Is Tsatsu Tsikata being prepared for the slammer again?

Thu, 3 Dec 2015 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Folks, we have been following developments since the NPP’s K.T. Hammond revealed that the GNPC had unduly paid end-of-service benefits (ESB) to three of its former senior management personnel.

Former Chief Executive, Tsatsu Tsikata and his wife Esther Cobbah, who was Public Affairs Manager of the GNPC, were reportedly paid one million Cedis and 600,000 Cedis, respectively. Another former Chief Executive, Nana Boakye Asafu-Adjaye, and a former Field Evaluation and Development Manager, Mr. Benjamin Dagadu, who is currently a Deputy Minister, also received unknown sums of money.

The GNPC has come out to clarify matters, but the fire is still raging on, especially with Hammond’s rhetoric that the money paid to those beneficiaries was “stolen”. The GNPC’s position is that the benefits were paid out only after its Board had approved the package; and also that paying such benefits wasn’t anything strange or criminal. In effect, the beneficiaries truly deserved the package. The only concern, though, might be the timing. They should have been paid long ago but weren’t. The payments came some 15 years after the beneficiaries had left the GNPC in 2001 when Kufuor took over from Rawlings.

Here is the GNPC’s stance: The beneficiaries had served the GNPC for periods ranging between 12 and 21 years and “were removed from office in 2000 and 2001 under circumstances that did not allow for the payment of their respective accumulated separation entitlements… The Board of Directors of the Corporation, after in-depth review of the situation, concluded that the payment of the end-of-service benefits to these management personnel, who had made invaluable contributions to the development of the Corporation, is a valid obligation. The Board took the position that meeting this obligation, however belatedly, is the right thing to do”.

But K.T. Hammond and those wading into the matter see things differently. Hammond is raising arguments woven around “Statute of Limitations” and insulting Tsat5su as a “thief”. Mis Cobbah has issued a statement denying that the GNPC has paid her as is being alleged by Hammond. No word yet from Tsatsu and the two others implicated by Hammond’s claims.

The matter is assuming interesting dimensions with some people asking for it to be investigated because they suspect the circumstances are murky and should be clarified for us to know everything about the payment. Nothing bad at all about such agitations except that some are pointing accusing fingers at Tsatsu as if he was the brain behind the payments.

Is there any evidence to prove that Tsatsu initiated measures for the ESB or ex-gratia awards to be paid to him and the others? Is there any proof that the GNPC Board did anything wrong by approving the package? Or is there any evidence that someone unduly pulled strings for the package to be given to the beneficiaries?

Here are the GNPC Board members: Felix Addo (Chair), Kyeretwie Opoku, Abraham Amaliba, Awulae Attibrukusu, and Worlanyo Amoah. Was the decision to pay the benefits the sole responsibility exercised by the Board? Is the Board authorized to do such a thing? If so, why the foul (out)cry? If K.T. Hammond’s claim that the money paid to Tsatsu and Co. was approved by Parliament for other purposes, then, someone has questions to answer. How did the use of that money negatively affect the operations of the GNPC on that score? Misappropriation of funds shouldn’t be encouraged.

I find nothing specifically wrong with one’s services being recognized and rewarded at the end of the road; but what I find very disturbing is the hypocrisy and discrimination behind it all. If abolishing ESB in the public sector is considered good for the country, why isolate others (especially the so-called senior management personnel and politicians) for preferential treatment?

The principle behind Rawlings’ abolition of this ESB or ex-gratia awards is offensive, especially when the poor public sector workers are denied while a select group of people are paid as if they matter more than everybody else denied the package.

Some are arguing that there is a difference between ESB and ex-gratia and want to know which category specifically the payments made to Tsatsu and Co. fall. Technically speaking, I don’t see any huge difference between ESB and ex-gratia. Both come at the one’s sere to the institution or country, depending on the particular domain at issue. If the terms of engagement spell out the “perks” of office, then, documentary evidence exists to fall back on. Otherwise, everything points back to the moral obligations of the GNPC Board. Who did what for the benefits to be paid?

Our politicians have benefited from it, even though Rawlings abolished ESB for public sector workers, but had no reservation against his own appointees’ being given same. Kufuor did same for himself and his team. The Greenstreet and Chinery Hesse Commissions’ work on such benefits for the so-called “political” office holders can’t be swept under the rug. Neither should we neglect the huge car loans given to MPs, which no one is monitoring to know who has paid back or not!!

Now, in this case involving Tsatsu and the others, I wonder if the anger being expressed is motivated by other factors than what we hear from Hammond and the others. Is it because it is Tsatsu who is involved? And we know how they consider him as a thorn in their flesh that they can’t easily remove to rid themselves of the pressure that he has put on them: How about his flooring of Akufo-Addo in the infamous Fast Track Courts case at the Supreme Court? How about his sterling performance at the NPP’s useless petition hearing to deepen Akufo-Addo’s political woes?

Circumstances surrounding his being convicted to serve five years in prison are known. But for the miraculous intervention by Kufuor a day before he left office, Tsatsu would have gone the entire hog to serve that term.

From what is developing now, it cannot be ruled out that the groundwork is already being done to do him in again. Could Tsatsu and his co-beneficiaries have turned down the package offered them on the basis of principle and avoid all that is developing to nail them down?

Let’s see what happens after the GNPC management has met the Mines and Energy Sub-Committee of Parliament today. Or when Tsatsu and the others come out to clear the air. We are monitoring!!

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.