President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in an emergency meeting with leaders and members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) majority caucus in Parliament Tuesday, expressed regret on the approach taking by some 80 of them in their call for the removal of Ken Ofori-Atta and Charles Adu Boahen, as Minister of Finance and Minister of State in charge of Finance, respectively.
In a meeting that was cordial but tense, both sides, sources say, ended the meeting with a deeper understanding of each other’s standpoint, with the common belief that the interest of the government, party, and nation are paramount and need not be in conflict.
In a passionate, eloquent but sober manner, the President told the NPP MPs that he would have expected those among them calling for the removal of the two men to have first come to him directly on the matter.
There he could have also put his viewpoint and if they were not satisfied with his response then they would have been perfectly understood to advise themselves otherwise.
He told them, the nation was going through economic difficulties and the Presidency was open to ideas from an important arm of the ruling party, such as MPs, on the best way forward. But, the approach may matter as much as the message itself.
In a press conference held at the foyer in Parliament Tuesday, Andy Appiah Kubi, MP for Asante-Akim North, the spokesperson for the group, demanded the resignation of Ken Ofori-Atta, and Charles Adu-Boahen over the management of the economy.
According to the group of MPs, they will not participate in any government business that involves the Ministry of Finance or have any dealings with the Finance Minister or the minister of state for finance, until both men leave the government.
“We have had occasion to defend allegations of conflict of interest, lack of confidence and trust against the leadership of our Finance Ministry. The recent developments within our economy are of great concern to the greater majority of members of our caucus and our constituents.
“The summary of our concern leads to the plea that the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, and the minister of state at the Ministry of Finance, Charles Adu Boahen, should be removed from office.
“Meanwhile, we want to serve notice that until such persons as aforementioned are made to resign or removed from office, we members of the Majority Caucus here in Parliament will not participate in any business of government by or for the president or by any other minister,” Appiah-Kubi said when he addressed the press.
“If our request is not responded to positively, we’ll not be present for the Budget hearing, neither would we participate in the debate,” Appiah-Kubi added.
The President made it clear to his MPs and the party delegation led by National Chairman Stephen Ntim, that his office has no record of any petition or request for a meeting by the MPs themselves, through the party leadership, or the leadership of the majority side in Parliament on the subject matter.
Yes, he has been aware of murmurings, but the approach adopted took him by surprise and that was not the best. An Asaase News source who attended the meeting held also on Tuesday 25 October 2022, at the Jubilee House, says the President also described the timing of the resignation call as ill.
There have been growing calls for the removal of the Finance Minister due to the high levels of anxiety as a result of the persisting economic challenges exacerbated by the steep cedi depreciation.
The timing for the dismissal call, President Akufo-Addo, stressed, was not optimal due to the following reasons:
His government has 20 days more to present the 2023 Budget, which is intrinsically linked to the IMF negotiations. So there is a need to appropriately reflect the priorities of the IMF negotiations in this critical budget. He called on his MPs to not lose sight of the importance of maintaining focus.
Both Ofori-Atta and Adu Boahen have been leading Bilateral/ Multilateral Negotiations to secure additional funding to support the budget and Ghana’s development programme in line with the manifesto promise of the party.
The President was also clear that the ruling party could not afford any delay in either concluding the debt sustainability agenda of the country or in securing the IMF programme itself.
He was in doubt over the duo’s determination to conclude the IMF negotiations, secure additional funding and finalise the 2023 budget and appropriation to bring relief to Ghanaians. “You do not change a captain who is steering the ship out of a storm”, he stressed.
There are also concerns over the likely negative reaction of the market to new leaders who may not be privy to earlier discussions.
In spite of all the challenges With the wealth of network and experiences built over the years and on the job, he asked for the two to be allowed to finish with the budget and IMF negotiations, and if in the end, the vast number of them are still not happy, he has no problem with listening to their concerns and taking the appropriate steps to address them.
For the President, given the exigencies of recent challenges, while he understands the anxieties this is also the time for calm heads.
Majority leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, according to the source, welcomed the sentiments expressed by the President and told him that the leadership of the majority caucus of Parliament will meet with the MPs demanding the resignation of the Finance Minister and they will consult the “old lady” and revert to him.
NPP MPs are meeting Wednesday afternoon on the matter. Asaase News is gathering that some of the ringleaders are still adamant that the duo must go.
However, a large number of the backbenchers who were also for the removal are now shifting to the side of the argument that the two must be allowed first to prepare the budget and conclude the IMF negotiations.
Asaase News further learns that some are even planning another press conference to say the position stays and there are moves to organise a demonstration against the duo.
The Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. Stephen Ayensu Ntim, who was present at the meeting, said the party was fully behind both the Government and the Majority Caucus.
However, he added that the party will await the outcome of the proposed consultation between leadership and the MPs to determine the way forward.