By Gifty Arthur
Member of Parliament (MP) for Bodi in the Western Region, Sampson Ahi, has dared the Sanitation and Water Resources Minister, to proceed to court, if she so wishes after she threatened to sue him over a comment he made.
The former Deputy Minister for Water Resources Works and Housing, was threatened by Ms Cecilia Abena Dapaah, who issued a 48 hour ultimatum to Mr Ahi, to apologize for his comment or be sued subsequently.
Last week, Ms Dapaah, made the headlines after it emerged in Parliament that, her Ministry’s 2019 budget, included GHC151, 000 clothing and entertainment allowances, causing public anger.
Mr. Ahi could not come to terms with why such an amount was allocated to the Ministry when in the past, nothing of the sort existed. The MP, who is the Ranking Member on Water Resources Works and Housing Committee in Parliament, said it was unheard of and called for the issue to be looked into again.
He was quoted as having said; “When I was there (Works and Housing Ministry), I was never given a clothing and entertainment allowance. Recruitment into the security is about GHC 81,000. Watchman allowance GHC36, 000. Clothing allowance GHC 18,000 and another entertainment allowance GHC 16,000. They are duplicating the expenses” he stated.
The Bodi MP, in an interaction with some journalists, insisted that the expenditure items such as GHc18,000 meant for entertainment allowances and a host of other allocations do not depict a ministry that is judiciously using the country’s meagre resources.
“We don’t need to provide money to the Minister to provide entertainment. I was expecting him to provide answers to it. When I was in office for four years, we never had a budget line called entertainment allowance.”
The Minority representative on the Water Resources Committee of Parliament Sampson Ahi told Starr News the allocations have been duplicated.
“We are giving money to the Minister [Cecilia Dapaah] and the Ministers entertainment allowance, we have watchman allowance and you have extra watchman allowance as if that person who’s engaged as watchman is going to engage another person, we have clothing allowance and so on and so forth,” he said.
Giving a breakdown of the allocation, he said “recruitment and enlistment into security GHC81.000.00; watchman allowance GHC36.000.00, clothing allowance GHC18.000.00 and entertainment allowance GHC16, 000.00. They are duplicating the expenses.”
This did not go down well with the former Aviation Minister, who on Monday issued statement to correct the supposed erroneous impression. The Minister who said the reports had defamed her, said she was no way connected to the said allocation nither was it for personal gains.
The statement also instructed various media houses that carried the story, to do the needful by apologizing within the stipulated two day period or face her wrath.
“I, Cecilia Abena Dapaah, Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, am not in any way and by any stretch of imagination benefiting or getting any budget allocation for clothes and entertainment as MP for Bodi, Hon Sampson Ahi, alleges” She said.
“I ask Hon. Ahi to apologize and withdraw within 48 hours with the same publicity that the defamatory remarks were published. And that any media outlet, including the Herald Newspaper and GhanaWeb must also take a cue and apologize within the same time frame else the necessary legal steps will be taken.”
But the National Democratic Congress (NDC) lawmaker, who first raised the issue in Parliament, says he did no wrong to apologize to the Minister. According to the MP, when he raised the issue, he did so in the interest of Ghana and within the law.
Speaking on Class TV evening news yesterday, Mr Ahi said, it will be unfortunate for anybody to threaten MPs or be dragged to court simply because they are performed their parliamentary duties.
Mr Ahi said when he spoke on the issue on the floor of Parliament last week; he did not set out to tarnish anybody’s image except to lay the facts bare, and in the spirit of protecting the public purse, as the President said in the past.
He, however, said he was prepared to meet the Minister in court, if she so desires to pursue it in court, but insisted he will not apologize to her….