A private lawyer, Akoto Ampaw, has challenged President John Dramani Mahama to publish all high-value deals and contracts awarded in the oil and gas industry as well as the mining sector.
According to Mr Ampaw, if President Mahama is indeed committed to fighting corruption and promoting transparency and accountability in his government, he should be willing to do such publications, observing that the president does not need any law to publish those contracts.
Mr Ampaw’s challenge to the president follows a recent comment by Mr Mahama while attending an anti-corruption summit in the UK that he has never taken bribe. The President also challenged his critics to name any official they thought was corrupt so he could investigate that person.
But speaking on Metro TV’s news analysis programme Good Evening Ghana on Tuesday May 17, Mr Ampaw told host Paul Adom Otchere that: “I’m throwing a direct challenge to the president of this country that President Mahama, you do not need a law to set the precedent by declaring [that] all high-value contracts and contracts in the oil and gas sector and the mining sector, should be put out on a website subject to defensible right of third parties.
“Because all those things are being done under Article 1, Clause 1 of the constitution, which says that the sovereignty of Ghana resides in the people of Ghana in whose name and for whose welfare all the powers of government are to be exercised.”
Mr Ampaw’s call for transparency in the extractive industry follows a similar call made to the president by civil society organisations ahead of the UK anti-graft summit. They demanded criminal prosecution of public officials found to have engaged in conflict of interest during oil, gas, and mining licensing and in the regulation of operations in the extractive industry.
The groups also said they wanted an open and competitive process for awarding oil, gas, and mining concessions, as well as a mandatory requirement for the disclosure of oil, gas, and mining contracts.
Additionally, the CSOs suggested there be a mandatory requirement for the establishment of a public register of beneficial owners in the extractive industries and all their associated interests in Ghana and abroad.
“This could be done through a number of planned legislations – the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Bill, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Bill or the Companies Bill,” the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) said in a statement following a dialogue by the CSOs on anti-corruption in the extractive industry organised by the Centre on 9 May 2015.
The CSOs, which considered the hotspots for corruption in Ghana at the Dialogue, said the Government of Ghana must declare its commitment to fighting corruption in Ghana and in the extractive industries in particular by also doing the following:
1. The passage of the Right to Information Bill (RTI)
2. The passage of the Petroleum (Explorations and Production) Bill
3. The Subscription to Open Data Standards across Ministries Departments and Agencies
4. Confirm Appointed Heads of Institutions in time to ensure their independence and security of tenure
5. Sign on to the Voluntary and Automatic Frameworks for exchange of information to address illicit financial flows
6. Effectively implement the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) or transform it into an Anti-Corruption Law.
“These commitments should also be backed by timelines to enable citizens to hold the President to account,” ACEP said in a statement.
The CSOs agreed that much of the commitment to fight corruption in the past has been “mere rhetoric without timelines and clarity on actions to be taken.”
“It is our belief that our president, who will be among world leaders to address the UK anti-corruption summit, will use this great platform to commit the government to an anti-corruption agenda that will lay the foundation for a transformative society in Ghana, in which official impunity, corruption and mismanagement of public resources will be stopped.”
As far as the RTI is concerned, Mr Ampaw, in his interview, also challenged President Mahama to use his influence to get the Bill passed into law under a certificate of emergency, since his party has the majority in parliament. This, he said, will help in the fight against corruption.
He said all the amendments proposed by the parliamentary select committee on legal and constitutional affairs must also be infused into the bill to make it fit for purpose.