Joe Osei-Owusu Saving Defective Ministers At Vetting

Hawa-Koomson-and-Oppong-Nkrumah Hawa-Koomson-and-Oppong-Nkrumah

.....As Hawa Koomson and Oppong Nkrumah struggle

The chairman of the Appointments Committee of Parliament yesterday went into an overdrive, protecting a clearly defective ministerial nominee much to the annoyance of the general public.

For many times, Joseph Osei-Owusu, who is the first deputy speaker of Parliament and also the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Bekwai constituency in the Ashanti Region, either did not allow tough questions for Mavis Hawa Koomson or sought to explain the questions for her.

In some instances, he was seen answering the questions for the nominee, who is very loud and confrontational, including firing a gun to frighten his political opponents.

Aside Mrs Koomson's English language being bad, she did not have an idea about the ministry; Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, where she is being sent by President Akufo-Addo.

The MP for Awutu Senya, who had been in the media for all the wrong reasons over the shooting incident at a polling station in Kasoa in the Central Region during the 2020 voter registration exercise, could not even define fish farming.

For most part of the day, yesterday, she was the butt of every joke on social media, with some commentators questioning whether President Akufo-Addo and the NPP had run out of human resources for his ministries.

Ace journalist, Dzifa Gbeho-Bampoe, could not help herself and remarked ''Joe Wise, the next time I have a job interview, I will take you along''.

Dzifa's remark attracted comments from others, including one from Enam Akos Kay, who wrote ''I swear...he is like a face shield in the midst of Covid!

Camara Augustine, called the Appointment Committee chairman ''Defensive galore'' while Alfred Ninsing, referred to him as 'Protector''.

One Akpaku Divine stated ''So that he will shield you from answering certain queries, hahahahah''.

Ibn Abass wrote, ''He did so well for the gun wielding nominee who was under serious duress''.

Raphael Archampong, also stated ''so what exactly does the President consider before nominating someone? Smh! While one J Ato Kobbie, wrote that ''He'll certainly guarantee that you're 'not harassed'!

On the gun violence, apologized for her actions saying she is sorry to all those whose lives were endangered as a result of the unfortunate incident.

"The shooting incident which occurred during the voter registration exercise was unfortunate. I apologize to the people who were scared on that day," she told the Appointment Committee.

Hawa Koomson fired the warning shots at the Step to Christ centre during the ongoing mass voter registration exercise on Monday, July 20, 2020.

She admitted afterwards to firing the gunshot at the voter registration centre. The MP, however, said the act was in self-defence but wished it never occurred.

"I pray it never happens again in our politics. It was in self-defence because I felt my time was in danger," the former Special Development Initiative Minister maintained.

Following the incident, several civil society organizations, religious groups, and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) demanded her immediate arrest and prosecution over the unfortunate incident.

Some also called for her resignation or outright dismissal.

The matter is currently being probed by the Ghana Police Service.

Speaking on the defunct Special Development Initiatives Ministry, Mrs Koomson said she was able to construct some 427 dams and 42 warehouses under various projects as its former Minister.

Madam Koomson who is now the ministerial nominee for Fisheries and Aquaculture made the observation during her vetting in Parliament on Thursday, February 18, 2021.

She noted that although the Ministry had a target to achieve per its developmental project agenda, it was unable to finish all as planned and that those that were successfully completed are being put to good use.

Touching specifically about the dams, Hawa Koomson said "our target was to construct 560 dams because one constituency had no site for the dams. There are about 471 active sites and 427 have been fully completed."

The Minister-Designate explained that although they promised to construct dams under the "One Village, One Dam project" it was impossible to give every village a dam within four years.

"There are more than 5, 0000 villages across the Northern Region and there was no way we could finish constructing 5,000 dams in four years. We, therefore, set a target of 10 dams in each constituency", she added.

The construction of warehouses was part of the government's "One District, One Warehouse" initiative under the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP) to among other things reduce post-harvest losses.

The provision of storage was to essentially ensure a continuous flow of agriculture produce, create opportunities along the agriculture value chain and also support the implementation of government's "Planting for Food and Jobs" initiative.

But providing an update on the level of progress thus far on the project, the former Minister said, 42 of such facilities have seen total completion nationwide.

"Our target was to build 50 warehouses. As I speak, 42 have been fully completed and eight others were between 80 and 90 per cent done as of October 2020 when I got a report from the consultant. The completed ones include one in Sandema, two in Tamale and two in Techiman. Eight has also been completed in the Western and Western North Regions."

Oppong Nkrumah who was the second nominee to appear before the committee also used some tough questions on some procurement deals under the Information Ministry which he had been retained at, tried to play smart almost to the point of dodging but was not allowed some NDC MPs.

He also proved to be a media owner, policymarker who had sometimes sought to even regulate the conduct of journalists in Ghana.

He was further proven to be a double-dealer, when the activities of his microfinance firm which had collapsed was put to him by Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the MP for South Tongue Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, the MP for MP for Asawase in the Ashanti Region and Haruna Iddrisu, MP for Tamale South.

The Information Minister-nominee, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, claimed that the collapse of his microfinance institution which he had majority shares in, was because he could not inject more money into its operations.

The microfinance company, Oval Microfinance Limited, was among 347 insolvent microfinance companies whose licenses were revoked during the banking clean-up in President Akufo-Addo's first term.

There reports that he owes some companies linked to Dr. Kwabena Duffuor whose prosecution had many times called for as part of the government's narrative over the banking sector clean. The bank of Ghana, had also mentioned that his company which had his biological father as its chairman, took over GHC200,000 and defaulted in repayment.

Mr. Oppong Nkrumah was Managing Director of West Brownstone Capital which was the largest shareholder of Oval Microfinance Limited.

During his vetting, he claimed that between 2017 and 2019, the directors and management of Oval Microfinance "reported difficulties and requested recapitalisation."

"I was not in a position to inject any further capital in the organisation," he said.

He said the companies woes were compounded by the August 2019 hike in the minimum capital requirement demanded by the Bank of Ghana.

It had been raised from GHS300,000 to GHS2 million and was to be met by February 28, 2020.

The capital requirement adjustment, Mr Oppong Nkrumah said he came "to the view that it [Oval microfinance] was in breach of what the new statutory requirement was."

"I, as a [majority] shareholder, and many of the other shareholders could not reinvest in the organisation as was being required by the directors and the management and the Bank of Ghana effectively revoked its license accordingly," Mr. Oppong Nkrumah explained.

He also said his shareholding company was not a defaulting customer and denied being given GHS212,000.

He assured that his firm "was not indebted to the organisation [Oval Microfinance] as at the time the Bank of Ghana was conducting its exercise."

He had defaulted in salary payments as well as the social security contributions of his workers for several months at the time of the collapse of the microfinance.