President Akufo-Addo appears to have made light of the controversy surrounding the botched Sputnik V vaccine deal entered into by Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman Manu.
Some Ghanaians including civil society groups have called for the resignation of the minister following the embarrassing controversy.
Addressing a gathering in the Bono Region Tuesday, the president who did not comment on the controversy directly said the minister is ‘currently receiving slaps from Ghanaians’ amidst laughter.
“There are a lot of people from the Bono Region in my government; including the Minister of Health, who is currently receiving slaps. He is an indigene of Dormaa. He has really suffered in that Health Ministry and is still suffering,” he said.
Mr Agyeman Manu is currently on a two-week leave.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum has accepted to refund $2,470,000 paid to him by Ghana for the supply of 300,000 doses of Sputnik Covid-19 vaccines.
In response to the Minister’s letter, the Sheikh said he will refund the money and asked the Ministry to confirm the difference for onward payment.
The agreement for the supply of Sputnik V vaccines with Sheikh Al Maktoum who acted as a middleman has generated controversy in Ghana. After presenting Ghana with 20,000 doses of the vaccine instead of the initially agreed doses of 300,000 for the first batch, the deal was subsequently terminated.
In a letter, the Health Minister who is under intense pressure to resign stated “By this letter, I also wish to formally request for the refund of the remaining amount for the non-supplied doses, which should be the total amount paid to your office, minus the amount due for the 20,000 doses you already supplied, in line with your earlier e-mail dated 25th July, 2021, in which it was affirmed that on the 13th April, 2021, funds were transferred into your accounts as fifty percent (50%) advance for the initial batch of 300,000 doses,” parts of the letter read.
The majority of Ghanaians have called for the Health Minister to resign following the agreement he signed with middlemen for the purchase of the Sputnik V vaccines from Russia.
The Minority in Parliament on Friday also demanded the revocation of the appointment of Health Minister Kwaku Agyemang Manu over breaches in the procurement of Sputnik V vaccines through middlemen.
A report from parliament’s Ad hoc committee investigating the matter indicted the Health Minister of failing to seek parliamentary approval among others.
Health Minister Kwaku Agyemang Manu in July this year admitted that he independently approved the purchase of a $64.6 million contract for Sputnik V Vaccine from Russia out of frustration.
He told the Ad Hoc Committee of Parliament tasked to probe the controversial Sputnik V vaccines procurement agreement that accumulated frustrations to procure the vaccines for the country compelled him to disregard parliamentary approval as required by Article 181 5 of the 1992 constitution.
In the minister’s justification, he had plans to formally seek parliamentary approval after independently approving the $64.6 million contract.