—In ‘Ofori-Atta must go’ saga; parliament probes conflict of interest & NPP MPs bare teeth at president
Former Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, has accused the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Keyi-Mensah-Bonsu, of playing games with the ‘Ofori-Atta must go’ saga by sometimes siding with his colleagues in Parliament demanding for the head of the Finance Minister and other times with President Akufo-Addo and his cousin, Ken Ofori-Atta.
Mr Amidu, a former Attorney General, said Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, is appearing to be “holier than thou”, with a game plan to please both the 80 rebellious MPs from his side – who demanded the resignation of Ken Ofori-Atta and Adu Boahen – and the presidency.
The Herald, has obtained figures, showing that Ken Ofori-Atta’s Databank, has made a total of GH¢159.3 million, from the state by virtue of being a book-runner on government’s bonds in a clear case of conflict of interest situation.
The amount is minus the money it has made on the Agyapa Royalties transaction among other similar deals.
It also doesn’t capture transactions his Enterprise Insurance company, has gotten through insurance cover provided for certain state deals in arrangements, which had seen other insurance companies, including state-owned SIC, been knocked off the radar. It also doesn’t capture monies made from the state by his funeral home Transitions, including the handling of people who died from the COVID-19 virus.
The sister companies of Databank, which have profited from state deals, have since relocated to a 10-storey building erected into the skies of the city christened “Advantage Place”. It is located at 23rd Mayor Road, Ridge West, Accra near the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, also known as the Ridge Hospital.
Following the rebellious MPs’ demand, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, had earlier said: “I have listened to their concerns, about the fact that if the Finance Minister is removed it might help us in our recovery. I told them I appreciate their concerns.
My only concern was the timing. Considering our negotiations with the IMF and how far it has come, and how it may affect the progress we have made so far….I appealed to them to hold their horses; that was on Sunday, and I even revealed some discussions I had earlier with the President, and I thought that was going to calm their nerves a bit. But at the end of the day, I was unable to dissuade them.”
Subsequently, the Suame MP told journalists: “Even though the issue started with a group of 80-plus, the caucus meeting aligned with the decision of that group”, he said, explaining: “So, it is no longer the cause of the 80-plus group. It is the agenda for the entire caucus”.
“Indeed the Majority Leader was just attempting to play both sides of the game with his rebel members and with the Presidency”, Mr Amidu pointed out in a long article on the whole ‘Ofori-Atta Must Go’ saga.
In his view, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu’s game now has made him appear to be “holier than thou” in the whole drama.
Amidu’s accusations comes as the nose is tightening on the neck of Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, with the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, yesterday, setting up an eight-member bipartisan committee to investigate allegations of conflict of interest allegations levelled against him and the Minister of State at the Finance Ministry, Charles AduBoahen.
The ad hoc committee, has the minority caucus’ Bolgatanga East Members of Parliament (MP) Dominic Ayine and the majority caucus’ Adansi-Asokwa MP K.T. Hammond, as co-chairs.
It also comes as the over 80 New Patriotic Party (NPP) MPs who demanded that President Nana Akufo-Addo, relieved his cousin, Finance Minister, have reiterated their decision, insisting that they are not in agreement with President Akufo-Addo’s request for Mr Ofori-Atta, stay, read and see the 2023 budget through appropriation.
Ahead of the committee being setup yesterday, the majority caucus announced that, although it wants the Finance Minister, gone just as the minority caucus does, it will not support the latter’s censure motion, since it is laden with falsehood and propaganda.
Mr Bagbin put the committee together when the minority caucus moved a motion of censure against Mr Ofori-Atta for mismanaging the Ghanaian economy.
The other committee members include Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings and Bernard Ahiafor (from the minority caucus) and Patrick Yaw Boamah, Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi and Andrew Agyapa Mercer (from the majority caucus).
The committee has seven working days to finish its work and submit a report.
“The evidence will be placed before the committee”, Mr Bagbin told the house, adding: “The minister will have the opportunity to defend himself”.
“A report will be presented to the house and we will debate that report,” Mr Bagbin noted.
In the view of the minority caucus, Mr Ofori-Atta has run the economy down and cannot be trusted to superintend his own mess.
But the majority caucus, led by Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, however, argued that the law of natural justice provides that the minister is given an opportunity to defend himself against the allegations of reckless borrowing, conflict of interest and gross mismanagement that have led to the unbridled depreciation of the cedi, soaring prices of fuel and foodstuffs, among others.
In his recent national address on the economy, President Nana Akufo-Addo, said ongoing talk with the IMF for a $3-billion extended credit facility would be concluded by the end of 2022.
He admitted the economy was in a crisis, but said his government was doing all it could to fix things.
However, the MP for Effiduase-Asokore, Nana Ayew Afriyie, speaking to the parliamentary press corps on behalf of the over 80 NPPs at Parliament, yesterday, said that they have decided that Ofori-Atta should not be the one to read the budget or lead the subsequent process.
“Over the days, we have heard the finance minister speaking and his speaking has influenced majority of us in the caucus, not only to state that we are back to the original position that we took, and that position is that the Minister of Finance must not be the one to read the budget, and must not be the one that would do the appropriation.
The MPs, however, stated that they will not support the vote of censure being spearheaded by the minority caucus of the House because they do not agree with the reasons the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs cited.
“This are majority MPs of the caucus and we’ve come this morning to let you know that not so long, in about 4 weeks ago, we had a press conference and later on, the [Majority] Leader came to state that our position, our cause is not a cause of a few, it’s a cause of the majority in parliament”.
“We are here to reiterate that however much you’ve heard us speaking … that based upon the intervention of the president, we’ll have to see the minister of finance do his work, read the budget, see to the appropriation [bill] and then the president will act, over the past few days, we’ve heard the finance minister speaking and his speaking has informed the majority of us in the caucus not only to state that we are back to the original position that we took and that original position is to say that the minister of finance will not be the one who must read the budget and must not be the one who will do the appropriation”, Dr AyewAfriyie told the press.
He added: “We are here this morning to say that this is going to be, very soon for you to see, the position of us and we are going to be positively defiant on that posture till that action is taken”.
However, he noted, “we are not going to support the cause of the NDC in the chamber this morning”.
“The cause of the NDC is premised on falsehood, propaganda and reasons that are not justifiable. Their position might look like ours but it is not the same”, he explained.
Giving more reasons for the majority’s decision against supporting the minority’s motion of censure, DrAyewAfriyie said: “You will not be able to come to the chamber to level 10 issues that border on criminality on a person, who is not there to defend himself. And we have come to let you know: Let you not confuse the public or yourselves about the cause of the majority and that of the minority. They are not the same. Ours remain as it is”.
“After a meeting this afternoon, we’ll definitely come back to state our position and it will be that: Yes, our feeling is the confidence in the finance minister is gone down but for COVID and the Russian war, he was doing very well, the economy was doing very well but when people hard-pressed, they have no understanding to the logic, competence and hard work but when they lose confidence, the only sector it affects the market and pockets of the people is the finance ministry and, therefore, for us, we have nothing personal against him but our position is clearly that if confidence has gone down in him, he must go and that is not the same as that of the NDC”, he added.