The NDC Professionals Forum in North America, wants the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, to step aside for failing to follow due process in the botched procurement of the Sputnik V vaccines through middlemen.
It comes as Tunisia Prime Minister on Tuesday, sacked his health minister amid skyrocketing cases of COVID-19, but in Ghana, the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, has remained silent on the conduct and illegality of his Health Minister, in COVID-19 vaccine procurement.
It remains unclear, how much money Ghana pumped into the transaction and whether there is any effort to get the money back into state coffers.
Many have called for the resignation of the Health Minister or he be fired by the President, but Mr Akufo-Addo, appears unaware of the misconduct of the former Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.
Announcing the sacking of Faouzi Mehdi in a brief statement on Tuesday, the Tunisian Premier, Hichem Mechichi, decried the minister’s performance, pointing to a critical lack of oxygen at Tunisian hospitals and abysmally slow rollout of vaccines.
Answering questions from the bi-partisan parliamentary committee probing the controversial Sputnik V vaccine procurement, Mr Agyemang-Manu, admitted that he failed to seek cabinet and parliamentary approval before engaging a private individual for the procurement of Sputnik V vaccines in a bid to manage Ghana’s COVID-19 cases.
The Dormaa Member of Parliament (MP) had insisted that he was not thinking properly when he engaged the services of middlemen to supply the Russian vaccine at an outrageous price of US$19 per dose under a certificate of emergency.
Like the East African country with an estimated 12 million population, where COVID-19 caseloads are overwhelming with more than 17,000 dead, cases in Ghana are increasing too with many health facilities full.
Unlike President Akufo-Addo, the Tunisian Premier in a statement in footage published on his Facebook page, admitted there’ is an extraordinary level of dysfunction at the head of the health ministry.
Agyeman Manu, had said that the urgent and critical nature of the circumstances at the time, did not permit him to use the right channels.
According to him, he engaged Sheikh Al-Maktoum, before making attempts to get the vaccines from the right source.
He also indicated that the controversial deal was not approved by the Akufo-Addo Cabinet.
Interestingly, the vaccines have not come, the cases are increasing by the day with people dying but the President Akufo-Addo, who has addresses his fellow countrymen more than any President in world on his government’s COVID-19 measures, has remained totally silent reinforce the view held about his attitude towards punish his appointees.
But the NDC Professionals Forum North America chapter, will have none of it.
In a statement signed by its President, Arnold Appiah, the group said “his actions beg the question, why did the deal not go under a certificate of urgency to receive the necessary parliamentary approval if indeed he was under pressure to procure the vaccines to save Ghanaians?”
The NDC Professionals Forum, North America chapter, expressed disappointment in the comments of the Minister.
“We believe his actions are irresponsible as a Minister of State. The Minister’s best judgement as the Head of the Ministry has been a bad judgement and therefore not fit to be in office. Suffice to note that, the best judgement is a key component in leadership, and the Minister failed in this instance.”
According to them, Mr Agyemang-Manu lacks “the moral fortitude and integrity to continue as a Minister for Health, and as such the NDC Proforum, North America is calling on him to honourably resign with immediate effect.”
“We are giving the Minister a 7-day ultimatum effective Thursday, July 21, 2021, to save Ghanaians of any future disregard for the Constitution and tender in his resignation,” the group demanded.
Meanwhile, the company that agreed to supply Ghana with the overpriced Sputnik V vaccines has terminated the contract it had with the country according to the Health Minister.
Mr Agyeman-Manu, who is a board member of the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, admitted that he did not seek cabinet and parliamentary approval before engaging a private individual for the procurement of Sputnik V vaccines.
Under the said contract, Ghana was to receive 3.4 million doses of Sputnik V Vaccines at a unit cost of $19 instead of the ex-factory price of $10 per dose.
The issue first came to light when a Norwegian news outlet, Verdens Gang, reported that Ghana had requested to purchase the doses of the Sputnik V vaccine through two businessmen who are selling it to Ghana at $19 per dose instead of the $10 per dose on the international market
The initial price quoted for the vaccine was US$25, but it was negotiated downwards to US$19, according to the Ghana Health Service.
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