– Chinagate Scandal – Part 1 of 3

Outrageous entourage of 116 persons had flown first class to China, extra-large entourage had been paid per diem, while on the flight to China, and more.

 As Ghanaians struggle to adjust to the shock that the Akufo-Addo government is going through the motions to mortgage Ghana’s resources to China, it has emerged that Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia’s trip to pawn out Ghana was also very profligate.

An indulgence by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government saw the Vice President carry along an outrageously large entourage, mostly made up of party foot-soldiers and hangers-on who had no official locus whatsoever.

Many members of the large entourage had flown first class to China, in the Akufo-Addo government’s bid to enrich their experience on the trip, even as they had been hosted in an expensive hotel while there.

Impeccable information available also indicates that members of the Vice President’s entourage had been paid per diem, while on the flight to China.

The Republic has heard from sources that a huge cost was assaulted on the state’s purse to enable Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and his extra-large entourage to take the trip to China, which ended in what is seen as a sale of Ghana for a song.

Dr. Bawumia has since announced that the NPP government has accepted some $20billion in exchange for China leveraging $460billion of Ghana’s resources.

On 20th June, the Vice President had left Accra on an Emirates flight to Beijing with an outrageous entourage of 116 people, including ministers, pro-government journalists and party foot soldiers, some of whom allegedly could not even speak English.

In the buildup to the trip, the Vice President’s office had submitted a list of 88 people to State Protocol as his entourage. However, State Protocol is said to have assessed the number as too large and therefore pruned the list down to 80.

However, the Presidency is said to have readjusted the list up to 116 people and insisted that State Protocol squirm and accommodate.

The Republic can confirm that the Vice President and senior government officials had flown first class. Sources also say the unofficial lot accompanying him, mostly made up of party foot soldiers, had flown business class.

It was to later turn out on the flight that some of the members of the entourage were illiterate and uncouth, as sources say they took to being loudly chatty in vernacular and being a nuisance to other passengers on the flight.

But sources say the bad mannerism on the flight was not perpetrated by the party foot soldiers on the flight alone. State Protocol is said to have paid per diem to members of the entourage from sack-like bags on the same flight.

After touchdown in Beijing, Vice President Bawumia and other government officials had been checked into the Diaoyoutai State Guest House, a plush hotel complex in Beijing. The rest of the accompanying entourage had however been checked into the Hilton in Beijing.

The whole trip lasted four days and the Vice President and his entourage have since returned home, with some of the foot soldiers posting sights and sounds from their beautiful experience in China on social media.

Dr. Bawumia has also since delivered the bombshell that his government is signing up to have China leverage $460billion of Ghana’s natural resources in exchange for some $20billion.

As the announcement from the man, who had vowed from his days in opposition that his party would never borrow in power, shocks Ghanaians, the state is left to count the losses incurred from his trip to China.

The official government explanation has been that Vice President Bawumia had been invited for the four-day visit to China by the Chinese government and therefore the Chinese government footed the bills for his trip.

What is for sure, however, is that the Chinese government never sponsored his accompanying entourage of 116.

The last time The Republic checked, even economy class flight from Accra to Beijing cost $1,195, a local currency equivalent of almost GHc5,000. An idea about the plane ticket cost is a multiplication of approximately GHc5,000 by 116.

The huge cost to the state on account of the flight alone looks to be an insulting imprudence by a government which had accused the predecessor Mahama administration of poor management, even though President Mahama had banned his ministers from flying first class in 2015.

According to the website of the 5- Star Hilton Beijing hotel, it costs GHc559 a night to lounge there. The exact amount that had been paid as per diem to members of the entourage is not exactly known by The Republic yet.

The profligacy on the trip comes at a time that the Akufo-Addo government has not been able to pay salaries for several months. The non-payment of salaries was, some few weeks ago, said to affect even ministers, civil servants and presidential staffers.

The non-payment of salaries is said to be the cause of presidential staffers falling over one other to join the entourage of either the President or the Vice President anytime either of them is traveling, as they have come to depend on travel per diem to feed themselves and their families.

Apparently, that starvation was an important contributory factor to the Vice President’s large entourage of 116 people on the trip to China.

While there, some members of the entourage, especially those without official locus, had gone on sightseeing and sampled the tastes of China, as many of them have posted photos of the trip there.

Others are said to have tried to establish business contacts and attempted to woo Chinese businessmen with propositions.

Vice President Bawumia himself has since revealed that the NPP government has decided to mortgage some $460billion worth of resources to China in exchange for some $20billion that China is willing to offer.

“Our case is that if we need just 20 billion dollars to do a major massive marshal plan and we have 460 billion dollars sitting in the ground… what we really need is to develop a financing module that utilizes a small fraction of those reserves to finance infrastructure,” Vice President Bawumia said.

The Vice President’s current view is different from his line of argument when his party was in opposition as he had claimed that Ghana never needed to borrow because the country has money.

“I worked at the Bank of Ghana and so I know that Ghana is rich. It is because of the managers of the economy are incompetent, and so all what they think of is borrowing. The NPP if voted for will harness resources in Ghana to develop Ghana. I am telling you we can develop Ghana without borrowing. The money is there,” Dr. Bawumia had said in 2016.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Finance, Kwaku Kwarteng, has worsened the contradictions of the NPP government. Since the return of Dr. Bawumia from China, Mr. Kwarteng has been saying that there is no such thing as leveraging Ghana’s resources.

In contrast to Dr. Bawumia’s clear assertion that what Ghana has to offer China in exchange for China’s billions is its untapped natural resources, Mr. Kwarteng claims there is no such policy by government to mortgage the country’s resources.

Yesterday, on Accra-based Citi FM, he was confronted with the contradictions by Umaru Sanda and after he had failed to use cogent arguments to wiggle out of his contradictory position, he flew off the handle and warned Citi FM to never call him for interviews again. Fiifi Samuels

The Republic News Online

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