Joyce Mogtari writes...Of Ameri and matters arising

Joyce Bawah Mogtari, Tue, Aug 7, 2018

by Joyce Bawah Mogtari , Former Deputy Minister for Transport

In the not so recent past, under the watch of former President John Dramani Mahama, Ghana suffered a crippling power production deficit that was christened Dumsor- similar to the power crisis under former President John Agyekum Kufuor.

The deficit was the result of previous years of not adding any significant megawatts of production capacity to our generating plants, as against an increase in the power demand by homes and businesses, spurred by population growth and industrial expansion.

The NDC administration worked tirelessly and relentlessly to find a sustainable solution to the crisis that was affecting not only individuals but also businesses. Dumsor was on the lips of everybody. Any problem, including domestic accidents, was blamed on Dumsor. Ghana was approaching a tipping point.

President Mahama was bent on solving the problem, ensuring that the quest to find a solution was not left to his ministers only, but to the technocrats and engineers as well. For a country that once prided itself as an exporter of power to neighbouring countries, how could we not have enough to feed our distribution lines? While the political opposition, civil society and some groups kept laying into the Government, accusing it of failing to deal with the challenge, the President and his team were also busy at work, day and night, to fulfil the promise to solve it.

Truth was that, Dumsor was simply a problem of inadequate power generation to meet demand. President Mahama despite the pressure remained optimistic that he would not only solve the challenge but would, more importantly, institute measures and strategies to catapult Ghana to become a net exporter of power again.

Here was a man, a leader of the people, who was running out of time, with a crucial election coming up. In the midst of well laid-out plans to begin the construction of new power plants, completion of the Atuabo Gas Processing Plant to supply cheaper gas to feed the existing and new plants, signing of new PPAs with defined timelines, start of work on a plant for the VRA at Kpone among others, Government also began work on bringing in mobile power ships to ameliorate the situation.

These are expensive, especially giving our subsidized power tariffs, but critical. That is how Ghanaians got to know about Karpower and the now famous Ameri power plants. Gradually, the excruciating pain of Dumsor started to disappear, and by December 2015, Ghana was out of Dumsor as promised by President Mahama. This was even acknowledged by the current Vice President in one of his typical attacks on Mr. Mahama in the middle of 2016. The lantern processions by some celebrities and demonstrations by ‘civil society’ groups, the politicization of Dumsor as though it was a problem generated by John Mahama when he assumed office, was going to be over.

But no, this was not the case.

With elections underway in about a year the NPP found a new punching bag, Ameri. They alleged without credible evidence that the deal was laden with corruption, and that Ghana had been short-changed. While many independent institutions including Pricewaterhouse were contracted to review the agreement and found it to be above board, Ameri, which was one of the strategic tools of getting us out of Dumsor, became the new whipping boy for the opposition.

A dirty campaign ensued and soon even Ghanaians forgot that they were once under Dumsor. It was all about corruption involving Ameri, and many spoke without credible facts. As history would have it, the election came and went; lies and false promises won over a developmental and national agenda well laid out to move our country to the next stage, and currently, what do we see?

1. The Karpower agreement, a temporary power solution that the then opposition said was unfavourable to the country gets extended for even more years in a deal that stinks of corruption.

2. Ameri, whose agreement the then opposition used as a campaign tool, together with Karpower, are the plants sustaining Ghana’s power generation today.

3. After all failed attempts to further blacken the Ameri deal and the company, Ghanaians were shocked at news that a plant that would become the property of the country in less than three years, had been fraudulently willed to a middle company chosen by agents of President Akufo-Addo for a further 15 years.

4. The shockingly inept agreement was hurriedly approved by the President, by Executive Order, in what has become yet another major corruption scandal in these twenty extremely eventful months of Akufo-Addo’s administration.

Thanks to the resistance of the ordinary Ghanaian, staff of the Volta River Authority, the opposition NDC and many others, the blatant attempt to hoodwink the country by the NPP government had to be abandoned. It was clear to even previous allies of the government that this was a massive case of well-coordinated corruption by the men at the top.

Embarrassed, called out, and desperately trying to cover up, the President, true to his family and friends’ nature, is using his nephew to feign ignorance and claim he was misled. But was he? How was he misled? How could he even have been misled? How would he have had the executive order signed if indeed he was misled? Is that how he operates at the presidency? To protect himself, the Minister for Energy has been sacked. Is that the end of the latest attempt to defraud the people of Ghana by the President, his men and ministers?

Joyce Bawah Mogtari, is a lawyer and Special Aide to former John Dramani Mahama, a former President of Ghana. She is also a former Deputy Minister for Transport.

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