Airbus Scandal: Mahama’s loud silence a big problem for NDC?

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The aspirations of former President John Dramani Mahama and a host of NDC party faithfuls of being elected to the reins of governance may be hanging on a string following a series of corruption allegations levelled against the leader.

Unfolding drama over the last 7 days – February 2 through to February 7 – dragged the name of John Mahama as well as some former appointees into the ongoing Airbus bribery scandal and the illegal mining issue.

All the allegations spearheaded by the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), may have some damning consequences on his presidential bid on December 7.

News about former government officials’ involvement in the Airbus scandal broke on Sunday, February 2, 2020, after a Crown Court judgement found Airbus guilty of paying bribes in some countries from 2009 -2015 of which Ghana featured. It was highlighted that some government officials under the erstwhile Mills/Mahama administration facilitated the payment of bribes in the procurement deals with Airbus.

It must be noted, however, that no names were mentioned in the crown court ruling and documents. The terms government officials and intermediaries were used instead.

Akufo-Addo refers case to OSP

Without any bureaucratic delays whatsoever, President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo issued a directive referring the Office of the ‘Citizen Vigilante’ to begin further probe into the case.

Parts of the president’s statement read; “The attention of the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has been drawn to a 31st January 2020 judgement of the Crown Court at Southwark, in the United Kingdom… “a number of Airbus employees made or promised success based commission payments of approximately $5 million to Intermediary 5”, who is said to be “a close relative of a high ranking elected Ghanaian Government official (Government Official 1)”… President Akufo-Addo has taken notice of the judgement and its implications and has referred it to the Office of Special Prosecutor to collaborate with its UK counterparts to conduct a prompt inquiry to determine the complicity or otherwise of any Ghanaian government official, past or present, involved in the said scandal, and to take the necessary legal action against any such official, as required by Ghanaian law.”

NPP Officially Names Mahama as Government Official One

No sooner had the president’s official statement been released than his party, led by its Communications Officer, Yaw Buaben Asamoa reacted.

The party in a press conference on February 3, 2020, unhesitantly named John Dramani Mahama as Government Official 1 and Intermediary 5 as his brother.

“…On the face of the evidence presented, GO1 appears to be no other than former President John Dramani Mahama, now Presidential Candidate of the NDC for the 2020 Presidential and General Elections…According to President Mahama’s account of his sibling in his book, ‘My First Coup D’Etat’, the profile of I5 appears to fit perfectly that of the long lost and found brother…,” Buaben Asamoa announced.

NDC Retorts

The executive members of the opposition party who didn’t take the allegations lightly, also converged in a reprisal press conference on February 6, 2020, to clear their leader’s name.

“…Government Official 1” is not cited for any offence in any of the approved judgements, his or her identity is totally immaterial…”

Prior to this, former Attorney General and Minister of Justice under the Mahama administration, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong in a riposte moved to clear her former boss’ name. She emphasized that the allegations against the Mahama/Mills administration are false and contrary to the approved judgement.

The NDC also chastised Buaben Asamoa for his “indecent haste” in drawing conclusions.

But has the harm already been done?

Chairman Wontumi accuses Mahama of corruption, again

As though that wasn’t enough for a week, the Ashanti regional chairman of the NPP again, in a separate interview on Thursday, February 6, 2020, accused John Mahama of corruption. He also accused the former president of begging for his allegiance prior to the 2016 elections.

He alleged that the former president had already tainted his reputation by indulging in several corrupt practices while serving his term as president. Chairman Wontumi alleged that John Mahama confiscated his mining company together with his equipment after he refused to sponsor Mahama’s campaign prior to the 2016 elections.

“He told me that, young man, you are too intelligent I want you to come to NDC to support me [President Mahama]. I will never lie about this, Wontumi will never lie and he [Mahama] knows…“They wanted to force me, so I admit that my company had no license to engage in the large-scale mining we were engaged in, but I showed them all the necessary documentation and that there was no way I was going to admit I had no license to mine.”

What these allegations mean to Mahama’s presidential bid

According to some political pundits, the ruling NPP’s stance of seemingly impeding the political advances of the NDC in the upcoming polls is nothing but a deliberate political gimmick.

To them, even though it is a political game to obstruct the NDC, they do have some pervasive consequences.

Imani Ghana President, Franklin Cudjoe admitted to this when he said “It will have some ripple effect. That is why we need damages to unveil all of this. It is most likely that because it was his [Mahama] administration that has been fingered in this matter, definitely his campaign will take a bit of a hit to the extent that, although he has not been mentioned in particular, it was his administration that was involved– partially as a vice president and later, a president. I’m sure he’s had to take the heat just as we are apportioning blame to the presidency when there have been several acts of corruption under this administration.”

Professor of political science at the University of Ghana, Ransford Edward Van Gyampo in a media interaction also laid emphasis on the practice saying; “I think the practice of keeping scandals and hoarding criminal videos only to release in election year is not productive because once you do so, the other party also will say I will do same to equalize so at the end of the day if you do not take care, it is he who is able to produce more scandals that will be elected…Once you release a scandal, the other political party who feels affected will also look for a scandal and also release just to equalise,” he averred.”

Mahama response

In spite of the several ongoing rebuttals in the media over the allegations, Ghanaians are yet to officially record a response from the former president who is seeking to win the favour of electorates in the upcoming polls.

While Ghanaians wait in anticipation of a possible response from John Mahama, others including Awal Mohammed has asked him to relinquish his position as the flagbearer of the opposition party.

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