…As Akufo-Addo’s Gov’t Sinks Into Abyss
The scandal involving Cecelia Abena Dapaah, which has stirred public anger and led to her resignation as the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, has sparked intense discussions at the Jubilee House, the seat of the government.
Talks are now rife about an impending “significant cabinet reshuffle to salvage the administration’s sinking image.”
Sources close to President Nana Akuffo Addo, in various private discussions, emphasize that the swift resignation of the once-respected Minister, following the alleged theft of millions in cash and other assets from her private residence at Abelemkpe-Accra, presents a golden opportunity for the Ghanaian leader to overhaul his team and instill accountability in his appointees.
A prominent insider disclosed to The Herald, “worries abound among those close to the President and within NPP party leadership”.
“Many of the President’s appointees have grown complacent, showing little regard for consequences. This is not the mark of a functional government. It is highly probable that the President will seize this moment to signal that even minor misconduct will no longer be tolerated. The era of misbehavior must come to an end.”
The dwindling public confidence in the Nana Addo government, following the COVID Audit Report scandal, has only been exacerbated by the Cecilia Abena Dapaah case, further eroding any remaining trust in a struggling administration, revealed by a government source to The Herald on Sunday.
Compounding the tumultuous situation, as the nation heads into what promises to be a gripping 2024 election, various polls indicate a resurgent National Democratic Congress (NDC) led by veteran John Dramani Mahama, who lost the presidency in 2016 after a turbulent first term plagued by various corruption scandals.
Nana Addo’s New Patriotic Party (NPP) is currently grappling with internal divisions exacerbated by an economic crisis blamed on what critics call reckless governance that forced a controversial debt exchange program and an IMF bailout. Moreover, the party is facing an ongoing competition to elect a new flag bearer since Nana Addo is constitutionally barred from seeking reelection after two straight terms as President.
The predicament is further exacerbated by the neglect of government business in Parliament, as numerous NPP MPs have abandoned their duties to campaign for their respective flag bearer hopefuls, while NDC MPs boycott parliamentary proceedings to protest the ongoing prosecution of three of their colleagues on various charges. This situation has led the first Deputy Speaker, Joe Osei Owusu, to remark last week that the current Parliament is the worst in the country’s history.
Another source Jubilee House warned, “this situation increases the likelihood of the NDC coming into power in December 2024. To avert this potential loss, a major reshuffle that restores trust in the government’s ability to govern effectively is deemed essential. It is crucial to instill a sense of accountability among the administration’s members to remind them that there is still a President in charge.”
However, some have expressed concerns that the upcoming race to elect a new flag bearer for the NPP may delay any cabinet reshuffle until after the party selects its new leader.
“A major reshuffle is undoubtedly necessary. The challenge lies in executing it carefully to avoid unsettling appointees or their supporters in a manner that might impact the outcome of the ongoing flag bearer election campaign,” remarked another source.
After years of unblemished public service records, Cecelia Abena Dapaah, a former Member of Parliament for Bantama in the Ashanti Region, succumbed to relentless public pressure and resigned from her government Minister position on Saturday.
The public was shocked and outraged by news reports detailing alleged thefts that occurred in her private residence, where she lives with her spouse.
The property in Abelemkpe was reportedly targeted by two housekeepers, who are now on trial, allegedly stealing significant amounts of cash and valuables.
Official charge sheets state that at least three other individuals allegedly benefited from the spoils of these thefts, amounting to over a million dollars, three hundred thousand Euros, millions of Ghanaian cedis, and an array of valuable jewellery between July and October of 2022.
“In light of these developments, the President must take decisive action through a comprehensive reshuffle to demonstrate that he remains in control of his government and is committed to restoring discipline and accountability within its ranks,” asserted an NPP source at the party’s head office.
The source added, “There is simply no other way to address the current turmoil and regain the trust of the Ghanaian people. Urgent action is crucial for our chances of success in 2024.”
The two house helps, 18-year-old Patience Botwe and 30-year-old Sarah Agyei, allegedly stole the monies and personal effects of Abena Dapaah and her husband between the months of July and October 2022.
Two house helps of the minister and three others are currently facing charges before an Accra Circuit Court for allegedly stealing an amount of $1 million, €300,000, and millions of Ghanaian cedis at the former minister’s residence at Abelenkpe, Accra, in October 2022.
Facts from the charge sheet are that “Complainants in this case are Daniel Osei Kuffour and his wife Cecilia Abena Dapaah who resides at Abelemkpe, Accra. First accused (A1) Patience Botwe @ Maabena was a house help to the complainants. Second accused (A2) Sarah Agyei is unemployed a former house help to the complainants.
“Third accused (A3) Benjamin Sowah is a boyfriend to A1. Fourth accused (A4) Kwaku Botwe is A1’s father.
“Fifth accused (A5) Malik Dauda is A1’s former boyfriend. Sometime in June 2023, the complainants reported a theft of cash and some personal effects as indicated on the face of the charge sheet. Prior to that A1 who was a house help to the complainants was caught to have opened and entered the bedroom of the complainants with a duplicate key. Upon intelligence, A1 and A3 were arrested at their hide out in Tamale in the Northern Region.
“A search conducted in their room revealed $40,000 USD and GH¢72,619.70. Police investigation revealed that, sometime in October 2022, complainant Daniel Osei Kuffour returned from town to observe that their bedroom which was locked had been opened and heard an unusual noise therein.
“He entered the room and found A1 hiding behind the door therein. Subsequently, the complainants detected theft of properties indicated on the face of the charge sheet. Further investigations revealed that A1 used part of the stolen money to buy a three-bedroom house at Amrahia at a cost of Seventy Thousand Dollars ($70,000) UDS.
“The following brand-new items which A1used some of the stolen money to buy were also retrieved from the said house: One double decker refrigerator, one television set, one washing machine, one chest freezer, one gas cooker, one water dispenser and related items.
“A1 and A3 also indicated that they used some of the stolen money to buy Hyundai Elantra with registration number GE 9771-23 at a cost of Eighty Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢80,000.00). A1 also gave One Hundred and Eighty Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢180,000.00) to A3 who used same to purchase an unregistered Honda Civic car with DV plate number 4903-23 which same have been retrieved. Investigation also disclosed that A1 and A3 used parts of the stolen money to rent a three-bed room apartment at Tamale at a total cost of One Hundred and Five Thousand Six Hundred Cedis (GH¢105,600.00) for a period of two years.
“Additionally, A1 and A3 used part of the stolen money to rent a store room at Tamale at a total cost of One Hundred Twenty Thousand Ghana Cedis (120,000.00). A1 admitted the offence and mentioned A2 as her accomplice to the effect that, when they were working in the complainants’ house, she used to keep watch of the main gate for A2 to go into the complainants’ room to steal their money after which they share the spoil.
“A2 was subsequently arrested from her hideout in Budumburam a suburb of Kasoa for investigation. Investigation further disclosed that A2 used part of the stolen money to build a three bedroom self-contain house at Budumburam. A1 also gave Fifty Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢50,000.00) out of the stolen money to A4, who admitted the preceding fact during interrogation. A2 also gave One Hundred Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢100,000.00) out of the stolen money to A5 who also admitted same.
Case is still under investigation.