President Nana Akufo-Addo has said he was taken aback by allegations that some expatriates had been charged between $25,000 and $100,000 to sit by him at the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards.
Commenting on the matter in public for the first time at his encounter with the media on Wednesday, President Akufo-Addo said he was convinced nothing illegal had taken place after hearing the Ministry of Trade’s side of the story.
President Akufo-Addo had initially asked the Minister of Trade, Alan Kyerematen to clear the air on the matter, before concluding that there was no wrongdoing after he received a report from the Minister.
“I was there at the occasion and nobody had made me aware that there was anything like people paying to sit next to me or anything. So it came as a surprise to me and I asked for an explanation and he [Alan Kyerematen] gave me a full account of the process that had been undertaken… I believe the statement he [Alan Kyeramaten] made to me is the very same statement that he made to the committee and it has been supported by virtually everybody that has been involved in the organization of the event.”
Despite the denials from the Ministry of Trade, the Speaker of Parliament directed the formation of a committee to probe the matter following a motion from the Minority MPs who championed the allegations; the Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Mubarak-Muntaka and the North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa.
Parliamentary probe will clear the air
This notwithstanding, the President said he was in favour of the probe and the transparency it has brought to the process.
“The fact that there is a public enquiry in itself, does not shake my own conviction that nothing untoward had taken place and that is the reason I took that position that I did, so that there can be no question that anybody is attempting to cover up anything, and people can see in the bright light of day on television what took place and make up for themselves their own mind whether or not something had gone on.”
Mohammed Mubarak-Muntaka, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Alan Kyerematen and officials from the Millennium Excellence Foundation, organizers of the Ghana Expatriates Business Awards, have all appeared before the committee to give testimony.
But none of the expatriates invited to testify before the committee showed up for the final day of sitting, forcing the Committee to adjourn the sitting indefinitely.