The 95 New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament (MP), who recently demanded for the dismissal Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta and Minister of State at the Ministry, Charles Adu Boahen from office, have turned out to have made the call not for the honour of rescuing Ghanaians from the economic headship, but for the attention they wanted and goodies, including bribes.
Aside reports of a businessman approaching them and offering envelopes which some of them gladly accepted, it has emerged that four major statutory payments, which have been delayed by the Finance Ministry, was released by the Akufo-Addo government shortly after the demanded for the heads of Mr Ofori-Atta and Adu Boahen.
The four payments made so far, are in respect of the Common Fund (Quarters 1 and Two), MPs Monitoring and Evaluation (Second quarter), Q1 and Q2 of the District Common Fund, as well as the Disability Relief Fund to districts.
The statutory payments were confirmed by Charles Adomako-Mensah, NPP-MP for Afigya Kwabre North Constituency in the Ashanti Region.
This might just explain why they are not ready to be part of the censure being pushed by their counterpart from the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Mr Adomako-Mensah’s revelation, follows a disclosure by the Majority Leader, Osei-Mensah-Bonsu, in an interview on Tuesday, November 1, 2022, on Accra-based Multi TV, that shortly after their demand, a businessman attempted to bribe the MPs to back down on their quest to have the finance minister removed.
He was answering a question by the host of Good Morning Ghana on Metro TV, Randy Abbey on developments after their October 25 demand via a press conference at the precincts of Parliament.
After confirming the payments individually, the MP added: “That is true, it is true. The payments were supposed to come and there were delays, and it has been paid. It is true.”
Reacting to a shocked co-panellist in the person of Kwesi Pratt, the MP added: “Uncle Kwasi, these are statutory payments, there were delays. Fortunately they have been paid, thank God, they have been paid…they’ve been paid because they have to be paid.
“I am not too sure if it was because of the demands …the fact that it was after but I am not too sure if it was because of the demands,” he stressed.
“Oh Randy, delays in Common Fund payments are not something new,” Adomako-Mensah added.
The demand for Ofori-Atta’s removal sent shockwaves in the polity with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, hurriedly arranging a meeting with the disgruntled MPs.
Their demand was premised on the tanking Ghanaian economy headed by the embattled minister but a deal was reached.
Under the deal, Ofori-Atta is allowed to stay in office to conclude initial talks with the International Monetary Fund and also present the 2023 budget and oversee the passage of its appropriation before Akufo-Addo decides on his fate.
Interestingly, The Herald’s information was that the money actually exchanged hands between the MPs and the businessman.
The businessman had bribed the NPP MPs, who were pushing for the removal of Mr Ofori Atta and Mr. Adu Boahen over non-performance, conflicts of interests among others.
Most of the MPs, The Herald spoke to are tightlipped on the name of the businessman, only few of them have mentioned his name.
The NPP MPs petitioned President Nana Akufo-Addo to sack Mr Ofori Atta, as well as the Mr Adu Boahen, to restore public confidence in the economy.
The Majority Leader, in the interview on Tuesday, said the businessman decided his business interests were going to go down, if the finance minister was removed.
According to him, he was informed that the said businessman requested to meet the MPs who took the unprecedented step of demanding the removal of the finance minister.
He explained that after the said meeting, the wealthy businessman left an envelope allegedly containing some money.
The 95 NPP MPs’ spokesperson, Andy Kwame Appiah-Kubi, is also the MP for the Asante-Akim North in the Ashanti Region, was the first to reveal the bribery by the businessman but denied taking the said bribe money.
He admitted the wealthy businessman offered ‘something’ which was in an envelope after the said meeting.
“We refunded it to him on the principle that we are not doing what we are doing for money”.
“Because of that, we did not open the envelope to even know how much was in it,” he revealed.
The majority caucus in parliament recently gave President Nana Akufo-Addo up to the passage of the appropriation bill following the reading of the 2023 budget in November 2022, to act on their demand that Mr Ofori-Atta exit the government.
This was after the president tabled a plea to that effect at an emergency meeting with the caucus at the Jubilee House on Tuesday, 25 October.
A statement issued by Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, on Wednesday, said: “The president engaged the members of the caucus and requested that the issue be stood down until the conclusion of the round of negotiations with the IMF and the presentation of the budget statement and economic policy in November 2022 and the subsequent passage of the appropriation bill, after which time the demand will be acted upon”.
“After deliberations among the majority caucus today, Wednesday, 26 October 2022, it was agreed to accede to the president’s appeal”, the statement said.
The majority caucus gave the president an ultimatum to dismiss Mr Ofori-Atta and Mr Adu Boahen or they will boycott the 2023 budget hearing and other government businesses on the floor of parliament.
The caucus, led by spokesperson Andy Appiah Kubi, issued the ultimatum within the precincts of parliament on Tuesday, 25 October 2022 when the house resumed sitting after a long recess.
He told the parliamentary press corps: “We are members of the majority caucus of the parliament of Ghana and we, here so, present; represent a greater number of the said caucus”.
“My name is Andy Appiah Kubi and I am only here as the spokesperson for the majority group – without more”, he caveated.
Mr Appiah-Kubi continued: “We have had occasions to defend allegations of conflict of interest, lack of confidence [and] trust against the leadership of our finance ministry”, however, “the recent developments within our economy are of great concern to the greater majority of the members of our caucus and our constituents”.
“We have made our grave concerns [known] to the president through the parliamentary leadership and the leadership of the party without any positive response”, he revealed.
“We are, by this medium, communicating our strong desire that the president change the minister of finance and the minister of state at the finance ministry, without further delay, to restore hope to the financial sector and reverse the downward trend in the growth of the economy”, the group demanded.
“The summary of our concerns lead to a plea that the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken OfoRI-Atta and the Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance, Mr Charles Adu-Boahen, be removed from office. We pray that this prayer would be carried to the presidency”.
The caucus then threatened: “Meanwhile, we want to serve notice, and notice is hereby served that until such persons, as aforementioned, are made to resign or removed from office, we, members of the majority caucus here in parliament, will not participate in any business of the government by or for the president by any other minister”.
“We hope that those of us at the backbench and members of the majority caucus will abide by this prayer”, the group added.
“We are saying that if our request is not responded to positively, we will not be present for the budget hearing nor will we participate in the debate”, Mr Appiah-Kubi stressed.
Also, the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) had also demanded that President Akufo-Addo reassign Mr Ofori-Atta and Mr Adu Boahen if he cannot dismiss them.
AFAG’s demand came a few days after media personality and comic Kwaku Sintim-Misa, alias KSM, asked Mr Ofori-Atta to resign.
“Advice to Ken Ofori-Atta. Bra [brother] Ken, it is obvious the President cannot and will not fire you,” Mr Sintim-Misa began, adding “Please do him and Ghana a favour and respectfully resign for a competent financial manager to take charge,” he advised.
According to the TV show host, the resignation of the Finance Minister will be followed by restored confidence in Ghana’s economic recovery.
“I am sure that the financial markets will react positively to the news,” is how he put it.
Also, another entertainment personality, Lydia Forson, recently said: “It makes absolutely no sense that Ken Ofori-Atta is still the finance minister,” and queried: “How?”
“He’s lost the confidence of the people!” she argued.