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Opinions of Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Columnist: Myjoyonline.com

The tale of the two 'family & friends', John Mahama vs Akufo-Addo

I just listened to John Boadu, the General Secretary of the ruling party in Ghana, the New Patriotic Party, doing the tales of Family & Friends, featuring Akufo-Addo vs John Mahama.

He was trying to say that the tag “Family & Friends” started with the NDC and gave a long list to buttress the point.

I am not sure if I agree with the approach but many Ghanaians will at least be happy that, we are now hearing loud and credible responses from the NPP to the NDC propaganda.

It should not be his fault that his family members are many and are political and have been there always. Even before independence, Akufo-Addo’s family members were part of the struggle. Three of them (his father, his uncle and grand uncle) are members of the iconic group that led the struggle for Ghana’s independence: the Big Six.

He is said to have over 500 cousins directly from his maternal grandfather alone! But, only a handful are in Government. Politics usually runs in the family blood. President Kufuor’s secretary and finance minister were nephews of his wife. His brother was his minister of defence and his brother-in-law his Senior Minister.

President Mills had his brother as a member of his Economic Management Team and another brother as his aide at the Osu Castle. John Mahama was no different, with his many brothers becoming business leaders in civil engineering contracts and the oil and gas space.

In Nkrumah’s government, the Ofori-Attas were vehemently opposed to it, leading to the Omanhene, Nana Ofori-Atta II, being embarrassingly destooled by Nkrumah and internally exiled to Accra. Even then, Nkrumah’s Minister for Finance, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Minister for Local Government and Speaker of Parliament at one time or the other, were children of Nana Ofori-Atta I, namely Aaron Eugene Kofi Asante Ofori-Atta and Kwasi Amoako-Atta.

So the tradition of Akufo-Addo’s family members being part of the struggle and the ruling class is a historical fact. John Mahama’s father was also a cabinet minister under Nkrumah. Even though he did not have anywhere near the 110 or so children Nana Ofori-Atta I had. Yet, shortly after John Mahama became Vice President, he started discovering brothers I am told he did not even know he had, some 18 of them, at least popped up!

We all knew of Ibrahim Mahama, the big businessman and how he claim to help him ascend in politics. But, before 2009, where was Michael Mahama (alias Energy), whose interest in the oil sector today stretches from upstream to downstream? He is enjoying it all quietly. Good on him!

Akufo-Addo has two family friends, Ken Ofori-Atta, and a distant cousin and Abuakwa South MP, Samuel Atta Akyea, as members of his Cabinet. They did not pop up from nowhere. They had been with the NPP in the struggle for victory. He certainly has others in other lower positions. But, are they competent or not: Did they help the party or not?

But, let me focus on John Mahama for this month since the NDC is determined to make “Family & Friends” a tag line for their 2020 campaign. I swear to write just once a month!

Within three years, two Ghanaian banks, Merchant Bank (2014) and UT Bank (2017), collapsed and had to be resurrected in other forms allegedly because of Ibrahim Mahama, the younger brother of President Mahama. Today, moves are afoot to inject another GHS200 million or so, through GAT, to support UMB, which came out of Merchant Bank. The collapse of UT Bank has cost taxpayers over GHS400 million to revive it under GCB.

Ibrahim Mahama’s related companies' alleged exposure to UT amounted to GHS261.4m and US$6.4m at the time of the collapse. The report commissioned by the Bank of Ghana to review “the causes leading to the insolvency of UT Bank Limited” must be read. Indeed, Ibrahim Mahama managed to use the same assets, with a mere fraction valuation, as collateral for loans for five related companies!

“[UT] bank sought a waiver of the Ibrahim Mahama related companies’ single obligor violations by the Bank, yet undertook a pass through US$6.4m transaction by giving Beige Capital Savings and Loans a US$5m placement as guarantee for Beige to extend a US5m loan to Holman Brothers,” a company related to President Mahama’s brother.

Yet, “placing foreign currency with a savings and loans company is a breach of the Banking law.” That is how far rules were bent to accommodate family & friends.

MAHAMA’S 80% OF BAUXITE AT $200BN

In his press conference of Wednesday, September 11, 2019, the NPP General Secretary gave the clearest warning to the NDC that when you live in a refinery do not light fire. Referring to Johnson Aseidu Nketia, he said, “The NDC press conference was held by a man, who as chairman of a state corporation, Bui Dam, awarded to himself contracts and now fancies himself to be considered as running mate.

He wants to be running mate to a candidate, who, one week before leaving office, signed off 75% of Ghana’s bauxite to his younger brother. For such a party to accuse the NPP of running a family and friends government is very curious.

“Ibrahim Mahama’s company, Exton Cubic Group, carried out, according to its own report, “well-defined systematic exploration drilling over the entire Nyinahin Bauxite ore deposit and determined that good grade bauxite exists on Hills 1, 2, 3, 6A, 6B, 7 and 9.”

The report confirmed a total of mineable bauxite resources in the concession to be 792 million metric tonnes (MT), out of “the total mineral resource on all the Hills is approximately 912 million metric tonnes."

John Boadu said, “The plan was to build a refinery. Assuming Exton Cubic went ahead to build a refinery, John Mahama’s brother would have been entitled to Ghana’s resources valued at US$180 billion of refined bauxite (alumina). Not even aluminium.”

John Boadu was even generous. $180 billion is equivalent to some 400 million metric tonnes of alumina. Assuming just 20 million metric tonnes of that is processed into aluminium, that alone would fetch an additional $20 billion!

Now, this is not a fact built from insinuations and speculations. No! These are documented. The illegal award of the concession to Ibrahim Mahama was all documented and has made its way all the way to the Supreme Court.

John Boadu was generous because per the estimates in the court case, Ibrahim Mahama was given 80% of Ghana’s known bauxite deposit, valued at some $200 billion.

The facts, according to the Supreme Court ruling are damning enough to make it into the Guinness Book of Records for corruption cases.

President Mahama’s brother was given 80% of Ghana’s bauxite in violation of the law, specifically, the Minerals and Mining Act (Act 703). Ibrahim Mahama’s company attempted to start mining on the lands in April 2017 and was stopped by the youths of the area. This is what led to the legal battle, started by Ibrahim Mahama and lost all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Minerals Commission was put under undue pressure to offer the lease to the company (in complete violation of the law). Exton Cubic accepted the offer and paid for the mining leases on 12th December, 2016. Yes! 5 days after they had lost the general elections.

There had been no publication of relevant notices in the Gazette and in the area where the lands were, as prescribed by Act 703. The company had failed to obtain the relevant forestry and environmental permits prescribed by the law.

After the company had paid for the mining leases on 12th December, the Minerals Commission on 28th December 2016, purported to write to the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources recommended the grant of the mineral rights to the company, again in violation of statutory procedures.

The Minister on 29th December 2016, a little over a week before Akufo-Addo was sworn in, signed 3 mining leases in favour of John Mahama's brother.

It is indeed, vulgar rich for the NDC to think that they can rather tag Akufo-Addo for running a family & friends government. The NDC should name one contract that has been awarded to any close family member of Akufo-Addo.

I am Jo Benjamin

#IShallBeBack