The Akufo Addo administration is caught in yet another scandal involving COVID-19. This time, it involves a string of shady deals to get the Russian-produced Sputnik V.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Effiduase-Asokore constituency in the Ashanti Region, Dr. Nana Ayew Afriye, has since owned up to being the agent of Sputnik V in Ghana.
The MP, has since boasted about connecting the Russian manufacturers to Ghanaian officials including the Minister of Health, Kweku Agyemag Manu.
The Ministry of Finance has reportedly paid some US$5.7 million to some middlemen who brought the vaccine in, instead of US$ 3 million, because Russia sells each dose of the Sputnik V vaccine for US$ 10 per dose, but Ghana bought it for US$ 19 per dose!
Norwegian newspaper VG last week revealed the bombshell, saying the contract was cooked under extremely shady circumstances.
As it turns out, the contract to award the vaccine importation deal was sneaked in on the blindside of the Ghanaian Parliament against the law.
“The agreement to purchase Sputnik vaccines did not go via the Parliament of Ghana, which is a statutory requirement for international agreements, says Member of Parliament Kwabena Miontah Akandoh (40). He is the Minority ranking member on the Health Committee of Parliament,” the Norwegian VG reported.
This means that for the umpteenth time, groups of faceless individuals have used COVID-19 as an excuse to line their pockets at the expense of the country.
According to VG, the Kwaku Agyemang Manu-headed Ministry of Health, has refused to respond to every inquiry about the contract. Whatsup News reports that attempts to dig up the said contract have not yielded any result yet.
However, VG reports that officials from the Ministry of Finance, had told them that the entire contract was cooked at the Ministry of Health and the Finance Ministry had only paid the contract sum recommended from the health ministry.
“….As VG is about to leave the country, a phone call is received from the Ministry of Finance, requesting a visit from VG. A group of bureaucrats receive VG but note that the entire process has taken place in the Ministry of Health.”
According to VG, an official told its team of investigators that “They [Ministry of Health] signed the contract, we just pay at the end of the day, says one of the bureaucrats.”
Recently, civil society groups Community Development Alliance and the Commonwealth Foundation, issued a damning report on how the COVID-19 pandemic has been used to fraudulently set aside standard procurement processes to mismanage funds means for COVID-19 relief programmes.
The report is captured in a document titled “Strengthening Covid-19 Accountability Mechanisms (SCAM)” and it shows that a substantial part of the US$ 2.1 billion earmarked for COVID-related expenditure by the Akufo Addo administration ended up in private pockets.
The contract for the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia to Ghana appears to have taken a similar path as the dubious contract given by the Akufo Addo administration to Frontier Heathcare Services to test every arriving passenger to the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) for COVID-19.
The Health Minister, Agyemang Manu, Attorney-General Godfred Yeboah Dame, Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey among several government officials, recently revealed that they had no idea how the Frontier contract was given.
The Frontier deal and the Sputnik V deal, according to the investigators from the Norwegian newspaper, is fraught with cronyism and underhand dealing incidentally.
Whatsup News, had broken the news on the Frontier deal when it found out that the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) had facilitated the entire process through Professor William Kwabena Ampofo, a cousin of President Akufo Addo-.
Professor Ampofo, is the Coordinator of the National Laboratory for COVID 19 Testing at Noguchi.
Letters obtained by Whatsup News indicate that Professor Ampofo, had virtually signed off the contract with Frontier and had served the government of Ghana a raw deal where less than US$ 20.00 of the US$ 150.00 charged each arriving passenger to KIA went to the government. The rest went to the mother company of Frontier which is registered in an Island tax haven.
Minority in Parliament has called for a bipartisan Parliamentary probe into reports that the government is purchasing Covid -19 vaccines from Russia at almost a hundred percent of its original price.
Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, who spoke to JoyNews, accused some state officials of exploiting the government’s fight against the pandemic.
According to him, Ghana is purchasing Sputnik vaccines that cost $10 per dose at a price of $19 per dose.
“Well I would want to satisfy myself as a ranking member and a minority group, we have to satisfy ourselves to know the truth of the matter.
“And so we will call for investigations and then if we are not satisfied, we will call for an independent investigation into the matter because the Minister himself is complicit in this matter, so we will call for a bipartisan investigation into this matter,” he stated.
His concern stems from a Norwegian Newspaper, VG report, that revealed that the Ghanaian officials are paying almost double the market price in procuring some Sputnik vaccines.
The report further revealed that the Norwegian Police is on a manhunt for one of the intermediaries who negotiated the deal on the charges of financial crime.
Meanwhile, Mr Mintah Akandoh has revealed that the Committee will summon the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu to brief the House on the claims made by the Norwegian Newspaper.
Earlier this month, the Minister of State-designate at the Finance Ministry, Mr Charles Adu-Boahen stated that the government will spend an amount of $400 million to procure the needed vaccines to attain herd immunity.
According to Charles Adu-Boahen, the amount covers the cost of vaccines to be provided to about 70% of the Ghanaian population.
“The projection is to be able to vaccinate a total of 70% of the population, if you put the population at 30 million that means about 21 million people. On average, depending on which vaccine it is that you buy, if we even average 10 dollars per shot then 20 dollars will be, so you have 20 dollars times 21 million, I think that’s about $400 million, “he added.