Help president by resigning – Kufuor Foundation Boss Agyeman-Duah tells Agyeman-Manu
Amid heightened call among a section of Ghanaians and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the John Agyekum Kufuor Foundation, Professor Baffour Agyeman-Duah, has advised the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu to resign from his position.
The advice from the former United Nations (UN) Senior Governance Adviser to the Health Minister is in relation to the termination of the Sputnik V contract with Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, which has become a subject of controversy for some weeks now.
Despite the refund of $2,470,000 by the intermediary in the botched vaccine purchase contract, Prof Agyeman-Duah is of the view that it is prudent for the minister to voluntarily excuse himself from office than to make the President sack him.
“After all is said and done, my point is still clear. I think the minister should help the president by voluntarily withdrawing,” Prof Agyeman-Duah, who is also a former Associate Executive Director of the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), said.
He added: “There is so much pressure has being exerted towards his resignation or his firing, so it tells a lot, and by that alone, he (Agyeman-Manu) needs to take the pressure off the president.”
Prof Agyeman-Duah was contributing to discussions monitored by The Ghana Report on Asaase Radio over the weekend when he made those remarks.
He added that considering the public outburst, should be minister fails to relinquish his position the president should fire him.
“I don’t know what forces that is at play. I don’t know what the president knows about the minister that we don’t know, so I can give him the benefit of the doubt,” he said.
He quickly added that “…certainly if you look at the pressure and the extensive nature of public reaction to this issue, the president will be justified in firing him, if the minister is not coming forth voluntarily.”
It emerged that Ghana paid a little more than $2.8 million to Sheikh Al Maktoum for the procurement of the Sputnik V vaccine doses, contrary to an earlier claim by the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, that the state has not expended any money towards the procurement of the vaccine.
A nine-member ad-hoc parliamentary committee set up to probe the controversial Sputnik V vaccine procurement deal in their final report indicated that $2,850,000 representing 50% of the $5,700,000 owed to Sheikh Al Maktoum for the eventual supply of 300,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine was actually paid to him.
“According to the Bank of Ghana in its letter of 31st March 2021, out of the total amount of US$5,700,000.00 owed to Sheikh Al Maktoum, an amount of US$2,850,000.00 representing 50% has been paid to him and that translates into a Cedi equivalent of GH¢16,331,640.00 converted at the exchange rate of US$1 to GH¢5.73,” the report said.
The committee, therefore, tasked the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta to retrieve the money that has been paid.
The Ministry of Health promptly wrote to the Sheikh to return the money that was paid, minus the cost of 20,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine that the Sheikh’s outfit supplied Ghana.
Recommendations and public debate
Aside from taking steps to recover the money, the parliamentary report also recommended that in the future, any such transaction, be it local or international, should be subjected to broader stakeholder consultations and taken through due process of law, including parliamentary approval.
The controversy generated by the committee finding has prompted certain influential persons among the general public to express concern.
The Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide, Abdul-Malik Kweku Baako and private legal practitioner and sociopolitical commentator, Martin Kpebu, among others, have called for the resignation of the Minister of Health.
Defence of Agyeman-Manu
A number of bigwigs in government have thrown their support behind the Minister of Health who is being pressured by the members of the public and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to resign.
On Tuesday, August 10, the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, in a visit to the Bono Region, made a lighthearted reference to Agyeman-Manu’s pressures.
On Monday, August 9, Minister of Finance Ofori-Atta described the public discourse surrounding the Health Minister’s gaffes as conversations with “so little empathy”.
“[Agyeman-Manu] had no other choice with the way he acted… and the issue of if we will, we get our money back? We will. It will be my responsibility to get the money back, and I will,” Ofori-Atta explained in an interview.