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Opinions of Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Columnist: Kwame Oppong Osei

Prof. Frimpong Boateng exposes himself!

From the response provided by the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, over allegations of conflict of interest levelled against him, the Minister seems to have exposed himself and he must reorganize this himself and come out with proper explanation to well-meaning Ghanaians, in order to save his image and reputation.

As a public servant, he is accountable and answerable to us, the citizenry, no matter how complicated the issues may, perhaps, be. Each aspect of his response does not add up, but rather indicted him of the accusations thrown at him.

In any civilized jurisdiction, Professor Frimpong-Boateng should have, by now, honourably resigned and allow proper investigations to be conducted in his alleged ownership of mining concessions which have put him in a conflict of interest situation.

Professor Frimpong-Boateng, in responding to conflict of interest allegations in the media, has told in an interview that; “I have done nothing wrong, it’s a long-complicated issue and people don’t understand. I have seen such reports myself, but I have not done anything wrong.”

According to him, “When I revoked the license of some companies working in one of those concessions, they thought I had an interest; but later the minister of finance went there and saw things for himself and they noticed I was right with the decision”.

Having read the Minister’s response over and over again, I asked myself, what is “so complicated” in his own words that he couldn’t explain to discerning minds to understand? Is the Minister saying that Ghanaians are not discerning enough and don’t understand any explanation from him or what? Or he simply decided to insult the intelligence of Ghanaians, because he is more knowledgeable than all of us?

It is self-serving when a public servant exploits the position entrusted in his hands, and abuses it and shamelessly tries to muddy the waters the more. Attitudes like this are what have dragged the reputation of many politicians into gutters.

As a Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Frimpong Boateng does not have the power to revoke any mining license for a company. Such power is reserved for the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.

Therefore, his claim that he has revoked a mining license for a mining company suggests that he does not know his job description well enough.

What is even more worrying is how he appears to have usurped the powers of the incumbent Lands and Natural Resources Minister and trying to hijack roles in addition to his. The implication is that, the Lands and Natural Resources Minister therefore, becomes only a titular head whilst the real power of the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry resides with Professor Frimpong Boateng, which is very dangerous for our governance.

Again, Professor Frimpong Boateng’s claim that “The Minister of Finance went there and saw things for himself and they noticed I was right with the decision” has even exposed him more of his motives.

With this kind of response, is the Minister trying to cover up for his wrongdoings or has the Government set up a committee to investigate the allegations brought against him with respect to conflict of interest issues and also causing financial loss to the state? So why this desperate attempt to use the Finance Minister to clear himself? What is he afraid of that he cannot wait for a committee to be set up for proper investigation to be conducted on him? What is he afraid of, anyway?

The question that arises is, why is the Minister of Finance not resorting to government agencies for an investigation? The information on these transactions are available at Minerals Commission and the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry.

This is strange. Because a Minister is being accused of conflict of interest and abuse of office and the response from this government is to send another Minister to have a look, and on that basis absolves his fellow Minister who is being accused?

If that’s what is happening then both scenarios are not good for the Minister and also for the government in power. As all Ghanaians know the Minerals Commission and Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources are the only government agencies that can clear a person or company as far as matters relating to the mining industry are concerned.

But if this is what the standard practice is, then we give the word ‘Banana Republic’ a new meaning each day.

The government must also do itself good and open an independent full-scale investigation into these allegations against the Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister in order to repose confidence in those in the mining industry.

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