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Francisca Grilled Over Ghs3m Sanitiser Deal

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Francisca Oteng-Mensah, Deputy Minister for Gender, Women and Social Protection designate

The Deputy Minister for Gender, Women and Social Protection nominee, Madam Francisca Oteng Mensah has indicated to the Appointments Committee of Parliament that she believes the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) will exonerate her of allegations of conflict of interest that has been levelled against her.

Her comments are based on allegations of conflict of interest levelled against her by a citizen, who thinks she used her position as a Board Chair of the National Youth Authority (NYA) to purchase hand sanitisers, worth GH¢3m, for her father’s company – Adonko Company Limited.

The issue came up when she appeared before the Appointments Committee to be vetted for a Deputy Gender Minister position yesterday.

Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale North, Alhassan Suhuyini and Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu, quizzed Oteng Mensah on the ongoing investigations.

The two MPs sought to establish the relationship between her and the company. They also inquired if indeed she used her position to approve a sum of money for the purchase of hand sanitisers for her father’s company, an act which is in contravention of Article 284 of the 1992 constitution.

Article 284 states that: “A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts or is likely to conflict with the performance of the functions of his office.”

Responding to the questions, the Kwabre East MP indicated to the committee that Adonko Company Limited belongs to her father and she also has shares in the company. She explained to the committee that during the outbreak of the Covid-19, the Board approved a sum of GH¢3m for a Covid-19 campaign, and part of that money was used for the purchase of hand sanitisers.

She indicated that per practice, Board Chairs are not part of the entity tender committee and so she was not aware that her father’s company was selected to be part of the companies the Authority will purchase sanitisers from.

She also indicated that she never got to know that hand sanitisers were purchased from her father’s company until after the mad rush for sanitisers was over.

She again pointed out to the Committee, headed by MP for Bekwai and First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu that, the NYA did not purchase hand sanitisers from Adonko Company Limited alone.

She said purchases were made from GHIOC and other companies as well. She was, therefore, confident that CHRAJ will exonerate her after it had concluded its investigations.

“On the issue of conflict of interest, I am sure CHRAJ is a competent body and with their investigations, they will be able to come up and exonerate me,” she said.

Despite these issues, some members on the committee, including the Deputy Minister for Transport and MP for Gushegu, Alhassan Tampuli, commended the good works she has done so far as a young parliamentarian and expressed confidence in her that she would do a good job at the ministry, when approved.

It would be recalled that Madam Oteng-Mensah became the youngest parliamentarian of the Fourth Republic after unseating the 64 year old Kofi Frimpong in the New Patriotic Party’s primaries and consequently winning the seat in 2016 elections.

Meanwhile, Hajia Lariba Zuweira Abudu, Gender Minister nominee, was also vetted yesterday. Her vetting took place before that of Madam Oteng Mensah.

During her vetting, Mr Haruna Iddrisu prayed that the nominee when approved will not follow the footsteps of the outgone Minister, Sarah Adjoa Safo by absenting herself and abandoning her duties.

“…So Hon. Lariba, I wish you every success at the Ministry of Gender, Women and Social Protection. I pray that you will not be an absentee Minister and you will also not tell the President that you are in Walewale or United Kingdom or somewhere and you will not be able to perform your duties,” he admonished

AGNES ANSAH

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