The Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Okudzeto Ablakwa, is insisting that, the charging of expatriate businessmen as much as $100,000 to sit by President Nana Akufo-Addo at an awards event last year, amounts to extortion.
Appearing before the five-member committee set up to probe the matter, the ranking member on the Foreign Affairs committee said, the situation ‘’is very curious’’ and not the standard practice ‘’and that is why I believe it amounts to extortion.’’
The legislator told the committee that the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) used the event to fleece expatriates.
He said due to the contradictions following the saga, it will be conclusive to state that, the participants were fleeced.
Mr. Ablakwa when asked if the presidency was part of the organization of the event, he made reference to the statement of the Trade Ministry.
Portion of the statement released by the Ministry in December said: “Upon the conception of the novel idea, the Foundation informed the government, through the Presidency and further sought partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Industry in the organisation of the first ever award event targeted at recognizing and rewarding the contributions of the expatriate and naturalised expatriate community to the socio-economic advancement of the country over the decades. For the avoidance of doubt, this is the first of its kind in Africa”.
Basing his argument on this portion of the statement, Mr. Ablakwa concluded, ‘’so Mr. Chairman, the 17th December statement, brings in the president. This was the press statement,’’ from the Ministry and in my view, the presidency was directly involved.
The presidency was also brought under disrepute because of the issue, he said.
He went on to state further that: “The fundamental issue has to do with whether it is appropriate, whether it is moral, whether it is ethical, whether it is legal for access to our president His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to be offered to the highest bidder. “It is my contention that you cannot sell the prestige of the Office of the President, you cannot say that you are organising an award and that if you pay $100,000 or $75,000 you will be guaranteed access to the president first by sitting by him and secondly by having an exclusive private dinner with the president. “It is my considered view that there is everything wrong with this arrangement, it is not appropriate, it cannot be justified in anyway,” he told the committee.