Some NPP activists say my comments on the Akufo-Addo government are baseless. They are not! In November 2016, I wrote an article in which I said any idiot could use our money to build infrastructure and boast about that. I did not see what Mahama had done as exceptional. In the same way, any idiot can use our money to pay school fees for SHS students. One does not need to be a genius to do that. The opportunity cost of John Mahama’s infrastructure could have been the payment of fees. It’s just a matter of priority. My argument was, and still is, that there’s more to leadership than using the tax payer’s money to do things and boast. The main problem with our country and continent is wastage resulting from greed and corruption. And that’s why I was hopeful that an “incorruptible” and “no-nonsense” Akufo-Addo was the Messiah Ghanaians needed in the post-Mahama era to restore hope and decency into our national life. That’s why after two and a half years into Akufo-Addo’s presidency, I hold the view that we bought nicely packaged key soap at Circle, thinking it was a smartphone.
There’s a lot to say, but let me give you just one simple example, which I think after reading, you will be left with no doubt that even Nana Akufo-Addo’s wife would choose Mr. John Mahama over her husband in how the two have dealt with the same scandal.
In 2013 I investigated the GYEEDA Corruption Scandal. The government and the private sector were stealing our money through fraudulent contracts. For four years, the NPP used my GYEEDA investigation as a basis to call John Mahama corrupt. John Mahama took some actions, but they were not enough. In March 2016, when Nana Akufo-Addo presented his version of the state of the nation address, this was what he said of Mahama’s action on GYEEDA and other scandals: “It is clear from the actions taken on cases like judgment debts, the World Cup saga, GYEEDA, SADA, the DVLA saga, the Metro Mass branding, etc. that the fight against corruption is a sham. I say again, the so-called fight against corruption is a sham.”
Here is what John Mahama did on the GYEEDA Scandal:
- He caused a committee to be set up to probe further.
- John Mahama canceled all the GYEEDA contracts, except the Zoomlion Contract. The contracts were fraudulent in nature, and the Zoomlion contract was the worst.
- Mahama drafted a bill and passed the Youth Employment Agency Act
- Mahama retrieved over GHc60 million from Roland Agambire’s companies
- Mahama prosecuted and jailed two people, one being the NDC’s Abuga Pele, former NDC MP.
- Roland Agambire’s rLG and other companies collapsed because of the actions taken by John Mahama’s government.
- GYEEDA saw some reforms after the passage of the GYEEDA Bill into law.
- Mahama did not award any of the companies a contract in GYEEDA.
Did I agree with Akufo-Addo that Mahama’s handling of GYEEDA was a sham? Yes. The big culprits were left off the hook. Abuga Pele and Philip Assibit were scapegoats, the fingerlings in the scandal. There were hundreds of millions of cedis that were not retrieved from Zoomlion, Better Ghana, and rLG. Mahama still kept the Zoomlion contract. This contract allowed the government to pay 500 cedis to Zoomlion per sweeper a month, but Zoomlion paid the sweepers 100 cedis and kept the rest as management fees. Zoomlion claimed there were 45,000 sweepers so every month, Zoomlion was paid 18 million cedis as management fees. This contract expired in February 2013, and between 2013 and 2019, there is no written agreement between Zoomlion and the government but we pay 270 million cedis to Zoomlion a year.
On November 16, 2016, three weeks to the 2016 election, the NPP held a press conference and accused John Mahama and Zoomlion of perpetuating fraud against the people of Ghana based on this GYEEDA contract to Zoomlion, which Mahama did not cancel. The NPP said John Mahama could not cancel the Zoomlion contract and other such fraudulent contracts because he (John Mahama) was benefitting directly from the theft.
Three weeks after that press conference Ghanaians voted massively for Nana Akufo-Addo. What did Akufo-Addo do about the “fraudulent GYEEDA” contract to Zoomlion?
Nana Akufo-Addo paid a visit to the man whom he and his opposition NPP had accused of defrauding Ghanaians. He encouraged Joseph Siaw Agyepong of Zoomlion to keep up with his good works. “When you are at the forefront of doing things, like you are, you will be the subject of controversy. It goes with the territory. I know you a little bit, and I know you are capable of handling it. Stay focused,” President Akufo-Addo told the Zoomlion CEO.
Akufo-Addo has extended that contract twice. The assemblies have been screaming to the central government to allow them to supervise the sweepers. This would optimize the service provided by the sweepers of the YEA and save the government management fees paid to contractors. But the incorruptible Akufo-Addo and the protector of our purse won’t hear any of that.
But what has changed? Why would a businessman be fraudulent when you are in opposition, but when you’re in government, he is a hard-working entrepreneur who needs encouragement? Why would an act of corruption under Mahama become mere “controversy” which comes with being at the forefront of doing things? So if Mahama could not cancel the Zoomlion contract because he was benefitting directly from the theft, why did Nana Akufo-Addo not cancel it when he took over from Mahama? Is he benefiting directly from the theft? Mahama canceled over 10 GYEEDA contracts but the only remaining one, which Akfufo-Addo and his party said was fraudulent has still not been canceled two and a half years into his presidency.
The worst part is that the NPP government held a press conference in February 2018 and told Ghanaians the contract was stinking and that they would end it by June 2018, but it is still running.
If you look at the actions of Mahama and the Nana Akufo-Addo on the GYEEDA scandal so far, which of these two presidents do you think Akufo-Addo’s wife would choose as having acted better in the interest of Ghana?
NOTE: I have not regretted the stories I did in the Mahama era. The wrongs of the Akufo-Addo era do not offset those done in the Mahama era.
By Manasseh Azure Awuni, a Ghanaian journalist