SIMPLIFYING THE MAHAMAFORD SCANDAL FOR THE COMMON MAN (THE FULL STORY)
IDDI MUHAYU-DEEN’S FOLDER
There is this renowned Burkinabe based road contractor by name, Jibriel Kanazoe who has been coming to Ghana since 2003 apparently to seek for contracts but was never successful until he was introduced to President John Mahama (then as Veep). According to the man himself, he was introduced to the President by a contractor in 2011, Mike Aidoo (obviously a friend of government). This is Mr. Kanazoe talking, “one day, he (Mike Aidoo) told me he knew the vice president (John Mahama) so let’s go and salute (greet) him. And I showed him what we do in Burkina Faso. And we became friends (Kanazoe and Mahama). We talk a lot! We talk a lot. One day when my father died, he sent a delegation (which was led by a Minister of State, Mark Woyongo) to my village to salute the family” he said. So the decision to establish friendship with His Excellency John Mahama was purely for business expediency and nothing else.
After establishing this relationship with Vice President Mahama who later became President in 2012 after Mills’ demise, Mr. Kanazoe started getting contracts in Ghana. In fact, when asked how he got to know about a particular contract in relation to the construction of a fence wall for the Ghana Embassy in Ouagadougou, Mr. Kanazoe stated that the Ghana Embassy rather wrote to his company to request for price quotations for the project, which is in clear VIOLATION of the explicit provisions in the Public Procurement Act which states that any contract beyond GHc 20,000 must necessarily be opened to COMPETITIVE TENDERING. This contract alone costed the Ghanaian taxpayer over US$656,000. Kanozoe said his company submitted the quotes as requested and got the job…. as easy as that.
These revelations came to light when officials of Bank of Ghana appeared before the Public Accounts Committee in September, 2014. The MPs were so shocked about this outrageous figure and thus, ordered for an immediate investigation to unravel the mystery. It was at this juncture that Manasseh Azure of joy fm decided to conduct a probe into this matter for the love of God and country. After his painstaking investigation which took him to Burkina Faso and also after speaking with all the people that matter, it emerged that President Mahama may have influenced this decision after incontrovertible evidence revealed that Mr. Kanazoe gave President Mahama a brand new Ford Expedition, worth US$100,000 the same year he won the contract.
Government itself has admitted that the said vehicle was indeed given to John Mahama, the President but chose to describe it as a “gift” without shame. Mr. Kanozoe says the President personally called to thank him after receiving the car. Government’s defense was that the vehicle was added to the official pool of vehicles at the Presidency to be used by the State in accordance to a certain established convention, which they refused to tell us. Meanwhile, facts are that, the vehicle was given to the president (according to the giver himself) and not meant for the State. Again, there is no such convention which government is talking about.
In 2012, Mr. Kanozoe won another contract (worth € 25 million) to construct the Dodo Pepeso-Nkwanta road which is part of the eastern corridor roads. This road was commissioned by President Mahama in April 2016 and these were his exact words, “I want to take this opportunity to thank Messrs Oumarou Kanazoe Construction Limited of Burkina Faso for the very high quality of work they have done on this stretch of road. As I have said, perhaps this is one of the best quality roads in Ghana today and I will urge the Minister of Roads and Highways to bring other contractors to come and see so that they can emulate it in other parts of the country” (President Mahama said this on April 19, 2016). Meanwhile, media reports have confirmed that this same road has started developing potholes as we speak.
The Ministry of Roads and for that matter government, was in the process of awarding another GH¢ 82 million SOLE SOURCING CONTRACT to this same Mr. Kanozoe to construct the “Wa-Hamile road” which again contravenes our laws (the Public Procurement Act). However, because of these scandalous and mindboggling revelations, Mr. Kanazoe now says he wouldn’t take the job anymore. Because of the apparent rush to dole out this contract to Kanozoe and justify same, government talks about “Wa-Hamile road” which in fact, does not exist. What we have is rather Jirapa-Hamile road which is yet to be constructed. That is the sad narrative of how governance in this country has been reduced to; purely, family and friends business.
BREACHES OF LAW, CONSTITUTION AND CONVENTION
It is clear that the president’s action has occasioned several constitutional breaches and contravention of laws and conventions. His reprehensible conduct has brought international embarrassment to Ghana and subjected his High Office into ridicule and disrepute, a development that violates several provisions in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana including Article 284. The President has also violated CHRAJ Regulations and Guidelines for Public Office Holders as well as HIS OWN CODE OF ETHICS issued in 2013 which states among other things that, a public officer should NOT accept a gift, favour or advantage that has the POTENTIAL to influence the proper discharge of his judgement, from a person with whom the public officer comes into contact with. It also states that “to avoid the CREATION or APPEARANCE of an obligation, gifts in cash or kind should not be solicited or ACCEPTED (my emphasis) from a commercial enterprise or any other organization…..”.
In shedding more light on these provisions, the President’s own advisor on corruption and governance Mr. Daniel Bartidan emphatically stated that “it will be IRRESPONSIBLE for any public official, much less a president to accept a gift worth US$ 100,000. Gifts can do qualify as brides. They are a very high potential ground for corruption. The president is the number one public officer and anything to do with the conduct of public officers begins and ends with him”, he added. Whilst Bartidan thinks the president’s conduct is IRRESPONSIBLE, the celebrated international policy analyst and founder of Imani Ghana/Africa, Mr. Franklin Cudjo thinks that the president was CARELESS to have accepted such a gift so called.
The former commissioner of CHRAJ, Justice Emile Short also states that “a gift” that is not given in public and is of significant value qualifies as BRIBE. No one can convince me that US$100,000 is insignificant. Emile Short also intimates that because it is difficult to prove actual conflict of interest or bribe, that is why the constitution puts emphasis on PUBLIC PERCEPTION or POTENTIAL conflict of interest; so the standard of proof is not high. Perhaps this explains why it was easier of president Mahama and the CJ to sack the judges that were captured in Anas’ video accepting gifts in the forms of tubers of yam, goats, beans etc which the president described as bribes. Yet he now thinks that the US$100,000 car gift he received from the contractor who has business interest in Ghana doesn’t qualify as bribe. How ironic!
Other legitimate questions/concerns cudgeling the minds of Ghanaians in this MahamaFord scandal include:
Why did Mr. Kanazoe, at first instance, categorically deny that he gave a car gift (brand new Ford Expedition) to President John Mahama until he was confronted with documentary evidence by Mannaseh to the contrary? Isn’t this a tacit admission of a wrongdoing?
If Mannaseh hadn’t investigated this matter, how would Ghanaians know that our President has accepted a “gift” from a foreign contractor who has been struggling to secure a contract in Ghana?
How many more “gifts” has the president taken from private contractors who have business interest in Ghana behind our back?
If the President didn’t need the “car gift” as we are now being told by government, then why did he accept it? Couldn’t he have suggested to his good friend, Mr. Kanazoe to rather donate the car to the State? Why did he (president Mahama) have to call the giver (Mr. Kanazoe) to personally thank him for the donation?
Why was the vehicle registered as a “used” vehicle which was cleared at Tema port when in fact, the vehicle was a brand new one and never passed through Tema port as confirmed by the giver and the ambassador who facilitated the transportation of the car into Ghana.
Why was gift tax NOT paid on the car as stipulated in our laws?
If government claims the vehicle was meant for the State, why was it registered in somebody’s name and duty of GHc 23,646.41 paid on the vehicle. Why is it that all the registration details are now missing from the records of the DVLA?
Why has government failed to provide any evidence to prove that the car has indeed been added to the so called pool of vehicles at the presidency? If so, is the car there as the President’s private property especially because it was NOT registered in the name of the State?
Why would a president who “sacked” judges for accepting gifts in the forms of tubers of yam, goats, beans etc which he (the president) described as bribes; yet see nothing wrong with him accepting a US$100,000 car gift from a contractor who has business interest in Ghana?
Why was the Public Procurement Act breached on three occasions in favour of Mr. Kanazoe, the president’s friend? Why did the President himself violate the 1992 constitution of Ghana, CHRAJ Regulation as well as his own code of ethics?
In fact, the questions are endless…
From the foregoing, it is abundantly clear that a lot has gone wrong which cannot be justified by any stretch of imagination. The conduct of our President in this unfolding saga has been most incurably reprehensible. Any attempt to justify this disservice can only be an exercise in terminal ineptitude and futility. Therefore, the least we expect from President John Mahama is to be REMORSEFUL and APOLOGETIC to Ghanaians for bringing shame to this country and subjecting his office to public ridicule and disrepute. The Constitution of Ghana, precisely Article 69 makes it clear that this is enough ground for impeaching the president. Even though I do not think this impeachment will be successful because the NDC has majority in Parliament, I still think the impeachment process must be activated in order to serve as deterrent precedence for future presidents.
Fellow Ghanaian electorates, as we head to the polls on November/December 7, we must make a strong case of our strong abhorrence for corruption because it is the gravamen of developmental woes as a nation. With this albatross on the neck of the NDC flagbearer, candidate John Mahama, I am not sure he can boldly say that he is incorruptible, he has never been corrupt, he cannot be corrupt and will demand same of all his appointees WITHOUT being challenged. But who am I to decide for you? I however want to believe in your sense of discernment to rise to the occasion on the D-Day and take a decision that Ghana will forever be proud of. [END OF STORY]
Compiled by a concerned Ghanaian in the struggle for God and country.
Youth Activist/Social Commentator
Former NUGS Secretary