Ebo Quansah in Accra
It looks more like a chapter in the repertoire of a Kweku Ananse fiction than an actual occurrence in the procurement processes of modern day Ghana. A man claiming to be the owner of a private construction firm approaches the General Manager of another private company and asks to be awarded a state contract, and actually walks away with a GH¢22.3 million worth road contract.
According to a documentary compiled by ace investigative journalist Manasseh Azuri Awuni and aired on Joy News, Talent Discoveries Initiative (TDI), owned and operated by Mr. Adjenim Boateng Adjei, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Public Procurement Agency (PPA), through surrogates, sells state contracts like the ice water seller on the road side.
In a 46-minute documentary that has shocked the nation, Joy News claimed that Talent Discoveries Limited specialises in selling state contracts that have been approved by the PPA under restrictive tender.
According to the documentary Mr. Awuni confirmed that the contract sold to his company, K-Drah Enterprise, was originally awarded to B-Molie Limited, another company owned by the PPA boss.
According to available evidence, the ace investigative journalist was made to pay GH¢5,000 as registration fee before being awarded that juicy contract.
First reports indicate that a number of ministries, departments and agencies have confirmed that those contracts that have been offered for sale by Talent Discoveries Limited, indeed, belong to them. The entirely private of the company is holding to its chest tenders for the construction of projects belonging to the Ghana Water Company, Ghana Cocoa Board, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Works and Housing, and four contracts with the Ministry of Special Initiatives to constructs dams under the government’s flagship programme, One Village, One Dam.
Talent Discovery was also listed by the Ministry of Inner Cities and Zongo Development in 2018. It is being alleged that TDI was also cited on 14 occasions to the PPA for restrictive tendering. Mr. Awuni alleges that the two directors of the companies offering contracts for sale are Mr. Adjenim Adjei and Francis Arhin. According to Manasseh, the PPA boss has admitted owning shares in the two companies offering state contracts for sale.
It is right that the President has suspended the boss of the PPA and referred the matter to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate the conflict of interest aspect of the case, and to the Special Prosecutor’s office for prosecution.
Already, so much column inches in the written media and air space have been used analysing the matter. For me, the matter goes further than the PPA boss using his office for personal gains. I will like to believe that the entire PPA Board should answer for this mess.
It defies the imagination that the Chief Executive would execute this sordid agenda on his own without the connivance of the entire Board. On Saturday, October 24, 2019, the Daily Guide, an Accra private newspaper, led on its front page with a statement from the Board of Directors of the PPA expressing solidarity with the action taken by the Head of State.
The Board said, upon the conclusion of the investigation ordered by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, “the role of the board of the PPA in granting of approvals for restrictive tendering and single source procurement, in accordance with Section 38, 40 and 41 respectively of the Public Procurement Act 2003 (Act 663) as amended, will be understood.”
Come on folks, how can anybody understands a process under which one particular company approaches the PPA 14 times within two years for restrictive tendering, without any alarm bells ringing in the ears of any of the board members on fat cow allowances?
I am under no illusion. For me, the board members compromised themselves. It makes no sense that people sit on a board, are paid allowances for bringing their expertise to bear, and could not detect any breaches of the law when, for 14 times, a particular company approaches asking for restrictive tender.
Members of the Board are all part of the deal, slept on the job and merely collected their allowances, or were too incompetent to detect all the infractions. In all these scenarios, the members of the Board ought to answer for their roles. The President has a duty to call all of them to order.
I have my own recommendations to deal with the situation. All members must be be sacked from the PPA boardroom and handed over to the CHRAJ and the Special Prosecutor to be hauled before the law courts to account for their stewardship. I am sorry if I appear to be recommending a high-handed approach to the matter.
For me, that is the only language some of the President’s appointees messing everybody up will understand. It is unfortunate, but this administration promised so much. The President appears to be doing his part of the bargain, but some of his appointees are dragging him down.
I have come to admire the Minister for Procurement for the cool and collected manner she has gone about her duties. In the House of Parliament, where she is deputy to the Majority Leader, and in her ministerial role, Ms. Adwoa Safo has come out as a calm and calculated individual who knows what she is about.
I shudder to think though, of how she could hang on to her ministerial appointment when it is becoming clearer by the Manasseh expose that she has only been a Simpa Panyin. I doubt it that her ministry is of any relevance in the scheme of things.
Procurement Wahala is at the fore at the moment. But there have been so many infractions from his appointees since Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was inaugurated that even some die-hard supporters are beginning to lose hope.
This administration was barely settling in when news broke out that the President had apparently been misled on the AMERI (Africa and Middle East Resources Investment Group) power deal. In the news during the run-up to the 2016 elections, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) made so much noise about the deal brokered by the Mahama administration. The NPP in opposition said the amount of money involved in getting the power deal in operation was not value for money, and threatened to dishonour it when the party was voted into power.
Naturally, one of the main actions undertaken by the Akufo-Addo administration in office was to review the AMERI deal. It turned out that the President had been misled, and that the re-negotiated deal left the country worse off than the original National Democratic Congress (NDC)-negotiated deal.
When the President allegedly asked the Minister of Energy at the time to resign his post for the mess created, he was said to have refused. The deal was said to have led to friction within the ruling party.
Naturally, something ought to give. The then Minister of Energy, Mr. Boakye Agyarko, President Akufo-Addo’s campaign manager when the nation went to the polls in 2016, had to be sacrificed. To date, Mr. Boakye Agyarko is the only member of the Akufo-Addo regime to have been given the boot. I bet my bottom cedi, many more have their heads on the chopping board.
There is also the brouhaha over the circumstances leading to the dismissal of the Managing Director of the Bulk Oil Storage Company (BOST, Mr. Alfred Obeng Boateng. On June 5, 2018, Mr. Boateng was dismissed by a Presidential fiat. The news doing the rounds at the time was that the Chief Executive was playing tricks with petroleum products being diverted from their original course.
Mr. Boateng disputed the allegation, claiming in a radio interview that it was rather his attempt to prevent the system from being abused that incurred the wrath of those who wield power in the new administration.
“When I attempted to streamline things and put a stop to the fraud being perpetrated by workers at BOST, I had lots of enemies who rose against me, and eventually caused my removal as MD,” Mr. Boateng told Okay FM in Accra.
The case of Mr. Charles Bissue, a Presidential Staffer and Secretary to the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Illegal Mining, who was allegedly caught on tape by Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ undercover investigation, taking money to allow illegal mining to be executed in spite of the government ban on the illegal exploitation of the mineral resource, would not die in spite of the police investigation that exonerated him.
Many Ghanaians are questioning the mode of investigation when it came out clearly that he was only left off the hook because of the failure of the police investigations to get the original tape recordings of the Tiger Eye Investigation team. As you read this piece, there are many Ghanaians out there whose confidence level in the ability of the police to come clean on any matter is very low.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Aqua Culture is not the most popular institution among the fishing communities in the country, as allegations of the diversion of pre-mix petrol are rampant.
This government is doing its very best, unfortunately, the conduct of some ministers and other appointees are distracting attention from the people’s appreciation of all the President’s good works.
Some of us stuck out necks out and supported the President while in opposition to wrestle power from the corrupt and incompetent Mahama administration. I still believe that this country’s only hope of hauling itself from poverty lies with the Akufo-Addo administration, and promise those causing problems to take note – some of us would not allow them to visit their mayhem on this administration.
The last time I went to my district and visited the Ekumfi Fruit Factory under construction at Nanaben near Narkwa, I was so thrilled. The factory is about 90 percent complete. Very soon Ekumfi would be able to provide employment for the hundreds of women selling pineapples by the way-side, and losing most of them through poor storage.
The One District One Factory concept is taking shape throughout the country. I am thrilled that the Free Senior High School (SHS) education is putting many talented but poor students in school. There are problems though, and I expect my good friend, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, to put his ears to the ground, listen to advice, and resolve the nitty problems.
I am told, for instance, that junior officers operating the Computer Placement System are taking advantage to line their pockets. I am also told that contractors are taking advantage of the central system of procurement to dump shoddy goods on our schools.
The Akufo-Addo administration means well, but intention alone is not enough to reach the Promised Land. As journalists, we are required by the constitution to hold the government accountable to the people. I have always been in the trenches fighting oppression and corrupt administrations.
I rejoiced as a school boy when the Nkrumah regime was overthrown in 1966. I learned that the regime was oppressive and some of the ministers corrupt. I fought the Acheampong regimes as a young reporter for introducing kalabule into the national government.
I fought the Provisional National Defence Council because it was oppressive, and its leadership became corrupt. I hated the very guts of the National Democratic Congress for the way it created the infamous ‘create, loot and share’ policy, although its two leaders, President John Evans Atta Mills and John Dramani Mahama, and I were friends.
I do not believe Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo deserves to be a one-term President. He could only avoid the unthinkable if he adopts the stick and carrot approach to the governance system. Nana put your foot down!
I shall return!