PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS (NDC) ON THE FTI INVESTIGATIVE REPORT ON THE ECG/PDS CONCESSIONAIRE AGREEMENT AND THE SPATE OF CORRUPTION UNDER PRESIDENT AKUFO- ADDO.
ADDRESSED BY: HON. JOHNSON ASIEDU NKETIA, GENERAL SECRETARY
10TH SEPTEMBER, 2019.
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the press.
As always, permit me to thank you on behalf of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for honoring our invitation. We also appreciate your sense of duty whenever we call upon you.
Friends from the Media,
I will begin today’s press conference with the never-ending PDS scandal which you must be very familiar with. This subject has become so big and will not leave us anytime soon.
By way of a brief background to this raging scandal, the Akufo-Addo Government sometime in July this year, informed the Ghanaian public through the Information Minister that it had suspended the ECG Concession Agreement with Power Distribution Services (PDS) Ghana over what Government described as, “material and fundamental breaches” relative to the Demand Guarantee provided by PDS to ECG.
The Energy Minister, Hon. John Peter Amewu, and Deputies subsequently followed up and described the entire ECG/PDS Concession Agreement as “fraudulent.”
This same Akufo-Addo government changed its position, within a matter of days, on the matter and got several government spokespersons to claim there only existed certain “anomalies” with the Agreement that needed rectification. What did the energy minister know that, the Akufo-Addo government has hidden and does not want Ghanaians to know?
In the light of this inconsistency, and knowing this government’s penchant for cover up, the Minority in Parliament petitioned the United States government, a partner in Ghana’s power sector reform, to support our call for an investigation into the scandal. The US authorities obliged, and helped to pressurize the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) of Ghana to conduct an independent forensic investigation into the matter in order to ascertain the truth.
Just last week, an investigative report by FTI Consulting, a reputable United States-based firm that was commissioned to look into the matter was made public.
The chilling revelations contained in the FTI report confirm the NDC’s long-held view that Ghanaians have been let down by the Akufo-Addo government. The reckless manner in which the rules were bent by government for PDS and the irresponsible manner in which the over GHS20 billion worth of assets of ECG were handed over to PDS, highlight the prevailing atmosphere of corruption and leadership paralysis that we are currently witnessing under President Nana Akufo-Addo.
The PDS Concession Agreement, approved by Parliament, contained 45 Conditions Precedent which had to be fulfilled by PDS before takeover for very good reasons.
Under Conditions precedent (CP) 24 and 31, PDS was required to provide ECG a payment security in the form of a Letter of Credit or Demand Guarantee with a value of US$350 million from a Bank. The purpose of this payment security was to safeguard the assets of ECG such that in case of default by PDS, Ghana through ECG could fall on same as a guarantee to recover our losses.
This precondition of a demand guarantee was therefore critical to the protection of the assets of ECG and the interest of Ghana in general under the ECG-PDS Concession Agreement.
We, all,feel scandalized that contrary to the effort of Parliament to protect the public purse in order to safeguard our interest in this matter, the Akufo-Addo Government shamefully and inexplicably conspired to bend the rules for PDS, thus leading us into the present dire situation.
Paragraph one of the “Executive Summary of Observations” of the FTI Report shows clearly that,by an act of criminal negligence President Akufo-Addo reneged on his critical duty and refused to perform simple responsibilities that should have aided the process of securing the all-important Demand Guarantee or Letter of Credit from a Bank, as required by the Concession Agreement.
The extent to which key officials within the Akufo-Addo government shirked their fiduciary responsibilities to the Ghanaian people in complete disservice to the national interest is something we cannot fathom.
The FTI Report
Per our reading of the FTI report, delays on the part of government gave PDS a convenient excuse to apply for the all-important Precondition of “payment security” to be side-stepped and restructured.
In other words, the effect of the criminal negligence on the part of the Akufo-Addo Government is what gave PDS an excuse not to fulfill the prerequisite of a “Payment Security” and provided justification to request for same to be modified into an “Insurance Guarantee”.
The FTI Consultancy report makes a startling revelation, of a meeting held on February 19, 2019. At this meetingattended by the Vice President, Dr. Bawumia, the Finance Minister, Hon. Ken Ofori Atta, ECG Board Chairman, Keli Gadzekpo, MiDA Board Chairman, Martin Eson-Benjaminand representatives of PDS, “Final Approval” was given to PDS to change the requirement of a Demand Guarantee or Letter of Credit from a Bank into a Demand Guarantee from an Insurance Company.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this was a clear breach of what Parliament had approved under CP 24 and 31 of the Concession Agreement.
This infamous decision was taken by high-ranking Government officials, including the Vice President of the Republic, representing President Akufo-Addo, who are all expected to protect the public interest.
But it did not end there.Ladies and gentlemen, as confirmed by the FTI report, the whole requirement of Payment Security was converted from a “Condition Precedent” to a “Condition Subsequent” in flagrant disregard of the supreme interest of the Ghanaian people.
Pursuant to these scandalous and irrational amendments by the Vice President Dr. Bawumia, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, Eson-Benjamin (MiDA) and ECG, PDS subsequently provided an Insurance Guarantee whose validity is now being challenged by Alkoot, the Qatar-based Reinsurance company which purportedly issued the said guarantee.
According to the FTI report, crucial advice from Government of Ghana’s own Financial Advisors on this transaction for the necessary due diligence to be done before the said Insurance Guarantee was accepted by ECG and the assets of ECG handed over to PDS, was glossed over by a government whose leader Nana Addo often pontificates about protecting the public purse.
Rather than serve the National interest, Government officials led by Vice-President Bawumia, and under the guidance of President Akufo-Addo decided to sacrifice the nation’s interest by changing the key requirements of a BANK GUARANTEE to that of an INSURANCE GUARANTEE thereby jeopardizing the assets of ECG and the interest of Ghanaians.
The critical question is: whose interest was the Vice-President, acting on behalf of Akufo-Addo, serving when he took that reckless decision which he knew very well was inimical to the interest of Ghana?
The people of Ghana were promised that investigations into the alleged fraudulent deal would be completed within 30 days. The report of the independent consultant was presented to MiDA on 3rd September.
Instead of acting decisively and timeously on the report, Government has resorted to deliberate delay tactics ostensibly to buy time and shield the high ranking Government officials and cronies of the President.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the game plan is to let the matter die a natural death and still enable create conditions for cronies of the President to profit from this clearly corrupt arrangement.
The Akufo-Addo State Capture Agenda
Ladies and gentlemen, we wish to also draw your attention to the real issues of state capture which per our investigations, lit the spark for this whole PDS inferno that now threatens the Power Distribution Sector of Ghana.
I am sure you must have seen a rather strange letter from Hon. Ken Ofori Atta to Lawyer Akoto Ampaw, a senior partner at the President’s law firm who is described in the letter as “Chairman of the Negotiation Committee”.
In this letter, the Finance Minister directed Mr. Akoto Ampaw to consolidate the 51% Ghanaian shareholding under a so-called Special Purpose Vehicle to allow for other so-called Ghanaian investors to acquire shares in PDS.
For the three original shareholders – GTS Power Limited, SantaPower Limited, and TG Energy Solutions Limited – this meant surrendering their shares to the new entity.
The Finance Minister justified this directive on the grounds that it would protect and preserve the indigenous ownership stake in PDS.
Ladies and gentlemen, we submit to you that this excuse is a fallacy. If we may ask, what is Ken Ofori-Atta’s locus and authority to give such a directive? Is he a shareholder, a beneficial owner or a conduit through which the President seeks to capture the electricity sector for personal benefit?
Furthermore, we wish to add that, the allocation of the 51% Ghanaian shareholding was approved by Parliament, and cannot be modified by anybody without recourse to the legislative body.
We are convinced without a shadow of doubt that the needless, baseless and illegal attempt by Ken Ofori Atta to restructure the shareholding of PDS is nothing but a well calculated attempt by President Akufo-Addo and his relatives to appropriate the 51% Ghanaian shareholding in PDS for themselves with the objective of taking control of Ghana’s Power Distribution sector for the next twenty (20) years – up to 2039.
Weare reliably informed that the three original shareholders were subsequently required to dilute their respective stake in this newly formed Special Purpose Vehicle.
Per this arrangement, they would collectively see their original 51% stake in PDS reduced to a paltry 11%. The remainder of the shares is to be apportioned to cronies of the President as agents who would hold the shares in trust for him and his family.
According to our unimpeachable sources, the original Ghanaian shareholders rebelled, threatened and refused to participate in this charade. It is this defiance that outraged the Akufo-Addo faction and occasioned the suspension of the PDS Concession with the hope that the resulting pressure would force the compliance of the original shareholders.
Their plan was to use the public outrage over the accusation to blackmail and bully the original shareholders to get in line. But the firecracker they launched has turned into a thermonuclear bomb that has exposed their wicked greed.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me now conclude on the the PDS matter:
- We wish to commend the United States Government for heeding to our demands for an independent enquiry into this PDS matter.
- It is clear from the above-enumerated facts that President Akufo-Addo, Vice-President Dr. Bawumia,the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta and the Eson-Benjamin-led MiDA who superintended over this process are complicit and cannot be trusted to resolve this conundrum.
- We are also aware of frantic efforts by President Akufo-Addo to bring in EDF of France to takeover the assets of ECG in pursuit of his ongoing state-capture agenda.
- We hereby serve notice to the Akufo-Addo Government, that any attempt to use this scandal as an avenue to appropriate the assets of ECG for cronies and assigns of President Akufo-Addo will fiercely resisted by the people of Ghana.The NDC shall remain vigilant and resolute in our quest to ensuring that the assets of ECG are protected and the continuous looting of state resources by the Akufo-Addo government is finally brought to a halt.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, this PDS Scandal is an unfolding story. We await Government’s official position on the FTI report and matters arising; following which we shall revisit the subject.
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 fight 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.
He also made the astonishing claim that he had investigated every allegation of corruption and that he was not the infamous “clearing agent” that Ghanaians have known him to be.
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 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 nicodemously 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 clear violation of both the Procurement law and the NPA Act.
The President’s defense 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 defense 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 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 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 vey gloomy times.
We urge all Ghanaians to continue to rise up in condemnation of the intolerable levels of corruption being practiced 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 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.