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General News of Sunday, 8 August 2021

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

The 8 prominent persons calling for the resignation of health minister Agyeman-Manu

Several people have called on health minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, to resign Several people have called on health minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, to resign

Over the last few days, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has been taking on a lot of heat from persons of influence, as well as ordinary individuals, to do the honorable thing and resign.

This has become the new chorus after the minister appeared before an ad hoc committee constituted by parliament to look into the controversial procurement of some 3.4 million doses of Sputnik V Coronavirus vaccines for the country from Messrs Al Maktoum.

The nine-member bi-partisan parliamentary ad hoc Committee established, among other things, that Kwaku Agyeman-Manu lied under oath.

While there, the minister, who is also a board member of the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, admitted that he did not seek cabinet and parliamentary approval before engaging a private individual for the procurement of Sputnik V vaccines, reports citinewsroom.com.

Kwaku Agyeman-Manu gave his reasons as being overwhelmed by the urgency of the situation, and for which reason too the Food and Drugs Authority was not engaged to test the efficacy of the vaccine before it was approved.

Obviously stupefied at all the revelations and the extent of disregard by the minister for protocols in such matters, many Ghanaians started calling for his head.

In fact, there have also been calls for Kwaku Agyeman-Manu to be tried by parliament for perjury after it was revealed that, contrary to his claim, he had already made a 50% ($2,850,000) payment of the $5,700,000 contract sum for the procurement of Sputnik vaccines, before the investigations began.

Besides, the minister had also said that due to the dire situation in the country due to the Coronavirus, he signed a deal with Sheikh Al Maktoum to purchase 3.4 million doses of the vaccine, at the peak of the pandemic, stating that, “to the best of my knowledge, we haven’t done any payment.”

The list calling for his resignation is quite tall but GhanaWeb has put together some of the most predominant of all of them.

Here they are:

1. Kweku Baako Jnr., seasoned journalist

Kweku Baako Jnr, the Editor-In-Chief of the New Crusading Guide, described the development as an "unmitigated disaster".

According to a report by myjoyonline.com, the celebrated journalist stated that it would be welcome news for him should the minister decide to step down now.

“It is an unmitigated disaster. [There was] No cabinet approval, no PPA approval, and no parliamentary approval. It is a mess. It was an unmitigated disaster. He must do the honourable thing and resign because he cannot defend it. If he was minded to resign, I will vote for him,” he said.

Kweku Baako Jnr believes that the minister would be doing himself and this country a lot of good should he bow out now.

2. Martin Kpebu, lawyer

A private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu, opines that the most honourable thing for Mr. Agyeman-Manu to have done a long time ago would have been to resign.

He explained that this would have saved him a lot of shame as events in the past few months have shown.

According to Martin Kpebu, recent events where the minister has exhibited non-leadership should have been enough for him to have already stepped down from the position.

“Ordinarily, I have loads of empathy but our empathy for Kwaku Agyemang-Manu run out when he went and signed the agreement for $25 and the president stepped in and cancelled it, you see that we didn’t make much of it. He also stated that it was even the Sheikh who approached the ministry, it turned out that he rather approached the Sheikh.

“Mr. Agyemang-Manu also said that he had been trying to do government to government through the Russian ministry. It turned out that he signed the agreement, that’s in March, and then in April, he wrote to the Russian Foreign Ministry. So, when you put all of these [together[, the empathy run out a long time ago. The best he should have done – and as we have been saying all along, is that he should have resigned and then we would have said something is given,” he explained.

3. Felix Kwakye Ofosu, former deputy minister

Former deputy communication minister, Felix Kwakye Ofosu, has charged the Akufo-Addo government to prosecute the health minister over the overpriced Sputnik V vaccine deal.

Speaking on the Gumbe Show on TV XYZ, Kwakye Ofosu said “the minister would have resigned after appearing before the committee if he had respect for Ghanaians. He would have resigned awaiting prosecution.”

He added, “If not for the swiftness of Kwabena Mintah Akando (MP for Juaboso) and the Minority, this fraudulent deal would have gone through.”

4. Kofi Bentil, IMANI Africa

In the words of Kofi Bentil, the Vice President of Imani Africa, he expects a dismissal, a refund, and prosecution.

He said: “First, he must be made to return the money. Two, face the law in parliament for perjury and also criminally, for causing financial loss and breaching procurement, and three, be sacked. This is not his first procurement scandal. There are others such as SSNIT serum and medical software running into about $100 million. If we can’t deal with such open breaches, we will collapse this nation.”



5. Charles Agbeve, Health committee of parliament

Charles Agbeve, a member of the health committee of parliament, was among the first to call for the resignation of Kwaku Agyeman-Manu over some inconsistencies in his responses to questions on the procurement of vaccines.

He explained that the responses by the minister during the probe were unconvincing and as such, he was no longer fit to lead the sector, reports myjoyonline.com.

“The probe is fantastic, it is bringing out the real issues and he is also being honest about the facts, I expect him to jumb, he should not be pushed, you cannot say these things in certain countries and expect to go scot-free.

“We further note that the clause is ambiguous, vague and skewed against the buyer. It is thus suggested that the agreement be amended to classify what the parties mean by “outside reasonable control” and the same provided for the buyer.”

In light of this, Mr Charles Agbeve iterated that Kwaku Agyeman-Manu should resign immediately for his role in the illegal procurement of Sputnik V vaccines for the country.

6. Kwame Asiemoah Junior, Volta NDC

A Deputy Regional Youth Organiser of the National Democratic Congress called for the resignation of the health minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu.

As part of the calls for his resignation over the handling of the matter, Kwame Asiemoah Junior of the NDC believes the health minister must resign immediately over the botched deal and responses given to the committee.

“The Minister of Health of the Republic of Ghana giving these excuses for signing a contract for the supply of Sputnik V vaccines to Ghana without Parliamentary approval; which was later found out to be inflated by almost 100% market price is the most bizarre excuse a public officer of his caliber could give.

“This sort of gross incompetence and agenda to throw dust in the eyes of Ghanaians for failing in the fundamental duty of transparency and accountability should not be countenanced. At this point, it would do the Minister a lot of good to follow the examples of health ministers across the globe who resigned for less atrocious reasons in the fight against COVID-19,” Asiemoah Junior opined in a statement.

He continued, “It beats my imagination how a low middle-income country such as ours which goes on a begging spree to fight the coronavirus pandemic can be so callous in making important decisions in protecting citizens and the economy. It will be a great disservice to this republic if the President does not act in this case.”

7. Dr. Thomas Anaba for CSOs

“I think he should honourably resign, or the president should sack him,” Executive Director of the African Center for Health Policy Research and Analysis, Dr. Thomas Anaba, said in a Citi News interview.

He believed that Kwaku Agyeman-Manu must no longer be at post after he side-stepped due process in the botched procurement of Sputnik V vaccines.

He explained that besides the fact that the country was not in normal times, breaching procurement laws is inexcusable.

“In Malawi, ministers have been sent to prison. In South Africa, Ministers have been sacked because of COVID. How can we allow this blatant disregard for constitutional norms and procurement laws by somebody who knows better than all of us when it comes to procurement?

“He headed the Public Accounts Committee for four years, and he reprimanded people who committed blunders. How can he be forgiven,” he quizzed.

8. Oscar Larbi, MP, Aowin Constituency

The Member of Parliament for Aowin, in the Western Region on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Oscar Larbi, said the health minister must no longer be at post after his side-stepped due process in the botched procurement of Sputnik V vaccines.

"The best thing for the Health Minister is to resign from his post or should be sacked by the president," the Member of Parliament for Aowin, said in an interview with Kwaku Dawuro on Accra-based Kingdom FM Anopa Nkomo.

Oscar Larbi stressed that “There’s no minister outside Ghana involved in this particular issue who would go free, so I think Kwaku Agyeman-Manu should resign as investigations are ongoing.”

The government’s procurement of Sputnik V vaccines was brought to light by Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, Member of Parliament for Juaboso in the Western North Region who doubles as a Ranking Member on the Health Committee.

The contract with middle-man, Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, has, however, been terminated. Under the Sputnik V vaccine contract, Ghana procured the vaccines at a unit cost of 19 dollars as against the ex-factory price of 10 dollars per dose.

The minister told the committee that Sheikh Maktoum wrote to his outfit to terminate the contract.

Agyeman-Manu said the businessman in his letter explained that he took that decision because he “is struggling to raise vaccines."

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