Minister for Food and Agriculture Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto may lose his job as a minister of state for prematurely announcing his presidential ambition during a recent visit to Ashanti Region.
This is because many political pundits and party faithful have called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to dismiss his close pal for what they described as a complete betrayal of the president’s trust.
Dr Afriyie Akoto was reported to have met with the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) executives and some power brokers in Ashanti region where he announced his intention to contest in presidential primaries to lead the party for the 2024 general election.
This, according to some party faithful, is against the directive of President Akufo-Addo that no member of his cabinet should pursue any presidential ambition before the right time.
According to NPP’s constitution, nobody is supposed to publicly campaign to lead the governing party in more than a year to the general election and the minister’s conduct is considered to be hugely troubling as the party is less three months in government.
As part of his inordinate presidential ambition, the Food and Agriculture minister was said to have told the Ashanti region executives that the Akufo-Addo administration had neglected deplorable roads in region and that he would work on same if he got the opportunity to lead the party in 2024.
Dr Afriyie Akoto, 71, is a childhood friend and close confidant of President Akufo-Addo as well as a son of the late Baffour Osei Akoto, who was a chief linguist of the Manhyia Palace and a prominent member of the pre-independence National Liberation Movement (NLM).
He was reported to have doled out about GH¢1 million to the party executives and other big wigs in the region to support his presidential bid.
I didn’t spend GH¢1 million on executives-Afriyie Akoto
The Minister for Food and Agriculture has denied spending GH¢1 million on his visit with the delegation and chastising the Akufo-Addo government for neglecting roads in the region.
In a statement, Dr 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 recuperate from fever.
He said per NPP’s constitution, 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,” he indicated.
Not stating categorically whether he was interested in becoming NPP presidential candidate when it comes up for consideration, Dr Afriyie Akoto said, “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 announce my bid for the flagbearer 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,” he said.
Confirming that he actually met some NPP executives in Kumasi, Dr Afriyie Akoto said, “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 end with an amount given as a transportation to guests who came from far and near.”
T & T
Dr Afriyie Akoto said the “narrators claim that I spent up to GH¢1,000,000.00 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?
“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”, Dr Afriyie Akoto concluded.