Former President John Mahama has waded into the controversial Agyapa Royalties Deal again, saying the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Ata, should step aside following the rot found in the agreement.
The Agyapa deal, a by-product of the Minerals Income Investment Fund Act which was passed in Parliament in 2018 and established the Fund to manage the equity interests of Ghana in mining companies and receive royalties on behalf of the government, was suspended last month to pave way for a corruption risk assessment.
The deal to manage the fund had been kicked against by many civil society organisations. But President Akufo-Addo wants it back on the deliberation table to be reconsidered before Parliament rises, and has ordered Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Ata to lead the crusade despite red flags being flanked by the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu.
The Special Prosecutor, in his corruption risk assessment of the controversial deal, argued among other things that consultations over the agreement were not comprehensive enough, adding that it lacked “fundamentals of probity, transparency and accountability.”
Amidu thus criticised the officials who took part in the processes leading to the approval of the agreement which he said flouted several laws with impunity prior to the approval of the controversial deal.
A part of the Special Prosecutor’s report read…“All the parties to the Mandate Agreement are deemed to have known the law but ignored it with impunity in signing and implementing the Mandate Agreement which is null and void ab initio as violating the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) and the Public Procurement Authority Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) as amended.”
Mr Amidu went on, “This conduct which appears to have been in furtherance of the suspected bid-rigging, in the assessment of this Office severely lowered the risk of corruption, and rendered them a low risk enterprise in the Agyapa Royalties Transactions process and their approval. It is with these new lenses that the analysis of the risk of corruption, and anti-corruption assessments of the legality of the engagement of the other services providers and underwriters on the recommendations of the Transaction Advisors acting as the Ministry of Finance’s procurement entity tender committee contrary to Part VI of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) as amended, and Sections 7 and 25 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) afore-quoted were made.”
But reacting to the revival of the deal, NDC flagbearer John Mahama called for the agreement to be withdrawn completely, given the concerns of Mr Amidu and the CSOs.
In an interview with Francis Abban on Morning Starr, the NDC leader said the deal was an avenue to enrich some members of the first family to the detriment of Ghanaians.
“Its nothing new and its not surprising. The Minority said that it was a bad deal,” Mr Mahama remarked while pointing to the corruption tendencies in the agreement.
“For me, the issue is not about sending it to parliament….It must be withdrawn,” he said while asking for the Finance Minister to resign or be fired.
Mr Mahama also believes his wish will not be met because President Akufo-Addo has put his family first before Ghanaians hence he would not be surprised to see Mr ofori-Ata in office in the wake of the controversies surrounding his office.
“That’s where nepotism sets in…We all know the finance Minister is his [Akufo-Addo’s] cousin,” Mr Mahama said while he referred to scandals as Contract for Sale and the Agyapa deal.