By: Gifty Arthur
It has emerged that, the Education Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku-Prempeh, who attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT Sloan) leadership course costing Ghanaians a total of Seven Hundred and Forty Thousand, Eighty Six Dollars and Thirty pence (US$740,086. 34), only did so, just to eat and drink at a reception.
Details of the invitation letter from MIT Sloan available to The Herald, stated that the Minister of Education “will only be attending the welcome Reception on Day 0” meaning he had no business traveling to the US, apart from going to eat and drink at the reception held by MIT.
The Education Minister, last Thursday revealed to Parliament that the National Service Secretariat is spending a whooping US$600,000, as the fee on the 6-day leadership training skills at MIT – Boston, US for selected heads of some state institutions, including John Kumah, the CEO of National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP).
Matthew Opoku-Prempeh, also disclosed that, the National Service Scheme, is also spending a total of One Hundred and Forty Thousand, Eighty Six Dollars and Thirty pence (US$140, 086.34) on travel expenses, boarding, lodging fees among others on the four trips.
He, however, failed to mention that, he was part of the entourage to MIT Sloan to study good governance, leadership and entrepreneurial skills, and collected travelling allowances, flew First Class, slept in an expensive hotel, ate expensive foods and shopped in luxurious boutiques in the US, although his presence at MIT, was only to attend the reception.
So far, the entourage has done two trips to MIT, spending a colossal Three Hundred and Seventy Thousand, Forty Three Dollars and Seventeen pence (US$370, 043. 17), from a poverty-stricken Ghana.
There is additional US$370, 043. 17, to blow on the rest of the MIT courses, which are even run in Ghana by the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) – Public School at an affordable amount.
Interestingly, GIMPA, is under the Office of The President- Flagstaff House.
Dr. Matthew Opoku-Prempeh, revealed the figure upon a question filed by Ras Mubabrak, Member of Parliament (MP) for Kumbungu.
The MP, had accused the Education Minister of blowing GHS1.3 million of state funds on what in his view, was a needless programme outside Ghana.
The invitation letter sent to US Embassy by MIT Sloan mentioned some 11 persons namely; Matthew Opoku-Prempeh, Victor Kwame Agyeman, Kenneth Thompson, Morgan Fianko Asiedu, Mustapha Ussif, Hene Aku Kwapong, Vincent Kwapong John Ampontuah Kumah Kwaku Appiah-Adu, Samuel Nii Odai and Kosi Antwiwaa Yankey as those to be on the trip.
The invitation letter signed by Melanie Shumate; Program Manager, however, marked the name of Matthew Opoku-Prempeh; the Education Minister pointing out that he “will only be attending the welcome Reception on Day 0”.
The letter dated September 15, 2017 said that “Team Ghana is a member of Cohort 5 of the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program and is participating in an in-person workshop, entitled MIT Reap Workshop 1.”
Programme Manager’s letter went on to explained that “the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program has run successfully with over 30 teams around the world for the past five years”, adding each year since its beginning, we have had participating faculty, government representatives, and business leaders travel to MIT Sloan to attend a three-day workshop which includes presentations by MIT Sloan’s faculty, interactive discussions, project meeting and tours”
The US training, has left many wondering on what expertise were the heads of these vital institutions, put in-charge, if they had no requisite leadership requirements to do so.
Interestingly, The Herald’s authoritative information is that, John Kumah, the CEO of National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP) formerly Youth Employment Support (YES), did not participate in the training in the US.
Stephen Amoah, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), according to The Herald’s investigation also did not undergo the training in the US.
Both Steve Amoah and John Kuma, were in Ghana, although the acting Executive Director of NSS, Mustapha Ussif, had mentioned them in a Tuesday, October 17, 2017 Press Statement, as part of the entourage to the all-expenses paid trip to the 3-day workshop at Boston-Massachusetts.
While, the MASLOC boss, who was in the news at the time over the purchase of some over-aged fiat cars, was seen in the welcoming ceremony of Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, when he touched down at the Kumasi International Airport from Brazil.
Stephen Amoah, was among the huge number of various groups in the Asante region such as, the Ashanti Youth Association, Kumasi Youth Association and Asante Students Union, as well as a retinue of chiefs, politicians and heads of the security services, who had lined up at the airport to welcome Otumfuo.
John Kumah, according to The Herald findings, was in Accra.
It is not clear, what happened to their traveling allowances, hotel bills, airfare, as well as the fees paid to MIT by the NSS secretariat.
According to Mr. Mubarak, the amount could have been used for something beneficial in the country, but was rather spent on a needless education programme at the MIT.
Speaking to journalists after parliament’s sitting last Friday, March 1, 2018, Mr. Mubarak, indicated that the amount for the entire duration of the programme as explained by Dr. Prempeh, did not meet value-for-money standards “because GIMPA organises similar programmes in leadership and governance here in Accra and instead [the minister is] spending more to register 13 people to go to the United States of America for three days”.
He said the expenditure was “outrageous and scandalous” because to him, the NSS is struggling to pay allowances of national service persons, yet “NSS can come up with $300,000 for a three-day programme in the United States of America. You tell me whether or not, if this is a sensible way of spending your hard-earned taxpayers’ money”.
Ras Mubabrak, has since last year, pursued this matter seeking answers over the wanton dissipation of national resources under the nose of the Education Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh.