Minority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu has laughed off suggestions by President John Mahama that his administration has done more than any Ghanaian leader in fighting corruption.
Mr Mahama, on Thursday April 21, 2016, in an interview on Volta Star radio said he is the only leader to have withdrawn more of his appointees over corruption than any other president in the history of the country.
“Where evidence of corruption is found, we investigate and we sanction…I have dropped more ministers and dealt more with my appointees than any government has done.”
Earlier on Sunrise FM in the Eastern region, Mr Mahama made a similar claim. “In dealing with corruption, let’s separate facts from political propaganda. In Ghana, we have a strong contest for political power, and, so, it is the interest of the contestants to try to use corruption as a political instrument for gaining political power. Indeed, if you want to talk about corruption, I would say this government has done more in the fight against corruption than the previous governments.”
But the Suame MP would not be won over by the president’s self-applause.
In an interview with Chief Jerry Forson on Accra100.5FM on Friday April 22, Mr Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu disagreed, saying: “Mahama can tickle himself and laugh. I won’t even say corruption: I will speak of theft, the daylight stealing of the nation’s money, because that will be a huge understatement.”
He said the posture of the current NDC administration regarding graft, since it returned to power in 2009, gave the president away.
He catalogued a number of corrupt deals under the NDC, which, he said, involved the active participation of government officials to make his point.
The lawmaker recalled the dubious payment of €92 million by the current administration to engineering company Construction Pioneers (CP). He said the firm had secured a default judgment against the government of Ghana in a U.S. court to the tune of $168 million for the abrogation of a contract to construct the Bekwai-Takoradi highway during President John Kufuor’s era under the New Patriotic Party.
He said the Kufuor government at the time agreed to pay the amount, but later realised the company owed Ghana more than was due it by the state, hence decided to meet executives of the company to arrive at a settlement, a realisation which compelled the company to make a claim for a reduction in the €92 million sum, subsequently whittling it down to €50 million. But negotiations had not been finalised when the Kufuor government left office.
He said the NDC government under late Professor John Mills, upon assuming power, made a payout of €92 million to the company, with the assistance of the then Attorney General, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, without opting to look into the merits of CP’s claims, thus ended up paying CP more than what the German company had agreed to receive.
“Such naked theft, what has [President] Mahama done about it?” the MP questioned.
He further questioned the president’s credentials in fighting corruption, citing the Woyome scandal as another instance. He said in similar fashion, then Attorney General Mrs Mould-Iddrisu fronted for businessman Alfred Woyome to dupe the nation of GHS51.2million despite the Minister of Finance’s advice against the payment.
According to him, the whole affair was a calculated move: Mr Woyome being asked by the state to go to court with false documents to make non-existent demands, presentation of false documents by Mr Woyome in court, the failure of the state to enter an appearance in court, and the subsequent default judgement against the state.
The MP added that for it to take former Attorney General Martin Amidu to get a court to compel the state to go after the money paid to Mr Woyome, long after the court had ruled that the businessman should pay back the money, demonstrated the government’s reluctance towards combatting corruption. Mr Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu expressed surprise that notwithstanding Mrs Mould-Iddrisu’s involvement in the matter, which occasioned her resignation from government, she was elected as NDC Vice Chairperson, a position she occupies today.
Continuing his list, the Suame MP said: “We (the minority in parliament) told them this agreement was bad”, in reference to the AMERI deal, which involved the state paying out $510 million to bring in a 225MW plant in 2015 to generate electricity to address the power crisis that had plagued the country for four years. The legislator said they had warned the government not to go ahead with the agreement due to the high cost involved, but “all they said was that they were in an emergency situation”.
He said officialdom’s wanton disregard for protection of the public purse had pushed the government into a terrible agreement that had accounted for the high cost of electricity in the country.
According to him, the president himself had recently remarked that he had realised electricity bills in many households had outstripped rent. “Where did that come from? It is the robbery of the nation that when we speak against, some people, including some senior journalists, defend. The effects of stealing from the nation are what we are now witnessing,” he noted.
Additionally, he said the unit cost of road construction in Ghana under the current administration was much greater than it was during President Kufuor’s administration. He said unlike the latter’s era when the average cost of road works was $480,000 per kilometre, the figure, in Mr Mahama’s era, had shot up to between $1.5million and $1.7million per kilometre.
“How come the 30,000km of roads President Kufuor constructed are cheaper than the 4,000km of John Mahama?” Mr Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu wondered.
“John Mahama can tickle himself and laugh, but future generations will declare that during his time, there was unprecedented plunder of the national till,” said the Minority Leader.