– Cash –for- Seat Scandal
…As he prejudges parliamentary probe
President Nana Akufo-Addo has given the clearest indication yet, that his position on the probe that an adhoc committee is making into the expatriate awards scandal, in which expatriate business owners were made to pay $100,000 as precondition for sharing a table with the President is inconsequential.
In what is seen as a forejudgement of the probe, the President made it clear that he thinks the basis for the probe is totally flimsy.
“I think that I have taken (a position that) potentially could land into a lot of problems, which is to say that any allegation that is made against any appointee of mine would be investigated and that opens you up to having to investigate even the flimsiest and irresponsible allegations that are made, I don’t know if it’s appropriate to comment but what is going on in the Parliament now, a whole of Parliament is being recalled and the whole machinery of Parliament cranked up to look into this cash for seat…” President Akufo-Addo told journalists at his second press encounter as President at the Flagstaff House yesterday.
The President’s position had been expressed in answer to a question by veteran journalist, Kwesi Pratt Jr., who had questioned why President Akufo-Addo had jumped to the conclusion that his ministers had done nothing untoward, even though Parliament is still probing the issue.
According to the President, the whole Parliamentary process is a wasteful endeavor that is informed by flimsy and irresponsible allegations.
The position has since served to herald what the President will do in future if any of his ministers are found by the committee to have misconducted themselves. Already, ahead of Parliament’s probe, President Akufo-Addo had hurriedly come out to declare that his Ministers had done nothing untoward, almost immediately after the scandal had broken.
However, before the Parliamentary ad hoc committee probing the issue, Trade Minister, Alan Kyerematen, has struggled to answer questions satisfactorily. He has also contradicted himself and his ministry.
In the early days of the scandal, Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah, Deputy Trade Minister, as part of defense of his Ministry over the issue, had said that it was only two expatriate business owners who had paid to sponsor the awards in return for the opportunity to sit close to the President.
However, last week Friday, sector Minister, Alan Kyerematen, had told the ad hoc committee set up to investigate the issue that a total 17 expatriate CEOs had sat by the President during the event. Seven CEOs had paid before the event while three had paid after the event.
Three CEOs are yet to pay, Kyeremateng had said.
On December 8, 2017, the Trade Ministry, along with the Millennium Excellence Foundation, had organized a program to award expatriate business owners in Ghana supposedly in celebration of their contribution to Ghana’s economy at the Movenpic hotel in Accra.
Strangely, even though the program was to award the expatriates, the same expatriates had been asked to pay $100,000 each, which according Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, was demanded as an extortionate precondition to share table with the President. The Trade Ministry claims it was sponsorship.
Acting on its belief that the levies had been extortions, the Minority demanded a probe by Parliament, which led to the constitution of the five member ad hoc committee, chaired by the Majority Chief Whip, Kwasi Ameyaw Cheremeh, to probe it.
Curiously, the Parliamentary ad hoc committee is coming after President Akufo-Addo had summoned Trade Minister, Alan Kyeremanten, to the Flagstaff House over the issue and hurriedly cleared him and the Ministry of any wrongdoing.
It is following this that President Akufo-Addo has told journalists that the whole probe by the commission is based on flimsy and irresponsible allegation.
The indication is that if any of his ministers is found culpable, the President will not prosecute or even dismiss.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Fiifi Samuels