The allegation made against Mr. Seth Terkper, the former Mahama Finance Minister, that he flatly refused to issue a Letter of Credit (LC) to a local auto dealer for the importation of some 170 ambulances for use by the Ghana National Health Service, after his contract had been approved by the recently deceased President John Evans Atta-Mills, must be fully and speedily investigated by both the current Finance Minister and the Health Minister, namely, Messrs. Kenneth Ofori-Atta and Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, respectively (See “Abandoned Ambulances: Terkper Rebuts Contractor’s Claim” MyJoyOnline.com / Ghanaweb.com 11/2/18).
Better yet, the Akufo-Addo Administration could promptly order either the Independent Special Public Prosecutor, Mr. Martin Amidu or the operatives of the Economic and Organized Crimes Office (EOCO) to expeditiously look into this matter. The contractor concerned, Mr. Richard Jakpa, recently stated on the Multimedia talking-heads program, the Super Morning Show, that even though his contract that been officially approved by then-President Atta-Mills, shortly after the latter’s abrupt demise on July 24, 2012, the then-Vice-President John Dramani Mahama who had promptly assumed reins of governance, per constitutional mandate, also promptly replaced the extant Finance Minister, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, who, according to Mr. Jakpa, was poised to issuing him with the Letter of Credit.
Now, this revelation is very interesting, coming on the heels of widespread national conversation over the need for newly elected governments to continue with the vital uncompleted taxpayer-funded projects initiated by their predecessors. The question here therefore logically becomes: If President John Dramani Mahama was that reluctant to carry on with policy initiatives and/or projects began by the man who appointed him as his running-mate in the leadup to the 2008 President Election, how can Mr. Mahama’s successor, President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, from a totally different political party with a neoliberal ideology and agenda, be expected to pursue projects initiated by the double-salary dipping faux-socialist operatives of the National Democratic Congress? It is also almost quite certain that the then-Vice-President Mahama was privy to this quite significant contractual deal or policy initiative.
And the foregoing is also the reason why the very public accusation by Mr. Jakpa that the then newly-appointed Mahama Finance Minister, Mr. Terkper, was extremely reluctant to issue the former with a Letter of Credit or Official Promissory Note, makes Mr. Jakpa’s allegation far more credible than the obviously face-saving public denial offered by Mr. Terkper. The deliberately railroaded contractor/dealer also tells us that it was Mr. Casiel Ato Forson, one of the two or so Terkper deputies, who issued him the LC which either expired before he could fulfill his end of the contract or in the wake of the exit of the Mahama regime; it is not clear precisely which is the case. It also well appears that the man who promptly replaced the late President Atta-Mills and almost spontaneously celebrated the same as a timely act of Divine Intervention, had a very different agenda vis-à-vis both the necessary upgrading of our public healthcare system and the general development of the country at large.
This sharp policy turnaround may also strikingly gibe with widespread assertions by those critics and observers who have pointed out that as Vice-President to Prof. Atta-Mills, Mr. Mahama was never known to be a progressive team player. To be certain, in the wake of the passing of President Atta-Mills, while on the campaign trail, the then-Interim President Mahama virulently accused his late benefactor of being an ethnic chauvinist who had cavalierly presumed to make him a “Presidential Spare Tire.” Some reports have also suggested that shortly prior to his death, President Mills had impugned the professional integrity and honesty of his official right-hand man and even caused the latter to be placed under the strobe light of a corruption investigation.
Whatever the real details of the preceding allegations may be, we need to get to the bottom of this ambulance scandal. We need to know precisely how much of the Ghanaian taxpayer’s money has been sunk into the 30 ambulances presently in the private possession of Contractor Jakpa, who claims that per a contractual agreement with Big Sea, the manufacturers of the vehicles, the minimum number of ambulances that can be delivered to the Government of Ghana is 50. We are also informed that each vehicle or ambulance is worth some € 80,000 – that is approximately GH? 441,000 – which means that the present Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is saddled with some GH? 75 Million. Now, the preceding does not seem to be a part of the 200 empty vehicular shells or hulks that were paraded as newly purchased ambulances from Germany in the twilight days of the Mahama regime.
Mr. Jakpa also says that the Mahama Posse had their own team of contractors whom they would rather have had awarded his contract. Whatever the case may be, if the foregoing observations have validity then it goes without saying that the players involved in this apparently criminal scamming of Ghanaian taxpayers must be promptly made to dearly pay for their wicked and thievish misdeeds. The buck must stop somewhere and promptly so.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York