Every government no matter how well it performs will always be entangled in one controversy or the other. The erstwhile Mahama –led administration had its fair share of these controversies, some of which ultimately led to the National Democratic Congress’s (NDC) heavy defeat in the 2016 general elections. Whether the controversies that rocked the Akufo-Addo government in 2017 can have an impact on their electoral success in the next election is one that only time can tell but for the time being let us look at some of the biggest controversies that rocked the government in 2017.
i. Plagiarism Saga
This was quite unprecedented, to have a scandal brewing down the neck of the new government right on the day of the swearing in of the president. President Akufo-Addo was accused of plagiarizing portions of the speech of a former U.S president Thomas Wilson. This initially did not seem to be a big issue but it quickly escalated to become a huge national issue with some foreign media also reporting on it as well. Even though the Flagstaff House communication team, led by Eugene Arhin came out to apologise for the mishap, it was too late in the day to salvage the situation.
ii. 110 Ministers
This controversial decision on the part of the president took the nation by surprise and attracted massive criticisms from all angles. People begun to question the president’s rationale for appointing 110 ministers for a country of nearly 28million people. The president had to come out later to defend his action, stating that he should be judged in the end based on the performance of his appointees and not the number amidst pledging to protect the public purse. This explanation did not go down well with many Ghanaians and the issue became a public topic for weeks with many taking to ridiculing the appointments while civil organisations also questioned the president’s commitment to protect the national purse.
iii. Boakye Agyarko’s Cash for Minority MPs
This case was the first real test for the newly formed government with regards to fighting corruption. Three minority MPs namely Okudzeto Ablakwa, Alhaji Suhuyini and Mahama Ayariga sensationally accused the then-Energy Minister designate, Boakye Agyarko of giving money to minority Members of Parliament for them to approve his nomination. This led to a standoff between both factions, NDC and NPP in parliament as the allegations and radio interviews raged on. Spectacularly, Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mohammed whom the three said was the one whom the money was handed to, to pass on to minority MPs denied knowledge of any such activity, insisting that nothing of that sort ever took place. A parliamentary committee, led by MP for Essikado-Ketan was later set up to look into the issue. The committee came out with the conclusion that Mr. Boakye Agyarko was innocent as the three accusers could not substantiate their allegations.
iv. A Plus vs Deputy Chiefs of Staff
Controversial Musician even though an avowed member of the NPP, was a thorn in the flesh of the party throughout 2017, raising several controversial issues and accusing the Akufo-Addo appointees of being corrupt. One of his many accusations which caught the eye of the public and rocked the government was the accusing of the two deputy Chiefs of Staff, Abu Jinapor and Francis Asenso-Boakye of extorting monies from people who wanted to see the president. The issue became so scandalous that the president had to order the Police Service to conduct an investigation into the allegations. The Criminal Investigations Department (CID), of the Police Service invited A Plus to their headquarters a couple of times to question him as part of the process. The CID later concluded that A Plus couldn’t provide any evidence to back his allegations, describing it as baseless. A Plus who wouldn’t go down without a fight later released a recording in which the Deputy head of the police CID Ms. Yaa Tiwaa Addo-Danquah was heard in a phone conversation with A Plus admitting that there was some truth in the allegations but it had to be covered to protect the government from public scrutiny. The deputy Director of CID later came out to say the even though that was her voice, the audio was doctored.
v. Cash for seats
This was the last controversy that rocked the NPP government in 2017. Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak accused the Trade Ministry of taking between $ 25,000 and $ 100,000 from expatriates who wanted to sit closer to the president at the recently held Ghana Expatriates Business Awards. This revelation did not go down well with the public as many called for the sacking of the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah who had his signature appended on the letter which demanded for those amounts to be paid by expatriates who wished to sit near the president at the event. The pressure mounted on the president pushed him to demand a written explanation from the Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyeremanteng. President Akufo-Addo upon receiving the letter, concluded that the ministry had done no wrong but didn’t give a further explanation for that stance when the public thought it was wrong on the part of the ministry to do that.