President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was sworn in on January 7, 2021 to begin a second term after defeating John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in a pulsating election in December 2020.
Though the second term of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), led by Akufo-Addo is barely a year old, it has, however, been fraught with a lot of dramas.
Considering some of the storms that troubled the ruling party as highlighted in this year-end review, it seems this new term won’t be entirely different from the previous one, especially in regards to scandals.
2021 saw a quite of scandals and controversies that hit President Akufo-Addo’s administration and we at Pulse Ghana compiled five (5) of these scandals for your reading pleasure.
1 . Presidential Spouses Salary Saga
A five-member emolument committee set up in June 2019 by President Akufo-Addo to make recommendations to him and to Parliament on the salaries and allowances payable, and the facilities and privileges available to article 71 officeholders presented its report earlier this year.
The Committee instituted that Ghana’s first lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, and the second lady, Mrs. Samira Bawumia should receive an increased salary just like Cabinet ministers.
It was reported that the current presidential spouses could be receiving about $3,500 (GH 21,000) which is to be back-dated to 2017.
This sparked an outrage from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and some Ghanaians who argued that the payments were unnecessary.
This led to the ultimate rejection of the salaries by Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo and Mrs. Samira Bawumia.
The First Lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, says she can’t accept the emoluments approved for her by Parliament.
She has thus decided to refund to the state, all the monies paid her since 2017, which amounts to GHS899,097.84.
In the statement, Mrs. Akufo-Addo’s Director of Communications argued that the First Lady did not request to be paid any allowance and that “she only received that which existed and [was] attached to her status, albeit informally.”
According to the statement, the wife of the president took the decision because the discussions that greeted the announcement of the allowance payments have been laced with some extremely negative opinions, which she finds distasteful as such commentaries only seek “to portray her as a venal, self-seeking and self-centered woman, who does not care about the plight of the ordinary Ghanaian.”
2 . Daniel Domelevo’s Exit As Auditor-General
In March, the government ousted Auditor General Daniel Domelevo for exceeding the retirement age. A 21-paged document released by the government, explaining circumstances that led to the retirement of Mr. Domelevo.
According to portions of the document, the former Auditor-General was dismissed on grounds that he was appointed by the erstwhile John Mahama administration “to pursue a particular agenda” and not to fight corruption in the interest of the nation.
This led to an outrage by some well meaning Ghanaians including some CSOs who argued that the move will affect the fight against corruption.
In an interview on Accra based Joy TV, Senior Vice President of Imani-Africa stated that the Akufo-Addo-led administration will regret its decision to retire former Auditor-General, Daniel Domelevo from office.
According to Kofi Bentil, the move by the government is unjustifiable since Mr Domelevo in his capacity as the Auditor-General, has diligently and professionally executed his mandate in terms of dealing with corruption.
“This [Domelevo] is the best we have had when it comes to the potential to make people who are corrupt pay back,” Kofi Bentil said.
3 . GNPC/Aker Energy Deal
The government, in September backed the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC) decision to acquire stakes in Aker Energy and AGM Petroleum Ghana Limited.
Had the GNPC sealed the deal with Aker and AGM, it will have a 70 percent stake in the South Deep Water Tano (SDWT) operated by AGM Petroleum Ghana Limited and a 37 percent stake in the Deep Water Tano/Cape Three Points (DWT/CTP) operated by Aker Energy Ghana Limited.
The $1.6 billion deal was met with stiff opposition from some 15 civil society organizations who say Ghana is been short-changed.
As a result, the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working in the extractive industry have petitioned Parliament to stop GNPC from going ahead with the agreement.
They argue that although the contract to give GNPC more oil stakes is in order, the value at which the deal is being reached is a threat to the country’s economic and fiscal prospects and must be looked at again.
4 . Hiring of luxury jets by the Presidency
Earlier this year, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Okudzeto Ablakwa stirred controversy when he alleged that President Akufo-Addo hired a private jet at the cost of ¢2.8 million on his travels to France, Belgium and South Africa at the expense of tax-burned Ghanaians.
He filed a question, and Parliament summoned Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, to answer questions on the cost and why Ghana’s own presidential jet was not used.
The Minister justified the president’s decision to rent the aircraft, arguing that the capacity of the presidential aircraft can no longer carry the president’s entourage.
5 . Sputnik Vaccine Saga
In August, It emerged that Ghana paid more than US$2.8 million to Sheikh Al Maktoum for the procurement of Sputnik V vaccine.
This is contrary to an earlier claim by the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, that the state has not expended any money towards the procurement of the vaccine through Sheikh Al Maktoum, a businessman based in Dubai.
This led to a nine-member ad-hoc parliamentary committee set up to probe the controversial Sputnik V vaccine procurement deal.
In their final report, they indicated that US$2,850,000 representing 50% of the US$5,700,000 owed to Sheikh Dalmook Al Maktoum for the eventual supply of 300,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine was actually paid to him.
“According to the Bank of Ghana in its letter of 31st March, 2021, out of the total amount of US$5,700,000.00 owed to Sheikh Al Maktoum, an amount of US$2,850,000.00 representing 50% has been paid to him and that translates into a Cedi equivalent of GH¢16,331,640.00 converted at the exchange rate of US$1 to GH¢5.73,” the report said.