Paul Adom-Otchere, “the stomach journalist” contradicts himself
The Ghana Airports Company Limited’s controversial Christmas tree and decorations were awarded without a procurement or bidding process, according to the Ministry of Transport (GACL).
The ministry’s disclosure contradicts GACL board chairman Paul Adom-claim Otchere’s that “two independent suppliers were invited to submit bids.” Discounts were negotiated after the bids were discussed.”
The Ministry also stated that the “Christmas decorations in question” for 2021 were rented rather than purchased, as reported by the GACL board chairman previously.
The Ministry of Transport’s admissions may be found in a reaction to a right to information (RTI) request filed by Redeemer Buatsi to GACL in January 2022, which was identified by The Fourth Estate.
Redeemer Buatsi, a fellow of the Media Foundation for West Africa’s New Generation Investigative Journalism Fellowship, questioned how the two businesses’ services for the contentious Christmas décor at the Kotoka International Airport were purchased.
He made the request after noticing anomalies in Paul Adom-statement Otchere’s when the airport Christmas tree story erupted earlier this year.
When it was revealed that the GACL had spent over GHS 128,000 on Christmas trees and decorations, the company’s board chairman responded within hours.
Leaked proforma invoices from two companies where the services were procured broke the news about the procurement. The two bills were sent to the GACL, with one of them naming Paul Adom-Otchere, the board chairman.
The proforma invoice for Jandel Limited was GHS 38,775 Jandel Limited sent a proforma invoice for GHS 38,775 for “Terminal 3 Arrival Hall (a decorated Christmas tree with lights), lighting décor on the trees around the lawn, and decoration of existing trees.”
Favors & Arts also submitted a proforma invoice for GHS 90,500 for the rental of a Christmas chandelier with lights.
Mr. Paul Adom-Otchere received a pro forma invoice from Favors and Arts for GHS 90,500.
The GACL and “Mr Paul Adom-Otchere” were the recipients of the pro forma invoice from Favors and Arts.
Social media users questioned the GACL’s corporate governance systems, which allowed the state-owned company’s board chairman to be directly involved in the purchase of Christmas decorations.
On January 7, 2022, Paul Adom-Otchere bypassed the firm’s corporate relations department and published a statement to clarify widely circulated information that implied the corporation was misusing public monies.
“Dear friends,” Paul Adom-Otchere wrote on his Facebook page, “my attention has been called to a social media post (herein attached) excessively misrepresenting facts about Christmas inspirations that were mounted at the Kotoka International Airport.”
In what he called “Facts”, Mr Adom-Otchere justified in a bulleted announcement that the GACL paid GHS 118,000 for the decorations, out of which GHS50,000 was paid by a sponsor.
The statement went on:
“FACT: Bids were requested from two different providers. Discounts were negotiated once the bids were discussed. (We thank Jandel Limited and Favors & Arts for their support.)
FACT: The lovely Christmas tree at Terminal 3 and three others cost GHC 34,000, which Jandel Limited generously supplied at a substantial discount. (We’d like to express our gratitude to Jandel Limited.)
“FACT: Favors and Arts provided the other inspirations at a total cost of GHS 84,000, of which GHC 50,000 was funded from sponsorship.”
Mr Adom-Otchere, who is also the anchor of Metro TV’s Good Evening Ghana program, followed up his social media statement with an explanation on his TV show on January 11, four days after it was made public.
“We issued a statement saying the Christmas tree was purchased for 34,000 cedis,” Mr Adom-Otchere said, referring to an invoice on a touch screen monitor in the studio.
The amount the corporation paid for the decorations, on the other hand, varied in the TV presentation. He updated the sum to GHS 128,366 from the GHS 118,000 he had previously reported as the total payment.
The inconsistencies in Paul Adom-two Otchere’s explanations, combined with the viral assertions, prompted Redeemer to file an RTI request for clarity.
Alleged procurement law violation
Some critics of the agreement claimed that the GACL used the request for quotation process in violation of the Public Procurement Act.
According to Paul Adom-Otchere, the GACL sought quotes from two companies to supply various services for the airport’s Christmas decorations.
A “procurement entity may engage in procurement by soliciting quotations in accordance with section 43,” according to Article 42 of the Public Procurement Act.
“The procurement entity shall request quotations from as many suppliers or contractors as practicable,” according to Section 43 of the Act, “but shall compare quotations from at least three different sources that should not be related in terms of ownership, shareholding, or directorship, and conflict of interest principles shall apply between the procurement entities and their members and different price quotation sources.”
This means that the GACL should have gotten quotes from at least three different service providers for the Christmas tree and another three for the chandelier rental.
The GACL, on the other hand, solicited only one quotation for each of the two services, a practice that some opponents claimed violated procurement regulations.
In January, I filed an RTI request, and in June, I received a response.
Redeemer Buatsi sought copies of the procurement contract, as well as details on how much the GACL spent on Christmas trees over the years, in January.
The GACL was unresponsive to the request. In accordance with the RTI statute, Mr Buatsi then made an internal appeal to the company’s managing director.
The GACL, in a letter signed by its managing director, Mrs Pamela Djamson-Tettey, referred the journalist to the Ministry of Transport in a response dated April 4, 2022, approximately three months after the initial request.
“Please be advised that the information you seek has been submitted to the Ministry of Transportation per our letter dated 10th March 2022, in response to a parliamentary question filed by Hon. Kwame Governs Agbodza, MP,” the GACL letter said, referring the journalist to the Ministry of Transportation/Fourth Estate.
“As a result, we request that you approach the Ministry of Transportation for the information in accordance with Article 21 of the Right to Information Act, 2019 (Act 989),” the GACL wrote.
Redeemer forwarded the request to the Ministry of Transportation.
The Transport Ministry refuted Paul Adom-assertions Otchere’s on the acquisition of Christmas decorations in a letter dated June 10 and signed by Theresah Kokui Fiador on behalf of the Minister.
“Please be advised that the GACL rented the Christmas decorations for 2021 rather than purchasing them. As a result, there was no procurement or bidding process for contract award,” according to the Ministry of Transport.
The Ministry stated in the letter that there was no procurement or bidding process for the contract award.
Even the rental decorations were paid for by a sponsor, according to the Ministry, meaning that the GACL incurred no costs for the 2021 Christmas decorations.
“We’d want to emphasize that the Christmas decorations in question were rented and paid for by a sponsor.” As a result, GACL did not award a contract for the purpose,” the Ministry stated.
While Paul Adom-Otchere stated in his press release on January 7 that “two separate vendors were requested to submit bids” and that “bids were discussed and discounts acquired,” the Transport Ministry indicated in its letter that “there was no procurement nor bidding process for the award of contract.”
Furthermore, while Paul Adom-Otchere claimed that GACL “bought” and paid for the Christmas tree and inspirations, the Ministry claimed that the decorations were “rented” rather than purchased.
The Ministry also claimed that a sponsor covered the entire cost of renting the decorations, however Paul Adom-Otchere claimed that the putative sponsor only paid GHS 50,000 out of GHS 128,366 (39%) of the cost of purchasing the decorations.