Information intercepted indicated that Ghana’s former Speaker of the 7th parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye had between 2017 and 2020, blew millions if cedis on plush hotels, per diems and medical care abroad.
In the intercepted itemised bill of the former Speaker of Parliament from the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) camp, he spent a staggering GHC 18.94 million in the course of four years on globetrotting around the world for holidays, official duties and for medical check-ups abroad.
For instance, barely four months after he was sworn in as the Speaker in 2017, Prof. Ocquaye had blown a whopping US$50,000 (about GHC 350,000) on his travels, including expenses such as per diem, medical check-up, The dubious part of the expenses is that he was given US$ 1,000 for “warm clothing” on a trip to New Delhi-India in March 2017.
However, in March, New Delhi has one of the warmest temperatures in India with temperatures reaching 30 degrees Celsius. It is unclear why the Speaker would need US$1,000 for warm clothing on the one-day trip, from March 9, 2017, to March 10, 2017.
An even more strange allowance was Between July 20 and July 22, 2017, when Prof. Ocquaye’s office blew US$ 24, 774 on travel allowances, including “ warm clothing” to Burkina Faso, a country with higher temperatures than Ghana and having temperatures of up to 35°C in July.
In reference to the strange Burkina Faso trip as contained in an intercepted memo written on July 14, 2017, by the Deputy Director of Human Resources of Parliament, the content reads: An amount of Twenty=Four Thousand, Seven Hundred and Seventy Four US Dollars (US$24, 774.00) will be required as per diem, hotel accommodation, warm clothing allowance and special travel allowance….”
Professor Ocquaye went with a delegation of 10 people for the two-day programme that US$ 24, 700 of taxpayers’ money was blown on allowances including warm clothes for a warm savannah temperature of Burkina Faso.
A similar memo was written regarding New Delhi.
By the close of 2017, which is his very first year in office, Professor Mike Ocquaye had travelled a staggering 15 times. On each other trips, he takes along an average of 10 officials as part of his entourage.
In comparison, his successor Alban Sumana Bagbin had done only four trips in his first year in office. Three of these travels by Alban Bagbin were for medical check-ups abroad, while Prof. Mike Ocquaye in his first year in office did only three medical trips within his astounding 15 trips that year.
The wasteful expenditure on Ghana’s Speakers of Parliament has become a topical issue recently when pro-government newspaper, the Daily Guide whipped up a debunked claim that Speaker Alban Bagbin had blown US$ 120,000 on his latest trip for medical check-up, and that he had requested an extra US$ 50,000 for the trip.
However, the Parliamentary Service on March 18, 2022, issued a statement discrediting the report by the pro-government newspaper, saying it was a complete fabrication.
“We would like to state categorically that the Rt. Hon. Speaker has not, at any point in time, made direct cash request from Parliament,” read the statement signed by Kate Addo, the Director of Public Affairs in Parliament.
She went ahead to clarify that the conditions of service of public employees…cover medical care, both local and foreign. The specific details of each category of public employee is covered by law.