I Didn’t Dash GH¢1m For Presidential Bid

Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto

MINISTER OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has said that his meeting with Constituency Executives of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the Ashanti Region last week on his presidential ambition is being used “mischievously” to court public disaffection for him.

There have been claims that he distributed about a million cedis among the Executives in the Ashanti Region; but he says: “This is not only incorrect but simply the imaginations of the one making those claims.”

“I have taken due notice of information making the rounds on both traditional and social media,  claiming to be a summary of an outcome of a meeting held with party executives in the Ashanti Region ‘to announce my bid for the flag-bearership position of the NPP’.”

A statement he personally signed yesterday said:

“the narrators for reasons best known to them, mischievously sought to court public disaffection for my person, by resorting to such outrageous claims.”

NPP Constitution

Explaining the issues, the Minister said: “per the Constitution of the NPP, nominations have not been opened for interested candidates to announce their intentions of contesting for any position in the party. It is therefore unfortunate for anyone to seek to create the impression that I held a meeting to announce my bid for the ‘flag-bearership’ position of the party.”

He said, “I decided to go to Kumasi and have some rest during the weekend in order to try to recover from a fever; I was in bad shape, attending the Budget Reading in Parliament on Friday, March 12, 2021. As a former Member of Parliament in the Region and as a Senior Member of this Government, I accepted to grant audience to some Party Executives who had been making me calls for a meeting to discuss matters concerning the welfare of the Party. However, it is normal for such meetings to end with the offer of a Travel & Transport (T&T) amount given to guests who come from far and near, to cover their transportation costs”.

No Cash

“The narrators claimed that I spent up to GH¢1,000,000 at the said meeting, to announce my bid for the flag-bearership position. This is categorically incorrect, it is only a figment of imagination from the mind of whoever is making such an allegation. Having a Meeting with 17 Constituency Executives for each of the 47 constituencies in my house, meant I would have been receiving about 700 delegates. Obviously, my house,  does not have the capacity to seat such a huge number of persons. How therefore can anyone assume that I paid almost one Million Ghana cedis to NPP Executives in a day?”

The Minister said, “furthermore, the narrators claimed I promised to distribute tractors and motorbikes to Party Executives.  This is another lie. Being mindful of the fact that these tractors are purely meant for farming purposes, I would never use their allocation or distribution for my personal political ambition,” adding that “processes for the acquisition and distribution of such equipment are clearly spelt out, and there is no way how that could be compromised or misapplied for other parochial purposes, apart from their being given to deserving farmers and farmer- groups in the country.”

President’s Friend

He said “another regrettable claim by the narrators is that I sought to ride on the back of my long-term relationship with President Akufo-Addo to execute my political ambition. It is no secret that I have a very close relationship with President Akufo-Addo which predates our political careers. But it can only be a figment of one’s imagination to assume that I will put the President in such an uncomfortable situation by using his name to campaign. Especially when he has issued a strong warning to members of his government to refrain from such conducts.”

He said “I think my relationship with the President should rather be the reason why I should continue to give off my best in order to help make his second term a continued success. It is therefore regrettable to note that I with this understanding, would be the one to cause distractions and try to derail the focus of our government by announcing my ambitions at this time.”

Deliberate Effort

The minister said “there is a deliberate effort by my detractors from within and outside my party to cause disaffection between me and the party and between me and the government for which I have worked so hard in the last four years. Such people think the easiest way to go is to introduce tribal politics,” adding “the issue about roads in Ashanti Region is a typical example of the tribal politics I am referring to. As people who know me would attest to, I don’t subscribe to tribal politics.”

He reiterated: “I believe in decent political discourse, devoid of insults, lies and mudslinging. I will therefore encourage each and everyone, including the media, to refrain from acts that have the tendency to derail the historical gains made by the Government of His President Akufo-Addo, and ensure continuation in development” adding: “Let me take this opportunity to renew my unflinching commitment to the goals set by the President for his second term.”

From I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr., Kumasi