The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has dismissed suggestions that he is running a parallel Civil Service with his appointment of 110 ministers to steer the affairs of state.
The President, who rejected the suggestions in an interview, indicated that the appointments were rather for him to have an insight into what was going on in various institutions such as the Public Procurement Authority (PPA).
He granted an exclusive interview to the Daily Graphic and Ghana Television (GTV) in his office at the Flagstaff House in Accra last Thursday.
The interview touched on a broad range of issues, including when to expect the Special Independent Prosecutor to take office, the funding of the free senior high school (SHS) policy and how to achieve sustainability of the programme, whether it had come to his attention that there were state vehicles missing and the legacy he planned to leave behind.
Public Procurement Minister
According to President Akufo-Addo, the appointment of a Public Procurement Minister was for him to have an "eagle eye" on all procurement processes in the country.
“The minister in my office is going to have an eagle eye on that process. All of us know the tremendous challenge that the system of public procurement in our country has had these years. Huge contracts had been awarded, many of them very questionable and sole sourced,” he lamented.
“I wanted a minister here — somebody who is familiar with the process of public procurement — whose duty would be to keep me fully engaged all the time on what is going on and be able to alert me when she sees that something has gone awry,” he said.
He said the minister was not going to take over the work of the PPA, saying: “On the contrary, she was one of those who fashioned the law, and the whole idea of the law was to keep the political element out of the public procurement process. But at the end of the day, the law did not achieve its purpose and what was to be a limited exception of how public procurement should work became the norm.
“I think it is important that I have an instrument that allows me not only oversight over public procurement but also an insight into what is going on; somebody who will be chasing and receiving the reports, finding out what exactly is going on at the ministerial and the central level because I am determined to ensure that competitive bidding and the details of the Public Procurement Act are upheld and met,” he stated.
Furthermore, he said, he did not only intend to ensure that the public procurement process worked as it was originally intended to do but that there were ancillary measures he was going to take to make sure that accountability in the political system, once again, became the norm and not the exception.
“We want a situation where political office holders are the first to recognise that they serve the public interest and not their own. I have said time and again that those of my party who think that coming into the public sector is going to be an avenue for making money under President Akufo-Addo are going to be disappointed,” he said.
To emphasise that, he said, all the first appointments that he made had declared and filed their assets with the Auditor-General.
“It is part of the process of re-assuring the Ghanaian people about the commitments that we are making to protect the public purse to ensure that we live with a political system that minimises corruption which has really ravaged our country and brought us to this low level of economic decline.
“There is going to be a systematic attempt to deal with it, and we are also going to implement the measures that we have put in place to create the office of the Special Independent Prosecutor,” he said.
The President gave the strongest indication yet that the office of the Special Independent Prosecutor would be created sooner than later.
He disclosed that the policy rationale had already been drafted and put before the Cabinet.
“Once it is approved, the next session of Parliament, which should resume on May 15, 2017, will receive the legislation,” he said, adding that the Attorney-General was finalising a memorandum to the Cabinet.
He said “the creation of that office is important; not just the symbolism of the setting up of the Special Prosecutor but that we give it teeth and the opportunity to be able to work properly”.
“Then also are other matters to deal with when it comes to corruption. I have talked about the declaration of assets by my ministers, but, then, again, I want to bring to Parliament, as soon as possible, a bill that seeks to amend the public assets declaration that will allow Parliament to re-visit the issue of whether or not there should be public disclosure.
“We have an internal rule that says that once you are appointed as an Article 71 office holder, within two weeks of your appointment, you have to declare and file your assets.
“Then, of course, the most critical and the most important, the personal example that those working with me and I would have to set. That is the best guide to how successful the fight against corruption is going to be,” he said.