Former President John Dramani Mahama has denied allegations that he is worth about $900 million. According to him, partisan newspapers in Ghana opposed to his administration had manufactured the story for political gain.

Speaking to Power FM in South Africa yesterday, Mr Mahama said: “I am not anywhere near even $2 million, to talk of $900 million. I am absolutely nowhere near that. This was published by a partisan newspaper for political gain. It is owned by politicians and they put out all this misinformation for political gain.”

The former President was in South Africa to deliver the keynote address at the African Leadership Magazine (ALM) Person of the Year Awards.

He was also expected to be decorated with the African Political Leader of the Year award for his contribution towards deepening and enriching Ghana’s democracy.

He told the radio station that often he was confused with his brother, Mr Ibrahim Mahama, who is a business tycoon.

“Often my brother is confused with me. My brother is a businessman; he has his assets and I have no interest in his business and I don’t own shares in his business.

“I am a farmer; I have published a book and I earn royalties from my book and I earn from my farm and that is it. I live a very modest life,” he said.

Pursue Woyome cash

Asked why his government failed to retrieve the GH¢51.2 million judgement debt illegally paid to businessman Alfred Woyome, Mr Mahama said although the money was paid to Woyome when he (Mahama) was the Vice-President, when he assumed the leadership of the country every necessary effort was made to get the money back for the state but his administration met legal blocks.

“The person involved is fighting the case at different levels of the court system. But my Attorney-General pursued the matter diligently and did her best to protect the interest of the Ghanaian people,” he said.

The former President stated that once Ghana had chosen to pursue the rule of law, the government could not act outside the laws.

“The legal system must be allowed to work. Everybody must have his day in court and that is exactly what has happened. We cannot be lovers of good governance and also be desirous of arbitrary justice.

“Under an unconstitutional government, you just lock up somebody like that and seize all his assets, but we live in a constitutional democracy and so the law must work.

“The Supreme Court has given a ruling which is being enforced. Indeed, the person involved has been pressed to pay back some of the money,” he said.

He expressed the hope that the Nana Akufo-Addo government would continue from where the former government left off to retrieve the money from Mr Woyome.

Ford vehicle with new government

Asked to explain why he accepted a Ford Expedition gift from a Burkinabe contractor while in office, the former President explained that the vehicle was not for his personal use.

He maintained that the vehicle was put in the state pool and that he was absolved of any wrongdoing by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) which investigated the matter.

“That vehicle is still in the pool of government and even as I handed over to my successor that vehicle is in the service of the Government of Ghana. I was never under any illusion that the vehicle was given to me as a gift, personally, and so I never considered it as a personal gift and the vehicle continued to serve the government under my administration and has been left for the new administration,” he explained.

Peaceful handover

On why he conceded defeat in the December 2016 elections even before the Electoral Commission announced the results, he explained that it was the right thing to do, having realised that he had lost the presidential election.

“I lost the election. What is wrong about that? When you lose an election, what can you do?” he asked.

Touting his credentials as a democrat, he said he played to the dictates of the game and he was not ashamed of the decision to accept defeat peacefully.

The former President said Ghana once again showed the way in driving democracy on the continent.

“We have developed a culture of democratic consolidation in Africa. More countries are holding elections and new leaders are coming, which is a positive feedback,” he said.

Ghana’s prosperity

Mr Mahama said the economic decisions he took while in office were in the interest of Ghana’s progress.

He mentioned, for instance, the deregulation of the petroleum sector and tariff adjustments in electricity as some of the “tough but necessary decisions”.

He said his administration invested heavily in infrastructure in the last four years.

He said he left a debt-to-GDP ratio of 65 per cent.