Five reasons Akufo-Addo does not want to sack his cousin Ken Ofori-Atta
The Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party, NPP, government witnessed a tumultuous day on Tuesday, October 25, 2022 with majority of the NPP caucus in Parliament pressing for the removal of the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.
The move by the over 80 Members of Parliament to go public with their demand for Ofori-Atta’s axing follows failed attempts to get President Akufo-Addo to act on their demand of dismissing his cousin.
What ensued after their declaration was one huge meeting at the Jubilee House which according to reports was a heated and fierce one and thereafter, over twenty meetings among members of the majority caucus of Parliament and other interested persons as confirmed by the MP for Efiduase Asokore, Nana Ayew Afriyie.
The major fallout from all these meetings was that Ken Ofori-Atta was placed on borrowed time and that a decision about his future would be made after he is done presenting and overseeing to the appropriation of the 2023 budget statement and sealing a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The latest action by the NPP MPs came on the back of several calls for the President to sack Ofori-Atta.
The calls have often been met with excuses, justifications or defensive posturing by the President on why his cousin will continue to man the post.
Here are five of those reasons
Akufo-Addo satisfied with Ofori-Atta’s performance
In the view of President Akufo-Addo, the recent economic challenges are not entirely the fault of Ofori-Atta but rather due to external factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.
The president is convinced that until COVID struck, Ken Ofori-Atta was leading the country’s economy on the right path and that he cannot be blamed for the current woes.
“I came to office in 2017 when we were under an IMF programme. This same Ken Ofori-Atta was able to manage the economy for the first three to four years. We were then one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. We had an average growth rate of 7% a year.
“For someone who has been able to do all these, how do I turn my back on him? For me, his performance has been excellent. That is why I have great difficulty in understanding what is going on,” the President told Kumasi-based OTEC FM in an interview.
“I do not accept that criticism because the reasons why we got into the situation we find ourselves in have very little to do with us. In fact, the IMF confirmed this,” President Akufo-Addo posited.
In the meeting with the aggrieved majority MPs, President Akufo-Addo is reported to have told the MPs to allow Ken Ofori-Atta seal a bailout plan for the country with the IMF before he is kicked out.
Reports and media statements by some persons who attended the meeting were that the president is convinced a deal could be reached with the IMF in three weeks and a decision will be made afterwards.
With just a few weeks left for the 2023 budget to be presented to Parliament and the public, the preparation of the budget is at the concluding stages and with Ken Ofori-Atta being the one who has supervised the process, the president deems it fit to allow him continue in the role until the budget is presented.
Speaking to Oyerepa TV, the Member of Parliament for Efiduase Asokore, Nana Ayew Afriyie, stated that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has promised to act in a manner that will not require the MPs to come back to him.
He said “He [Akufo-Addo] promised us this way, after the end of the budget it won’t be necessary for us to come to him because of what he would do about the finance minister, because by then, there will be no need to come back to him.”
According to critics, President Akufo-Addo is unwilling to relieve Ken Ofori-Atta of his post due to the relationship they both share.
Ken Ofori-Atta is among the relatives of Akufo-Addo who are holding government positions and the president is reported to be loyal to his family members hence the unwillingness to sack Ken Ofori-Atta.
As stated by Eugene Antwi the Member of Parliament for Subin, the president is being blinded by his relations with Ofori-Atta.
“New Patriotic Party, (NPP) is running a democracy and not a family dynasty. I do not think it is too much to ask the President to ask two people to step aside from his government,” he added.
Data Bank investment in campaign
The Deputy Minority Chief Whip, Ahmed Ibrahim alleged this week that President Akufo-Addo in a cabinet meeting told some ministers who wanted Ofori-Atta out that, his cousin used Databank to finance his campaign and for that reason, he is not going to fire him.
“We are the representatives of the people. The minority leader didn’t do a press conference. He told the chairman of the business committee that, as representatives of the people and as duty bearers, we must move a motion to call for the head of the finance minister.
“So, if our brothers in the majority [caucus] believe in this, what they should do is to support the call by the minority leader and the motion by the minority leader for the dismissal of the finance minister”.
He continued: “I see their press briefing as long overdue. If they meant well, the day they went to a cabinet meeting and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo pointed to them: ‘And you want me to sack my finance minister? When he was sponsoring my campaign, where were you?’ … was the day we were expecting them to come out with such a statement”.
But now, he pointed out, “they came to correct the communication outside to say that he [Ken Ofori-Atta] performed in the first three years and that’s why he’s [President Akufo-Addo] not sacking him”.
“This is not what he [the president] told them in the cabinet [meeting]”, Mr Ibrahim insisted, noting: “The reason why Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo doesn’t want to change Ken Ofori-Atta is that Ken Ofori-Atta used his Databank to support his campaign to become president and, therefore, the finance ministry is a compensation for the finance minister and that’s why he’s not sacking him”.
“He [the president] said this to them [majority caucus] in the cabinet [meeting]. The ministers were there and he threatened them. You didn’t come out with such a statement”.