It is official! Mr. Akwasi Oppong Fosu has lost his job barely two years after being appointed Minister of Local Government and Rural Development.
One other minister, Mr. E.K. T. Donkor, has also been replaced as the Minister in charge of the Central Region. So far, most of the casualties in President John Dramani Mahama�s latest bout of reshuffle have been deputy ministers.
It looks like President Mahama has no problems with many ministers and deputies fumbling at their jobs and making this country approach what amounts to a banana republic, and visiting untold hardships on the people of Ghana, the lovely nation the colonial adventurists fondly remember as the Gold Coast. In tune with age old tradition, no reasons have been assigned. The Head of State owes nobody an obligation to explain why he picks or rejects a particular member of his team. Tongues though, are wagging. It is being alleged that Mr. Oppong Fosu, for instance, is paying the price for the way the ministry is handling contracts for the street naming exercise.
In a wireless massage to all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development recently directed all MMDAs to write cheques payable to Subah Infosolution and its sister company, Street Naming Ghana Limited. The interesting development about this contract is that President Mahama has just issued a directive, demanding a halt in state dealings with Subah, while investigations are conducted into how the Ghana Revenue Service paid GH�74 million to the company for the electronic auditing of phone calls of all the six telecom companies operating in the country.
This nation is a very interesting society. In spite of the Presidential decree, the Ministry of Local Government, under Mr. Oppong Fosu, did not only award the contract for the supply of motorcycles for the street naming exercise to Subah, the ministry also issued a threat to all those who are speaking against the dubious contract. Mr. Vitus Azeem, Executive Director of the Ghana Integrity Initiative, the local chapter of Transparency International, particularly, has come in for some serious bashing. Mr. Azeem�s offence is that he raised the red flag over the way and manner the contract for the supply of motorcycles for the street naming exercise was awarded to Subah, a company listed at the Registry General�s to undertake mainly information technological assignments.
Read the ministerial query on Vitus. �It is sad that Mr. Azeem should question why Subah Infosolution should be awarded a contract because of alleged controversies surrounding the previous contract. How does that previous experience stop Subah from participating in any other contract? It must be noted that as far as MLOGRD is concerned, Subah has not been disqualified by any law in Ghana from participating in the tender. Subah, as well as all other companies, bid on their own merit and won,� the ministry said in an official statement signed by its guinea pig, the Public Relations Officer.
The issue at stake is not that Subah did not qualify for any contract. There are two very serious issues at play in this exercise. In the first place, the Head of State of the Republic, who employed the political head of the ministry, has, in his official capacity, ordered the suspension of all contracts involving Subah until the state of Ghana had investigated the circumstances under which GH�74 million of state money was paid to the company for doing nothing. Secondly, concerned citizens, including Mr. Azeem, contend that the supply of motorcycles is not the core business of Subah, which is officially listed at the Register General�s Department as a specialised company dealing in information technology.
The argument is that there are more competent companies when it comes to the supply of motor bicycles, and that asking a company specialising in information technology to supply motorcycles was a risk not worth taking. Instead of taking note of the concerns of these concerned Ghanaians, whose taxes would ultimately be used in paying for the contract sum to Subah, the ministry rather chose to go bananas. In what amounts to a threat on Mr. Azeem especially, the ministry wrote in its statement: �It is important that Mr. Azeem and other anti-corruption agencies address themselves to the legal implications of their statements, and to do proper investigations into matters before they come public��
In the strange manner of operating the so-called Better Ghana Agenda there are no prizes for guessing why the ministry is doing the bidding of Subah. There must be something in Subah unknown to most Ghanaians. Otherwise, it is strange that government officials go out of their way to defend a private company cited for falling foul of laid down procedures for undertaking state contracts.
The issue at stake is simple. The President of the Republic, worried stiff about public outcry against the way and manner scarce state resources have been doled out to Subah to the tune of GH�74 million for virtually doing nothing, calls a halt to further financial dealings with Subah involving state finances. Rather than obey this sound Presidential order, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development chose to slam the Presidential directive in the face and commit more state funds to be doled out to the information technology company, under more bizarre circumstances.
Surely, the minister deserves the boot. My only regret is that Mr. Oppong Fosu�s deputy, Baba Jamal, the chief advocate of the policy of a goat is a cow theory in matters involving the administration of the National Democratic Congress, and who went into overdrive on the air, defending the bogus Subah deal, was left untouched. If the minister has been given the boot for disobeying Presidential directives, his loud-mouthed deputy should have followed suit. But, this is Mahama�s administration, where strange things occur on daily basis.
There is the small matter of the dismissed minister allegedly giving the nod to the District Chief Executive for Akwapim South, Mr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, (certainly not the under-fire Electoral Commissioner) to flatten large portions of the forest reserve at the Aburi Gardens, which is a major conservation project. To think that the Ministry is notorious in missing its date with MMDAs, in respect of common fund remittances, sums up why both the minister and his notorious deputy ought to have given way. The sums of rubbish pile up in our cities, towns and villages do not add up either. Yesterday, The Chronicle did an expose of the rubbish situation in the national capital Accra, which has never been a pleasant sight to behold.
In the 21st Century, it is not the best news that the national capital should be so filthy. Yesterday, when I read a news item that the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, led by its bearded Mayor, Dr. Alfred Okoh Vanderpuije, had sent some 30 top officials to the United States of America to train in best practices in local administration, I thought we are getting a bit crazy in this society.
I do not believe that our top officials need any tutorials from the United States or any other society to move rubbish from our markets and street corners. I will like to believe that it is a matter of making the necessary arrangements for landfill sites, and getting the necessary equipment to move the rubbish.
In a rather bizarre way of moving the so-called Better Ghana agenda, authorities in the Mahama administration apparently prefer to wait until the rubbish becomes mountains and difficult to clear before issuing out health warnings. As you read this piece, the Ghana Health Service has issued out a health alert. The service says the pile-up of rubbish in the national capital is a recipe for the outbreak of cholera, especially with the onset of the rains.
With the ordinary Ghanaian already suffocating from economic mismanagement, the threat of a cholera epidemic resulting from the failure of the Mahama regime to remove rubbish sums up the plight of the Ghanaian under this administration. More ministers, certainly not only Mr. Oppong Fosu and E.T.K. Donkor, deserve the sack. The so-called �Better Ghana� has never worked.
I shall return!
Source: Ebo Quansah
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