The vote of censure motion filed by the Minority against the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has failed, following a walkout by the Majority side of the House.
Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Mensah, who led the walk-out, wrongfully depicted the biblical story of Jesus’ appearance before Roman procurator Pontius Pilate moments before he was crucified.
They had threatened fire and brimstone at the Finance Minister and given Ghanaians hope that they were concerned about the economic hardship brought about by the 44percent inflation, debt crisis, massive unemployment among others and would want the minister sacked to mitigate the suffering of Ghanaians, but it all ended on a disappointing note yesterday.
None of the 98 New Patriotic Party (NPP) MPs spoke in favour of the motion.
The walk-out left only 136 MPs on the floor, thus, the minority caucus failed to garner the two-thirds majority of votes (183) needed to have succeeded in removing Mr Ofori-Atta from office for mismanaging the economy among others.
Only 136 legislators on the Minority side voted yesterday to demand the removal of Mr Ofori-Atta, thus falling short of the two-thirds constitutionally requirement for the motion to pass through.
The Majority Leader, had indicated that his caucus could not support a baseless and politically motivated motion of the minority caucus birthed out of bad faith and aimed at embarrassing the president’s cousin.
“You want us to follow you on this misadventure. Mr Speaker, like Pontius Pilate did, we will wash our hands of this”, he said on the floor of parliament just before his side walked out of the chamber.
Mr Ofori-Atta, in his defence, said: “If I say I am innocent they will not believe me and if I ask for the truth and proof, they will not be able to provide that”.
“I have committed no crime,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.
The proponents of the motion needed the votes of 183 legislators to have the motion passed against Mr. Ofori-Atta.
Prior to the vote, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MPs decided not to support the motion of their colleagues from the opposition side of the House.
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Mensah, who led the walkout, said his side cannot be part of a process that was baseless and politically motivated.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, addressing the Speaker, said the censure motion by the Minority caucus was pushed out of bad faith and only sought to embarrass the Finance Minister.
The Minority caucus filed a motion of censure against the Finance Minister, accusing him of mismanaging the economy, financial recklessness, conflict of interest, and gross mismanagement of the economy.
In his defence, the Finance Minister, rejected allegations of conflict of interest and gross mismanagement of the economy levelled against him.
He said, he had done nothing wrong and described the allegations against him as witch-hunting.
“If I say I am innocent they [the minority] will not believe me and if I ask for the truth and proof, they will not be able to provide that. I have committed no crime,” Mr Ofori-Atta insisted on Thursday.
The Attorney General of Ghana, Godfred Dame, who spoke on the matter, said the ad-hoc committee tasked by the Speaker of Parliament to probe allegations in a vote of censure motion filed against Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, did not understand the work it was asked to do.
According to him, the committee violated some rights of the Minister due to this misapprehension.
Mr Dame, made the claim yesterday, when he was contributing to the debate on the motion of vote of censure filed by the Minority against the Finance Minister on the floor of parliament.
“It is actually in view of this misapprehension of duties by the committee, of the nature of work that it was tasked to do that certain fundamental human rights of the Minister for Finance were grossly violated. I refer to the request by the Minister for the production of documents that he is required to present to assist him to defend himself. I also refer to the request for full particulars by the Minister to defend himself and the committee rejected the requests saying it was impracticable in light of the time granted the committee to report to Parliament.”
He went on to say “the committee got it grossly wrong” for rejecting all those requests and went ahead to “sacrifice justice on the altar of convenience” and that, “it is unconstitutional and rendered the whole exercise a nullity.”
The Attorney General, further enumerated some alleged instances of injustice the ad-hoc committee perpetuated against the Finance Minister when he appeared before it.
He then took a swipe at the co-chair, Dominic Ayine, and accused him of misleading the committee “on the trajectory of a violation of due process.”
“My good friend Dominic Ayine again stated very erroneously that the committee was not bounded by Article 23 of the 1992 Constitution and I consider it a very serious error because the committee misapprehended the nature of the work that it was supposed to do. Article 23 is part of the Constitution, and it is applied by the court, and it is not the case that it applies to only administrative bodies.”
When he appeared before an ad hoc committee that investigated the allegations against him some three weeks ago, Mr Ofori-Atta, apologised to the people of Ghana for the economic hardships they are going through.
He said, he has always meant well for the people of Ghana ever since he became finance minister.
“Since the Akufo-Addo government came into office in 2017, everything we have sought to do was aimed at making the lives of the people better”, he testified on Friday, November 18, 2022, adding: “We have been focused on this vision to improve lives and in the first four years, our efforts were leading to a realisation of the vision”.
However, he said: “Today, I acknowledge our economy is facing difficulties and the people of Ghana are enduring hardships”.
“As the person [that] President Akufo-Addo has put in charge of this economy, I feel the pain personally, professionally and in my soul”, Mr Ofori-Atta noted.
“I see and feel the terrible impact of rising prices of goods and services on the lives and livelihoods of ordinary Ghanaians, I feel the stress of running a business, but it is the strength and perseverance of the Ghanaian people that inspire me and my colleagues in government every morning”.
“That is what gives me the strength to press on and to find solutions and relief for Ghanaians to the myriad of problems that our country and the rest of the world are facing, especially since March 2020”.
“Co-chairs, let me use this opportunity to say to the Ghanaian people what I believe, with courage, every finance minister around the world, may wish to say to their people now: ‘I am truly sorry’”, he apologised.
Before his apology though, Mr Ofori-Atta, took a swipe at the minority caucus for not being thorough with their allegations, after the committee excused him from testifying to and answering questions on grounds one and three over constitutional reasons.
“Co-chairs, it is a very difficult process and according to my understanding of parliamentary history, this might be the first censure of a minister, so, it must be very grace issues that we are having to address. It’s, therefore, unfortunate that in the co-chair’s submission of the two grounds that have been struck out, it sounds to me like there was not a thorough review of the grounds, as should have been, but to bring somebody for censure, would require that these things are done with absolute thoroughness but I’m pleased with the decision that has been made”, Mr Ofori-Atta noted.
The seven grounds for the censure motion are; despicable conflict of interest by benefitting from Ghana’s economic crisis, unconstitutional withdrawals from the consolidated fund to build a national cathedral, illegal payment of oil revenues to an offshore account, deliberate and dishonest misreporting of economic data to parliament, fiscal recklessness leading to the crash of the Ghana cedi, alarming incompetence and frightening ineptitude resulting in the collapse of the Ghanaian economy and gross mismanagement of the Ghanaian economy, which has brought about untold hardships.