The Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has described as shameful, President Akufo-Addo’s dismissal of the Minority’s concerns on the Oslo Chancery controversy.
According to him, the president’s response on the matter during his encounter with some pressmen on Wednesday was embarrassing, considering the fact that there are documents to prove the Ministry’s agreement to the deal, which Ablakwa describes as scandalous.
President Akufo-Addo, at the press encounter at the Jubilee House, dismissed the Minority’s allegations of a bloated project cost describing them as empty and without substance.
“Assuming for the sake of argument with the transaction not taken place and we were to make the allocation that we paid too much. But this is the transaction, it has not taken place so how then can you begin to make statements about corruption and misappropriation? On the basis of this bare allegation without more, would I then say let us have an independent inquiry? My government won’t spend all our time at inquiries because clearly, it is a pattern of the opposition to throw these accusations into the air and when they are debunked, they don’t hear anything about it. They just move to the next allegation,” Akufo-Addo said.
But Ablakwa believes the president has demonstrated a lack of interest in addressing the problem.
“What happened is an unspeakable shame and a total embarrassment to our country. This is not leadership because your own Foreign Affairs Minister has submitted documents to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs that show that by the end of this year they were going to pay for that property. Documents that show that an agreement has been reached and the scandalous amount of the two properties has been agreed to by the ministry of foreign affairs. The president cannot say that this transaction is just a figment of the opposition’s imagination, that facts that do support it,” Ablakwa said.
The Minority in Parliament, led by its Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa leveled claims of cost inflation against the ministry over the conversion of a 100-year-old 6-bedroom house in Oslo Norway, into Ghana’s new mission in Norway.
Ablakwa alleged that the property was bought by a certain woman for $2.9 million in 2014 and sold to an unknown buyer for $3.5 million in August 2017, and so it was surprising that the ministry in a presentation to the Foreign Affairs committee said it was purchasing the same building for $12.2 million in 2018.
He, therefore, urged the Speaker, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, to admit a document he presented to back his claims of an inflated contract, but the Speaker ruled that the evidence is not admissible because the documents are not verifiable.
But the sector minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, denied the allegations on the floor of Parliament, saying the Ministry had already backtracked on that particular property and was looking elsewhere.
The Ministry’s statement on the matter said,
“[It] has not signed an agreement to purchase the said properties; that is the Chancery and the Ambassador’s Residence. The Ministry expressed interest in two properties in Oslo and as required by the Public Procurement Act, commenced due diligence on the properties with the Assistance of a property Valuer and a reputable Lawyer with expertise in the acquisition of properties for Diplomatic Missions.”