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NDC General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia

Fight against corruption: Akufo-Addo lowered bar at Bar conference – NDC

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) says it is convinced the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, is living in denial with his fight against corruption.

At a press conference Tuesday, the General Secretary of the party Johnson Asiedu Nketia said the President’s statement on his fight against corruption showed ample proof of his state of denial.

The President, speaking to lawyers at the Ghana Bar Association’s annual conference, mentioned 11 accusations of corruption made against his appointees and stressed each has been investigated or are being investigated.

He also pointed out that 21 officials of the erstwhile NDC administration are being prosecuted for causing financial loss to the state, which he summed up as some ¢772 million.

Full speech: President Akufo-Addo addresses 2019 GBA conference

But the opposition NDC has hit back, insisting the fight against graft won’t be won by the President’s craft of “flowery” rhetoric. “President Akufo-Addo lowered the bar for the fight against corruption at the bar conference”, Asiedu Nketia jabbed.

AKUFO-ADDO’s SPEECH ON CORRUPTION

Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure your expectations of this press conference would not be fully met if we do not comment on President Akufo-Addo’s speech on corruption at the GBA conference in Takoradi yesterday. This is even more appropriate because of the ever-increasing spate of corruption that has engulfed his government.

Yesterday, at the Bar Conference in Takoradi, President Akufo-Addo missed yet another opportunity to demonstrate that he should be trusted when it comes to fighting against corruption. At a time when he and his government are producing corruption scandals at an unprecedented rate, one would have expected the President to use the opportunity of his address at the Bar Conference to reassure the nation of credible efforts to weed out the destructive canker.

Instead, the President chose to play the proverbial ostrich and bury his head in the sand. He demonstrated clearly that he was not in touch with the realities of the time, that he heads the most corrupt government in the history of Ghana. Rather than confront this resounding verdict of well-meaning Ghanaians, he opted for that path of delusion and denial. In summary, President Akufo-Addo lowered the bar for the fight against corruption at the bar conference.

According to President Akufo-Addo, the avalanche of evidence of corruption which has made his government a laughingstock and the butt of all jokes is but a creation of us in the opposition.

We wish to call on the President to jolt himself back into reality and face the truth, which is that, the Ghanaian public has lost all faith in him to do anything about the mounting corruption under which his government has been buried. A multiplicity of polls and surveys carried out by credible national and international organizations show deteriorating confidence in his ability to win the fight against corruption.

Ghanaians are unified in the belief that our country has been overrun by corruption with the President sitting at the apex of a cabal perpetrating this. The Clergy, the media, Civil Society and other interest groups including conscientious elders of the NPP have all been unanimous in their condemnation of the level of corruption under President Akufo-Addo.

His failure to admit the existence of corruption in his government is a very clear indication that he does not even recognize the problem and cannot be counted upon to address it.

His claim that the uncountable number of corrupt deals and practices that have to come light since he assumed office, is the handiwork of the opposition, is yet another example of a leader who is totally out of sync with the aspirations and concerns of the people he governs.

President Akufo-Addo must accept full responsibility for the unenviable accolade as the most corrupt President in Ghanaian history, which hangs around his neck and find out why it is so.

The answer is not far-fetched as the people of this country have been witnesses to the hypocritical and duplicitous attitude with which he has approached corruption. He believes somehow, that flowery speeches and empty rhetoric delivered in an acquired accent is what convinces people that corruption is being fought.

The Ghanaian people have been long aware, that corruption is only fought on the basis of concrete steps aimed at preventing it from occurring, detecting its occurrence and punishing those engaged in it.

If today, President Akufo-Addo is dismissed as a corrupt leader, it is the outcome of his own decision to make corruption the foundation of his government.

He started off by installing the most nepotistic government in the history of Ghana which is brimming with dozens of blood relations, known friends and business associates. This set the tone for the public purse to be opened for exploitation by his army of appointees.

 

He promptly instituted a mechanism under which he and his close relatives captured the state in ways never seen before in our country. He and these relatives in senior government positions and some who hold no formal positions began to make familial or business relationship with the President, a key prerequisite for transactions with government. In the process, businesses with no ties to the President or his relatives became an endangered species when it comes to government contracts or business.

While cloaking himself in age and a shallow veneer of incorruptibility, backed by spin and media hype, he implemented a nation-wrecking scheme to appropriate the resources of the state for the benefit of a chosen few.

Today, key sectors of the Ghanaian economy are under the direct control of a clique of relatives and friends of the President. The pretension that this corrupt capture of the state is happening on the blind side of President Akufo-Addo is no longer tenable. That shenanigan has long given way to the truth of his deep and active involvement.

Borrowing a leaf from the President and his relatives’ poor example, his appointees joined in the scramble for resources of the state. It would appear that everybody in the Akufo-Addo government, is part of the great scramble which itself appears to be coordinated from a masterplan to loot.

The consequence of this has been the almost daily outbreak of scandals which has left Ghanaians breathless and dazed at their sheer numbers and scale.

Never in the history of governance in Ghana has such an all-out assault been launched on the meagre resources of the state.

From the extraordinarily corrupt AMERI/MYTILENIOUS scandal in which the President Nicodemusly granted Executive Approval for a deal that was inflated by a whopping $800 million, to the PDS scandal under which cronies of Mr Akufo-Addo and his relatives were handed a GHS 22 billion valued asset like ECG when they had not met either the financial or technical requirements, to the PPA scandal where the man appointed by the President to head that organization ended up awarding 14 contracts to himself; and sold same to third parties, to the NYA scandal where  a GHS 4.5 million contract was unlawfully awarded to an entity without recourse to procurement laws, it has been established beyond reasonable doubt, that corruption is a way of life for the President and his government.

How the President can turn around in the face of this glaring evidence and blame his political opponents is further proof of the bubble of denial within which he lives.

Many Ghanaians have been outraged by the President’s claims, that he has taken action in the legion of corruption cases recorded under him. Ghanaians remember quite vividly that when news broke of the BOST/MOVINPIINA Corruption scandal, President Akufo-Addo stoutly defended Alfred Obeng Boateng, MD of BOST at the time when a plethora of evidence existed to show a clear violation of both the Procurement law and the NPA Act.

The President’s defence of the BOST corruption has gone up flames following the outcome on internal investigation which that the whole transaction was illegal and criminal.

When his government was caught selling seats for cash in the infamous Cash-for-Seats scandal, he undermined the Parliamentary inquiry into the matter by prejudicially declaring his appointees innocent even before the inquiry could be concluded.

He put up a similarly robust defence when overwhelming evidence emerged of the inflation of the Oslo Chancery building by $ 8 million. Also, when the deeply corrupt and embarrassing Australia Visa scandal broke, he put up yet another farcical display when he proceeded to clear officials who were supposedly investigated without telling Ghanaians who was responsible for that criminal conduct of Visa racketeering.

It is his scandalous embrace of corruption that earned him the dubious accolade of a “clearing agent” and not a phantom effort by the opposition to tag him with corruption. The President leads a government that is primed to engage in corruption and he must admit it.

The President’s outing in Takoradi yesterday and his defensive posturing on the subject of corruption should alarm all Ghanaians who look forward to a genuine fight against corruption. The sad but unmistakable truth is that this President will not be staging the sustained fight against corruption that we all yearn for.

His notion of tackling corruption is the repetition of false claims and pedestrian propaganda by his PR machinery.

President Akufo-Addo again claimed that he has saved the country about GHS 2.7 billion through the rejection of sole-sourced contract presented to the PPA.

We wish to submit that this claim is false and challenge the President to publish a full list of all the specific cases of savings.

We note that the request for full disclosure on this matter has been outstanding for two years and the reason why the President has failed to show proof of his claim is that there, in fact, is no evidence to back if. In any event, how can any reasonable person trust the A.B. Adjei-led PPA in the face of the contract for sale scandal?

The President believes that parading political opponents before the court while opening up the public purse for systematic rape and abuse by his relatives and friends in government is the way to convince himself of a fight against corruption.

The Ghanaian public, however, knows better and are in a much better position to assess the sincerity and genuineness with which corruption is tackled. They cannot in good conscience give this President a pass when all he has done since his assumption of office is to facilitate corruption and make excuses for the same.

Unlike his predecessor, President Mahama, who launched investigations into reports of corruption, put his own appointees on trial leading to some  convictions , took steps to retrieve monies and cancelled some contracts and carried out far-reaching reforms of some government programmes to rid them of corruption, Mr Akufo-Addo believes rather in the preservation of his tainted government hence will do anything to shield  himself and his appointees even where incontrovertible evidence of corruption exists.

The records show that President Akufo-Addo is yet to show the level of courage demonstrated by his predecessor in the fight against corruption. He lacks the will, temperament and the courage of his convictions to take any far-reaching steps.

All the talk of incorruptibility on account of age and his life experiences are only artificial creations designed to clothe him in borrowed garb while he presides over the biggest heist in Ghanaian political and governance history.

We are encouraged that the people of Ghana have demonstrated their revulsion and outrage at the President’s deceptive and combative rhetoric yesterday when they expected a sober and reflective presentation high on substance and measurable steps to weed out the spectre of corruption which has completely overwhelmed the Akufo-Addo government.

That anger is a clear signal that the patience of Ghanaians is wearing thin and unless a dramatic change in the posture of the President is witnessed, we could be in for very gloomy times.

We urge all Ghanaians to continue to rise up in condemnation of the intolerable levels of corruption being practised by the President and his cabal of family and friends. Only a strong and unambiguous signal to President Akufo-Addo and his government can reverse the current drift of the country into an abyss of corruption and total collapse.

We have the power to cause a change in the destiny of our country by refusing to surrender the public purse to a marauding gang of looters who present the façade of incorruptibility.

If President Akufo-Addo wants to be taken seriously in the fight against corruption, he must immediately take steps to bring an end to the unparalleled nepotism and cronyism he currently practices and overhaul his government which has been so badly tainted with corruption. He must cause credible and independent investigations into all cases of corruption and take punitive action including the prosecution of his appointees found to have engaged in corruption.

Only then can he come to the table with clean hands to facilitate a genuine discourse on the way forward on tackling and defeating corruption. At the moment, his words on corruption are hollow and his claims on the subject completely devoid of any moral value.

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, corruption may the dominant these days, but let me touch on some unfortunate comments made by the President in relation to press freedoms.

We note that you must have felt very sad yesterday when the President sought to belittle and trivialize your genuine fears and concerns arising out of the gruesome murder of your colleague, Ahmed Suale, and the threats and attacks you have come under at the hands of NPP operatives.

We deeply regret that lack of concern and insensitivity on the President and his attempt to dismiss to your fears. As father of the nation, he should be offering comfort, guaranteeing your safety and taking action against the goons behind these heinous acts.

We in the NDC can assure you, that you will have our firm support in your quest to hold governments accountable. As some of you have attested to publicly, you enjoyed a climate of tolerance and cooperation under the NDC government and we promise an even better relationship under a future NDC government in 2021 and beyond.

Thank you for coming.

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