by informing the Sector Minister but also served as a Whistle Blower, who per the law needs to be protected at all times.In fact and indeed, this is not the first time that I and my colleague deputy, blew the whistle in a decision that the then CEO, NYA, Emmanuel Asigri has unilaterally executed which frowns on basic PFM Act and that of Procurement Act.
It should be noted that as a Deputy in charge of Programs and Operations, I got to read a copy of the MOU between NYA &Prefos a week to the first batch of the training Program, and in most of the meetings, I raised issues with it.
I have questioned why we were in a rush especially so that, we ( NYA) have not to signed an agreement with the Local Government Ministry for a Trainee’s to be absorbed by them after the training Program.
At the time that the Hon Minister appeared at the Audit hearing of the Ministry, the Hon, Minister, Isaac Kwame Asiamah (MP) , knew that the first batch of the training has been done, meanwhile he reported that, the Ministry through the NYA, was about to train Youth to help in the maintenance of our Street light across the country.
The under listed aberration came to light in more than 3 meetings related to the NYA Prefos matter, which was chaired by the sector Minister; 1. The Board did not approve before payment and first batch of training was done. 2. I advised that, we hold on and deal with all the other arrangements leading to a Mega launch of the Program 3. Payment Vouchers were not approved by the designated officer ( DCEO, NYA, F & A, then) 4. The cost per training was on the high side 5. Entity has not sat on it for onward referral to Central Tender based on the figures involved. 6. The Procurement Director ill-advised.