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General News of Sunday, 15 July 2018


Communications Committee idle due to ‘absentee’ Ken Agyapong – Sam George

There appears to be some turbulence atop Ghana’s communications sector, according to the Ningo Prampram MP, Sam George.

He has described the sector as being in a “confused state”, noting that there is still some friction between the Chairman of Parliament’s Communications committee, Kennedy Agyapong, and the Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful.

This friction was recently brought to the fore when Kennedy Agyapong walked out after Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful appeared in Parliament for a presentation on the controversial KelniGVG deal.
Chairpersons of the pertinent oversight committees in Parliament are expected to side with the various sector Ministers given their political leanings.

But this was not the case on that day, Mr. George recalled on Metro TV’s Good Morning Ghana.

The MP said there were “very interesting issues going on in that sector,” adding that Parliament’s Communications Committee “is unable to meet.”

“We are basically not working… Your chairman [Kennedy Agyapong] has to call meetings and when your chairman is virtually always absent, how would you have meetings?”

Mr. George said the Committee only hurriedly met recently on some cybersecurity issues.

“The Speaker has referred two different [cybersecurity] conventions to us. The first one was referred to us over a month ago. It is [Friday] that we have been called to quickly come as a committee and come and view the two reports because the Minister is on her way to Strasbourg on cybersecurity [issues].”

Mr. George further suggested that this friction was supposedly in Mrs. Owusu-Ekufu’s interests.

“The Minister who is supposed to press, it serves her purposes that Parliament is being weak in its supervisory role,” he stated.

Past tensions

In September 2017, Kennedy Agyapong had claimed that Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful disregarded a bid he had interest in for a contract to print National Identification Authority (NIA) cards in favour of more expensive bidders who had paid her money.

The Communications Minister refuted the corruption claims and said they were “borne of ignorance”.

At the time, she argued that the NIA wasn’t under her remit as the Communication Minister.

She added that the contracts were even signed by the Chief of Staff.

… it is important to clarify that the NIA is not an agency of the Ministry of Communications; that is why the directive was signed by the Chief of Staff in the Office of the President. In accordance with the law of the land, the NIA’s reporting line is direct to the Office of the President. Consequently, as the Minister of Communications, I did not and could not have awarded the contract for the NID, or indeed oversee the process.

But Mr. George said the Ghana Card contract “reached maturity under the Ministry of Communications. It was the same Minister who basically prepared and finalised the deal on the Ghana Card we are talking about.”

It was after the allegations that “it looks like the Flagstaff House decided let’s move this away from communications and move it [under] Monitoring and Evaluation,” he said.