Akufo-Addo Removes ‘ineffective’ Upper East Regional Minister amid unsettled scandals

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resident Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has moved the Upper East Regional Minister, Stephen Yakubu, to the Upper West region in the latest reshuffle under his government.

He is to be replaced immediately by the Upper West Regional Minister, Hafiz Bin Salih.

A Jubilee House release signed by the Director of Communications at the Office of the President, Eugene Arhin, says the reshuffle is “part of President Akufo-Addo’s ongoing efforts to ensure effective governance across the country, and tasked the ministers to work tirelessly to promote the welfare and development of the people of Upper West and Upper East regions respectively”.

The reason stated in the reshuffle release— “to ensure effective governance”— is widely being received as government’s acknowledgement of a longstanding public assessment that the outgoing Upper East Regional Minister has been “ineffective” or, in other words, has failed to produce the expected effects or the wanted results.

The regional minister is leaving for the next-door region at a time the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) is investigating him and some individuals in connection with some scandals perpetrated in his home region.

Under his tenure, the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council (UERCC) received a controversial set of furniture from some small-scale miners in Talensi.

The executive chairs were purchased from some moneys the miners received from Earl International Group (Ghana) Gold Limited, a Chinese company previously known as Shaanxi Mining Company Limited, after they were forced to surrender their mining concessions to the foreign company under the regional minister’s administration.

Some of the small-scale miners said they were compelled to contribute their gold moneys to purchase the chairs for the government.

Some of the small-scale miners say they were forced to buy the chairs for the government.

In another scandal that rocked his administration, the Chinese mining company paid one million United States dollars into UERCC’s bank account (a government bank account) GCB 9011130014513 to be shared among the small-scale miners whose concessions were taken by the company.

A number of the companies that received parts of the one million dollars from the UERCC are said to be fake mining firms.

When the Chinese company packaged another 150,000 dollars for payment in 2021 after trespassing into a concession owned by Unique Mining Group, a small-scale mining firm in Talensi, the money was handed to the UERCC.

But the regional minister paid the money to a member of the group, Robert Boazor Tampoare, without the knowledge and consent of the other members of the group.

Robert Boazor Tampoare was suspended recently from the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners (GNASSM) for fraud-related offences.

Tampoare did not disclose the payment to the other members until they learned about it 8 months later and lodged a complaint with the police. Both Tampoare and the regional minister were invited by the Upper East Regional Police Command for questioning. The matter is currently before a High Court in Bolgatanga.

Other scandals and controversial public statements  

During a Media Without Borders investigation in 2022, the regional minister admitted he handed the money over to Tampoare but said he did so because the other members had introduced Tampoare to him as their leader.

When contacted, the other members said they did not introduce Tampoare to him as their leader and did not ask him to give the money meant for the group to him.

On Friday, 15 March 2024, a decision by the Regional Security Council (REGSEC), chaired by the outgoing regional minister, to seal some mining pits in the interest of the Chinese company led to some natives of Talensi being shot dead and wounded by state security officers.

A third-year student of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Bright Mbadiatong, was among the natives shot dead at the mining site. The slain student was not a miner. He had only returned home and was with his mother, a petty trader at the site when one of the live bullets fired at a protesting crowd by the REGSEC squad hit and killed him.

The shooting incident erupted as residents of the area mounted resistance to prevent the pits from being filled. The pits in dispute belong to some licensed small-scale miners who refused to surrender their concessions to the Chinese company.

Some of the victims of the shooting incident on March 15, 2024, in Talensi.

The regional minister will be remembered for describing Ghanaians from the north as “greedy and dishonest people’ in a video released in 2023 by Media Without Borders.

The outgoing Upper East Regional Minister, Stephen Yakubu.

He will be remembered for telling a festival crowd in Nabdam, a district in the region, in 2023 that the 24-hour economy policy being espoused by former-president John Dramani Mahama would prevent men from having night-time lovemaking with their wives.

And he will be remembered for busying himself with persuading people who are not in the good books of the Paramount Chief of Talensi, Tongraan Kugbilsong Nanlebegtang, to reconcile with him and leading them to his palace as a middleman to beg for forgiveness with rams at the time he was expected to focus his attention on critical issues affecting the safety and security of the people in the region.

Welcoming Thursday’s reshuffle as a good occurrence, particularly in the region’s mining sector, some Upper East residents say they will keep an eye on how Stephen Yakubu is going to perform in the Upper West region and keep him under the spotlight.

Certainly, his removal from the region will spark a wild party tonight and tomorrow in the gold-mining Talensi and the cosmopolitan regional capital, Bolgatanga, while Shaanxi and its other allies in the region will agonise in silence over the development.

Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/mwbonline.org

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