The Minister of Food and Agriculture has denied ever prematurely announcing his presidential ambition in the Ashanti Region during a recent visit.
In a statement, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto said the media have distorted a lot of information concerning his recent meeting with some 17 constituency executives of the party in the regional capital where he had gone to convalesce.
He also denied ever spending GHS1 million on his visit with the delegation and chastising the Akufo-Addo government for neglecting roads in the region.
Read Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto’s full statement below:
STATEMENT BY HON. DR. OWUSU AFRIYIE AKOTO ON DETAILS OF MEETINGS HELD WITH EXECUTIVES OF THE NPP IN THE ASHANTI REGION.
I have taken due notice of an information making rounds on both traditional and social media claiming to be summary of an outcome of a meeting held with party executives in the Ashanti Region “to supposedly announce my bid for the flag bearer position of the New Patriotic Party”.
The narrators for reasons best known to them, mischievously sought to court public disaffection for my person by making outrageous claims and allegations.
Hence with, I would like to put forward the following facts:
1. Per the constitution of the New Patriotic Party, nominations have not been opened for interested candidates to announce their intentions to contest for any position in the party. It is, therefore, unfortunate for anyone to seek to create the impression that I held a meeting to announce my bid for the “flagbearership” position of the party.
2. I decided to go to Kumasi and have some rest during the weekend and try to recover from a fever I was running after I attended the budget reading in parliament on Friday, 12 March 2021. As a former member of parliament in the region and as a senior member of this government, I accepted to grant audience to some party executives who had been making calls for a meeting to discuss matters concerning the welfare of the party. However, such meetings will end with an amount given as a transportation to guests who came from far and near.
3. The narrators claimed that I spent up to GHS1,000,000.00 Ghana Cedis at the said meeting to announce my bid for the position. This is not only incorrect but it could only be in the imaginations of the one making those claims. Meeting 17 constituency executives for each of the 47 constituencies in my house meant I was receiving about 700 delegates. My house does not have the capacity to accommodate such numbers. How, therefore, can one assume that I paid almost One Million Ghana Cedis to these NPP executives in one day?
4. Furthermore, the narrators claimed I promised to distribute tractors and motorbikes to party executives. This is another lie. Being mindful of the fact that these tractors are purely meant for farming purposes, I will never use their allocation or distribution for my personal political ambition. Processes for the acquisition and distribution of these equipment are clearly spelt out and there is no way it will be compromised for other purposes apart from being given to deserving farmers and farmer groups in the country.
5. Another regrettable claim by the narrators is that I sought to ride on the back of my long-term relationship with President Akufo-Addo to prosecute my political ambition. It is no secret that I have a very close relationship with President Akufo-Addo, which predates our political careers. But it can only be a figment of one’s imagination to assume that I will put the President in such an uncomfortable situation by using his name to campaign. Especially, when he has issued a strong warning to members of his government to refrain from such conduct. I think my relationship with the President should rather be the reason why I should continue to give off my best in order to help make his second term a continued success.
6. It is, therefore, regrettable to note that I, with this understanding, would be the one to cause distractions and try to derail the focus of our government by announcing my ambitions at this time. There is a deliberate effort by my detractors from within and outside my party to cause disaffection between me and the party and between me and the government for which I have worked so hard in the last four years. Such people think the easiest way to go is to introduce tribal politics.
7. The issue about roads in Ashanti Region is a typical example of the tribal politics I am referring to. The fact is that during the cause of the meeting, some executives raised concerns about the infrastructural deficit in the region and appealed to me to use my close ties with the President to lobby for the construction of more roads and other infrastructure for the region. In response, I explained to them that the government of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had over the last four years, done a lot to bridge the infrastructural gap not only in the Ashanti Region but all over the country, despite admitting there were lot more to be done. How someone could interpret this as me saying the government has neglected Ashanti Region roads really beats my wildest imagination.
8. As people who know me would attest to, I don’t subscribe to tribal politics.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that I believe in decent political discourse devoid of insults, lies and mudslinging.
I will, therefore, encourage each and everyone, including the media, to refrain from acts that have the tendency to derail the historical gains made by the Government of His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo and ensure continuation in development.
Let me take this opportunity to renew my unflinching commitment to the goals set by the President for his second term.
Hon. Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto
Minister for Food and Agriculture
18th March 2021