President Akufo-Addo has dismissed as erroneous the suggestion by the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations against Corruption that Daniel Yaw Domelevo, the immediate past Auditor General, was hounded out of office.
A 21-page rebuttal signed by Secretary to the President, Nana Bediatuo Asante, said that it was erroneous for the CSOs to hold the view that because Mr. Domelevo was asked to proceed on his retirement, the President was not committed to the fight against corruption.
“He was not targeted or chased out of office as has been wrongfully suggested in the public domain,” the statement indicated.
The Coalition had among other issues raised in its press conference impugned that the retirement of the former Auditor General was indicative of the President’s loss of interest in the fight against corruption.
Leading the charge against the retirement of the former Auditor General, the Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement at the Centre for Democratic Development, during the press engagement, noted that the President’s action against Mr. Domelevo was a breach of Article 23 of the Constitution.
The President’s statement said that the CSOs focused “on unfounded allegations to the effect that government had targeted Mr. Domelevo and wanted him out of office at all cost.”
Those leading the charge against the President should know better, “that civil discourse of this nature, has been based on untruths, deliberate misconstruction of the facts and in complete disregard for the rule of law that we, as Ghanaians, have subscribed to,” the statement stressed.
The President pointed at the seemingly bizarre date of his appointment by former President John Mahama, and the rushed process of formalizing this through the Council of State.
The whole process which was shrouded in tendentiousness, intended to ensure that a Mahama-chosen Auditor General was in place, the statement pointed out.
Regardless of the foregoing, however, the President said he had worked with the Mr. Domelevo during his tenure of office until the former’s exit.
“He was appointed on December 30, 2016, after former President Mahama had overwhelmingly lost the mandate of the people of Ghana to govern in the presidential and parliamentary elections of December 7, 2016.”
“It was strange,” President Akufo-Addo noted, “that Domelevo’s appointment process was initiated on December 13, 2016, a few days after this emphatic rejection.”
A reasonable and objective conclusion, the President suggested, was that having lost the election his predecessor appointed an Auditor General for the prosecution of a particular agenda; knowing well that in a few days time he (Akufo-Addo) would be sworn into office.
The letter addressed to the Council of State, dated December 13, 2016 and signed by the then Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, exposed the agenda.
A certain Dr. Felix Kwame Aveh had been the intended appointee, should former President Mahama have won the polls, President Akufo-Addo recalled.
“Indeed in notifying the Council of State of the reason why former President Mahama was seeking to replace Dr. Aveh, the then Chief of Staff stated that “the change is as a result of some unforeseen developments.”
President Akufo-Addo observed in the 21-page reaction that “it is fair to conclude that “the unforeseen developments” were none other than former President Mahama’s painful loss of the election of December 7, 2016.
It became necessary that former President Mahama saddled President Akufo-Addo with an Auditor General whose allegiance would be to him, and not to the new Head of State.
No Auditing Background
Prior to his appointment Mr. Domelevo, was not an auditor and had not been engaged in auditing, President Akufo-Addo pointed out; adding that “before his early retirement from the public service in 2010, he was the Director of Payroll at the Controller and Accountant General’s Department.”
President Akufo-Addo, having been attracted to the rather bizarre circumstances of Mr. Domelevo’s appointment, invited “him to a meeting, in the presence of their mutual friend, the present Minister for Energy, Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, MP, who introduced Mr. Domelevo to the President.”
At that meeting the President encouraged him to continue his work as Auditor General pledging his support for the work of the Audit Service and the Auditor General, adding, “Mr. Domelevo has, indeed, publicly acknowledged the truth of this assertion.”
The President has never said that the work of Mr. Domelevo was embarrassing his government.
“On the contrary, the President has always been a strong advocate for the Office of the Auditor General, because he believes the work of the Auditor General is necessary for ensuring that the country’s financial resources are used prudently, and that the public purse is protected,” it noted.
The President’s statement added that government always ensured, as a matter of fact, that the Office of the Auditor General did not lack any resources for the efficient performance of its functions.
President Akufo-Addo upon assuming office, the statement insisted, had never targeted any constitutional office holder with whom he had ever worked and still continues to work with.
Like Mr. Domelevo, the Commissioner of the CHRAJ (Commission on Administrative Justice Human Rights and Administrative Justice), Joseph Whittal, was appointed by the former President, as was Josephine Nkrumah, Commissioner of the NCCE (National Commission for Civic Education).
He also recalled working with Mrs. Charlotte Osei, who was Chairperson of the elections management body, until she was removed from office, pursuant to Article 146 (9) of the 1992 Constitution, initiated by employees of the Electoral Commission (EC) for her having lodged a complaint with the Council of State against her deputies.
President Akufo-Addo, the statement noted “has throughout his entire professional and public life, been a fighter for constitutionalism and strong institutions of state, and will continue to ensure that under his watch these institutions are further strengthened for the advancement of our beloved country.”
In the Osafo-Maafo and Kroll Associates issue for instance, the President’s statement said that Mr. Domelevo clearly abused his office, per court records available, where the court said that Domelevo sidestepped well-known rules of natural justice, by failing to give the officers a fair hearing, but the CSOs had never made any statement on that.
“It is noteworthy that neither a sound of caution nor any condemnation was heard from you or from your colleagues in civil society, when Mr. Domelevo was using his office to engage in such unacceptable and unconscionable conduct. Indeed, a less charitable perspective would have been that this was a patent abuse of office. Yet, there was no chatter from our friends of civil society.”
The statement continued that “it is important to stress that throughout the entire process, the President has no issue with the work of the Auditor General, in respect of his audit of the Ministry of Finance and the payment made to Kroll Associates,” adding “the President in no way interfered with the process.”
The President’s statement said that with the true and accurate position enumerated, “it is mischievous and unpatriotic on anyone’s part to suggest that it was the Kroll Associates matter that led to the purported ousting of Mr. Domelevo from office.
“In any event, there are questions begging to be asked,” the statement fired, saying “who ultimately was the beneficiary of the attack initiated by the Auditor General on the work of Kroll Associates, an internationally acclaimed and well-respected corporate body, that had been engaged to unearth some of the alleged corrupt practices of the erstwhile Mahama government? Was this attack in aid of the fight against corruption? And what agenda was Auditor General Domelevo serving by deploying this attack?”
The Presidency in the light of the foregoing, encouraged Ghanaians to hinge their public discourses on accurate facts rather than, as it put it, on “misleading the good people of Ghana with wrong facts, conjectures and politicized speculation.”
Mr. Domelevo has been one of the most divisive public officers in recent times, his name evoking different impressions to different persons on the public space.
Scholars of public service governance will have a lot to learn from the myriad political episodes he triggered in his last days at the helm of public audit management.