Ablakwa: Parliament Can’t Be Bribed…This Has Been The Most Scrutinized Contract By The House

Deputy Minister of Education in Charge of Tertiary has flatly denied a publication which alleges that Parliament was bribed with mobile handsets to have them approve a contract between the Ministry of Communication and ZTE Corporation of China. Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa asserts he had not seen any contract that has gone through such level of vigorous examination as the ZTE Corporation contract with the Government of Ghana. “…this has been one of the most scrutinized contracts I have ever seen. And this is an arrangement which began in 2007. Documents which came to Parliament were signed, since 2007. The first person to enter an MOU ZTE, that Ghana needs this, was Hon. Nana Akufo Addo, then foreign Minister”. “So, I honestly do not know which other arrangement has been scrutinized,” he argued. Reports have been rife that the company bribed the MPs with the phones to have them approve the contract that would enable ZTE to acquire for the government of Ghana, gadgets for security information for the purposes of monitoring and responding to security emergencies. Some MPs hit the roof upon hearing the allegation with others entirely dismissing assertions the phones were to bribe them. "I can tell you most of my colleagues are not even using it. They programmed the phone in such a way that MPs can communicate among ourselves on the platform. It is not for the luxury of that phone. It's a national security phone. You cannot discuss anything personal on that phone. That phone is cheap. It cannot influence me in any way…I am prepared to take it away. I don't need it. It is even occupying space," Ranking Member on the Trade and Industry Committee of Parliament and NPP MP for Tema-East, Nii Kwetei Titus-Glover told CitiFM in an interview. But Director of the Parliamentary Centre, Dr. Rashid Dramani wants the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho to without delay order the MPs to bring back the phones for onward return to the Chinese company. To him, it does not matter how cheap or expensive the phone is, but the mere fact that the phones were distributed by the company which was seeking to win a contract with the government of Ghana is an indictment on Parliament. But contributing to discussions on Metro Tv’s ‘Good Morning Ghana programme, Okudzeto Ablakwa, who is the MP for North Tongu pointed out that MPs knew that there was an agreement for ZTE to provide telecommunication services to member of the august House, yet, threw out the contract weeks ago, on the basis that it was full of errors. To him, such action by Parliament cannot be a sign of a body that has been compromised, if the arrangement (for the phones) had already been made and only coincided with the passage of the contract. The North Tongu MP admonished the media not to seek to tarnish the image of the August House for no just cause. Meanwhile, Parliament has since ratified the contract, approving a $129m agreement between the government and the ZTE Corporate of China for the supply of Dedicated Security Information System infrastructure that will enable security agencies monitor the entire nation and swiftly respond to security emergencies. The House overwhelmingly adopted the Report of the Joint Committee on Communications and Defence and Interior which said the agreement met all due diligence requirements. The report of the committee said the Ministry of Communications had diligently incorporated the recommendations of Parliament to protect the interest of the nation. The select committee singled out the Communications Minister Dr. Edward Omane Boamah for praise. It commended him for ensuring the introduction of a requirement in the contract for an Independent Engineer to advise on quality assurance, which the House agreed should be the norm for all turnkey contracts in the country. The contract provides that the Purchaser will conduct technical due diligence and this must be agreed to before the commencement of work.