Finally, President Mahama decides to break the long silence over the harsh criticisms of bribery resulting from the controversial car gift accusations.
President John Mahama has responded to the allegations of bribery, abuse of office and conflict of interest leveled against him, following a Joy News exposé that he [the President] received a 2010 Ford Expedition gift worth $100,000 from a Burkinabe contractor.
President Mahama made comments on the trending car gift accusations while addressing a crowd of NDC supporters on Wednesday, during his ‘Accounting to the People’ tour at Ashaiman, in the Greater Accra Region.
The President in his response, boldly challenged his accusers to go ahead and back up their accusations with proper constitutional and legal actions if they feel what they are saying holds water. He described the allegations as baseless rumours coming from people of biased minds who are seeking means of narrowing down his chances of winning the upcoming presidential polls.
If you believe I have indulged in corruption, you have the constitutional means to do what you want to do but when you make baseless rumors and accusations, it won’t win you the presidency. The people of Ghana are discerning and I believe that come November 7, they will make their decision, Mahama confidently said.
According to him, the aims of this politically motivated allegations will not be realised as God is the one who selects leaders.
Mahama’s reaction came few hours after the New Patriotic Party (NPP) at a press conference Wednesday demanded that the President speaks for himself on the accusations being leveled against him. In the press statement, the NPP accused President Mahama of abuse of office, bribery and conflict of interest for receiving the vehicle from the Burkinabe Contractor, Djibril Kanazoe.
The statement which was mad by the Acting chairman of the NPP Freddie Blay reads:
The President who is personally and directly involved in this bribery allegation has thus far refused to speak on matter, choosing, instead, to let his paid spokespersons. My message to His Excellency the President is this: Mr. President, please speak on your own behalf and in your own defense! The giver, your friend, has confessed that he has given his friend in government who has since helped him to secure government contracts a gift of a sports utility vehicle.
Since after the revelation, the opposition New Patriotic Party, civil society organisations, legal experts and some individuals have harshly criticized the President over the alleged gift, accusing him of bribery, corruption, law violation, and what have you.
According to the exposé, the car gift was given out to the President prior to an attempt by the contractor, to win a bid to execute the Dodo Pepeso-Nkwanta road construction project. The two contracts executed by the Burkinabe contractor were the building of a wall around a piece of land for Ghana’s Embassy in Burkina Faso at a cost of $650,000 and that of the Dodo Pepeso-Nkwanta road worth €25.9million.
The accusers are therefore of the opinion that the two contracts previously awarded Mr Kanazoe, together with the third one underway were largely influenced by the car gift he gave to President Mahama.
Meanwhile, both the contractor and the government has admitted giving and accepting the car gift respectively, but denied it has any notion of bribery or any influence on the awarded contracts. In the course of these events, the Burkinabe contractor voluntarily withdrew from the contract bid for the said third contract worth ¢82m on grounds of ‘disinterest’.
So far, the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) and a private citizen have petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to probe the matter. The opposition New Patriotic Party on their own part, has requested for a parliamentary probe into all contracts awarded the Burkinabe contractor. Also, the Minority MPs had threatened to impeach the president over the issue. Meanwhile, the Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu said his MPs will begin a process to build consensus on instituting a bi-partisan probe into the car gift accusations.
Let’s see if the President’s response will silence the accusers, or if they would still go ahead with the car gift accusations and possibly, prosecution of the President.