It started well for the Nana Akufo-Addo administration. But this may soon change dramatically. The scandals that have hit the government since 2017 seem endless. As the governing party elects new national executives to lead what they call “Break the 8”, YEN.com.gh has compiled a list of some of the big scandals that the governing party would have to deal with in the quest to hold on to power beyond 2024.
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Although the current administration enjoyed a lot of goodwill when it took over power from John Mahama’s administration in 2017, its approval rating soon began a sharp decline.
Every year, the Nana Akufo-Addo government suffers one scandal or another. However, consistent with all political parties across the world, the governing NPP hopes to hold on to power beyond 2024 and has elected new national executives to champion the campaign of “Break the 8”, which is basically to stay in power after Akufo-Addo’s two terms.
But public sentiments on both traditional and social media, corroborated by credible surveys, point to a daunting task for the new NPP executives in the party’s campaign to hold on to power after the next election in 2024.
Here is a look at some of the recent scandals under the current administration that have contributed to the government’s dwindling popularity. The list is in no particular order, and for balance, the responses of the government to these scandals have been included.
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Overpriced Sputnik V vaccines
This scandal hit the Ghanaian public hard because of the key actor, Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman Manu, who once headed the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). PAC is a parliamentary platform that scrutinises the state auditor’s report on the financial conduct of public institutions.
The scandal concerns the purchase of Sputnik V vaccines at $19 per dose when the market price was almost half this amount or $10. A committee that probed the scandal said the minister breached public procurement laws.
The minister entered the deal to buy the vaccines from a private businessman on behalf of Ghana without cabinet and parliamentary approval. The deal was botched and although the minister retrieved most of the public funds paid to the private dealer, there were calls for him to be punished. Mr Agyeman Manu remains at post. Many believe subsequent comments by president Akufo-Addo suggest the minister will never be sanctioned for failing to do due diligence and breaching the law.
Government got the best Sputnik V vaccine deal
The health ministry defended the shady deal claiming the $19 price tag from the private dealer, Sheikh Al Maktoum, was the best deal the government got. The ministry said the private dealer became the best option after diplomatic efforts to purchase the vaccines from Russia failed.
PPA boss scandal
This scandal has been voted among the biggest scandals to hit the government. It involves the former CEO of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), Adjenim Boateng Adjei, who set up a company, Talent Discovery Limited, with his brother-in-law shortly after he assumed office as PPA boss.
Through restrictive tendering, the company he jointly owned with his brother-in-law won many government contracts. In an interesting twist, the contracts that the company won were approved by the PPA board of which Mr Adjei was a member.
Talent Discovery Limited will then sell the contracts to individuals and companies. It is estimated that he made at least GH¢41 million from this deal. An investigation by CHRAJ found that Mr Adjei sidestepped procurement processes for his personal gains.
Although he was sacked by the president and his accounts, which contained a total of GH¢14.5 million were frozen, a recent update on the scandal by the Investigative Journalist who broke the story, Manasseh Azure Awuni, says the embattled former public official has been able to withdraw all the money from his frozen account.
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Response from government
Although the president sacked the PPA boss and referred the matter to CHRAJ, the scandal remains a blot on Akufo-Addo’s administration. The president campaigned and won power on the promise to protect the public purse.
Sir John's ‘forever’ will
It recently emerged that Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, the late former CEO of the Forestry Commission, who died in 2020, acquired a huge wealth in a short space of time. The properties, which included large plots of land and many houses, had been willed to family relatives.
Leaked contents of the last will of Sir John, as he is popularly called, triggered a public uproar. A lawyer and anti-corruption campaigner, Martin Kpebu, described the contents of the will as “obscene”. Again, this is bad for the NPP government because Nana Akufo-Addo had promised that people who would come into his administration with a view to acquiring personal wealth would be disappointed. That does not seem to be the case.
Government opens investigation into Sir John's will
Following the huge public backlash, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources announced it has opened investigations into how huge acres of land were acquired at the Achimota forest area and the Ramsar site. There was no express condemnation of the huge properties in the will, many of which were acquired shortly after Sir John took office as Forestry Commission boss.
Also, an investigation by the Special Prosecutor into the properties recently hit a snag when a high court refused to grant the prosecutor’s request to freeze the assets to facilitate the ongoing investigation.
Luxury private jet scandal
For a long time, opposition MP Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has constantly blown the lid on alleged expensive luxury private jet travels by the president. The MP has tracked the president’s travels and shared details of the huge cost to the taxpayer.
In a Facebook post last year, NDC MP said Akufo-Addo rents the Airbus ACJ320neo owned by Acropolis Aviation for £15,000 an hour during each foreign travel, neglecting the presidential jet. Recently, Mr Ablakwa said Akufo-Addo once again chose top-of-the-range luxury aircraft that cost the country €480,000 (GH¢4million) for his trips to Rwanda, France, and Belgium.
While dismissing aspects of the allegations as a political gimmick, the government has claimed that the presidential jet was not fit to carry Akufo-Addo for long hours during international flights. Many have asked why the president would constantly choose to rent the most expensive and luxurious private jets for his international flights when there were cheaper options.
It seems the newly elected NPP executives would have a tough time undoing the bad press and scandal-laden reputation of the current government, but with two more years ahead, anything is possible.
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