Wednesday, February 25, 2015


By William Yaw Owusu
Tuesday, February 25, 2015
It has emerged that the Attorney General (AG) and Minister for Justice advised the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) that it was not within the corporation’s statutory mandate to provide loan guarantees to other entities - whether public or private.

This was in respect of the ongoing public-private partnership (PPA) agreement between the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and Karpowership of Turkey over the emergency power barges or ships to mitigate the power generation deficit in the country.

Coercive Powers
Reports say the presidency has coerced the GNPC to issue the $100 million bank guarantee since the government says the ECG, which is signing the agreement, is not liquid enough to take up the deal.

To make matters worse, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government is bypassing parliament to push the deal through.

There have been arguments over the suitability of the GNPC abandoning its core mandate of oil exploration and development and entering into the power sector and others have wondered how the corporation was going to find the requisite funds to guarantee for the ECG in the first place.

However, sources say the government is relying heavily on the recent court order that is allowing the GNPC to source $700 million loan without parliamentary approval to push through the barges deal as the main guarantee.

GNPC’s Letter
The GNPC wrote to the AG on January 16, 2015 specifically asking the government legal advisor to state her position on “whether the provision of bank guarantees falls within the mandate of the GNPC.”

The corporation also wanted the AG to advise on “whether parliamentary approval is required for the transaction in case GNPC were to issue a bank guarantee on behalf of the ECG.”

AG’s Advice
The overall effect of the AG’s advice was that for the GNPC to establish sufficient connection between its core mandate and the provision of the bank guarantee, “the corporation should negotiate and execute the heavy fuels and/or gas sale agreements with Karpowership,” and also when the GNPC Board had approved the guarantee transaction, it should be forwarded to the Minister of Finance through the Minister of Petroleum for approval.

The AG’s letter of advice on the GNPC’s request said even though the corporation was statutorily barred from providing loan guarantees to other entities, the corporation “may enter into contracts if such contracts have a sufficient connection to the core mandate of the corporation.”

The letter sighted by DAILY GUIDE with reference E63/SF. 9TJ written on February 4, 2015 and signed by Dr. Dominic Akuritinga Ayine, a deputy AG further said there was sufficient connection between GNPC and the overall transaction with Karpowerships to justify the issuance of a guarantee to facilitate the transaction.”

Heavy Fuel Oils & Gas
The deputy AG explained that once the GNPC was commencing negotiations with Karpower in order to supply it with heavy fuel oils and also conclude a gas sale agreement, if the two agreements were negotiated and executed then there is going to be “sufficient connection” with the core mandate of the corporation.

“It must be stated that a guarantee is just another contract. Statutory corporations, like other corporate entities, have capacity to enter into and perform contracts,” the deputy AG said in the government’s advice.

Public Corporation
The AG said that “in the case of public corporation set up for commercial purposes, such as GNPC, it would be unusual to state in their establishment law that they have the power to lend money or grant bank guarantees.”

“However, in view of the fact that they have generic power to contract, they can enter into contracts of guarantee insofar as these contracts relate to their overall statutory mandate.

Parliamentary Approval
On the issue of parliamentary approval for the transaction, the AG said that “it is our pinion that because a guarantee constitute a contingent liability, it is technically equivalent to a loan,” but added that Parliament had waived its right to approve the type of such loans or guarantees.

“In the circumstance, there would be no need for parliamentary approval for this transaction,” the AG added.

Banks apprehension
The two local banks with their headquarters in Togo and Nigeria respectively - earmarked to finance the deal reportedly developed cold feet.

Sources said it is taking much effort from the presidency to convince the banks but even that, things were still proving to be difficult.

Feet Dragging
The source said the pan African bank with its headquarters in Lome was unwilling but, presidential powers reportedly were brought to bear on its Accra office to advise Togo and it was purportedly based purely on the opinion of the Attorney General.

As a result, the bank was forced to agree last week and they have since issued their $50million guarantee on behalf of GNPC.

Killing Similar Deal
The Nigerian bank on the other hand, is adamant to enter into the deal but the presidency was said to be “hitting hard against the group in Nigeria to get them to approve it.”

The bank has become reluctant because in the past when they got the Kufuor administration to finance a similar project in Tema under a PPA worth $20 million based on the offtaker agreement, the NDC government after just two year in office killed the deal culminating in the biting dumsor.

The Agreement
Under the agreement, the Turks are expected to run the barges and sell power to the ECG for onward transmission to customers which is equivalent to what the Volta River Authority (VRA) is doing for ECG.

However, they (Turks) want a clear-cut guarantee to ensure that their investment did not go down the drain.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Posted on:
By William Yaw Owusu
Tuesday, February 24, 2015

An Accountant attached to the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), Eric Sunu yesterday said a total of $2 million was raised as invoice in the infamous GYEEDA scandal.

Eric Sunu who has been posted to GYEEDA from the Controller and Accountant General’s Department since 2009, gave the breakdown of amounts paid at an Accra Financial Court where Abuga Pele, a former National Coordinator of National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) now GYEEDA and Philip Akpeena Assibit, CEO of Goodwill International Group (GIG) are on trial for allegedly causing financial loss to the state.

Abuga Pele and Philip Akpeena Assibit are standing trial for the various roles they played in the GYEEDA rot which the Attorney General’s Department said caused huge financial loss to the state.
The Chiana- Paga NDC MP is accused of wilfully causing financial loss to the state to the tune of GH¢3,330,568.53 while Assibit is being tried for defrauding the state of an amount equivalent to $1,948,626.68.
The two have pleaded not guilty and are currently on bail. They were present in court yesterday presided over by Justice Afia Asare-Botwe.
Led in evidence by Comfort Tasiameh, a Principal State Attorney, Mr. Sunu told the packed court that the $2 million was paid in instalment into the accounts of Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI) and GIG between May 2011 and May 2012.

He said the invoice was on MDPI letterhead with a memo attached which had the instruction to make the payments into MDPI account.

The sixth Prosecution Witness (PW6) told the court that in the course of processing the cheques, Assibit  came to him to say that he wanted the cheques to be processed in the name of MDPI/GIG adding “when I checked on the memo to the minister it was in the name of MDPI/GIG so I did so.”

He then tendered in evidence the five different Bank of Ghana cheques which he said he prepared for MDPI/GIG.

Mr. Sunu said “the first cheque for payment was made on May 10, 2011 with an amount of GH¢826,153.64 paid to MDPI/GIG, the second on December 12, 2011 with an amount of GH¢840,000 to GIG/MDPI, the third February 14, 2012 with GH¢760,500 to MDPI/GIG, the fourth May 14, 2012 with an amount of GH¢451,957.44 to GIG/MDPI and the fifth on May 16, 2012 with an amount of GH¢451,957.45 to GIG/MDPI.”

He said there was another payment for Tracer Studies on September 10, 2012 to Assibit at an amount of GH¢835,000.

He said he was called later on by the security agencies to explain the reason why he made the payment to the personal account of Assibit but said he expressed surprise because at all material times, the cheques were issued in the name MDPI/GIG.

Cross examination
During cross examination by Raymond Bagnabu, counsel for Assibit, the witness insisted that the internal audit office was attached to the ministry and not GYEEDA and said he was not in a position to know whether services were rendered before Assibit was paid.

He also said the memo categorically stated that work had been done by MDPI/GIG and said payments were approved by the ministry.

Humado factor
He contradicted PW4’s (then Minister Clement Kofi Humado) testimony that he (Humado) approved a payment plan and not actual payment by saying that anything he prepared was approved by the ministry.

He said the minister had introduced checks (ceiling) to ensure that payment beyond GH¢20,000 was to approved by him (Minister) and therefore everything must be approved before cheques were prepared.

When Karl Adongo representing Abuga Pele took his turn, the witness admitted that Abuga Pele did not prepare anything above the limit (GH¢20,000) put in place by the minister saying he (Abuga Pele) won’t sign anything above GH¢20,000 unless approved by the minister.

When counsel suggested to the witness that “A2 (Abuga Pele) did not approve all the cheques you wrote. It was approved by the minister,” the witness said “yes my lord!”

Previous witnesses
So far, Nuru Hamidan former NYEP Deputy National Coordinator in charge of Operations and now MCE for Asokore Mampong, Gladys Ghartey current Head of United Nations Systems at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Mohammed Pelpuo, Head of the Business Development Unit at NYEP, Dr. Shaibu Ahmed Gariba, former Director General of MDPI as well as Clement Kofi Humado, former Minister of Youth and Sports have since testified and cross-examined.
Sitting continues on March 11.

Monday, February 23, 2015


By William Yaw Owusu
Monday, February 23, 2015

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) is disputing policy, research and analysis think tank Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) claim that Ghana is on the brink of economic collapse as it happened in 1985.

According to the IEA, apart from Ghana being on the brink, the country did not also have fiscal rules or laws for the management of the economy.

In the ensuing debate, the sector Minister Seth Terkper, has issued a statement at the weekend, saying the IEA made some “sweeping assertions” in its analysis of the economy.

He said “the projection of the debt/GDP ratio does not take into account the potential GDP growth,” adding that there was “complete disregard of the fiscal stabilizers that have become active over the last few years.”

According to the minister, the government had started to correct what he called “unsustainability of traditional debt management with specific strategies that were approved by cabinet and parliament in the 2013 through 2015 budgets.”

He mentioned the use of grants and concessional financing, commercial and quasi-commercial projects which were going to be fully or partially self-financing of non-concessional or commercial loans, as well as prudent public debt computation framework and on-lending and Escrow/debt service accounts with SOE that could not borrow were some of the interventions in place.

He further said the establishment of Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund (GIIF), establishment of Sinking Fund Account, less reliance of guarantees as well as a moratorium on new loans and contracts were also being pursued vigorously.

The Minister said that the IEA’s trajectory of debt also “ignored the medium term prospects” for the country adding “hence, did not make room for significant GDP growth.”

“Evidence shows clearly that the rate of growth and base of Ghana’s GDP went up   significantly between 2010 and 2012, mainly due to the rebasing of the GDP, fast growth of service sector, increased construction activity, rebound of cocoa production, and exports of crude oil (for the first time),” he pointed out.

He said the “2015 Budget notes that the period from 2015 through to 2017/18 will experience further increase in crude oil and, notably, the advent of gas production,” adding “we therefore disagree with the IEA’s dire projection of the debt/GDP ratio that does not take into account of potential rapid GDP and the new debt management policy.”

“All nations borrow for major capital or infrastructure development; therefore, the current focus of government policy is on smart borrowing to sustain growth and development without unduly increasing pure public debt,” he said.

He said the traditional practice of putting the total cost of huge infrastructure projects or costs on the budget “has failed woefully,” emphasizing that “prior to 2009, a significant value of infrastructure projects was put on the national budget.”

He added that part of the current pressure emanated from the bonds that were issued between 2010 and 2012 to finance roads that “we now call the Gang of Six.”

“It is erroneous to assert that Ghana does not have fiscal rules or laws by simply pointing to gaps and ignoring the overall status quo,” the Minister said adding “Ghana has a comprehensive statutory framework to support sound debt management including the 1992 Constitution, Financial Administration Act (Act 654) and the Financial Administration Regulation (LI 1802).”

Apart from that, the minister said “the Bank of Ghana law includes limits on borrowing from the central bank. Furthermore, ECOWAS single convergence criteria to which Ghana subscribes contains several fiscal rule.”

Thursday, February 19, 2015


By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, February 19, 2015

One of the three policemen who were jailed 25 years each for their involvement in the infamous MV Benjamin cocaine case was reportedly caught with wee at the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons where he is being kept.

A Daily Guide source said the incident occurred last Friday at Annex Block Cell 2 where Lance Corporal Dwamena Yebson was.

According to the source, Yebson is able make arrangements to get stuff like wee, alcohol and even mobile phones into the highly restricted facility due to his positions as ‘National Leader’ of the prisoners and had been engaging in such illegal activities for long time.

The source said the contrabands are mostly included in authorized stuff brought into the prisons.

Yebson reportedly receives tacit support from some of the senior officers at the facility and as a result did not respect some of the junior officers.
The source said when he was caught with the wee, he later called all the leaders in the prisons to calm their nerves because he claimed some of the officers were going to ‘rescue’ him.

Prisons Headquarters
When reached via telephone, Vitalis Aiyeh, Chief Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Prisons Service said no report of that nature had come to the attention of the Headquarters in Accra.

“I don’t know of anybody like this and you know Nsawam has three thousand plus prisoners so I have to crosscheck. I just tried Nsawam and I did not get the officer in charge.”

He said he was attending some radio programmes and could not readily find out.

When the reporter said he will call later for confirmation, he said “why not just contact Nsawam. You can just go there for your side of investigations. From where I sit, it is difficult for me to know the details.”

When told Nsawam is a restricted area and one would need clearance from the Headquarters in Accra, the Chief PRO said “then you have to write to seek clearance. That is the right thing. You write and you are cleared to go and do it.”

“Right now what I have just told you is what I know. If you call anytime and I have the details I will give them to you but sometimes it is also difficult for me to go investigating these things. If you want to really go in there why not? You can write and come.”

In 2007, Yebson together with General Sergeant David Nyarko and General Lance Corporal Peter Bondorin, each received 25 years in jail from an Accra Fast Track High Court presided over by Justice Anin Yeboah currently with the Supreme Court.

A fourth policeman, Detective Sergeant Samuel Amoah, is still on the run. He jumped bail granted him and his accomplices by an Accra Regional Tribunal while Bondorin later died in prison.

In April 2006, they were said to have aided Sheriff Asem Dake, the prime suspect in the disappearance of 76 parcels of cocaine on board the MV Benjamin to escape arrest.

In July 2008, same judge convicted and sentenced Joseph Kojo Dawson, the owner of the MV Benjamin and Managing Director of Dashment Company Limited; Isaac Arhin, a sailor; Phillip Bruce Arhin, a mechanic; Cui Xian Li, the vessel engineer, and Luo Yui Xing, a sailor, all crew members of the MV Benjamin, to 25 years imprisonment each with hard labour.

Bruce Arhin, however, died about three weeks after his conviction.
A sixth accused person, Pak Bok Sil, a Korean, was, on October 16, 2007, acquitted and discharged by the court which had held, during a ruling on a submission of ‘no case’, that the prosecution had failed to prove a case against him. His lawyer was James Agalga, the current deputy Minister of the Interior.

Last year, Christian Sheriff Asem Darkey, the man at the centre of the shipment and disappearance of 77 parcels of cocaine, was also sentenced to a total of 22 years in prison with hard labour by the Accra Fast Track High Court.

The MV Benjamin, reportedly carrying about 77 parcels of cocaine, with each parcel weighing 30 kilogrammes, docked at Kpone near Tema and discharged the parcels.

The parcels were offloaded into a waiting vehicle and the three policemen who had a tip-off in Tema rushed to the Kpone beach and got the helping hand of another policeman (Bondorin) but instead followed Asem Darkey with the cocaine back to Tema where they were all given $10,000 each.
Darkey was said to be the person who had chartered the vessel at a cost of US$150,000 to tow another vessel from Guinea to Ghana and, subsequently, carted the 77 parcels of cocaine.

The disappearance of the cocaine led to the setting up of the Justice Georgina Wood Committee and the subsequent trial of persons alleged to have played various roles in the importation.


By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Ministry of Power has issued a news statement seeking to justify the expenditure of a whopping $1,745,159 (GH¢5,584,508) at current exchange rate) on 38 luxury vehicles by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum (MoE).

The NDC government, is trying to blame the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) for the expenditure because according to them, it was the NPP when in government initiated the move.

Interestingly, there was no budgetary allocation for the purchases per the Auditor-General’s Report for the vehicles bought from money meant for extending electricity to 1,200 communities under the Multi-Donor Budgetary Support Programme between 2010 and 2012.

According to the NDC, the move started in 2006, given executive approval in 2007 and approved by Parliament in 2008.

Details of the luxurious vehicles acquired included 20 Ford F150 truck at the cost of $700,769.64, two Grido Ford F150 at $120,949.56 and six Dodge Dakota SLT at $160,645.41.

The rest are three Ford Escape at the cost of $157,645.71, four Lexus LX570 at $438,921.57 as well as three Chrysler 300 at $166,217.13 all totaling $1,745,159.02.

Additionally, there was the purchase of office equipment including heavy duty photocopier all totaling $51,757.39 and the grand total came to $1,796,916.41.

Ministry’s Clarification
A statement titled: “Ministry Of Power Clarifies US Exim Facility And Project Vehicles” issued in Accra yesterday and signed by Edward Bawa, Head of Communications at the ministry said “the attention of the Ministry of Power has been drawn to publications in the media about project vehicles purchased for the implementation of $350 million Weldy Lamont Associates Self Help Electrification Project (SHEP) facility.”

According to Mr. Bawa, “the $350 million US EXIM facility was a sole sourced agreement,” adding “negotiations for the said facility started in 2006.”

“The facility was given Executive approval by the then President of the Republic of Ghana on 17th July, 2008. Subsequently, Parliament gave its approval for same on 15th August, 2008,” he said.

Project-related materials
He said under the facility which was being executed by Weldy Lamont Associates, 85% of all project-related materials, including vehicles, was to be “procured from manufacturers in the United States.

The release said the public should take notice that the U.S. EXIM facility helps create and maintain U.S. jobs by financing the sale of U.S. exports primarily to emerging markets throughout the world by providing loan guarantees, export credit insurance and direct loans.

2009 & 2010
“In line with the agreement, 85% of all project-related materials including all vehicles were procured in U.S. models. The said vehicles, which were negotiated as part of the project prior to 2009, were delivered in 2010.

Mr. Bawa said “in early 2009 when a new Minister of Energy assumed office, he carried out a Value for Money audit as a condition precedent for contract effectiveness.”

“After four rounds of hectic negotiations between the Government of Ghana Team and the contractor, Weldy Lamont which ended on 30 July, 2009, the price of materials was reviewed downwards, leading to savings of US$46 million,” he claimed.
He said “this resulted in the construction of new substations in Kintampo and Mim as well as the expansion of the Sunyani substation.  Local content was also increased from the originally agreed 15% figure to 30%.  This enhanced the participation of Ghanaian-owned companies.”

“Originally, the project was intended to benefit 1,200 communities. Following the Value for Money audit in 2009 and reduction in scope of work in some communities, among others, it was expanded to cover 2,130 communities in Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Western and Central Regions. So far, about one thousand communities have been connected and the project is ongoing.”

Monday, February 16, 2015


By William Yaw Owusu
Saturday, February 14, 2015

Pressure is mounting on Youth and Sports Minister Mahama Ayariga to apologise over his recent attack on Ghanaian journalists, whom he said ask ‘useless questions’

Hon Ayariga, who is also MP for Bawku Central, does not understand why journalists should ask him to give a breakdown of the budget for the Black Stars’ participation in the justended Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2015) tournament in Equatorial Guinea, which he presented to Parliament on Wednesday.

He banged the phone on Afia Pokua, host of ‘Burning Issues’ on Adom FM, on Wednesday evening over the same budget issue, asking her to take a course in Public Administration. He was furious and asked why Afia Pokua was calling to ask such questions at 9:00pm when he was at the gym.

The minister refused to disclose the budget before the tournament and said bizarrely on radio that disclosing the budget would have meant giving Ghana’s tactics to its opponents.

Throughout previous live interviews on radio, Mahama Ayariga sounded flippant, snobbish and virtually insulted the intelligence of listeners with his answers.

“I don’t report to you. I report to the Auditor-General, I report to Parliament,” he told Kwami Sefa Kayi on Peace FM in Accra when the host sought to find out how much was spent on the Black Stars in Equatorial Guinea.

The next day, he told Captain Smart of Adom FM that “you are using valuable time to discuss useless matters,” and at another point said, “If I decide to grant you an interview as a minister, I expect you to ask me useful questions…you want to take over the job of the auditor? Are you the auditor?”

Mahama Ayariga continues to be unapologetic since his uncalled for outburst; but pressure is beginning to mount on him toapologise while others are even calling on President John Mahama to sack him from his government.

Lawyer Maurice Ampaw even called on President John Mahama to sack Ayariga, by Monday, since he doesn’t qualified to be a minister considering his insulting behaviour.

MFWA’s Satire
Sulley Braimah, Executive Director of Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), which for decades has been fighting for journalists and media rights as well as promoting free speech, wrote a satirical ‘letter of apology’ lambasting Mahama Ayariga for disrespecting journalists who want accountability.

“You are right in describing those questions on accountability as ‘useless questions.’ That is why I am writing to you to apologise profusely on behalf of the journalists who are harassing you for accountability,” he said satirically.

“In fact, they really don’t know who you are or perhaps they are underrating you. I will let them know you are a Harvard trained lawyer, expert Emeritus of public administration and a respected member of our law-making Chamber. But I wonder why you should be angry and surprised about the conduct of some, or even all our journalists,” he said.

He told Mahama Ayariga that “first of all you should have known by now that many of our journalists are fearless and wouldn’t mind asking you, a whole Minster in charge of the entire youth of Ghana and our sports, very hard questions.

“Honourable, I thought you would have also known by now that unlike you, almost all these journalists haven’t been to Harvard before. So quite clearly, they don’t have the Harvard capacity and can’t ask the ‘useful questions’ that you the Harvard people are used to.

“In fact, the problem is not just about they not having been to Harvard before. It is also because, unlike you, they have never had the benefit of enjoying a free car, free fuel, free driver, free accommodation, fat salary and allowances, a cook, security detail and other such goodies as a Minister, at the expense of the taxpayer,” he added.

“But I agree with you, Honourable. Accountability for where? Tweaaa. No way. You did well by directing them to the Auditor General. Yes, if they need accountability on how you spent the taxpayers’ money shuttling between Ghana and Equatorial Guinea during the tournament; how public funds were used for the needless venture of flying predominantly party supporters to Equatorial Guinea, they should go to the Auditor General.”

The MFWA Boss said satirically that “if the journalists persist in demanding accountability, hold on to your strategy, which has been very effective so far. That is, continue to give them bulk figures, no breakdowns.

If they want breakdowns direct them to the Government Statistician. If they want to know how many planes were chartered, direct them to your colleague, Dzifa Ativor, the Transport Minister.”

He said journalists demanded the same level of accountability and succeeded in letting Ghanaians know that their tax money was squandered during the World Cup.

“The problem now is that when these folks called journalists know there is basis to hold you accountable to the people (and unfortunately for you, there is a lot of bases for them to do so), they no longer hear nor understand the word, ‘stop’.”

He further said “they are going to continue to ask you the questions you regard as ‘useless’ until you render proper accounts to the people.

“If you had spent that money prudently, our journalists would have been asking you more ‘useful’ questions. While I apologise to you for the ‘useless’ questions, I cannot but encourage the journalists to even put more pressure on you to account. It is the people’s money and you must account for it properly. Sorry, but you have to.”

Kwesi Pratt
Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr, also chastised Mahama Ayariga for his comments, saying even if the so-called question was ‘rubbish as he put it, it was the duty of the minister to display tactfulness in his answers.

“As you become a leader in this country or village, one thing you can never say – you’re not allowed to say – is that ‘somebody is talking rubbish’.
You can never say that. Never! Who are you to say that somebody’s act is nonsense?”

He added: “Are we not in a democratic dispensation? Even if it’s ‘rubbish’, it’s his duty to ask you ‘rubbish’ questions and when he asks you ‘rubbish’ questions, you are rather obliged to give wise responses.

“When we are setting up a building, don’t we ask how much money was used? When constructing roads, don’t we ask how much was used? Everything that we do in this country, we ask how much was invested; but why is it that as for football, we’re told not to ask?
“If I were him, I would retract and render an apology because such language is not appropriate; not for a minister,” Pratt told Ayariga.

Nana Akomea
Nana Akomea, Communications Director of the NPP, described as unfortunate, Mahama Ayariga’s description of journalists but said the minister erred.

The NPP capo however urged Ghanaians to forgive Mahama Ayariga because according to him, the minister was not one of the NDC appointees that are seen as arrogant, disrespectful or one that uses intemperate language in public.

“He is not one of the babies with sharp teeth and I hope he will be forgiven.”

Earlier, Nii Amasah Namoale, NDC MP for La Dadekotopon, had urged Mahama Ayariga to exercise restraint because it is impossible for him to ‘fight’ the media or journalists.

Friday, February 13, 2015


Mahama Ayariga - Minister of Youth and Sports

By William Yaw Owusu
Friday, February 13, 2015

Youth and Sports Minister Mahama Ayariga, yesterday insulted journalists saying, “You ask useless question,” on a live radio programme.

He did not understand why journalists should ask him to give a breakdown of the budget for the Black Stars’ participation in the just-ended African Cup of Nations (AFCON 2015) tournament in Equatorial Guinea, which he presented to parliament on Wednesday.

The minister refused to disclose the budget before the tournament and Mahama Ayariga, who is also MP for Bawku Central, had said bizarrely on radio earlier that disclosing the budget would have meant giving Ghana’s tactics to its opponents.

Additional Cost
It turned out that apart from the $5.8 million claimed to have been spent on the tournament, some media reports claim the government spent additional $6 million to airlift mostly the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) supporters to Equatorial Guinea to support the Black Stars.

According to Starr FM’s online report, the initial report that government spent at least $165,000 to fly 250 fans in two chartered flights to the oil-rich country to watch the Black Stars’ semi-final game, was entirely not accurate since it has now been revealed that government actually spent $1 million on six separate trips for all the six games played by the Black Stars, making it $6 million.

Mahama Ayariga had told the same Starr 103.5FM that the ministry was not involved whatsoever in flying Ghanaian fans to Equatorial Guinea, but it was turning out that the ministry actually invited the fans to submit their passports for processing before they were forwarded to the office of the Chief of Staff, where all the travels were coordinated.

Useless Matters
When Mahama Ayariga was called on Adom FM to throw more light on the budget yesterday, he said “You are using valuable time to discuss useless matters. Please, I think that this is very regrettable and it will dampen the spirit of the boys who were trying to kill themselves only to come back and even the food that they ate, they will hear on radio that their minister is (answering questions) about the food that they ate. It’s sad; it’s sad; it’s sad.”

He fumed, “If I decide to grant you an interview as a minister, I expect you to ask me useful questions…you want to take over the job of the auditor? Are you the auditor?”

“It is very unfortunate that you choose that this is what you will discuss. I thought that at this stage, those who are interested in sports in Ghana would now be asking me questions about how to sustain excellence in sports in Ghana. How are you going to get infrastructure for the development of sports in Ghana? How are you going to manage these players so that in the next tournament they will be able to perform exceedingly well and take the cup. How are you going to make sure that all other national teams do so well? Sadly you are asking me about…the money that was spent on food,” he said.

Per Mahama Ayariga’s logic, the Black Stars performed beyond expectation and therefore there was no need to ask about how funds were managed at the tournament.

“You should ask questions that will add more value to the sports ministry and not ask questions about things and procedures you don’t have any knowledge about,” he said adding “it is not my job to respond to useless questions as far as the AFCON 2015 is concerned. Talk about the developmental issues of the ministry and not questions that will not benefit us.”

“I am not the Auditor General to be explaining the budget to journalists and so if you need any explanations, just go to the Auditor General and not me. You need to be fair to the Black Stars” he insisted.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Mahama Ayariga - Youth and Sports Minister

By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, February 12, 2015

In what can pass as open display of arrogance Youth and Sports Minister Mahama Ayariga shocked many on radio yesterday when he said he will not disclose the budget of the senior national team, the Black Stars for participating in the just-ended African Cup of Nations (AFCON 2015) tournament in Equatorial Guinea.

“I refused to discuss the budget before the tournament because it was going to distract the team’s preparations. I don’t report to you. I report to the Auditor-General, I report to Parliament,” he boasted on Peace FM in Accra.

Reviewing the team’s participation in the AFCON 2015 with popular morning show host Kwami Sefa-Kayi, the minster sounded flippant and snobbish throughout the interview.

Mahama Ayariga who is also an MP later in the day went to Parliament to present what was thought to be the budget for the team’s participation.

He told Parliament that the government spent GH¢18.5 on the Black Stars but interestingly Cote d’Ivoire which won the tournament beating Ghana 9-8 on penalties on Sunday got a prize cash of $1.5 million from the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

No questions
In the radio telephone interview, Mahama Ayariga who was an active member of the defunct Committee for Joint Action (CJA) that constantly pressurized the erstwhile NPP government for accountability, did not understand why the taxpayer should question the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation’s (GNPC’s) dolling out of hard-earned cash to the team.

The GNPC which is solely state-owned with a core mandate of oil exploration and as main sponsor of the national team paid a whooping $575,000 to the players with each receiving $25,000 when they arrived on Monday from Malabo where the team placed second in the tournament.

Public Concerns
Critics are of the view that the country is currently facing serious energy crisis and as a key player in the sector, the GNPC was expected to help solve some of the problems rather than get involved in ‘extraneous’ issues.

“The GNPC can decide what they will do as part of effort to promote their corporate image and to support the Black Stars and other causes and I think that we should stop that habit of wanting to destroy the reputation of companies that move in to support the Black Stars,” Mahama Ayariga said.

President in the dark
“In fact the President didn’t even know that the GNPC was giving the players any money until when he was speaking and I gave him a note at the breakfast meeting with the players. It was only then that he got to know that the GNPC was giving that bonus to the players.

The President didn’t know. It was there in the hall that I informed him that your Excellency, GNPC has decided to give a bonus to the players and he asked me if he could mention it to the audience and I said yes! GNPC’s team was in the room.”

He said “the President has nothing to do with it. If you think that it is the President who is coercing GNPC to give out the money. He didn’t even know…GNPC money is company that has been formed by the government and they have chosen to support the Black Stars and I commend them highly for supporting the team.”

Travelling fans
Mahama Ayariga claimed he could not be bothered about how fans airlifted to Equatorial Guinea fared because he did not care.

“Why should I be bothered about Ghanaians in Equatorial Guinea. I can choose what questions to ask and what information I am interested in. You cannot force me to decide what information I want to know and what I don’t want to.”

He rather asked the host of the radio programme to “go round asking who took the supporters there,” adding “I was concentrating  on work. I was only helping people who were coming because they were Ghanaians.”

He said the ministry did not sponsor fans to the tournament contrary to a statement by his deputy Vincent Oppong Asamoah that the ministry facilitated for fans to get the tournament saying “I didn’t send supports to Equatorial Guinea so go looking for who sent them there.”

 “On the contrary, I feel sad that you want the conversation to be about who sent supporters. I thought that you will happy that our footballers went sacrificed, exhibited great determination, team spirit and did the things they did and that if you had the opportunity, you would also come and watch them.”

“I don’t think that you want to bastardize those who made an effort to get to the place to come and support the team.

“I thought that would be the concentration now. What lesson do we learn from the determination of these young boys. I thought that with this useful airtime that you have that would be the focus.”

“I have been upset with some of you (media personalities) because right from day one you have tried to distract us from focusing on what will happen in EG in terms of our participation in the tournament but we refused to be distracted. We focused on what we were going there to do.”

Minister’s Itinerary
Mahama Ayariga was accused of staying with the team throughout the tournament and ignoring other pressing issues back home but he denied the claim.

“I wasn’t in Equatorial Guinea throughout. I actually was not there for the first match when Ghana lost to Senegal. I was on my hospital bed in Accra and watched the match from there,” he claimed.

“I had to drive from Accra to Lome to catch a flight to Malabo and to Bata and by road to Mongomo and got there just before the second match (Algeria game) spoke to them and to try and encourage them to win the match.”

Good luck!
He claimed that “immediately after the match, the following morning I was packing to come back to Accra when the boys said they will not let me go. They would want me to stay with them.”

“They said Oh! You brought us luck so how can you go back? So I stayed back and they even gave me one of their rooms to stay with them because I had no accommodation.”

He said he spent time with the team for the preliminary stages “but after that I came back to Accra and when they were starting the quarter finals, I went back to Malabo to try and encourage them.”

“I was there for the quarter and semi finals and I came back to Accra. It is just one hour thirty minutes flight. I went back on Saturday, the day before the finals. The reason for the back-and-forth was because it was a very short flight.”