Former President John Mahama not long ago marked the beginning of another electioneering season aimed at the presidency of Ghana.
But even before Ghanaians indulge him, questions are being posed as to the viability of his candidature, looking back at a legacy of profound corruption and egregious conflicts of interest he left behind, the repercussions of which continues to echo six and a half years after he left office.
After campaigning on the promise that he would stamp out corruption in public office, Mahama did the opposite, using his power as the President to boost his own profits through numerous underhand dealings and contract inflation.
In actual fact, Mahama provided corporate lobbyists, foreign actors, special interests and anyone else seeking political clout a way to gain access to his administration.
Indeed, he opened the presidency up for business, and for four years, influence was for sale, and he flouted all kinds of norms set by previous presidents, starting with his decision not to divest from his business interests while in office, setting the stage for what became an administration marked by placing self-interest and profiteering at the highest levels above the public interest and culminated in a humiliating electoral defeat.
It was no wonder when the Economic Management
Team sponsored Ministerial Committee report on the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) review document found Mahama culpable relating to some under-dealings on the matter of the Tema Port Expansion Project.
A Committee under the Chairmanship of the then Honorable Deputy Minister of Transport and Member of Parliament (Tema East Constituency) Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover was appointed on the instructions of His Excellency The Vice President Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and the Economic Management Team, to assist the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to review several documents relating to the concession/contracts between the GPHA and Meridian Port Services Limited (MPS). The review exercise covered all relevant engagements related to the container terminal operations at the Port of Tema from August 2004 to 2015.
In summary, the ministerial investigations show how Bolloré and his foreign partners ripped Ghana off with the help of former President Mahama.
Indeed, the French ports-to-media conglomerate, Bolloré Africa Logistics, partnered by the Danish shipping giant Maersk’s ports arm won the right to build and run the new container port of Tema, through Mahama’s legacy of corruption.
It is a tale of intrigue based on the Westerners’ ‘lack of transparency and ethical discipline’, and the former President’s gluttonous self indulgence.
The terms of the agreements between MPS and the state are so tilted against Ghana’s interests.
The concessions Bolloré won from Ghana was shrouded in secrecy, with no tender or bids, in 2014, and even violating procurement laws of the country and overstated the planned investment by a factor of two which won tax holidays worth $832 million from an unwitting parliament. The deal surreptitiously cut Ghana’s equity in MPS to 15% after first agreeing to 30%.
It also gave undue monopoly to Bolloré on handling containers, and placed thousands of jobs at other port concerns at risk and driving up prices and
reduced the fees payable to the government over the life of the concession by $4.1 billion.
The ministeral report also averred that the terms under which MPS operates the new terminal were ‘gravely detrimental to the government and people of Ghana. They deal do not reflect honest business ethics between the parties.
This is the story of how the deal took shape, and how a fightback within the Transport Ministry and the NPP against the MPS deal was finally quashed, and the legendary ability of Vincent Bolloré to accommodate political change asserted itself.
With all this albatross dangling around his neck, Mahama is out there singing a new tune that he’s the man to take Ghana to the promised land.
I wonder how a man seen by many as the most corrupt politician ever in Ghana thinks of the Ghanaian people, so much that he want to return to political office to continue with his corruption.
I shall be back.
Ernest Kofi Owusu-Bempah
Deputy Director of Communications, NPP