We are it again! People have sworn by the Almighty God in order to make them appear believable. And it doesn’t seem the current probe being undertaken by a parliamentary committee to ascertain whether or not the Energy Minister, Mr. Boakye Agyarko, paid a bribe to the members of the appointment committee to approve his nomination.
Three minority members of parliament, Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central; Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu; and Alhassan Suhuyini, MP for Tamale North; have stated publicly that they were offered GHC 3000 and they returned it when they realised it was a bribe from Mr. Agyarko.
Mr. Agyarko has denied paying a bribe. The Chairman of the Appointment’s Committee, Joseph Osei- Owusu, is fuming furiously that no such money passed through him. And the Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, who is said to have shared the money to the minority members, has sworn by “Allah” that he never conveyed any money from Joseph Osei-Owusu to anybody.
Many accounts have been given. And many conspiracy theories have been woven into fine fabrics which now adorn the gossip mills of our republic. But a member of parliament has confided in me a version of this unfolding tale, which sounds more believable.
It is believable because this MP is not in Mahama Ayariga’s camp. He is opposed to Mahama Ayariga and sees the Bawku Central as a hypocrite. He says Mahama Ayariga is not a hero in the bribery saga.
“There are several angles to this. Some are doing it to undermine and weaken [the minority] leadership; some to score political points; and others because of ideology. But read my lips: there are no winners in this!”
So what is this MP’s account? He says the GHC 3000 cedis was given in respect of Mr. Boakye Agyarko. He says the money did not come directly from Mr. Agyarko. He said it was “mobilized” by an NPP MP. [For the avoidance of doubt, it did not come from Mr. Agyarko’s brother, Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko, who is an NPP MP]. He says both the majority and minority MPs on the appointment committee took the money, knowing very well that it came from Mr. Boakye Agyarko.
Was it meant to bribe them?
No! He does not believe so. He says it is “an old tradition since 2005” to give “cola” to the vetting committee for sitting for long hours. So both the minority and majority MPs know it and they take the money without asking further questions. That was what happened in this case, he says.
So why did the NDC MPs decided to return this money?
“It was returned because of a Kennedy Agyapong factor. Ken knew about it and they couldn’t trust him to keep quiet.”
So was Muntaka Mohammed lying when he swore by Allah? No, the source says. Muntaka said he did not take the money from the majority leader. On that score he was right. He took the money but he did not take it from the Chairman of the Committee as it was reported.
This MP says all the minority MPs on the committee agreed unanimously to return the money. What was not agreed was to leak it to the media. He believes the posture of Mahama Ayariga was to undermine the leadership of Haruna Iddrisu.
Meanwhile, some heads of public institutions, the private sector and civil society groups have told me that what is happening is not new. They say when they appear before committees of parliament, they pay the MPs money in order to facilitate the passing of bills and other statutory transactions. For some MPs, this is normal. It is said that ministers of state even pay MPs to have bills and other issues such as budgets passed.
What has happened is a fine opportunity for reform in the House of Parliament. If we decide to reduce everything to party politics, it will be business as usual and no one should question why some of the most corrupt deals go through parliament without notice until the transactions begin to bite the nation.