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General News of Thursday, 15 November 2012

Source: THE ENQUIRER

Ken Agyapong Indicts NPP

Expose’ of opposition’s hypocrisy Over JM’s bro

• Says criticisms against Ibrahim Mahama, E&P is “ahonyaa”

Garrulous Assin North MP, Kennedy Agyapong, has condemned the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) over its handling of the purchase of an aircraft by Ibrahim Mahama, the millionaire CEO of Engineers and Planners (E&P).

According to the opposition MP, the criticisms and hate campaign by his own party against the younger sibling of Ghana’s President, John Dramani Mahama, are motivated by envy, jealousy and pettiness.

He has also hailed the leader of E&P, Ghana’s biggest indigenous contract mining firm, as well as Osei Kwame Despite, CEO of the Despite Group of companies, which own a chain of food retailing businesses, music production house and major radio stations such as the Accra-based Peace and Okay FM, U-TV, peacefmonline as well as the Kumasi-based Hello FM, for their entrepreneurial successes.

In the view of Kennedy Agyapong, the NPP and like-minded Ghanaians should leave Ibrahim Mahama, whom he described as the ‘young enterprising entrepreneur’, alone if they will not let him serve as an example of what young Ghanaians should be aiming at.

“I heard recently that Ibrahim has purchased an aircraft and Ghanaians are talking about it. In truth and to be frank with you I disagree with even the NPP over the criticisms that Ibrahim has purchased a plane so he must be condemned. You see, he is a young man who inspires you when you meet him even when he has difficulties. You only need to see the way he handles himself and the way he speaks when you meet him to be convinced that he is a young man with a future. We should encourage such people in the society. Let’s not bring ahonyaa (envy) into this.”

The Assin North MP was speaking in a live radio broadcast to Kwame Nkrumah Tikese, host of Okay FM’s morning show on the occasion of his 52nd birthday.

He congratulated the CEO of E&P, noting that though “I’m much older than him, he’s bought a private jet before me. It should encourage us.”

“I congratulate Ibrahim for being able to purchase an aircraft,” Kennedy Agyapong stated, stressing that hardworking successful Ghanaians should be encouraged to live their dreams. According to him “it is a dangerous precedent we are setting in this country” when we don’t encourage the youth to believe in legitimate successful stories and look up to young enterprising role models such as the President’s younger brother.

“If we don’t allow role models in this country like Ibrahim, a young man of about 40 something, who has worked hard” to be celebrated, the country, Ken Agyapong said, could be creating problems for itself.

The controversial NPP firebrand wondered why Ghanaians allow a culture of envy and “skin pain” to prevent them from celebrating success in the society, noting that he has many Nigerian friends younger than him and Ibrahim who own private jets among other things in life. “Are they not human beings? Are they not Africans? Are they not from West Africa? Why is it that for those of us in Ghana we allow ahonyaa to take lead in whatever we do? If Ibrahim is listening to me I am saying kudos. Congratulations! You can buy more jets! Whether he owes a bank or not, what he’s been able to buy is an encouragement.”

Curiously, the Assin North MP, who voluntarily put up these strong defences of the President’s brother months ago when President Mills was alive, has sometimes changed tune and joined the hate campaign against the Mahamas in what sources say is a deliberate strategy by the NPP at smearing President Mahama over “everything and anything”. In that new role, he has raised issues with the acquisition of the Bombardier Challenger 600 private jet by E&P and a loan secured by the company during the tenure of the Kufuor administration.

The 15-seater jet, acquired as part of a trade deal between E&P’s CEO and an American business partner, is to help relieve the company of huge rental cost of flights, sometimes amounting to over $10,000 an hour, depending on whether the company is flying staff to Yekepa in Liberia or to Congo Brazzaville, where it has another project.

E&P is the sole mining contractor at the $1.5 billion Yekepa (Liberia) project for ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaking company, largely owned by the world’s 6th richest billionaire, Lakshmi Niwas Mittal.

Kennedy Agyapong, who is reputed to be a drug lord by some critics because of his sister’s alleged drug bust in Mexico years ago despite his insistent denials, also stated in the interview that the fear of being tagged with drug dealing or criminal conduct is one reason many successful Ghanaians hide their wealth.

“They can’t even live their dreams” Agyapong stated, saying many are compelled to hide their wealth.

“What I want to say to Ghanaians is that it is not only drugs that can make you money in this country. That perception should be out of our way. It is one of the means by which Ghanaians have encouraged the youth into believing that you can’t do genuine business and make money, unless you necessarily go into drugs or 419.”

“For me I congratulate Ibrahim over this; that he has had the courage to buy a jet. I’ve publicly said that I’d buy a jet by age 55. If I’m alive by age 55; whatever it is I’d buy a jet. I’ve already paid a deposit for my jet. I’ve personally gone and selected the one I want,” said the 52 year-old NPP loud-mouth

He admitted, however, that economic downturn in the United States and economic difficulties in Ghana have forced him to temporarily hold onto his plan though his dream to buy a jet for his 55th birthday is still alive.

According to Kennedy Agyapong, the attempted smearing of Ibrahim Mahama reminded him of similar comments against him when he announced his decision to buy a Rolls Royce car two years ago.

As a result of his announcement, Agyapong said when the Rolls Royce arrived in Ghana, it was initially held on condition that either he took it home without its documents or take the documents home without the Rolls Royce just because he had gone and bought something no Ghanaian had at the time.

“After that hullabaloo about nine people have today bought Rolls Royce, including your boss (Osei Kwame Despite) who has also bought a nice white Rolls Royce convertible with Despite@50 inscribed on it. It’s an encouragement”, he told the host of the Okay FM show.

According to the owner of Kencity Media, operators of Oman FM, Net 2 TV and the defunct National Agenda newspaper, the fear of being badmouthed by unsuccessful Ghanaians has rendered many successful Ghanaians incapable of living their dreams.

Kennedy Agyapong, however, warned Ghanaian youth against obtaining loans from banks, arguing that higher interest rates over a long period of the nation’s history makes investment with bank loans high risk ventures.

“People come to me for advice, saying they’ve brilliant ideas so they want to go and borrow from the banks. Master, if you obtain a loan in this country, you are dead. With the interest rates we have here the loan soon becomes compounded. When you default for a month, they compound daily interest and soon the prevailing 32% becomes 50%. You can’t work and make 50% with other overhead costs and be able to meet the loan repayments”, he stated.

He said he knew this because he was aware of numerous properties belonging to people who have defaulted in servicing loans being put on sale and that he has specialized in buying off such properties at lower market value for later resale.

Interestingly, E&P consistently serviced its loan of $750,000 a month till it balked and demanded negotiations on the issue when Merchant Bank unilaterally varied the terms of the payments and demanded that the company should pay over $2 million per month contrary to the agreed loan terms.

The bank’s decision was reportedly taken following directives from higher political authorities of the Kufuor government that Ibrahim and E&P should be squeezed out of funds after his elder brother and then MP for Bole agreed to become running mate to the then NDC flagbearer, J. E. A. Mills late 2008.

E&P is known to have paid off bigger loans sourced from Barclays, Access, HFC and Stanbic banks.

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