By Maxwell Nkansah
The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang Manu, on Monday, July 19 appeared before the nine-member bi-partisan committee set up by Parliament to probe the botched contract between the government of Ghana and Emirati middleman Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum to procure Sputnik V vaccines. It was the second time the Minister was appearing before the committee after he did so on the first day of sitting on Thursday, July 15.
However, when a question was posed to the Minister regarding who first approached who for the supply of the overpriced vaccines to Ghana, there was confusion following his answer.Mr Agyeman Manu, who is also Member of Parliament for Dormaa Central, told the committee that he, first, contacted the office of the Sheikh via phone, in contrast to his press statement on Wednesday, June 9 that the Office of the Sheikh rather approached the government.
According to the Minister he doesn’t see where the confusion arises, he told the committee. The minister said, the initial contact to the Sheikh was on phone call in his desperation to get vaccines, when the normal channels were failing, he spoke to people, Ghanaians and therefore he cannot remember who really gave him the indication of the likely supplies from Al Maktoum.
But after indicating that he had called the Sheikh’s office, the Chair of the Committee sought to clarify the issues to the Minister. Mr Agyemang Manu later said: he thinks he is even getting more confused. But the Chair of the Committee Alexander Afenyo-Markin insisted the “use of certain words within the context of law and the use of certain words within the context of public communication have to be reconciled so that nobody questions his credibility.
The committee is probing the circumstances under which government entered a deal with the Sheikh without Parliamentary approval to procure the vaccines at $19 per dose instead of the factory price of $10. The contract has since been terminated, according to the Health Minister.