Ghana: Akufo-Addo moves decisively to sack Ofori-Atta deputy. Will it be enough?

By Kent Mensah

Posted on Tuesday, 15 November 2022 14:59
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo - President Of Ghana during a visit to London, UK - 05 Apr 2022

Opposition politicians have been trying to push out Ghana’s finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta and his deputy Charles Adu Boahen for weeks, accusing them of mismanaging the economy and conflicts of interest. 

Ofori-Atta, who now faces an inquiry by a committee of MPs, is trying to negotiate a $3bn bailout with the IMF and is due to read the 2023 budget in parliament this month.

But local investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas has done some of the opposition’s work for them.

In his latest documentary “Galamsey Economy” on the illegal mining business and its political sponsors, Anas covertly filmed Boahen demanding $200,000 from Arabian investors to secure an appearance by Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia.

Boahen added, on camera, that the investors would have to pay a fee of 20% of their investment and find positions in the new company for some of Bawumia’s relatives. And on Monday the story was emblazoned across most of the Accra newspapers’ front pages.

Weak leadership

Within hours, President Nana Akufo-Addo, who has been criticised by civil society campaigners for weak leadership as the economy nose-dived, fired Adu Boahen.

These allegations are the latest attack on the government’s top economic team of Ofori Atta, Adu Boahen and Bawumia and are likely to embolden the opposition.

“After being made aware of the allegations levelled against the Minister in the exposé, “Galamsey Economy”, the President spoke to Adu Boahen, after which he took the decision to terminate his appointment, and also to refer the matter to the Special Prosecutor for further investigations,” said the Office of the President.

Prior to Adu Boahen’s sacking, Vice President Bawumia had denied on Facebook that he had demanded money before meeting investors, but called for an investigation.

“I want to make it clear that if what (Mr Boahen) is alleged to have said is accurately recorded in the video, his position as minister of state is untenable… My most cherished asset in life is my integrity and I will not allow anyone to use my name to engage in corrupt activities.”

Fight against corruption

Ghana has been failing in its fight against corruption despite setting up state institutions such as the Office of the Special Prosecutor and the Economic and Organised Crime Office.

The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released by Transparency International in 2021 shows Ghana is ranked 73 out of 180 countries surveyed.

Anti-graft campaigners have lauded Akufo-Addo for swiftly firing his junior minister, adding that officials have become complacent in the president’s second term.

“The president must be commended for terminating the minister’s appointment, but it should not remain at the level of sacking. Such officials must be prosecuted …expeditiously,” Mary Addah, the programmes manager of Ghana Integrity Initiative, the local chapter of Transparency International, tells The Africa Report.

Economic crisis

About 80 MPs from the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), who had been calling for the head of Adu Boahen and Ofori-Atta to restore “investor confidence” have also welcomed the news.

They hold the two responsible for the country’s worst economic crisis in years. The rise in the cost of living and constant hikes in fuel prices, goods and services sparked traders and consumer protests last month. Inflation jumped to 40.4% in October.

The president must be commended for terminating the minister’s appointment, but it should not remain at the level of sacking. Such officials must be prosecuted …expeditiously.”

Although these latest allegations against Adu Boahen are not related to earlier criticism of him and Ofori-Atta, the MPs said his sacking was a step in the right direction.

“Akufo-Addo has done the needful. The rest is left with the investigative agencies to do. We are optimistic that this move will inject some confidence in the system,” Andy Kwame Appiah-Kubi, a spokesman for the NPP parliamentarians, told The Africa Report.

Effect on IMF negotiations and 2023 budget

Although Boahen was part of the team working on negotiations with the IMF, his exit looks unlikely to disrupt that process.

Earlier, Ofori-Atta had survived calls for his dismissal after Akufo-Addo told MPs he should be allowed to complete the negotiations with the IMF.

Daniel Amartey, an economist with the Accra-based Policy Initiative for Economic Development (PIED), doubts that changes in the economic team would undermine talks with the IMF.

“He is not the only person negotiating on our behalf. It won’t affect anything at all. Even if the finance minister is re-assigned or sacked today, it won’t change anything,” he tells The Africa Report.

Amartey said Boahen’s exit might boost Ghana’s position with the capital markets. “It will be a demonstration to the investor community that we as a country are fighting corruption and creating an enabling environment for others to do business.”

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