The new management of COCOBOD, has in an unsigned press statement dismissed claims by the Minority in parliament accusing the government of sacking 110 staff of COCOBOD, but the inside story is different.
The entirely fresh management of Ghana Cocoa Board, had stated that “COCOBOD has not dismissed any staff over the past two months upon the assumption of office of the new management and does not intend to dismiss any staff on frivolous reason”, the statement said.
“It is unfortunate that such an assertion could not be verified by the Minority before making the statement public”.
This is, however, contrary to media report few weeks ago, revealing that eleven top management level staff of COCOBOD, have been asked to proceed on leave by government with effect from Monday, January 30, 2017.
The eleven had occupied positions, including the Deputy Chief Executive – Agronomy and Quality Control, Deputy Chief Executive – Finance and Administration, Deputy Chief Executive -Operations, Director – Human Resource, Director Civil Works, Deputy Director Civil Works, Procurement Manager, Director of Estates and the Deputy Director Finance.
Three top staff members of Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC); a subsidiary of COCOBOD, have also been asked to proceed on leave. They include, CMC’s Managing Director, Deputy Managing Director and Deputy Director Finance.
The Minority in a press conference held in Accra on Wednesday to respond to President Akufo-Addo’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), accused the government of sacking 110 COCOBOD middle-level workers. However, in an unsigned press statement copied to The Herald yesterday, the management of COCOBOD says the Minority made the assertions without any verification.
The sacking of the top management came barely three weeks after the dismissal of Dr. Stephen K. Opuni, the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD, through a letter signed by the Secretary to the President, Nana Bediatuo Asante, directing him to handover to the President’s representative at the Ministry of Agriculture.
The directive, signed by the Secretary to the President, the flamboyant Nana Bediatuo Asante, disregarded the law placing supervisory responsibility of COCOBOD under the Finance Ministry, after the sector was moved from the Agriculture Ministry several years ago, by an act of Parliament.
According to the letter, Dr Opuni “ceases to hold office as Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board upon assumption of office of His Excellency, the President of the Republic.
The directive, the letter said, was pursuant to section 14(1) of the Presidential (Transition) Act, 2012 (Act 845).
In view of the urgency attached to this matter, please ensure that you hand over and cease to act as Chief Executive of Ghana Board, not later than 5:00pm on January 13, 2017”.
The three paragraph statement continued, “You are directed to hand-over your office to His Excellency, the President’s Representative at the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, and proceed to collect any terminal benefits or facilities due under related law”.
The Herald, was reliably informed that, until the new government initiates move to take back COCOBOD from the Finance Ministry, it has no business under the laws of the country, to issue statements directing people to hand-over documents to its representative at the Agric Ministry.
When Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, was asked about the illegality in the transfer of COCOBOD from Ministry of Finance to Ministry of Food and Agriculture during his vetting weeks ago, he declared “New King; New Law” implying the Akufo-Addo government is at liberty to do whatever it deems right, however, illegal that might be.
According to sources within COCOBOD head office, the letter by Mr. Bediatuo Asante was hurriedly delivered by Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto himself, who until the change of government was the Minority spokesperson on Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, and was mostly loud in Parliament on issues that affected the cocoa industry.
This paper learnt that, shortly after leaving the COCOBOD head office in Accra, the sacking letter found its way into social media, obviously leaked by Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, who had gone to Dr. Opuni’s office with two copies of the same letter but met his absence.
He had one of the letters in an envelope, specifically addressed to Dr. Opuni, but the other was not. He demanded that it was stamped, indicating receipt which was complied with. Shortly thereafter, the stamped letter found its way into both mainstream media and social media.
Dr. Opuni, according to close sources was unaware of his removal, until it was reported in the media. He is said to have long given his handing over note to the appropriate officer, before his removal by the government.
His sacking came moments after the government, issued a letter signed by the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama, revoking the appointment of all Metropolitan/Municipal/District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) across the country.
Dr. Opuni, a medical doctor, was moved from the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), after he transformed the state drug regulator, to replace ex-President Kufuor’s appointed Tony Fofie.
Retired diplomat, K.B. Asante, described as appalling the tone of the dismissal letter.
Mr. Asante, who was Secretary to Ghana’s First President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, holds the view that “the letter is not polite”, adding: “It is not nice…I don’t like the tone of the letter and those who wrote it should know better…it is not Ghanaian.”