Power Broker Hackman Owusu-Agyeman Bashed

Power-Broker.jpg

For Courting Public Attack On Opuni

Newly appointed board chairman of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Hackman Owusu Agyeman, has incurred the wrath of some influential Ghanaians, following his public disclosure of the salary of the former Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni.

With his age, international experience and statesman status, many are of the view that, he should have known better that it was improper to go public with Dr. Opuni’s monthly salary.

They argue that, there are CEOs in other state institutions, who are paid more than the estimated GH¢70,000 to GH¢75,000, Dr. Opuni allegedly received.

Hackman Owusu Agyeman, exerts political and economic influence in the Akufo-Addo government. He recently got the Lands Commission boss reinstated after the Flagstaff House sacked him.

A bosom friend of President Akufo-Addo, he together with Agric Minister Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto daringly moved COCOBOD from the supervision of the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Agriculture, although the law had given supervisory responsibility to finance ministry.

Leading the criticism is the former President, John Agyekum Kufuor, who has advised people like his former minister, not to jump to conclusion but investigates the issue as the former CEO may have deserved it.

“Corruption is high in the country because employers cheat employees in Ghana, so my point is that the fat salary given to someone should not be an issue. For now, let’s investigate those issues to find out if the nation benefited from them or not.

Then we can also find out if the salary was realistic or not, we should not jump to conclusions without proper investigations,” Mr. Kufuor told Accra-based Top FM on Wednesday.

Hackman Owusu Agyeman, once a Foreign Affairs Minister, shortly after the inauguration of the COCOBOD board on Tuesday, told Accra-based Citi FM that, the GH¢75,000 salary was “unthinkable”.

“For me, it is absolutely unthinkable that the gross salary of the Chief Executive Officer should be in the neighbourhood of GH¢70,000 to GH¢75,000 a month, and the net is about GH¢55, 000 to GH¢57,000 a month.

If you even discount this by 50 per cent, it would still be higher than anybody under Article 71 of the constitution,” he argued.

But the board chair, while speaking on Accra FM, admitted he has been bashed for revealing the amount, describing the criticism as “unfair”.

He indicated that, the salaries of officials under Article 71, namely the president and his cabinet, as well as Members of Parliament (MP), were already public knowledge, as such he was not wrong in disclosing the salary.

“People called me asking me why I put somebody’s salary in the public domain but I explained that even the salary of the president is in the public domain. Everybody knows how much Article 71 holders are taking as salaries.

How much John Mahama, John Kufuor, and the rest took as salaries, are all in the public domain. These are matters of public record and so it is no issue to attract the criticisms,” he said.

He has said the amount would be reviewed by the new board. But Managing Editor of the New Crusading Guide, Kwaku Baako Jnr. says, the action by Mr. Agyeman, was totally wrong.

According to the veteran journalist, the courting of public anger against Dr. Opuni was unnecessary, because the public will always agitate and condemn, if such issues are brought into the public domain thereby exposing Dr. Opuni to all manner of attacks.

He said, although Dr. Opuni, did not commit any crime as it is allowed, the public was always going to rise against him upon learning about his take-home pay.

Mr. Baako, also shot down, position by a viewer that it was unacceptable for a chief executive to earn more than the president who appointed him.

According to him, it was too simplistic, because elsewhere it is practiced and so Ghana’s won’t be the first.

He said, if the issue would have to be looked at; it should be done holistically, instead of picking on an individual for public anger.

Salaries and conditions of service of these appointees are determined by boards and managements of these state institutions and in the case of Dr. Opuni, nothing untoward was done, The Herald gathered.

He couldn’t have determined his own pay as it is not done because COCOBOD until the new administration took over, was under the Ministry of Finance and so the minister knew about it and approved it.

The Dean, School of Graduate Studies at University of Professional Studies (UPS), Dr Kweku Mawutor Mensah, has said it was populist, the decision by the new Board Chairman to have said the new CEO’s salary was going to be slashed into half.

According to Dr Mensah, the decision by Hackman Owusu Agyeman, a former Foreign Affairs Minister, will rather serve as disincentive if not discourage people from aspiring to that position.

“I beg to differ, it is a populist decision. I was not happy when I heard it. It is too populist that is capable of discouraging people from taking up that post” Dr Kweku Mawutor Mensah told Bright Kwesi Asempa, host of Onua FM morning show.

The Dean of School of Graduate Studies at UPSA, further opined that, if salaries of CEOs, MDs of state institutions are not pegged at target and performance set at the institutions, the status quo will remain.

“The politicians will always push their people to those positions for their own gains, which gives them room to offer all kinds of excuses in the event that they did not deliver,” he added.

He stressed that targets and performances should be rewarded instead of political affiliations which is a recipe for cronyism and nepotism.

He maintained that if the CEOs and the MDs fail to meet the standards set for them, they should be fired. He suggested that government must take its hands off appointment of CEOs and MDs to public institutions else “we will be going in this cycle”.

The former flagbearer of Independent People’s Party now named Liberty Party of Ghana, (LPG) Kofi Akpaloo, has also said there is nothing wrong with the former CEO’s salary.

Since the debate started especially on social media, salaries of bosses of some state institutions have surfaced and they are as follows: Bank of Ghana (BoG) governor, GHc¢89, 909.00, SSNIT boss GHc76, 606.00, Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) GHc68, 707.00, National Investment Bank (NIB) GHc 65, 606.00.

Others are Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) 88, 606.00, Bulk Oil Storage Transport (BOST) GHc62, 000.00, Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) GHc 52, 503.00, Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) GHc 55, 203. 91.

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