The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), has said it did not play any role in the campaign of the newly elected Chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Freddie Blay.
The Minority in Parliament had demanded an immediate forensic audit of the GNPC accounts following what it called the “vulgar opulence” of its board chairman, Freddie Blay.
This followed allegations of vote buying leveled against Mr. Blay ahead of him emerging winner in the keenly contested national chairmanship race of the NPP.
“We take judicial notice that the newly elected NPP Chairman, Mr. Freddie Blay is not a mere private citizen but a high ranking public official having been appointed by President Akufo-Addo as the Board Chairman of the prestigious Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) since last year (2017).”
“For someone who manages our oil and gas reserves, one would have expected the highest form of modesty and prudence in outlook, however, the unconscionable extravagant purchase of 275 buses for NPP constituency executives after depositing his so-called personal funds of US$3 million in an US$ 11.4 million transaction which has sparked national outrage at a time Ambulances are in short supply and proceeding further at the congress grounds to share hordes of cash to delegates plus the distribution of tonnes of goodies in the form of branded snacks and other consumables, does not only mark a new low in our country’s democratic credentials, but demands of us to rise as responsible citizens who care about the future of our dear nation,” the Minority said in their statement.
However, a statement signed by the GNPC Chief Executive, K. K. Sarpong, clarified that GNPC never supported Freddie Blay, adding that the “corporation has a robust financial system that will not allow any official to approve or receive funds to support programmes not set out in its work programme and budget that is approved by Parliament.”
The Minority had also indicated that it had cause to criticize a “rather problematic GNPC work programme for 2018 when it was laid for the approval of Parliament.”
“We objected to the use or shall we say misuse of US$13.4 million to renovate the GNPC office in Accra, construct a new office also in Accra for US$20 million, build another office in Takoradi for US$10 million, erect a transit quarters for the comfort of GNPC staff in Takoradi for US$ 1.9 million and an amorphous allocation of US$ 100 million for so-called Agric roads,”it added.
The GNPC however said the work programme was only approved after “an extensive debate” in Parliament.
“Our records are there for verification anytime by anyone. We wish to let the public know that GNPC’s financial records are audited by Ernst and Young, one of the “Big Four” international auditing firms, which adheres to very high standards.”
275 buses saga
Ahead of the conference, Mr. Blay was widely criticized for personally procuring some 275 buses for all NPP constituency offices across the country.
The issue had generated controversy with the opposition political parties and civil society organizations, including his closest contender, Stephen Ntim describing it as vote-buying.
According to reports, Mr. Blay as a guarantor, paid 3 million dollars which constitutes 30% of the total cost of 11.4 million dollars and has taken delivery of the first 100 minibuses.
Freddie Blay’s spokesperson, Richard Nyamah, subsequently explained that Freddie Blay contracted a loan facility from the Universal Merchant Bank (UMB) to procure the 275 buses and that the constituencies will pay for the bus over a two-year period.
Richard Nyamah also revealed that the NPP was behind the acting Chairman’s decision to purchase a bus for each of the party’s 275 constituencies.
Mr. Nyamah said discussions were held with the NPP and that the party “agreed and okayed the deal.”
The Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu is already investigating Mr. Blay over his conduct as a public officer.