Tension is said to be growing in Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) owing to the alleged incompetence of the Acting Commissioner General the dictatorial and intransigent behavior of the Board Chairman. For the first time in the annals of GRA, employees of GRA threatened to wear and some indeed wore red armbands and displayed red flags at GRA Headquarters and offices throughout the country because of discontent, dissatisfaction, and general despondency in the nation’s revenue collection organization.
There appears to be no clear leadership at the moment in GRA. The Board Chairman has effectively usurped the powers and authority of Top Management and is running GRA as one of his private schools owing to the docility and incompetence of the Acting Commissioner-General. The situation has worsened in recent times because the Top Management is also in disarray. With all the three Commissioners in Acting capacities and also the easily manipulated Acting Commissioner General (dancing fully to the tunes of the Board Chairman, the “Prime Minister”, Mr. Ernest Akore and “He who must be obeyed at all times”, at the Finance Ministry) in an acting capacity, there appears to be, and indeed, there is no clear leadership in GRA.
These facts are borne in the letter written by the Union to the Acting Commissioner-General on the issue of the payment of fifteen percent (15%) annual bonus on the realization of the 2019 revenue target. Most of the employees of GRA who also spoke to DAYBREAK on conditions of anonymity said that the coup d’état against and the removal from office of Mr. Emmanuel Kofi Nti have created a leadership crisis in GRA especially because of the posture and reckless utterances of the Board Chairman.
According to some employees, since the coup d’état of 20th September 2019 when a terse press release falsely claimed that Mr. Emmanuel Kofi Nti had offered to retire with effect from 1st October 2019, things have worsened in GRA. The Board Chairman and Acting Commissioner General have divided the revenue organization along lines of favoritism, nepotism, hatred, and arbitrary violation and abuse of power. With hypocrisy and pretenses as their major weapons, the two who are not and have never been Reverend Ministers of any religious groups in Ghana, try to make it appear as if they are “Men of God” and religious leaders preaching virtues but practicing vices.
DAYBREAK investigations have revealed that the Board Chairman and the Acting Commissioner General have some qualifications in “Theology” but have never been appointed as Reverend Ministers in any church in Ghana.
Indeed, the Acting Commissioner General has his Master’s Degree in Theology and is said to be pursuing a Doctorate Degree in Theology. But that does not automatically make him a Reverend Minister. Again, DAYBREAK’s investigations have it that the Acting Commissioner General contested for the position of a Reverend Minister in the Baptist Church but lost miserably. That being the case, the Acting Commissioner General does not qualify to use the title “Reverend” yet he has been using it.
In the same way, he does not qualify to call himself Commissioner-General, and yet he is using that title. The person who qualified and was appointed and technically is still the Commissioner General has been prevented from performing his statutory functions and roles because of the selfish interests of the same individuals. There has not been any official revocation of the appointment of Mr. Kofi Nti as the Commissioner-General by His Excellency the President.
Thank God, the Public Services Commission (PSC) has spoken loud and clear that, the Acting Commissioner General is operating illegally (as such) as there has not been an instrument of appointment by His Excellency the President on him. All attempts by the Board Chairman to smuggle him through the back door to be confirmed by the Public Services Commission as the Commissioner-General have failed. The Public Services Commission wrote to categorically state that Mr. Ammishaddai Owusu Amoah does not have an appointment letter from His Excellency the President and therefore he cannot be interviewed for the position of Commissioner-General.
This bold action of the Public Services Commission buttresses the assertion of the employees of GRA that there is a leadership crisis in GRA. Professor Adei, who was very instrumental in the coup d’etat of 20th September 2019 (the Black Friday of GRA), is trying to move heaven and earth to get his “brother-in-law” appointed and confirmed as Commissioner-General.
The employees of GRA are referring to 20th September 2019 as “Black Friday in GRA” because of two unfortunate developments in GRA on that day.
The first disaster of that Black Friday was the appointment of Professor Adei as the Board Chairman of GRA. According to the Union, things that were never the case in the history of GRA are now happening in GRA owing to the posture and actions of the Board Chairman (intimidation, insults, disrespect, etc). According to the staff, people who know the Professor very well say that he is not fit to chair the board of such a sensitive and strategic national institution for revenue mobilization and collection.
Indeed his utterances at all GRA and non-GRA gatherings have exposed him as a liability for GRA. According to the employees, it was his lack of credibility that pushed him to declare that GRA had exceeded its target in 2019, when in fact there was a big negative deviation. Professor Adei and his “Team B” wanted Ghanaians to believe that he had performed wonders to use the last three months of 2019 to exceed the 2019 Revenue Target.
According to our investigations, the false declaration of achieving the 2019 revenue target was to justify his unpopular assumption of duty as GRA Board Chairman and above all to boost the chances of the appointment of his “brother-in-law” as the Commissioner-General.
The second disaster of the GRA Black Friday (20th September 2019) was the illegal removal of Mr. Emmanuel Kofi Nti, as Commissioner-General by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta. Mr. Kofi Nti is still seen as a father of GRA. He united the Revenue Authority despite all the attempts to vilify him during the first half of 2019 when unscrupulous individuals ganged up to destroy his hard-earned reputation. Kofi Nti, according to the employees, behaved like a real father for the employees. He had a listening ear and was sympathetic to the cause of employees and most importantly the cherished taxpayers of GRA. He was concerned about the serving and retiring conditions of personnel of GRA.
Moreover, the employees argue that Mr. Kofi Nti was a “real tax man”. He had the requisite academic and professional qualifications to lead GRA. Additionally, they intimated that Mr. Kofi Nti had the experiences from the Bank of Ghana and the Ministry of Finance (Tax Policy Unit) to rely on in the performances of his duties as Commissioner-General.
Can the same be said of Mr. Ammishaddai Owusu Amoah: a cross-section of the employees asked? They answered with a BIG NO.
Certainly, Masters in Theology is nowhere near the credentials of Chief Executive Officer in a Revenue Institution of the caliber of GRA. It is not sufficient to be a former Executive of Banks to lead GRA, the employees continued. The employees assert that Mr. Ammishaddai and Madam Julie Essiam are running GRA as if they are still at ECOBANK.
Another revelation from our research is that the current Acting Commissioner General lacks the confidence to lead GRA. He has a major problem with his confidence level owing to the intimidating nature of Madam Julie Essiam, the illegally appointed Acting Commissioner Support Services Division of GRA. According to our sources, Madam Julie Essiam used to be a boss to Mr. Ammishaddai Owusu Amoah at ECOBANK. According to our research, while Madam Julie Essiam was part of the Group Top Executive, Mr. Ammishaddai was at a lower level at the country level. Consequently, Madam Essiam still sees herself as a boss over the Acting Commissioner-General. Most employees of GRA believe and think that the Acting Commissioner General fears and is controlled by Madam Julie Essiam.
According to the employees, most unpopular decisions of the Acting Commissioner General are either initiated or taken by Madam Julie Essiam. The employees argue that Madam Essiam is the shadow Commissioner-General as Mr. Ammishadai has been accustomed to obeying the instructions and decisions of Madam Essiam since 20th September 2019.
Thus, according to the employees, Mr. Ammishaddai Owusu Amoah faces two predicaments – the control by de facto Commissioner-General (Professor Adei) and the tacit control by the Shadow Commissioner-General (Madam Julie Essiam).
The Employees say that they cannot understand Mr. Ammishaddai Owusu Amoah who has been given a stolen verdict of Commissioner-General and yet is continually being manipulated by the de facto Commissioner General, Shadow Commissioner-General, the Prime Minister and the Finance Ministry. Some of the employees were quick to add that, he is so much obsessed with the desire to get appointed legally and confirmed as Commissioner-General by Public Service Commission that he has to allow himself to be manipulated by persons with all kinds of selfish interests thereby unable to reunite and build a cohesive workforce at GRA to deliver on their mandate.
The employees argue that the Acting Commissioner General’s over-reliance on Madam Julie Essiam and Professor Adei is making him ineffective, incompetent, and unpopular. According to the employees, Professor Adei and Madam Essiam have a lot of negative traits in common. Both of them have the propensity to insult, intimidate, and abuse their powers. The employees say Professor Adei seizes on any opportunity to insult GRA staff as thieves and incompetent. Similarly, Madam Essiam is noted for insulting the Deputy Commissioners, Assistant Commissioners, Chief Revenue Officers, and indeed all personnel in her division in particular and the other two Divisions in general. She is alleged to be assaulting and battering her drivers and office staff. She is alleged to have changed three (3) drivers since assuming office as Acting Commissioner SSD in June 2019. According to the employees, her office staffs live in perpetual fear as the “tigress” is always at their throats making life uncomfortable for them.
According to the employees, unfortunately, a woman with such character traits is the Chief Adviser of the Acting Commissioner General, who she does not respect and occasionally says that she can do better than “Ammish” who according to her is very weak and incompetent.
The irony of it all, according to the employees, is the fact that Madam Julie Essiam is also deemed to be unqualified. According to the employees, the Public Services Commission has written to the Finance Minister, Board Chairman, Commissioner General, Chief of Staff, His Excellency the President, and the Vice President that Madam Julie Essiam is not qualified to be appointed as Commissioner in the GRA. According to our sources, Commissioners of GRA and Directors of Ministries and other important public organizations are to have a Master’s Degree. Unfortunately, Madam Julie Essiam appears not to have any Master’s Degree or appears to have some credibility issues with some of her academic qualifications.
According to employees, there is currently a real leadership crisis in GRA as there are issues with all the three Commissioners. They continued by saying that there are all sorts of pressures and attempts to get the Acting Commissioner Customs Division of GRA, Colonel K Damoah (Rtd) removed with the pretext that he had attained the age of 60 years. The employees feel that the Board Chairman, the Acting Commissioner General, Madam Julie Essiam, Mr. Ernest Akore (Special Adviser to the Minister of Finance who doubles as the Prime Minister of the Ministry of Finance), Nana Asante Bediatuo, and some unscrupulous people are behind the scheme. These threats to get Colonel Damoah removed as Commissioner Customs have certainly undermined his authority as revealed on a radio programme at “HOT FM” in Accra on Friday 24th April 2020 in the morning.
According to the panelists, Professor Adei and his group want Mr. Ammishadddai Owusu-Ansah to be confirmed as Commissioner-General, and as soon as that is done Professor Adei will ensure that Colonel Damoah is removed on account of age and replaced with Felix Teye Mate-Kodjo (of UNIPASS fame) as the Commissioner Customs. According to the employees, the interested parties say they cannot push Colonel Damoah about and therefore prefer Felix Teye Mate-Kodjo who is alleged to have promised to play the game to all those who matter in the corridors of power.
The issue of the appointment of Mate-Kodjo as Commissioner Customs has infuriated some personnel who claim that he lacks the requisite competence, integrity, and time to lead the Customs Division of GRA. They referred to letters written by Mr. Gavor, a former Deputy Commissioner on alleged nefarious activities of Felix Teye Mate-Kodjo at Takoradi and Tema Ports in the past. They intimated that Felix Teye Mate-Kodjo would also attain the age of 60 years in September 2020. But one of them was quick to add that Felix Teye Mate-Kodjo has told his supporters that Professor Adei has promised that he would secure a two-year contract for Felix Teye Mate-Kodjo when he reaches his compulsory retiring age of 60 years in September 2020.
According to the employees, Mr. Felix Teye Mate-Kodjo’s current appointment and that of some other senior officers in GRA is creating a lot of controversies and concerns. These appointments are being cited as examples of nepotism, favoritism, hatred, and abuse of power. The employees claimed that at various gatherings, Professor Adei said that Felix Teye Mate-Kodjo’s father was his friend and therefore he must help him.
According to the employees, another change in appointment that has caused disaffection is that of “Officer-In-Charge; Human Resource”. An Assistant Commissioner (1-year-old), a female officer whose husband is an employee of Professor Adei, has been appointed in charge of Human Resource at the expense of a Deputy Commissioner who is academically and professionally more qualified, competent and confident than this lady.
The employees argued that even if the Deputy Commissioner were to change, these are more senior Assistant Commissioners who are more qualified professionals and by experience better than this lady. Yet the overriding interests of Mr. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah are to please Professor Adei so that in return he would continue to champion his quest for appointment and confirmation as Commissioner-General.
As if that were not enough, Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah has caused the removal of a Deputy Commissioner in charge of Information Technology (IT) and replaced her with a very junior Assistant Commissioner. The female Deputy Commissioner (IT) had been the head of IT even during the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) era and has over 15 years’ experience as Head of IT and related activities.
Unfortunately, Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah has replaced her with his school mate who is far junior to three other Assistant Commissioners. These three other Assistant Commissioners have held various sensitive IT positions in GRA but are being marginalized because they do not have ‘godfathers’ and a ‘Reverend’ who should have been fair in the eyes of God, has decided to practice favoritism and nepotism.
What some of the employees are saying is that Professor Adei and Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah deliberately postponed promotions indefinitely in September 2019 to enable them to appoint their favorites into very sensitive positions in GRA to achieve their narrow-minded interests.