The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Parliamentary Minority Caucus on Wednesday expressed concern over the way the 2023 National Awards Programme was organized by the Government.
Mr Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, NDC Member of Parliament (MP) for Juaboso and Ranking Member on the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, addressing the Parliamentary Press Corps in Accra said the Ceremony turned out to be a final attempt at clearing persons being investigated by a Parliamentary Committee of Enquiry on their stewardship in the management COVID-19 funds.
He said the National Awards Scheme instituted by the first President of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah in 1960, presents high honours to Ghanaian citizens and institutions who had distinguished themselves in service and sacrifice for the maintenance and advancement of the country.
“Inasmuch as the Minority agrees with the principle of duly recognizing the efforts of deserving awardees, we are of the opinion that yesterday’s event lowered the high standards previously set and maintained by previous awardees by comingling deserving and undeserving awardees at the event.
“For the first time in our history, persons whose conduct are currently being probed by a Parliamentary Committee of Enquiry, were publicly decorated with high honours in a desperate attempt by the President to finalize the corruption clearing process that he began during the message of the state of the nation address in Parliament.”
Mr Akandoh said the sensibilities of Ghanaians were ever being tested by the Government and’ “it beats the imagination of reasonable Ghanaians how a Health Minister who not- so-long-ago was investigated for the manner in which he flouted the nation’s procurement laws to award an overpriced contract for the procurement of Sputnik V in what looked like an underhand dealing to defraud the state was given the high honour of the Order of the Volta”.
He said equally disturbing was the fact that same event the Minister for Information who was cited by the Auditor General for having made unauthorized allowance payments to staff of his office during the pandemic was also publicly draped in the high honours of the Order of the Volta even before his conduct or misconduct was fully investigated and cleared by the Parliamentary Committee of Enquiry.
He said of greater concern was the conferring of national honours on Frontiers Healthcare Service Limited, a company whose ownership was opaque and whose formation and operations was brought into being by a contract that Parliament was yet to be apprised of for so-called national security reasons of which most Ghanaians believed Ghanaians were fleeced of their mega resources during the pandemic.
He said if these awards were meant to recognise hardwork, dedication and commitment towards the maintenance and advancement of the state with reference to COVID-19 then the frontline health workers who worked extended hours, sacrificed their health and lives to ensure that several others did not die should have been awarded instead of a mere mention of their work.
He said that some 6,543 of them who contracted COVID-19 with some dying in their line of service were still waiting to be paid those meagre insurance packages promised them since the year 2020.
“Their awards wait in perpetuity even as we hurriedly confer national awards on those whose actions are yet to be justified before a parliamentary committee of enquiry.”
Mr Akandoh said the Minority in Parliament believes that awardees including the Minister for Health, the Minister for Information and others cited in the Auditor General’s audit of COVID-19 funds and other undeserving awardees should be stripped of their national honours to maintain the sanctity of the awards otherwise we risk a situation in which deserving Ghanaians would shun the awards altogether.
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