The bewildering saga concerning recently retired Auditor-General Daniel Yaw Domelevo and the Audit Service Board, took an even more dramatic turn when on March 19, the presidency published a 21-page ‘open letter’ to tell the President’s side of the story.
At issue are Mr. Domelevo’s “forced leave”, his age and his “forced retirement”.
Signed by President Nana Akufo-Addo’s Secretary, Nana Bediatuo Asante, the letter was in response to a press conference by the Coalition of Civil Society Organizations Against Corruption, held on March 10, 2021.
The Open Letter, totaling 21 pages, is a time-consuming read. Nevertheless, in my view, it is well worth the time spent on this outwardly simple matter, but quite complex as the letter reveals.
Having read it, my immediate question was: what exactly has President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo done wrong to deserve the castigation by some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)?
Take, for example, the blistering, astounding attack by Professor Gyimah-Boadi, widely reported in the media under such headlines as “Akufo-Addo’s Anti-Corruption Credibility in Tatters”.
On March 11, 2021, Ghanaweb reported:
Prof Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, the co-founder of Afrobarometer, an anti-corruption report, has cast doubts on President Akufo-Addo’s commitment to the fight against corruption following his dismissal of Auditor-General Daniel Yao (sic) Domelevo.
“As for the President’s credibility in terms of anti-corruption, I am afraid it is in tatters. It has been in tatters for a while but this puts a nail in the coffin,” Prof Gyimah-Boadi told Citi TV in a report monitored by Ghanaweb.
“One who is trying to fight corruption is one who is being persecuted and hounded out of office,” Gyimah-Boadi added.
He noted that Domelevo was forced to retire early from public service because the executive increasingly looks “like it has difficulty working with (heads of) institutions that it has not appointed.”
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Unfortunately, owing to space constraints, the following are only excerpts from the Open Letter which was marked for the attention of Dr. Kojo Pumpuni Asante, described as Spokesperson for the Coalition.
The narrative (about the retirement of the former Auditor-General) focuses on unfounded allegations that Government had targeted Mr. Domelevo and wanted him out of office at all cost.
This narrative has been based on untruths, deliberate misconstruction of the facts and complete disregard for the rule of law.
Circumstances surrounding his appointment
Mr. Domelevo was appointed on the eve of the exit from office of His Excellency, former President Mahama.
He was appointed on 30th December, 2016, after former President Mahama had overwhelmingly lost the mandate of the people of Ghana to govern in the presidential and parliamentary elections of 7th December, 2016.
Prior to the election of December 7, 2016. Dr. Felix Kwame Aveh was the Auditor-General that former President Mahama intended to appoint if he had won the election of December 7, 2016.
After losing the election, it became necessary for former President Mahama to change his nomination, with the sole aim of saddling the then President elect, Nana Akufo-Addo, with an Auditor-General, whose allegiance was to former President Mahama, instead of the nation.
It must be noted that Mr. Domelevo, hitherto, was not an auditor, and had not been engaged in auditing.
The President ensured that Mr. Domelevo was provided the necessary resources required for the efficient running of the Audit Service.
It was, thus, not surprising to hear Mr. Domelevo acknowledge these efforts of the President during the Occupy Ghana Anniversary Lecture held at the British Council on 14th June 2019, where he stated emphatically that he had been supported immensely by the President.
This cannot be the position of a government that had targeted Mr. Domelevo and wanted him out at all cost.
In (a) 3rd July, 2020 letter, Mr. Domelevo was assured by the President that the decision for him to take his annual leave was not borne out of bad faith.
Rather, given the deteriorated relationship between the Audit Service Board and Mr. Domelevo, the President, as the appointing authority, was the only person who could request that Mr. Domelevo take his accumulated leave, which he did.
We note, however, that the issue whether the President has authority to request the Auditor-General to proceed on accumulated leave is pending before the courts and we await their views.
Retirement of Mr. Domelevo
It is important to set out in full, the disparities and anomalies that were brought to the attention of the President:
From all the official documents in respect of Mr. Domelevo, there are two dates of birth: 1st June, 1960 and 1st June, 1961; and three hometowns: Agbatofe, Ada and Kumasi.
The above inconsistencies are what the Audit Service Board sought to clarify with Mr. Domelevo, who refused to attend (a) special board meeting (to which he was invited), and reminded the Board that it was not his appointing authority.
As far as SSNIT is concerned, Mr. Domelevo's date of birth is 1st June, 1960 and his date of retirement was 1st June, 2020.
Indeed, in completing the Old Age Retirement and Invalidity Benefit Application Form (SS-B1) on 9th June, 2017, Mr. Domelevo stated his date of birth as 1st June, 1960, signed and thumb printed same.
The Office of the President, through its investigations, also discovered that Mr. Domelevo had not petitioned the Director-General of SSNIT to correct the mistake in his date of birth, if indeed, it was a genuine mistake.
Mr. Domelevo was bound by law to retire on 1st June, 2020.
He was neither sacked nor was his appointment terminated; he retired by operation of law because he had attained the compulsory retirement age of 60 years.
It is, thus, very disappointing to hear a very senior and otherwise distinguished member of civil society make such loose and thoughtless statements (scorning) the President's credibility in the anti-corruption (crusade).
Mr. Domelevo was not targeted or chased out of office.
When President Akufo-Addo assumed office, he worked and continues to work with all the constitutional office holders that had been appointed by his predecessor, former President Mahama.
The very idea that in spite of clear requirements of law, the President should not have acted, on account of Mr. Domelevo’s allegedly praiseworthy past work, is itself corrupt and should not be countenanced under any pretext.
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Going by the Open Letter, I still don’t understand the animosity the CSOs have demonstrated against the President in this matter.
If there is a different set of facts available to the CSOs, which explains their stance, then surely they owe it to the rest of us to make those details known.
Furthermore, two nagging questions: Having discovered the error in his date of birth, why didn’t Mr. Domelevo change it the formal way, as required by SSNIT regulations?
And, is it the case that officials should not go on retirement because they are doing their job well?
In the absence of information different from, and contradicting, the comprehensive explanations in the Open Letter, one thing stands out clearly for me: Prof Gyimah-Boadi, and others, have not been fair and they owe President Akufo-Addo an apology.