Reports gathered by DAILY GUIDE with regard to the withdrawal of the nomination of Moses Agaga as Minister-designate for Water Resources, Works and Housing are quite intriguing and point to a case of victimisation, even though the Office of the President has been tight-lipped on the issue.
The episode has upset leading members of both the majority and minority sides in Parliament and high-level talks are still ongoing on how it should be tackled.
The Majority Leader and MP for Nadowli West, Alban Bagbin and the Majority Chief Whip and MP for Ningo Prampram, E.T. Mensah are reported to be among the leading parliamentarians who went to see President Mills over the issue, especially in the face of threats by some MPs to boycott the vetting if the ex-gratia was not restored.
Reports say some members of the Parliamentary Appointments Committee had threatened to boycott the vetting of ministerial nominees as a way of registering their disapproval of the way the Presidency has handled the controversial ex-gratia issue.
It is believed that the withdrawal of Moses AsagaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nomination is apparently to penalise him for appending his signature to facilitate the payment of the approved ex-gratia awards without the prior consent of the powers that be, especially in the wake of agitations by Kwesi Pratt and his handful of demonstrators.
Hon. Asaga, MP for Nabdam in the Upper East region, was said to have authorised the payments of GHÃ‚Â¢82,000 to each of the 230 parliamentarians as their end of service benefit (ESB) and those of the Executive.
However, contrary to claims that Mr. Asaga acted unilaterally in facilitating the payments to the Executive and parliamentarians, reports say he actually sought the consent of President John Mills through Mahama Ayariga, the Presidential Spokesperson, in the face of a statement lifting an earlier embargo on certain aspects of governmental payments.
DAILY GUIDE learnt that Mr. Asaga had sought clearance from Mr. Ayariga on whether the issue of the payment of the ex-gratia was part of a directive from the Office of the President that all governmental payments should be halted till further notice.
Ayariga, himself a member of the former Parliament, was said to have benefited from the ex-gratia payment since it was approved by the last Parliament.
It is believed that Moses Asaga, a close friend of Vice President John Mahama is being penalised because the issue of the ex-gratia has taken a political twist and the new government is using it as a political tool to gain popularity.
Meanwhile a number of Parliamentarians who had an idea of the sum they stand to benefit from the ex-gratia reportedly took huge loans from various banks to partly finance their political campaigns for the last elections.
The said MPs are already being chased by the banks and had no alternative but to fall on the ex-gratia to settle their debts.
A number of them however got infuriated that on reaching the banks, they were told that the President had halted the payment of the monies and ordered an investigation into the matter.
Some of them then threatened to boycott the vetting sittings. It took some assurances from Hon Bagbin that the money had been restored before the MPs took their seats at the vetting on Friday.
Moses Asaga, after his unexpected withdrawal, has been rather sober, pleading with the President to take a second look at the matter.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Even if I have done anything wrong, they should look at my positive side. I believe that my positive side is about a hundred fold compared to one single issue that they might have considered before dropping my name,Ã¢â‚¬Â he reportedly told Joy Fm.
The nomination of the Nabdam MP for the ministerial position, reports say, was strongly influenced by the Vice President, John Mahama; the two are said to be friends and secondary school mates.
DAILY GUIDE learnt that Mr Mahama had initially pencilled Asaga for the Finance Minister portfolio, only to be told at the eleventh hour that President Mills had reserved the position for his long-time friend and former Bank of Ghana Governor, Dr Kwabena Duffuor.
A Daily Guide Report