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Rumor Mill of Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Source: aL-hAJJ

Joy fm Exposed

-Who gives or accepts documented bribe?

Reports by The aL-hAJJ that the opposition New Patriotic Party and their media allies, in the absence of credible message and wobbling campaign planned to cling to allegations of corruption and abuse of office to oust President Mahama and his administration, has finally been rolled out.

Thanks to recent exposé by supposed independent media house, Multimedia, and Joy FM in particular, over the alleged Ford Expedition bribe to president Mahama by a Burkinabe contractor. The NPP and its ‘partners’ have suddenly found a fertile launch pad to execute their wicked plot.

Unfortunately for them, however, their agenda to throw mud at the president for abusing his office and violating the country’s laws based on which an impeachment process could be triggered have collapsed like pack of cards.

Leading the NPP’s agenda to portray the president as deeply enmeshed in corruption and undeserving of a second term in office is Joy FM which aired a skewed investigative report of a bribery scandal involving president Mahama.

In their bid to get as many Ghanaians as possible to buy into the sinister agenda, Joy FM, hoping to court public disaffection against the president and government started advertising the hurriedly and haphazard report days before it was aired.

In the promo, the Kokomlemle based station hinted that a powerful official at the seat of government assisted a contractor to win juicy government contracts in return for a reward.

Apparently, the station had planned not only to embarrass the president with the report but tag him as being corrupt and, as someone who receives bribes in honor of awarding contracts to cronies.

Contrary to suggestions by the station’s star investigating journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni that the Dodo-Pepeso-Nkwanta road awarded to the Burkinabe contractor did not go through competitive bidding, evidence adduced by government has contradicted this account.

Another false report by Joy FM was that “the Ministry of Roads and Highways is in the process of awarding Oumarou Kanazoe Construction Limited a contract worth GHC 82 million on single source procurement basis”. Interestingly, bidding for that project was publicly opened a day after the Joy FM report.

Ironically, and for purposes of mischief, while Manasseh and Joy FM claimed the 2010 Ford Expedition gift to the president by the Burkinabe contractor valued a whopping $100, 000, checks from the manufacturer’s website has shown that the 2017 model of the same vehicle goes for between $46, 299 to $65,000.

Having been served with their wish by Joy FM to go after the president, the NPP hurriedly joined the bandwagon with suggestions of impeaching president Mahama. Minority spokesperson on constitutional and legal affairs, Joe Osei-Owusu immediadely concluded that the gift was a bribe to influence the President to give out juicy deals to the said contractor, citing a conflict of interest.

The Bekwai MP said “We planned and organized our constitution such that the President will not be in need. How many vehicles are in the presidential pool and how many vehicles can he not have? Does he need this gift? Does the state need this gift from a contractor? Why didn't he [contractor] reduce the cost of the project rather? Some decisions are not personal, whether to impeach the President or not, whether it is right or legal but whether it is politically right is another issue.”

But the minority leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, speaking on another network said they have not decided to impeach President Mahama over his controversial ford expedition vehicle presented to him by Burkinabe contractor Djibril Kanazoe in 2012, as reported in the media.

"We have not taken the decision to impeach President Mahama yet. We are also conducting our personal investigations and so far, we can say that the revelation by Mannaseh Azure has affirmed our findings. But as I speak to you now, we have not decided to impeach the President. We are still investigating the matter and impeaching the President will be one of the avenues will consider. We have so many options available to us and when we are able to gather enough evidence, we will choose from the avenues available to us.''

While the NPP and its allies were hoping to court public support to consolidate their call for possible impeachment of the President, some influential members of the Ghanaian society have rubbished the whole saga. Among them are two senior journalists and a security analyst who have all deflated the bribery claim against the President.

According to the Editor-In-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jnr., the Joy FM reporter, Manasseh Azure Awuni, rushed in drawing conclusions that the car gift received by the president was a bribe.

Speaking on Metro TV’s Good morning Ghana programme last Thursday, Mr. Baako maintained he (Manasseh Azure Awuni) could have done a bit more due diligence that could have saved the embarrassment brought to the president who is bereaved.

“Even though my good friend Manasseh Azure Awuni has done a good journalistic work in principle with the objective of holding public officers accountable, I think he could have done better than this. I have watched the video myself and I think that there are some questions that need to be answered about how Manasseh went about the investigations,” Mr. Baako noted.

Adding that “This is not a big issue I think. What government should do is to take their time to explain the issues for Ghanaians to understand and put the matter to rest. Other than that there are people who would want to use it for political propaganda and there are countless examples of that,” Baako concluded.

Similarly, Managing Editor of the Insight Newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr., said he could not see any element of bribe in the matter.

Speaking on Adom FM, Thursday, Mr. Pratt made it clear that all over the world heads of state of countries are given gifts.

“Who bribes or accepts bribe and documents it? This is common sense. We do know that the transaction right from the point of giving the car to the Ghana’s mission in Burkina Faso right to the point where it arrived at the port was properly documented, written clearly in black and white and so how can you call this bribery? Is that how bribery and corruption takes places?” he queried.

According to the nation’s foremost commentator "If they are able to prove that there is bribery and corruption involved somehow [in this case], then we can all know what to say [but] so far as I sit in this studio, I do not see any bribery or corruption involved in this matter…,” he argued.

“I see nothing wrong with the car gift and I think this issue is much ado about nothing. Is there any President since Nkrumah’s days who has never received a gift? I am totally scandalized about some of the commentary I am hearing on this matter. How can anybody conclude the President has taken a bribe? Since when did gifts to our President become a bribe? Weren’t we in this country when the Libyan president gave a luxurious plush Mercedes Benz to the then President Kufour sometime in 2007? Did we term that as a bribe? Please let’s move beyond these kind of politics”...Mr Pratt stated.

Also commenting on the issue, an International relation expert and security analyst, Ibrahim Irbard wrote on his facebook wall “Lobbying is not necessarily bribery and does not constitute conflict of interest in all cases. The Burkinabe contractor cited in the so-called 'Presidential Ford Gift Affair", might have only adopted effective lobbying skills that won him favour in the corridors of power. Rupert Murdoch was a great lobbyist and a power broker…

Ask for accountability if the cost of renovating our embassy fence in Ouagadougou was bloated; hold Government to account if there are any misgivings about the Eastern Corridor project. But premature calls for the impeachment of a bereaved President Mahama based on quite a weak premise, are shallow and lack evidential merit”, Mr Irbard stated.

He continued, “It's impressive the opposition is gaining some momentum and carving out a counter-NDC narrative. But such a desperate political move of retrospective vendetta is certainly not a 'killer punch' and cannot win anybody power. Ghana is not America; scandals don't necessarily end political careers here. The opposition better find ways of appealing to the masses or risk suffering its worst defeat since 1992. It misfired on Komenda and its misfiring again,” the International relation expert and security analyst cautioned.

Mr. Irbard has consequently advised Joy FM’s Mannasseh Azure Awuni to render an unqualified apology to President Mahama over false claims.

Shockingly, former Minister of Information under the John Kufuor government, Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng has also joined the crusade when he rubbished the corruption allegation against the President.

Mr Asamoah Boateng was heard telling some colleagues at the three-day funeral rites of the president’s mother at his late father’s Tesano residence last Sunday that “Ghanaians talk too much…who gives bribe in the open…when everything about the Ford gift was officially documented and it’s in the government pool at the presidency?” He lamented

Meanwhile, another respected anti-corruption Campaigner and former NPP Member of Parliament for Asikuma-Odebeng-Brakwa, PC Appiah Ofori says Ghanaians should not be in a haste to tag President John Dramani Mahama as corrupt until further inquiries and details into his car gift are made known.

He posed series of questions which he noted must be answered before any false accusation is tagged to the first gentleman – “Was the gift given to him in his capacity as a president or just on friendship ground? What is the motive behind the gift from the contractor?”

The former lawmaker lamented on Neat FM’s “Ghana Montie” morning show that, per the account from the Communications Minister, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah – the alleged car is currently serving governmental purposes and not that of the president's private errands.

This he said is no offence as alleged by many political commentators – “The car is for the state and not for the president.”

“If the car is for the president, then one can conclude that, that is corruption, but if the car is for the state, then it is not. The president is innocent until proven otherwise.”

Though, with their tails in between their legs, crestfallen Multimedia refused to run away. Instead, they continue recycling of the false allegation with constant reference to:

“Ghanaians are outraged after Joy News’ Manasseh Azure in a latest investigation claims President John Dramani Mahama (then Vice President) was presented with a new Ford Expedition vehicle as a gift by a Burkinabe contractor, Djibril Kanazoe, purportedly for helping him to secure contracts for fencing Ghana’s embassy in Burkina Faso and also winning a 46.4km European Union funded Dodo-Pepesu Road Contract…

Djibril Kanazoe is the contractor who built the $650,000 Ghana Embassy fence wall in Burkina Faso. He is also the only African contractor who won part of the contract on the Eastern Corridor Road Project, one of the biggest road projects ever to be undertaken in Ghana…

In September 2014, when officials of the Bank of Ghana appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC), it emerged that an amount of $656, 246.48 had been spent on the construction of a fence wall over a parcel of land belonging to the Ghana Embassy in Burkina Faso. PAC ordered the Bank of Ghana to investigative what it termed the “outrageous” cost of the project.

According to reports, in 2014 Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee ordered the Bank of Ghana to investigate the transaction when the cost of the project came up.

But checks by journalist Manasseh Azure revealed the Bank did not undertake the investigation”.

“The report also stated among other things that the President called the Burkinabe contractor to thank him for the gift and also spoke highly for a wonderful job done during the inauguration of the Dodi-Pepeso-Nkwanta road which was constructed him (the Burkinabe contractor)”.