General News of 2013-12-31

Forbe's list laughable, mischievous - Afriyie-Ankrah

Youth and Sports Minister, Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, has described as "laughable" and "mischievous", a supposed Forbes publication naming him among Top 20 wealthy people in Ghana.

The publication also named President John Mahama as having been able to amass $900 million to hit an enviable fifth on the list within the first year of his presidency.

But Mr. Afriyie-Ankrah in a rejoinder on Tuesday, December 31, has strongly rejected the so-called Forbes-Ghana list.

He said the list which was released in November, was concocted to throw dust in the eyes of Ghanaians and incite public anger against President Mahama and his family, some targeted ministers as well as the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) in general.

Mr. Afriyie Ankrah said the supposed list, which is dominated by members of the governing party gives the impression that the NDC and its surrogates are amassing wealth.

Read the full statement below:

MEDIA RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

REJOINDER – 20 RICHEST PEOPLE IN GHANA

I am by now very used to waking up in the morning to congratulatory messages and phone calls. Reflecting on the year 2013 however, there is a particular call I received one early morning that I wish to refer to,which has compelled me to respond and set the records straight.

A good friend of mine innocently called to congratulate me for making it to a so-called Forbes list of 20 richest people in Ghana. According to him, I was reported to be number thirteen on the list. I tried brushing him off and wondered why he was playing a silly joke on me but he insisted that he had read it from the internet. When he finally forwarded the list to me, I was amused at what I saw to be a joke but it turned into bemusement when I wondered what my name could be doing on such a list.

It is true that I am not a personal banker to anybody, however, the figures being quoted for H. E. President Mahama and others including Ibrahim Mahama, who everybody knows is wealthy are ridiculous, to put it mildly. Speaking for myself, I don’t see my name appearing even if a list of ten thousand richest people in Ghana was constructed. Admittedly, I am not poor but it is preposterous for anyone to attribute such wealth to my name. I consider myself blessed, in that by the Grace of God, I have enough to take care of myself and my family and indeed, try to share with the underprivileged. Beyond that, what do I have that somebody will classify me as the thirteenth wealthiest person in Ghana, wickedly quoting a figure of $112 million?

As I mentioned earlier, my initial reaction was that of amusement but with time it has grown to bewilderment and lately a resolve to expose the cowards, especially as I continue to receive ‘congratulatory’ messages from friends and relatives both in Ghana and the diaspora.

There have been wild stories about me in the past but in order to remain focused I have always chosen not to pay attention since most of these are distractions as far as I am concerned.

Before this so-called list emerged, it was alleged that I received GH?120 million from GYEEDA through the former Minister of Youth and Sports. This allegation was made on a radio station by an NPP member of parliament. In order to mask his mischief, he used the word ‘allegedly’, as if by the use of that word, one could say anything and get away with it.After confronting the issue, the story changed to say that it was Hon. Abuga Pele who gave the said amount. The question is, how much is GYEEDA’s entire budget such that Hon. Abuga Pele was able to siphon enough for himself and throw a surplus of GHC120 million at me? When you hear such unintelligent accusations you don’t know whether to laugh or be angry. I was alarmed when one of our youth organizers in Nima confidently came to ask me about that story.

Without disrespecting anybody, I understand when a certain calibre of persons believes anything they hear on radio or read on the internet. However I was alarmed when I read an article in one of the leading newspapers written by a professor from the University of Ghana, Legon. When a whole professor enters the fray and blatantly believes such concocted stories and goes further to cast insinuations based on the wicked lies, it becomes dangerous. The danger for our dear country is even more pronounced when such intellectuals make uninformed and illogical analysis and draw defective conclusions. To the professor, would it be fair if somebody puts on the internet that he sleeps with his students before awarding decent grades to them? Where are we taking this dear nation of ours?

The worst happened last week when I spoke on phone with one of my aunties who lives in the United States with her husband. After congratulating Ghana for qualifying to the world cup they quickly applauded me for making it to Forbes. I heard ‘Fox’ so I thought they were talking about Fox TV. When I enquired whether it was about the world cup draw, they clarified that they meant Forbes-Ghana’s 20 richest people. They had also read and believed the malicious story on both ghanaweb and peacefmonline. They thanked God for my life for being the thirteenth on the list. As a Chemistry teacher in a High School in USA, I was disappointed that my sister’s husband fell for this, just like the professor emeritus.

Out of bewilderment and bemusement, I decided to really consider the level of circulation. I subsequently found out that the malicious fabrication was given a lot of ‘exposure’. In addition to our traditional print and electronic media (including their online news), a lot of online portals including www.ghanaweb.com,www.modernghana.com,www.ghostinfostv.com,www.spyghana.com,www.highlifetoday.com,www.focusghana.com,www.ghanafilla.net published it. No wonder till date, friends, family and loved ones still see the wicked propaganda and call to verify.

For the records, I want Ghanaians to know that the alleged list is preposterous. Secondly, although by the grace of God I am blessed, I am neither worth $120 million nor own a fraction of that. Besides, I am certainly not the thirteenth richest person in Ghana. I have been struggling to fathom why my name will be listed among the others in the first place. The ridiculous figures attributed to them notwithstanding, most of those on the so-called list are at least men of substance and astute businessmen. What mischief is anybody hoping to achieve by including names like mine and Hon. Haruna’s?

For some reason, some of those who don’t wholly believe assume that the figure represents my total assets and not necessarily bank balance. I take this opportunity to categorically deny earlier stories that I “own six houses in a row at East Legon”, for which I paid cash. My residence at East Legon is no secret and it is easy to ascertain its value. Such stories may be intended for different agenda but they are affecting me in other ways. All of a sudden people have started making outrageous financial demands because they think I am supposed to be the thirteenth richest man in Ghana. The security implications of this mischief are also obvious, since I can become a target of miscreants who falsely believe I have that kind of money.

It is true that I try to be generous to people from all walks of life including our foot soldiers, most of whom I have personal relationship with. It must however be noted that giving is a spirit. A giver sometimes gives out of his/her lack. There are wealthy people who refuse to give but a natural giver doesn’t mind sharing the little he/she has with others. After rising through the ranks and ending up as the Local Government Deputy Minister and finally a Campaign Manager, I have travelled across the country several times and I am in personal touch with a lot of people who contact me for one help or another. This, I do because I love to share and not because I am the thirteenth richest person. At times, I fall on the networks I have created to support such people.

Before I expose how outlandish the so-called Forbes-Ghana list is let me state in clear terms that I am one of the ministers ready and willing to make my assets known to the public. Indeed, I have already filed my assets with the Auditor General and any citizen can use the laid down procedures to check.

Although Forbes lists Ghana as No.69 Best Countries for Business and highlights some business/investment stories about Ghana, Forbes has NEVER tracked and for that matter published the wealth of Ghanaians or residents in Ghana.

Meanwhile, there is nothing like ‘Forbes Ghana’ so how a ghost entity called ‘Forbes Ghana’ managed to ‘intercept’ such hoax of a list of top most rich people in Ghana beats every imagination.

It is obvious that this concocted list is meant not only to throw dust in Ghanaians’ eyes but also calculated to generate hate for H. E. John Mahama and his family, some targeted ministers as well as NDC in general. Notably, names of NDC members dominate the list, giving the impression that NDC and it surrogates are amassing wealth.

What makes it laughable is that President Mahama has been able to allegedly amass $900 million to hit an enviable fifth on the list within the first year of his presidency. Another mischief is the attempt to rope in Alfred Mahama, Lawyer Tsatsu Tsikata and Tony Lithur. Obviously this is because Alfred is the president’s brother and the accomplished lawyers played leading roles in defending the NDC and the President in the Supreme Court case.

The inclusion of me and some key ministers obviously has to do with the roles we played during the 2012 campaign leading to the one-touch victory for President Mahama within four months. Going by the figures indicated, some of these Ghanaians would have made the top richest list in Africa that was published by Forbes recently. How come such wealthy Ghanaians are only confined to the Ghana list and conspicuously missing from the Africa list?

Just by way of education….. In tracking wealth of African citizens this year, Forbes actually calculated net worths using stock prices and exchange rates from the close of business on Friday, November 1, 2013. Usually, to value privately-held businesses they couple estimates of revenues or profits with prevailing price-to-sales or price-to-earnings ratios for similar public companies. Any African descent that starts making above 100 million is closely monitored by Forbes to ascertain his/her rate of income accumulation or decline.

Monday December 30, 2013

Signed:

HON. ELVIS AFRIYE-ANKRAH

MINISTER FOR YOUTH & SPORTS