Three Massive Scandals Under Youth & Sports Minister But…

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For the third time running, incidents of fraud, negligence, procedural abnormalities, procurement irregularities and financial malpractices, have been recorded in the Ministry of Youth and Sports with the latest being the GHC4.5 million National Youth Authority (NYA) contract to train some 500 youth in streetlight installations and repairs, but President Akufo-Addo, has allowed his Minister to have his way.

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 first scandal under Mr Asimah’s watch, was the Australian Visa scandal in which his then deputy, Pius Enam Hadzide, was sent packing from the Ministry coincidentally on his recommendation to President Akufo-Addo, according to revelations by the Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide n, Kweku Baako, on Joy FM’s Newsfile programme.

The second one, had to do with the minister himself, who has been embroiled in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) debacle after revealing in Parliament that a whopping US$6.3 million was budgeted for the continent’s football showpiece, but $4.5 million was disbursed, because Ghana’s Black Stars, were knocked out in the round of 16.

The Youth and Sports Minister’s strange decision, 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, Frema Opare, 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 ressign 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 Boateng Adjei, 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-NyetAsigri 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”.

Please read below the press release

I wish to thank President Akufo-Addo for giving me the opportunity to serve the youth of our country. For the sake of the record, I wish to state that I have no hand in the recently reported procurement violations at NYA.

All records available at NYA ie Management minutes and internal payment documents clearly show that I and a few good people have indeed held and taken the strongest possible opposition to the NYA-Prefos Streetlight Training engagements.

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). I actually stopped the payment voucher covering that transaction and locked it up. It is still in my possession. As to why and how that Cheque was written in spite of the Payment Voucher blockade, I leave it to the team of investigators and possibly prosecutors.

I did advise my Director of Procurement to consider opening bid for that transaction if they wanted me to be party to approving payment. Together with my colleague Deputy in charge of Operations, I proceeded to the Chief Executive Officer in his office and gave my professional advice which essentially cautioned him not to proceed. And since that didn’t happen, I duly advised myself never to approve any cash transaction to that Company. 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.

I wish to once again, thank his Excellency the President, Akufo-Addo for the opportunity to serve in his government. I pray that 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.

SIGNED

Richard Rocky Joojo Obeng

Emmanuel Asigri

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