The minority caucus in parliament has sought to suggest that the action by the majority caucus on Tuesday, 25 October 2022, at which the government MPs demanded that President Nana Akufo-Addo dismiss Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta or they would boycott the 2023 budget and any other government business on the floor of parliament, smacked of hypocrisy.
According to Minority Chief Whip Ahmed Ibrahim, the majority caucus should have served notice to the president when, at a cabinet meeting with them, Mr Akufo-Addo rebuffed their demand for his cousin’s dismissal by asking them: “When he [Ken Ofori-Atta] was sponsoring my campaign, where were you?”
Responding to the majority caucus’ press conference held earlier on Tuesday, Mr Ibrahim said: “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”.
“So, if they [majority caucus] mean well, you need a two-thirds majority of parliamentarians to sack the finance minister. When we went to the IPU, they told us that parliamentarians must walk the talk. More action and less talk. So, it should not be the majority [caucus] coming to make a press conference, the minority [caucus] coming to make a press conference”.
“If you have 137 minority [MPs] and 137 plus one majority [MPs] and both sides believe that the finance minister is killing the economy and, therefore, he must go, it should not be difficult to mobilise 183 MPs to dismiss or to reshuffle him if the president is refusing to do that”, he noted.
He added: “The Hon Haruna Iddrisu said in the business committee [meeting] yesterday [Monday, 24 October 2022] that the motion is ready, he didn’t want to surprise the majority leader and we don’t want to take this press briefing [of theirs] as a deflation of our motion”.
“Now, they’ve shown an indication that they also don’t want the finance minister, so, now it’s a clear indication that Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has failed”.
“So, the information they were trumpeting everywhere that he performed in his first term and that’s why they are maintaining him, they themselves see that they have no truth in it”.
“You and I know that we performed in the first three years because we had an oil economy – the oil growth that we inherited. So, now, this morning, the motion is still going to be pursued. We will not take this their press briefing that: ‘Even the majority don’t want the finance minister, so, we’ll stop’. We are not stopping with the motion for the impeachment of the finance minister and now that the indication from our brothers from the majority [side] is that they support our motion, they must support us to move the motion on the floor, because if MPs don’t want the finance minister, we cannot be blaming Nana Akufo-Addo”.
“We have the power to use 183 MPs to impeach him. … Let’s go inside. The Haruna Iddrisu motion that he told Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu about yesterday is ready. But if you don’t do this then we reduce democracy to a mere talk shop”.
At their press conference, the majority caucus gave President Akufo-Addo an ultimatum: remove Finance Minister Ken OFori-Atta and the Minister of State at the Finance Ministry, Mr Charles Adu-Boahen, from office, or they will boycott the budget hearing and other government businesses on the floor of parliament.
The caucus, led by spokesperson Andy Appiah Kubi, MP for Asante Akyem North, issued the ultimatum within the precincts of parliament when the house resumed sitting after a three-and-a-half-month recess.
He told the parliamentary press corps: “We are members of the majority caucus of the parliament of Ghana and we, here so, present; represent a greater number of the said caucus”.
“My name is Andy Appiah Kubi and I am only here as the spokesperson for the majority group – without more”, he caveated.
Mr Appiah-Kubi continued: “We have had occasions to defend allegations of conflict of interest, lack of confidence [and] trust against the leadership of our finance ministry”, however, “the recent developments within our economy are of great concern to the greater majority of the members of our caucus and our constituents”.
“We have made our grave concerns [known] to the president through the parliamentary leadership and the leadership of the party without any positive response”, he revealed.
“We are, by this medium, communicating our strong desire that the president change the minister of finance and the minister of state at the finance ministry, without further delay, in order to restore hope to the financial sector and reverse the downward trend in the growth of the economy”, the group demanded.
“The summary of our concerns lead to a plea that the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken OfoRI-Atta and the Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance, Mr Charles Adu-Boahen, be removed from office. We pray that this prayer would be carried to the presidency”.
The caucus then threatened: “Meanwhile, we want to serve notice, and notice is hereby served that until such persons, as aforementioned, are made to resign or removed from office, we, members of the majority caucus here in parliament, will not participate in any business of the government by or for the president by any other minister”.
“We hope that those of us at the backbench and members of the majority caucus will abide by this prayer”, the group added.
“We are saying that if our request is not responded to positively, we will not be present for the budget hearing nor will we participate in the debate”, Mr Appiah-Kubi stressed.
Also, the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) has demanded that President Akufo-Addo reassign Mr Ofori-Atta and Mr Adu-Boahen, if he cannot dismiss them.
The pro-government pressure group said in a press statement that the two ministers are to blame for the poor performance of the Ghana cedi in relation to other international trade currencies.
“The Minister of Finance and the Minister of State at the Ministry, Ken Ofori Atta and Charles Adu Boahen, must be reassigned,” the group demanded.
AFAG's demand comes a few days after media personality and comic Kwaku Sintim-Misa, alias KSM, asked Mr Ofori-Atta to resign.
He said this in a tweet where he claimed to be giving advice to Mr Ofori-Atta.
Again in the tweet, the award-winning comic posited that President Nana Akufo-Addo, who is cousins with Ken Ofori-Atta, has no desire to sack him from his office for a more competent person to assume it, even though it is the best for Ghana’s ailing economy.
“Advice to Ken Ofori-Atta. Bra [brother] Ken, it is obvious the President cannot and will not fire you,” Mr Sintim-Misa began.
“Please do him and Ghana a favour and respectfully resign for a competent financial manager to take charge,” he advised.
According to the TV show host, the resignation of the Finance Minister will be followed by restored confidence in Ghana’su economic recovery.
“I am sure that the financial markets will react positively to the news,” is how he put it.
Also, another entertainment personality, Lydia Forson, recently said: “It makes absolutely no sense that Ken Ofori-Atta is still the finance minister,” and queried: “How?”
“He’s lost the confidence of the people!” she argued.
The clamour for Mr Ofori-Atta's head come on the back of the cedi’s very poor performance against the US dollar.
Bloomberg has named the Ghana cedi as the worst-performing currency in the world.
At the time of KSM and Lydia Forson's tweets, one needed more than 15 cedis to obtain a dollar in Accra, the capital of Ghana.
Recently, the United Kingdom’s Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng was sacked and subsequently their Prime Minister, Liz Truss, also resigned.
A section of the Ghanaian public have asked why this is not common in Ghana.
President Nana Akufo-Addo, last week, said Mr Ofori-Atta has been an excellent handler of the Ghanaian economy and, thus, sees no reason to sack him as being clamoured for by his critics.
Speaking to OTEC FM in the Ashanti Region on the first day of his four-day official working tour of that part of Ghana, Mr Akufo-Addo parried criticisms that his cousin is to blame for Ghana’s return to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for help since he mismanaged the economy.
The president said he takes full responsibility for Ghana’s return to the IMF since he took the decision as the head of state.
He argued that the same Ofori-Atta was able to manage an IMF-programmed economy that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) inherited in 2017 to become one of the fastest-growing economies in the world with an average annual growth rate of 7%.
The president, thus, wondered, how he could cut ties with Mr Ofori-Atta as finance minister.
The president said he has a lot of difficulty understanding the clamour for Mr Ofori-Atta’s exit, since, he noted, even the IMF confirmed that the causes of the current economic situation in Ghana are global in nature rather than a result of internal mismanagement.
“It is very easy for people to say we went back to the IMF due to mismanagement of the economy. I do not accept that criticism because the reasons why we got into the situation we find ourselves has very little to do with us. In fact, the IMF confirmed this.”