The New Patriotic Party (NPP) is calling on the US government to investigate Bernard Allotey Jacobs, a member of the governing board of Ghana’s National Petroleum Authority (NPA).
Mr Allotey Jacobs, who is also the Central Region Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), is on an official trip to the United States of America over a transaction between NPA and Authentix, a petroleum company in the US.
The trip has been overshadowed by an arrest hoax involving the NDC official. The hoax has stirred a simmering tension between British High Commissioner Jon Benjamin, who dismissed the arrest story, and some NPP officers.
“The NPP finds the attacks against the integrity of Mr Jon Benjamin unsavoury and diversionary,” a statement issued by Nana Akomea, NPP’s Communications Director, said.
“What we believe Ghanaians must focus on are the issues bordering on incompetence and corruption which the trip by the NDC Regional Chairman represents.”
Among the issues the opposition party raised is an investigation they are prescribing to be conducted by the federal government of the US.
Find below NPP’s full statement:
THE REAL STORY IN THE “ALLOTEY JACOBS” SAGA
The New Patriotic Party wishes to urge all communicators, members, as well as sympathisers to not get involved in the unsavoury accusations against the British High Commissioner, Jon Benjamin, that he lied and aided corruption by defending the Central Regional Chairman of the National Democratic Congress.
Clearly, the British diplomat is not above criticism but it can be done without attacks on his person. The NPP finds the attacks against the integrity of Mr Jon Benjamin unsavoury and diversionary. What we believe Ghanaians must focus on are the issues bordering on incompetence and corruption which the trip by the NDC Regional Chairman represents.
We appreciate that the story over an alleged incident on the British Airways flight from Accra at Heathrow last Sunday involving Bernard Allotey Jacobs first emanated from a person who claimed, with evidence of presence, to have been an eyewitness on board that flight. Nevertheless, Ghanaians should have no reason to doubt the official statement issued by the representative of the British government in Ghana.
This “incident”, allegedly in the form of British Security Agencies boarding the said British Airways Flight from Accra to London and interrogating the Central Region Chairman on suspicion of money laundering, amongst other unproven allegations, according to the British High Commissioner, never happened, as per his thorough checks with the airport authorities.
In the absence of any form of evidence to prove otherwise, we urge all NPP members who have commented and may still be commenting on this issue to ceasefire and desist from attacking the British High Commissioner. We also condemn such baseless attacks.
Indeed, if there has been any diplomat who has been forthright and proactive in voicing his concerns about the high levels of corruption and incompetence in Ghana, it has been Jon Benjamin. From urging Small and Medium Enterprises in the country to demand government’s commitment to eliminate corruption and foster growth of the sector, to lamenting about government’s failure in not tackling corruption, Mr Benjamin’s pronouncements against rising levels of corruption in Ghana is well-documented and deserves commendation.
Indeed, the corruption and incompetence that have characterized the Mahama administration is readily evidenced in this “Allotey Bernard Saga” where the dealings of an important State institution, the National Petroleum Authority, is subjected to party cronyism and left in the hands of a board member who is bereft of the competence and expertise in the activities of the institution mandated to regulate, oversee and monitor the petroleum downstream industry in Ghana.
Authentix, a US company, which, according to Allotey Jacobs, has dealings with the NPA specializes in safeguarding clients in the refined fuels, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, agrochemicals and spirits industries from counterfeiting, product theft, product diversion, smuggling and adulteration. It is an interest player in procurements in the petroleum sector, which the NPA has oversight responsibility.
It is essentially a 2-week paid holiday for Mr. Allotey Jacobs. In one breadth, he claims the Board of Directors of the NPA sent him to Dallas to represent the company. In another breadth, he states that the entire cost of his trip is being funded by Authentix. Both issues raise red flags in Ghana and in the United States of America.
The trip raises some major questions:
What was the purpose of the trip that appeared to have been sanctioned by the NPA Board of Directors?
What was the Board of Directors’ thought process behind choosing Allotey Jacobs to represent the NPA? Did competence inform the decision to settle on him? And if so, which competency?
Was the business class return ticket sponsored by the NPA or by the US company as claimed publicly by the NDC Central Regional Chairman?
Did the company also sponsor the business class return ticket for Mrs Agbenotor, the other NPA staff who was on the trip?
Did the company also sponsor their hotel bills, as the lowest rate at the Westin Galleria Hotel, in Dallas, where Allotey Jacobs is staying, goes for $2,800 a night. Or, are Ghanaian taxpayers paying for the NDC Regional Chairman’s 12-day stay at the hotel, which is estimated to cost at least $33,600 or $67,200 for the two?
Is the US company also providing per diem and if so how much?
If this trip is sponsored by the Ghanaian taxpayer, we wish to know if it is in consonance with the recent directive from the Office of Chief of Staff, ostensibly issued to curtail wasteful, expensive, luxurious travels by public officials.
If Allotey Jacobs’ trip, as he boldly stated on radio Monday, is being funded by Authentix, then we wish to draw the attention of the United States government to a possible breach of Federal rules.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended, 15 U.S.C. §§ 78dd-1, et seq. (“FCPA”), was enacted for the purpose of making it unlawful for certain classes of persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. Allotey Jacobs’ claims on Citi FM’s Eye Witness News, gives cause for Authentix to be investigated by the SEC for flouting the FCPA.
Based on this disclosure, there is a possibility of an infringement of this specific provision of the FCPA by Authentix, and the NPP is by this, drawing the attention of the United States Embassy to this potential bleach.
The people of Ghana must see this usual habit of the NDC as highly unethical and smacking of the kind of corruption that has buried our nation under an ever-heaping pile of debts. It is wrong for a board member of state regulatory body such as the NPA to easily, willingly and boastfully open himself up to be corrupted by receiving perks from a company that has contractual interests in procurements to do with the very state agency for which the board member works.
This is just another example of the corruption and incompetence that have been the hallmark of John Mahama’s presidency.
We, however, encourage Ghanaian journalists not to be disturbed by the vile insults from the likes of Allotey Jacobs when they probe the propriety or otherwise of such actions by public officials.