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Opinions of Thursday, 19 November 2020

Columnist: Nana Frema Busia

What is Akufo-Addo’s endgame for Agyapa deal?

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

If the presidency were not corrupt, why would there be shadowy pressure on former Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu following his factual finding of illegality on the Agyapa deal?

Mr Amidu’s resignation rather than become a presidential “poodle” is great news for freedom and democracy and deserves applause.

Fellow citizens, ‘mony3 din na montie na asem yi di ka’ (keep quiet and listen because this matter deserves talking about).

During the late former President Rawlings’ regime, Ken Ofori-Atta and his Databank, acting as Transaction Advisers, gave corruption assistance to the Probity and Accountability champion, J.J Rawlings by devising an Agyapa-type deal known as “ATM -African Tiger Mutual Fund’ with the name African Tiger depicting coup-d’etat legendary fame.

The ATM Fund operated as though it were a Reserve Bank for Divestiture Implementation, whereby 20% equity holding of each divested entity went into the secret slush fund.

“Papa JJ’s” passionate rhetoric was an affinity with the “wretched of the earth and Ghana’s poor, yet companies with state shares and SSNIT Pension Funds such as Ghana Oil Palm Plantation, Ghana Rubber Estates Co Ltd, Tema Steel Co. and others which could gainfully employ the poor youth were among the divested entities which were stripped of the 20% equity as well as SSB involving $12 million SSNIT Funds which Ken Ofori-Atta has to trace for us as well as Trust Bank, etc.

The multi-million dollar Bonsa Tyre Factory which could have supplied the whole of West Africa with premium tyres was for dubious corrupt reasons left to rot and currently appears sold to and in the possession of Zoomlion.

Can Ken Ofori-Atta tell us why the people of Ghana do not know about this ATM fund? What is the status of the fund since it is a derivative of national assets? Who are the Mutual Owners of the ATM fund which is an effective Ghana sovereign fund? Who will inherit the fund with President Rawlings dead?

The most damning news about the Tiger Fund which was also registered in a tax – haven with no transparency on the Directors or owners is that the “stolen”? 20% equity shares were sold out “Nicodemusly” later so that the fund appears defunct. Although Tracing the ATM fund is like looking for a needle in a haystack, Finance Minister Mr Ken Ofori-Atta knows its provenance.

Let me posit without hesitation, that the AGYAPA – the deal was structured as a replacement for the African Tiger Mutual fund with the linkage of Kofi Osafo Marfo poached from SSNIT, with pension funds at risk to scoop up Agyapa IPO shares most disturbing giving Mr Ofori-Atta’s track record.

Our Nkrumaist-NPP President, H.E Akufo -Addo, with high level powered NDC Mogul – connections, as our Attorney General under a Zero Tolerance for corruption agenda which was fake, did not initiate prosecution as a matter of internal government policy on comprehensive forensic audit findings regarding mega – corruption under President Rawlings but rather engaged in a wholesale cover-up after compromising on Ken Ofori Atta’s Obotan case which tied his hands with the NDC crying foul about political persecution on would- be legitimate cases

The Issue is, does the secret “ATM fund”, coupled with the massive cover-up of Corruption under the Tiger PAPA J J Rawlings, explain the recent tenure of Presidential quid pro quo friendships without any boom “Papa J” statements on Agyapa deal and corruption within Akufo-Addo governance?

What is the quantum of financial loss to the nation by all the covered-up cases that could have been retrieved?

Why is it that former Finance Minister, Kwame Peprah was prosecuted and jailed, but Ken Ofori Attah who had a criminal dossier against him was let off the hook, and, is substantive Finance Minister who cannot even be sacked, as exemplary disciplinary leadership and good governance demands?

Was the Special Prosecutor’s office established for the mere show? So that in a classic twist of fate, instead of Ken Ofori-Atta and Yaw Osafo Marfo being sacked, S.P Amidu who bent over backwards in my view to place a one-liner on Airbus to give Akufo-Addo “political breather” should sack himself in a principled stance which our President lacks?

The unconscionable tag on the infamous Agyapa deal by A.G Gloria Akuffo and the risk assessment factual findings of illegalities, corruption overhang, and shameless cronyism coupled with the resignation of the Special Prosecutor over the deal on which Mr.President is recalcitrant is as damaging as dynamite which could uproot H.E. Akufo- Addo from the seat of his Presidency.

Whereas H.E. Akufo-Addo dishonourably sacrificed Hon. Agyarko by sacking him on the “altar of a plea of innocence” on the Ameri- Revisited deal, the difference here is that the President must save himself.

Sacking Mr Ken Ofori-Atta and Mr Yaw Osafo Marfo, his Expert economic management Ministers is an acknowledgement of equal guilt which can lead to his own sacking at the 2020 ballot box!.

How can the President say that in a case he claims he knew nothing about he sacked the Minister? what about Agyapa which he knows everything about after he gave assent to it? *”OYIWA”* Why can Mr. President not act?

Why did Ken Ofori-Atta think that S.P Amidu could be arm-twisted into acquiescence when he announced the Agyapa IPO to be effected by year-end when the OSP report was pending, as though its outcome could be rubbished because of his Residual Presidential Power.

The key Opponent, H.E John Mahama has become political toast, tossed to the tropical heat of public opinion with a prejudicial one-liner on Airbus scandal as though a Woyome could be made out of Airbus which is so far a political storm in a legal teacup.

If we can indeed find “J.M “guilty by innuendo and association because his brother took a bribe, then the flip side has to be that Akufo Addo is doubly guilty of the illegalities he has actual approval of, since he has formal oversight as the official commander- in -chief and boss of the Agyapa deal

Dear reader, please do not get me wrong. Airbus scandal has an appearance of impropriety, is verily politically damaging and embarrassing, BUT, legally the OSP would have had to trace bribery funds to a J.M transparent or hidden account or business entity and also prove damages to Ghana through concomitant inflated prices on Aircraft purchases attributed to proven received bribes by JM for which the legal standard is still, innocent until proven guilty.

This is why it was unfair and prejudicial of the newly resigned SP on reporting reprehensible conduct against national interest on Agyapa to have made mention of the identity of Airbus government official “numero uno” without a full comparative report on Airbus as though H.E Akufo – Addo needed election assistance for a puerile victory.

The “collapsed” Agyapa deal which H.E. Akufo-Addo wants resuscitated makes no sense viewed from a common-sense lense. Agyapa is uncharitable as a deceptive deal packaged as an undercover attempt to siphon “ore” from the core of gold royalties with contempt, while given a false sense of security.

An attempt is a completed crime. It does not have to succeed. Thus, the fact that Databank may not have received any money yet into its “woven net” with “malice aforethought” directly or through its dummy proxy IMARA is irrelevant.

There is no need for financial prosecutorial conviction in a court of law and imprisonment or legal sanctions for national misleaders of such high-level malfeasance, to face Political remedial action as seen from Hon. Boakye – Agyarko’s case

Now, the “pregnant” question: Is Ghana so morally inept and corrupt as to be a George Orwell’s ” animal farm” with untouchables who are shielded even by some CSO’s after their vehement objection to Agyapa wrongdoing is affirmed by the OSP report? What kind of in your face shameless nation are we building?

What will recusing the Agyapa deal makers who claim to be “sanctimonious” from a potential restructuring, which is neither punitive nor reformative in a corruption-ridden Ghana achieve? What are the lessons learned?

Now that the Powers that be, who bake Exotic international financial “cakes” with hidden sweetened toppings”, so that they do not need salaries have realized that their borrowing with harsh interest rates, cost Ghana fortunes, how can $500m raised in haste and laced with corruption that one can taste, address the imbalance of an economy on its knees and at HIPC levels?

Would it also mean that Our Rule of Law President with Executive Power Muscle, who says his political battle is the Lord’s and is building a massive victory Cathedral for the HOLY and RIGHTEOUS God whose Temple is the heart and soul of man, is in spiritual and moral inconsistency?

* Mr. President is holding on to and harbouring his errant Finance and Senior Ministers who also devised the mystery PDF deal, by putting his future Presidency in their hands.

* It is as though they made him President rather than the Good Lord and the People of Ghana. *Fellow Citizens, does this not amount to throwing a dice, trying hard not to win the upcoming election? Does this Agyapa thing please the God of ultimate Justice?

In this regard, Mr President’s referral of Airbus scandal for corruption review by S.P Amidu also amount to mere hypocritical manoeuvre for propaganda advantage

• If the Special Prosecutor Hon. Amidu, had evidence of a credible legal case that implicates H. E. John Dramani Mahama in committing a crime, why allow J.M” free range to contest the 2020 election?

• Indeed would requisite national security prudence not rather be violated and the outgoing S.P liable for Prosecution, for aiding and abetting J.M as an accessory after the fact?

• if Hon. Amidu was sitting on indictable information which could sustain a “J.M ” conviction to the country’s detriment, does national security dictate that Ghana deserves a continual “criminal” Presidency?

• Seriously, what if President John Mahama were to win the upcoming 2020 election? What purpose would the government official one disclosure have served?

Agyapa, in a nutshell, is like this:

Strongmen financial gatekeepers capture our precious “gold nuggets” that have been passed on from antiquity which we are also to bequeath to future generations. We are invited if we can afford it, to come to the “banquet of the rich” and repurchase a few “trinkets” because the bulk of the “booty.” is being sold in a foreign market with proceeds to be hidden from our poverty reach. If we are lucky, there will be a trickle-down of unknown amounts for unsustainable development?

Go figure

And the question is, but is the Gold Royalty not already Ours?
If Ghana does not do an IPO to raise just $500m which cannot even balance just the $2.25 billion Kenbond, Guaranteed Gold Royalty payments of $200m per year will yield an *assured INTEREST – FREE amount of $600m in 3 yrs, for health, infrastructure and indicated Agyapa development initiatives.

Since delivery on most of our corruption inflated projects which are pre-financed by contractors take 2 to 3 years and is within the 4-year term of an elected government, this makes the justification for the $500m to be raised quickly in order to avoid interest payments dissipate into thin air and is preposterous.

Thus, from a lay person’s common sense perspective, since the Agyapa IPO is underwritten by 15 years of royalty payments equal to $3billion why is Ghana not attempting to raise at least a comparable $3 billion or even higher interest- free amount?

Does our heavy debt burden so outweigh our economic credibility and national integrity as to make a sensible IPO in terms of the capital amount to be raised not feasible? Is our economy’s fundamentals betraying us?

The state of the nation’s Undressed Agyapa gold case yet to be addressed is this: Ghana needs and is waiting anxiously for a simple demonstrable Loving Good Shepherding Leadership from President Akufo-Addo as the name Agyapa keenly suggests but has backfired, (pun intended), and need Presidential crack of the whip not soft approving pats on the back of economic philanderers.

• In conclusion, the current challenge of Ghana is that it is miserably “broke”. The “outgoing” Finance Minister did promise a desperate roll out of Agyapa deal before year-end. But, his overreaching hand has been timely stayed by former Special Prosecutor Amidu’s dismantling report.

• A power-hungry NDC, thrown a political gauntlet, with their “eyes very red hot”, have promised to bury the Agyapa deal in the dustbin of history if they win.

• Mr President “four more for Nana” is cunningly, against all odds, hibernating the Agyapa deal on ice in a Parliament which is in recess until God willing January 2021, after an anticipated terse election which has become so very parched and thirsty with the resignation of the Special Prosecutor. Could this be a knock out punch?

• Must “” win the election at all cost? Dear reader, let us not guess, let us redouble our prayers and vote in peace so that our country does not fall apart in pieces.

Meanwhile, the Boankra Port inauguration which was to take our minds off Agyapa wheeling and dealings for the moment has it’s own murky wrinkles while the Special Prosecutor’s Resignation has put the Presidency in a mighty big quandary of its own making.

Consequently, our eyes must keep a vigil on what our sitting President shall do next to re-tool his campaign, re-define his presidency and re-solve the Agyapa impasse.