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Opinions of Thursday, 23 June 2016

Columnist: The Catalyst newspaper

NPP stranded over false bribery story

Manasseh Azure Awuni and Joy FM’s apparent decision to subject President John Dramani Mahama and his government to harsh criticisms and malicious attacks meant to ruin his reputation and cause him a denial of a second term presidency in favour of the opposition New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) candidate, Dr Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, suffered a major blow last week when the onetime journalist of the year together with the Multimedia radio station, woefully failed in their hatchet job to smear the President with the crimes of conflict of interest, bribery and corruption, in a bid to push further their apparent regime change agenda.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) and its appendages, which had begun having ‘premature ejaculation’ over the wild allegation and went overdrive in declaring the President unfit for the high of the land, when Joy FM broke the unworthy news, are now stranded. It has become crystal clear that they were simply chasing a mirage and can no longer clutch onto the so-called exposé and brand President Mahama as a corrupt leader.

In a wild allegation following an amateurish investigation, Manasseh Azure and Joy FM claimed President Mahama had received a bribe of a Ford Expedition SUV from a Burkinabe contractor four years ago. The NPP and its apparatchiks have latched onto the story and pushing the argument of conflict of interest, bribery and corruption against the President.

The weak allegation however has no leg to stand on after government, through the Communications Minister, made the facts available to the public, leaving the desperate opposition party totally disappointed.
The Communications Director of the NPP, Nana Akomea has reportedly issued an official directive to NPP communicators to hold onto the story as told by Manasseh, who he showered praises on whilst expressing optimism that very soon, the party was going to get the support of pro-NPP pressure groups like Rev. Opuni’s Christian Council of Ghana, Alliance For Accountable Governance (AFAG) and OccupyGhana.
Senior journalist like Mr. Kwesi Pratt, the Managing Editor of The Insight newspaper, and Mr Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, Editor-In-Chief of the New Crusading Guide and friend of the NPP, have however discounted the story as lacking merit and that the President did no wrong.
Whilst Mr Baako believes the story is a good one but was wrongly packaged it wrongly targeted the President as being corrupt, Mr Kwesi Pratt is convinced the story completely lacked merit. He asked who takes a bribe and properly documents it as the said vehicle gift to the President has been documented.
It also became revealing when Manasseh and Joy FM decided to exaggerate the price of the said vehicle. The story indicated that the vehicle as at 2012 cost $100,000, when a brand new 2017 Ford Expedition model is $66,000.
Anti-corruption crusader and leading member of the NPP, Hon. P. C. Appiah Ofori, who accused the Kufuor government of bribing NPP Members of Parliament (MPs) with $5,000 each to okay the sale of Ghana telecom to Vodafone, also opined that President Mahama is innocent of the crime Manasseh and Joy FM are accusing him of. Hon. P. C. Appiah Ofori is on record to have said recently that President Mahama is not corrupt.
The Convention Peoples' Party (CPP's) flagbearer Ivor Kobina Greenstreet says he sees nothing wrong with the issue being raised. He was reacting to legal practitioner Kwame Boateng Acheampong and Prof Ken Attafuah who have condemned the President for accepting gift.
“I don’t have a feeling that there is a breach of protocol or conflict of interest,” he explained on Pulse in an interview with Francis Abban on Joy News channel on Thursday.
He dismissed talks about impeaching President John Mahama describing it as ridiculous after the two lawyers argued that the president has breached Article 284 of the Constitution.
The communication minister, Dr Omane Boamah has however in a statement, responded to the story indicating the said vehicle was received by the president and per conventions at the presidency, the vehicle has been added to the pool of state vehicles at the presidency.
“The Ministry of Communications has noted the contents of a programme aired on JoyFM this morning. The programme sought to link a vehicle presented to the President in 2012 to two contracts awarded to a Burkinabe-owned construction firm. The said vehicle, which was placed in the vehicle pool at the Presidency as per established convention had nothing to do with the award of the contracts. The inference of conflict of interest is therefore absolutely false and untenable,” the statement pointed out.
The NPP went into frenzy when President Mahama stated categorically on BBC recently that he has never taken a bribe. The party, according to information available to The Catalyst, has since embroiled itself in strenuous efforts of fishing for information that could pinpoint the President to bribery and corruption.