Two NDC gurus under fire over $66m SSNIT scandal

Professor Joshua Alabi and Kwame Peprah

Some top members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) seem to be robbing each other’s name in the mud in what appears to be a desperate attempt to distance themselves from the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) $66 million software scandal.

The alleged stinky deal was unearthed by the current board of SSNIT, chaired by Dr. Kwame Addo Kufuor, former Defence Minister under the erstwhile Kufuor administration.

DAILY GUIDE understands that the software, technically known as Operational Business Suite (OBS), was to help network all SSNIT’s branches nationwide to, as it were, enable the Trust receive real time data directly to its headquarters in Accra and as well enhance administrative efficiency.

The contract was awarded to Perfect Business Systems at an initial cost of $27 million and later ballooned to $66 million, even though there were other companies that quoted lower prices.

‘Dog Bites Dog’

But the revelation of the deal is apparently causing tension among members of the NDC, with Joshua Alabi, immediate past board chairman of SSNIT under the erstwhile Mahama administration, and presidential hopeful, describing the confusion among the rank and file of the NDC as a ‘dog bites dog’ situation.

He believes his NDC members are jubilating because he once presided over SSNIT affairs and with this gargantuan scandal, he is of the opinion that his opponents are happy – calling him a bad name in order to hang him.

In a statement posted on Facebook walls of his supporters after he was approached by the media over the issue, Prof Alabi said “…I began to wonder, and ponder over the dilemmas and predicaments of leaders in public service. First, I wondered and became quite concerned for our party, considering the position and allusions from some party members on some NDC platforms. “I wondered why dog would bite dog in the same family.

I could only imagine that very soon, when the missiles begin to fly from without, members of our cherished party fraternity will spin, rock and roll at the joy of seeing others being pursued, whether rightfully or wrongfully. But hey, my advice, ‘just know that the target is the party and not the individuals.’”

Accusations

Prof. Alabi, who is reportedly lacing his boots to contest for the NDC’s 2020 presidential slot, had accused the previous board headed by Kwame Peprah that he (Alabi) approved the scandalous $66 million software deal for the Trust.

Speaking to the media over the revelation, Alabi indicated that the board under Mr. Preprah – from whom he took over in 2013 – granted the approval for the contract. Interestingly, Peprah has also denied paying any money to the contractor, putting the blame on the immediate past Director General, Ernest Thompson.

“It was awarded before my board. The contract in question had been awarded by the previous board and operationalized before our board took over,” Prof. Alabi had said.

“The management went beyond the contract sum without recourse to the board; they came to the board for ratification and queried it,” he added.

He underscored, “But then, I really want to believe that the previous board really took into consideration the operations of SSNIT before awarding that contract.”

He continued, “The management also explained to the board that there was some unforeseen expenditure that occurred and that is why they went beyond their contract sum; but then, we queried it because we said they should have brought it to the board for discussion and approval before awarding it.”

Peprah’s Denial

However, a special aide to Mr. Preprah has issued a statement, denying the claims made by Prof. Alabi.

According to the statement, the payment of the said amount was never approved by the board of Mr. Preprah as claimed by Prof. Alabi.

“It is also instructive to understand that Mr. Kwame Preprah’s board did not approve the payment of the said amount nor anything close to it,” the statement pointed out.

It further quoted Mr. Preprah as saying, “The board which I chaired did not approve any payment under my watch and I have no idea how the payment was effected.”

Bad Faith

According to the statement, “Any attempt to push blame with regards to the $66 million payment will be in bad faith.”

It questioned why Prof. Alabi’s board did not abrogate the contract when he queried it.

“Assuming without admitting that the said argument should be adhered to, doesn’t it raise serious issues bordering on integrity and competence? As a new board chairman, taking over from a previous board, what prevented you from going further after the query to stop the transaction, if in the wisdom of the board, of which you were the chairman, it was wrong or smacks fraud?” Peprah, a former prison inmate, queried.

“….For heaven’s sake, don’t we have an Attorney General’s office? Couldn’t we have referred the matter to that office for proper legal advice leading to the termination or otherwise of the transaction?”

Investigations

Meanwhile, the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) is investigating five officials of SSNIT for their alleged involvement in the acquisition of the OBS software.

The contract was originally $27 million and later ballooned to $34 million before jumping to $66million and now its hovering around $72 million.

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