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Agyeman-Manu must resign – Kwaku Baako says after Sputnik vaccine committee’s damning report

The Editor-in-chief of the New Crusading Guide Newspaper, Adul Kwaku Baako has urged the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu to resign honourably after it has emerged that he has caused financial loss to the state in the controversial Sputnik vaccine procurement.

Agyeman-Manu must resign – Kwaku Baako says after Sputnik vaccine committee’s damning report

The ad hoc committee set up by Parliament to probe the procurement of Sputnik vaccines, has revealed that the Health Minister paid 50% of the contract sum to Messrs Al Maktoum before appearing before them to answer questions.

The committee has discovered that the government had paid $2,850,000 of $5,700,000 in the controversial Sputnik vaccine deal but denied knowledge of any payment when he testified under oath before the ad hoc Committee.

The deal with Sheikh Al Maktoum was meant to purchase 3.4 million doses of the vaccine but Mr. Agyeman-Manu told the parliamentary committee that “to the best of my knowledge, we haven’t done any payment, although the Sheikh had supplied the country an initial 15,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccines, on Wednesday, March 3.

His explanation for entering into such an international agreement without parliamentary and cabinet approval despite the Attorney-General's prior warning was that he was desperate to save Ghanaians from the covid-19 pandemic.

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“I was in a desperate and helpless situation with the management of the Covid numbers. In February [this year], we had 78 deaths; by March, we had 56 deaths, and these were the numbers that pushed me to act.

“…if you were the Health Minister, I think you might have taken certain decisions that in hindsight you may not have done those things. The country was not in normal times,” Mr. Agyeman-Manu told the committee.

The committee however disagreed with the minister, saying: “The Committee is of the opinion that even if the situation in the country at the time the Agreement was signed was that of an emergency, due process of law should have been followed because Parliament would have treated the issue with the urgency it deserved and the appropriate action would have been taken accordingly. The Agreement would have been taken under certificate of urgency in accordance with the Standing Orders and the practices of the House.

“The point must also be made that, even if it was an emergency, the Minister should have found time to communicate effectively and engage with the Committee on Health. The extensive engagement would have saved the Ministry from the negative reactions from the citizenry and some Members of Parliament,” the committee said.

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The Committee went further to recommend that “in future, any such transaction, whether local or international, be subjected to broader stakeholder consultations and should be taken through due process of law including Parliamentary approval.

“Other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) should take a cue from the recommendation, not only in the case of Agreements but also on issues relating to policies and programmes to be implemented.”

The committee’s damning report will be laid before Parliament for approval.

The revelation has angered a lot of Ghanaians including private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu, Imani Africa’s senior vice president, Kofi Bentil among others who have been advocating for the sacking of the health minister and his prosecution.

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