Communications and Digitization Minister Ursula Owusu Ekuful and a member of the Parliamentary Communications Committee, Sam Dzata George are trading subtle punches over the recent sale of AirtelTigo to government for a reported US$1.
The Minister drew first blood by calling Sam George a barefaced liar for allegedly claiming the Minister had earlier said government paid US$25 million for the company. But the latter replied by saying the Minister’s “arrogant clap back” will not save her.
In the Minister’s post, she wrote “Some people find it very difficult to believe we can negotiate good deals for government. I signed the AirtelTigo contract. We acquired it for just a dollar.
“Someone, an MP, says he heard me say we paid $25 million. A barefaced lie…blatant untruth.”
Ursula then asked her readers to “Please ask Sam George where he heard that.”
She urged Ghanaians to sit back and listen to the long, English grammar and drama that will follow the false claim, adding “just keep your eyes on the ball. How much did we pay to acquire the company? 1 dollar, Simple!!”
About an hour later, the Ningo-Prampram MP, Sam George also took to his Facebook page and replied the Minister saying, “Someone tell our Minister for Communications that grand posturing and arrogant clap backs would not stop us on the Parliamentary Committee of Communications and the good people of Ghana from demanding accountability from her.”
“What does she take us for?” he asked, “That she bought AirtelTigo for $1? How much is the eyebrow pencil she uses to draw her eyebrows and she thinks she can insult our intelligence?”
Sam George further wrote “Madam, after basking in the fake fans of your social media followers, prepare to appear before the Committee and give us details of the transactions. We would not allow the already burdened taxpayers of our country to be saddled with poorly thought out decisions that impose more debt or hardship on us.
He reminded the Minister that “Our eyes are fixed on the ball and I urge you to do same. No long talk.”
Since government reported taking over the assets and agreed liabilities of AirtelTigo for a paltry US$1, some Ghanaians have been asking if the deal had Parliament approval, or even needed one, since Ghana is spending money, even if it is US$1.
The Minister also reported that the company left some debts and government was working with the creditors to structure it for payment, which might affect taxpayer funds.
Whereas TechGh24 cannot independently confirm that Sam George actually claimed the Minister had earlier said the deal cost Ghana US$25 million, it is important to note that Bharti Airtel and Millicom International Cellular have been reported to have told their respective shareholders that they each made US$25 million from the deal.
Indeed, Bharti Airtel actually reported that figure to the Indian National Stock Exchange in its home country, Indeed.
Meanwhile, the Minister is yet to go to Parliament give a full account of the deal, including how much debt is left to pay, how it will be paid, and probably why the two original owners of the company would each report making US$25 million from the sale, while the Minister claims Ghana paid only US$1.