11 controversies that rocked NPP government in 2017

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) government will officially mark the first year of its administration on 7th January, 2017, after wrestling power from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government led by John Dramani Mahama.

The party claimed electoral victory on the back of many campaign promises aimed at boosting social infrastructure and providing a convenient economic environment for private businesses to thrive.

According to the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the NPP was poised to ensure good governance, by eroding the foundation of gross corruption laid by John Mahama and the NDC government.

His statement was in reference to the many controversies, often with a dent of corruption, that had engulfed the erstwhile government.

After almost 12 months in office, the NPP government has also been caught in various controversies which seem to have made the party unpopular in some circles.

Governance Plagiarism:

President Akufo-Addo and his handlers were caught in a controversial act of plagiarism in his inaugural speech.

The speech, although widely commended, was found to have excerpts of it copied directly from Thomas Woodrow Wilson, an American politician, and academician who served as the 28th President of the United States from 1913 to 1921.

Wilson, in a 1913 speech said, “We are bound by ideals that teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these ideals. Every citizen must uphold them…. I ask you to be citizens. Citizens, not spectators. Citizens, not subjects. Responsible citizens building communities of service and a nation of character.”

The phrase, which was repeated by George Bush in 2001, was included in Akufo-Addo’s inaugural address without reference to the original author.

It read, “I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens building your communities and our nation. Let us work until the work is done. Holy Scripture in Galatians 6:9 says “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

The incident, which caught the eye of international media gave the NDC minority in parliament the grounds to demand a withdrawal of the address.

The Deputy Minority Leader, James Klutse Avedzi, who led the charge, asked the NPP to withdraw the “plagiarized address” and resubmit another speech which will reflect all “attributable sources.”

“The sanctity of Parliament must be respected and preserved, and it is our expectation that the new Speaker of Parliament The Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye who thankfully is an academic of some repute, will better appreciate the full ramifications of what is before us,” it said in an address.

110 competent ministers:

Not long after the gaffe, the government again found itself in an uncomfortable position as it was subjected to criticism from various quarters including some Civil Society Organization over the appointment of 110 Ministers of State including deputies.

Following the appointment, President Akufo-Addo became the first head of state in the 4th Republic to have more than a hundred (100) ministers serve in his government.

He beat his predecessor, John Mahama by about 26 ministers.

While the government was accused of creating an opportunity to fleece the state, the Presidency said the appointment of the ministers was necessary to revamp the economy which had been supposedly collapsed by the John Mahama government.

Founders’ day vs. Founder’s day:

President Nana Akufo-Addo, whose political history stems from the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), formed on August 4, 1947 to bring about Ghanaian independence, stirred controversy when in his presidential inauguration address he suggested that members of the UGCC including his father Edward Akudo-Addo and uncle, J.B Danquah, were the main brains behind Ghana’s independence.

Many, including the Chairman of the CPP, Prof. Edmund Delle, accused him of distorting the country’s history to lessen the role of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana’s attainment of independence, but members of the NPP argued that the achievements of the Kwame Nkrumah was only because of the exposure and support he had received from the UGCC before he broke away to establish his Convention People’s Party (CPP).

The government subsequently canceled the former government’s decision to celebrate September 21; Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday as Founder’s Day, and rather set August 4, as founders’ day to recognize all who helped Ghana to attain independence.

The proposal is to be backed by law to take effect.

Corruption ‘Boakye-Agyarko bribe’:

The then Minister for Energy nominee, Boakye Agyarko, became the center of what appears to be the most interesting and complex corruption scandal in the first quarter of 2017, when the Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, alleged that Mr. Agyarko had bribed members of Parliament’s appointments committee GH¢ 3,000 each to unanimously approve him after his vetting.

The allegation which was backed by the Member of Parliament North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, and MP for Tamale North, Alhassan Suhuyini, led to a probe by a special committee set up by Parliament.

The committee, which was headed by MP for Essikado-Ketan, Joe Ghartey, ruled that Mahama Ayariga’s claims were baseless, and he was subsequently ordered to apologize, which was done, although many claimed he did it reluctantly.

BOST’s sale of contaminated fuel: 

In June 2017, it emerged that the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST) sold about 5 million liters of contaminated fuel to some unlicensed companies; Movepiina and Zup Oil, causing the state to lose GH¢7 million

The development sparked outrage from Ghanaians including stakeholders such as the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors, Chamber of Petroleum Consumers, and the African Center for Energy Policy (ACEP), who condemned the action, alleging that it was an illegal trend that needed to be arrested.

The Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko, however at a press conference cleared the Managing Director of BOST, Alfred Obeng Boateng of wrongdoing citing a Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), and National Security report.

Corrupt deputy Chiefs of Staff:

Controversial musicians and sympathizer of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kwame Asare Obeng, popularly known as A-Plus, took to Facebook to accuse President Akufo-Addo’s two Deputy Chiefs of Staff, Francis Asenso-Boakye, and Abu Jinapor of being corrupt.

He also described them as thieves who are arrogant.

Although he did not state their exact action that warranted the accusations, his comment generated a lot buzz especially from loyalists of the party, some of whom chided A-Plus for the comment.

Francis Asenso-Boakye subsequently rejected the claims describing them as false.

After receiving a lot of backlashes from the public including some members of the government, A-Plus apologized to the President for his actions, admitting that he used the wrong platform to voice out his concerns.

President Akufo-Addo subsequently ordered the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service to conduct an investigation into the matter.

The department, after its investigations, said it found A-Plus’ claims to be baseless, but A-Plus in a subsequent media interaction expressed his disagreement with the report.

A leaked audio tape later emerged with a conversation between A-Plus and a senior CID officer in which the officer supposedly indicated to A-Plus that the report was skewed to favour the government officials.

The CID officer in the tape, who was then Deputy Director of the CID, ACP Maame Yaa Tiwaa Addo-Danquah, later claimed that the tape was doctored, adding that A-Plus had threatened to blackmail her with it.

After receiving a petition to investigate the matter, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), exonerated the two deputy Chiefs of Staff of any corrupt act, ending the several weeks long controversy.

Diversion of premix fuel:

In November 2017, Citi News revealed at least over 230 cases of premix fuel diversions that had been cited by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), since January 2017 to October, at a time when fisher-folks were complaining about inaccessibility to premix fuel, subsequently leading to a decline in the nation’s fish stock.

The Ministry of Energy, in May 2017, subsequently ordered the Fisheries Ministry to probe the companies alleged to be complicit in the fuel diversion, but that did not happen.

When quizzed on her role in the scandal by Citi News, the Fisheries Minister, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, said the NPA was in a better position to act on the widespread diversion of premix fuel, because her Ministry did not have a tracking system to identify culprits.

Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, also defended her decision to appoint her brother as the Acting Administrator of the National Premix Secretariat, saying he was competent enough and has since left the position, and replaced by a substantive appointee.

Both the NPA and the Energy Ministry, had avoided commentary on the matter. However, after a joint meeting with the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and the National Premix Fuel Committee, the stakeholders agreed to among other things ensure that the premix fuel committee ceases supply to some Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) found to be complicit in the diversion of premix fuel, and more effective collaboration between them to avert such incidents from happening in the future.

Extortion of expatriates: 

The Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, alleged in Parliament in December 2017 that the Trade Ministry charged expatriates between $25,000 and $100,000, to book a seat at the recent Ghana Expatriate Business Awards (GEBA) which had President Akufo-Addo in attendance.

According to him, the monies were not approved by Parliament, adding that the monies were also not accounted for in the Internally Generated Funds [IGF] of the Ministry’s accounts.

The issue has further been reinforced by Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Okudzeto Ablakwa, who suffered verbal assaults from Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah over the matter.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry dissociated itself from the allegations. In a statement, it said it played no role in determining prices for seats at the event, and clarified that it only facilitated the implementation of a new initiative by the Millennium Excellence Foundation.

Amidst the brouhaha, the President, Nana Akufo-Addo said he found the allegations against the Ministry to be baseless following a query to the Trade and Industry Minister, Alan Kyeremanten, demanding answers from him over the allegations.

A statement from the government said “the facts, as reported to the President, do not disclose any wrongdoing on the part of the Minister of any government official.”

The Minority in Parliament last week called for an urgent Parliamentary meeting over the matter although the House was on recess.

The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye subsequently granted the request and has since called for an emergency sitting on Friday 5th January, 2018 although the Parliamentarians were originally expected to resume sitting at the end of January.

GH¢800,000 budget for website:

Again, in December 2017, it emerged that the Ministry for Special Development and Initiatives had budgeted GH¢800,000 of taxpayers’ money to build a new website.

The amount, although heavily criticized by the minority in Parliament, was approved by Parliament since the NPP has the majority in the House.

Many Ghanaians criticized the government and the sector minister, Mavis Hawa Koomson for the budget which many said was a recipe for corruption.

Mavis Hawa Koomson, in a surprising U-turn, claimed that the GH¢800,000 was a typographical error and that the actual amount was GH¢80,000.

The Minority made calls for her to resign over the matter because it was a sign of “incompetence.”

The Minister however in a subsequent defense said the amount was for the creation of different websites for the new development authorities; Northern Development Authority, Coastal Development Authority, and the Middle Belt Development Authority.

She added that, the GH¢ 1.1 billion total allocations to the Ministry for the important projects such as purchasing of vehicles to facilitate the work of the new development authorities.

Security Delta Force on rampage:

A major dent on the NPP government’s administration in 2017 was the heightened acts of impunity and lawlessness perpetrated by individuals and groups most of whom are affiliated with the government.

Following the election of Akufo-Addo as president, there were several instances of the forceful takeover of some state assets and facilities including some public toilets from the managers perceived to be affiliated to the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

The development assumed the height of national concern and controversy when a vigilante group, Delta Force, affiliated to the NPP, attacked the Ashanti Regional Security Coordinator at his office in broad day light.

They said he was not actively involved in the party’s electioneering campaign hence must not be “rewarded” for the appointment.

While standing trial in court, another set of members of the vigilante group stormed the court premises and freed their colleagues, causing fear, panic, and chaos in the courtroom.

The case ended with the first group of suspects being set free after payment of a GH¢1,800 per head fine, heavily criticized by some lawyers as “paltry” and not deterrent enough.

Those who set the suspects free from court, were set free for supposed lack of evidence, an incident that got many angry.

Karaga NPP youth on rampage:

Many believe the precedent set by the Delta Force group and the subsequent punitive measure meted out to them, encouraged a similar incident in Karaga in the Northern Region where some NPP youth, stormed a police station to set arrested suspects free.

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