Controversy is brewing over the use of state funds in supporting the ambition of President John Dramani Mahama who is the flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the upcoming elections.
A day after the issue about the release of an amount of GH¢4, 000 to a group that identifies itself as ‘Volunteers for Mahama’ (VFM) by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) became public, the President was compelled to call for a probe into the brouhaha.
He caused handlers of his campaign to issue two separate statements on Monday night to douse the raging inferno by distancing himself from the group.
In both statements, which were issued and signed by Director of Communications for the Mahama 2012 campaign Hannah Tetteh, she noted, “President Mahama has instructed the Governing Board of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre to convene an emergency meeting of the Board tomorrow (yesterday) on the 27th of November 2011 to investigate the allegation that the Chief Executive of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, Mr. George Aboagye instructed the payment of funds to the Volunteers for Mahama group.”
He further directed the Board of the GIPC to furnish him with its report on the matter by close of day yesterday to enable him to take a decision on the matter.
This, Hannah noted, was because “while we do appreciate the support given by groups such as Volunteers for Mahama, we do not subscribe to their request for funding support from Government Agencies”.
She therefore asked the group to “refund any monies that they may have received from the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre at once, and certainly within 24 hours”, stating that “soliciting funds from State Organizations is unacceptable, unethical and we believe not to be in line with the tenets of the Political Parties Act (Act 574).”
In spite of the incontrovertible evidence available including a cheque issued in its name by the GIPC, the VFM has sought to deny receiving any such amount, claiming, “VFM has no bank accounts to draw any cheques and has not received any such monies as stated in the said publications including the alleged GH¢4, 000 from the GIPC.”
A statement issued and signed by one Charles Nkansah, who described himself as director of operations of the group said, “It is mischievous and a calculated attempt to distract our focus on realizing our mission.”
He described the claims as unfounded but also baseless and false, claiming that the NDC group had no bank account.
The GIPC, which is headed by George Aboagye, the NDC parliamentary candidate for Ahanta West Constituency in the Western Region, is also involved in another issue of doling out GH¢20, 000 to the chairman of the governing board, Ishmael Yamson.
However, Mr Yamson said though the cheque was issued, he asked his children to return it because it was not proper, without sanctioning the person who authorized the payment.
In an executive memo written and signed by Vivian Agyapong, the Administrative and Protocol Officer of the GIPC, to the Chief Executive Officer, George Aboagye, on April 26, 2012, the organisation decided to dole out GH¢20,000 to the board chairman for his 70th birthday.
In the said memo, the officer suggested to the CEO that due to the exemplary works of the board chairman which had translated into growth in volumes and value of investment to Ghana during his tenure, Mr Yamson deserved a befitting birthday package which she pegged at GH¢20,000.
The memo received an instant approval from Mr. Aboagye, who minuted on it the same day, April 26, 2012.
The process was expedited by the acting deputy Director of Finance of GIPC who instructed one Matilda, an accounts officer, to pay with cash cheque.
But Mr Yamson has denied receiving any such amount.
Though he gladly admitted to the fact that the GIPC presented a cheque for GH¢20,000 as a contribution for his birthday celebration, the GIPC board chairman, who spoke on Accra-based Joy FM, said he ordered for the return of the cheque when it came to his notice.
“It is true that the GIPC donated a cheque for GH¢20,000 but the cheque was returned on my instruction back to the GIPC so the GIPC did not give me a cheque which I accepted…” he said, insisting, “The story is not true. The truth of the story is that the cheque was returned to the GIPC and this can be verified from the GIPC.”
By Charles Takyi-Boadu