A governance group, Data and Advocacy Consult has urged Ghanaians to laud Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu for prioritising the lives of Ghanaians while procuring Covid-19 vaccines.
According to the group, Mr Agyeman-Manu should not be criticized for failing to seek Parliamentary approval before engaging with middlemen to procure some Sputnik vaccines.
Addressing the media in Accra on Thursday, Convener of the Group, Felix Asirifi, said the Minister should be applauded for being honest when he appeared before the committee probing the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines
“Indeed, the Minister has been honest, and emphasis must be placed on the word honest. In his submission to the committee, in acknowledging that there were some issues as regards the procurement of the vaccine, would we rather as a country prefer that the Minister shifts the blame or found other means of hiding this, or we will rather prefer his honesty with the issues surrounding the purchase of the vaccine?
“Our answer to this question should reflect the kind of public servants we seek to train.”
Mr Asirifi further noted that the actions of the Health Minister only proves how he fell prey to his human instincts, that is, to protect lives.
“We believe that the Minister has been forthright with us as a country and has shown he is also human and could make mistakes.
“We are, therefore, of the firm belief that the Minister chose the health and safety of Ghanaians over procedural measures.”
He, however, noted that calls for lessened criticism against the Minister does not mean that flouting state procedures is the right step to take when faced with an emergency.
“We are not by this statement in any way stating that public officials should be encouraged to hide behind any excuses to expend public funds without due diligence. However, we will support any public official who is honest in his duty and to the mandate given him,” he added.
Mr Agyeman Manu since informing the country he signed the Sputnik V vaccine procurement contract with Sheikh Maktoum before seeking approval has been chastised by the Minority in Parliament and some members of the general public.
Aside from admitting his fault, Mr Agyeman-Manu noted that he could not think properly because of the severity of the matter.
“I was in a desperate and helpless situation with the management of the Covid numbers. In February [this year], we had 78 deaths; by March, we had 56 deaths, and these were the numbers that pushed me to act,” the Minister told the bi-partisan Parliamentary Committee probing the controversial Sputnik V vaccine procurement.
“…if you were the Health Minister, I think you might have taken certain decisions that in hindsight you may not have done those things. The country was not in normal times. Those were not normal times and I was seriously in a situation that couldn’t make me think properly, the way we think now,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, the Minority Group and other institutions have pushed for the resignation of Mr Agyeman-Manu from the Ministry of Health.