By Frank Amponsah
The 2020 presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama, was at the heart of negotiations involving the purchase of an Embraer E190 SA aircraft from the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, Embraer.
Indeed, in his capacity as Vice President of Ghana, John Mahama personally supervised transaction negotiations with regards to the purchase of aircraft with aeroplane manufacturers.
An 26th April, 2012, letter authored and signed by then Vice President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, to Embraer S.A, a Brazilian aerospace conglomerate that produces commercial, military, executive and agricultural aircraft and provides aeronautical services, is one such example.
John Mahama’s letter, which was addressed to Mr. Felipe Monteiro, who, at the time, was Director, Sales and Business Development of Embraer, was initially to thank Mr. Monteiro, in particular, “for your support in completing arrangements for the supply of the Embraer E190 SA aircraft to Ghana.”
Vice President Mahama, however, noted with concern some issues that had been raised by Embraer regarding the purchase, and assured Mr. Monteiro of “my government’s commitment to complete negotiations for the aircraft.”
To this end, John Mahama went ahead to “request a meeting with you and any of your colleagues in my office in Ghana to urgently address these issues and any outstanding matters that may exist regarding this order and to discuss modalities for the supply if 4 (four) Super Tucanos from Embraer to be used for training of our air force personnel.”
Incidentally, the loan agreement between the Government of Ghana and the Brazilian Development Bank(BNDES) for the purchase of the one Embraer 190 aircraft, related integrated logistics support and the construction of one Hangar at the cost of US$105,370,177.09 was debated and approved by Parliament on 20th July, 2011 after the loan agreement had been laid before the House on 5th July, 2011 and subsequently referred to the joint Committee on Finance and Defence and Interior for consideration and report to the House in accordance with Article 181 of the Constitution and Orders 158 and 171 of the Standing Orders of Parliament.
It would be recalled that on Thursday, 23rd April, 2009 at Burma Camp, representatives of Embraer led by Antonio Carlos Neubarth, Director, International Business Defence and Government Market, made a presentation on the Embraer 190 aircraft to the then Vice President, the Minister of Defence, Lt. General J. H. Smith(rtd) and the Military High Command.
After the presentation, Vice President Mahama directed the Ministry of Defence to arrange for a delegation to visit Messrs Embraer in Brazil for preliminary discussions on the possible purchase of the Embraer 190 aircraft.
A seven (7)-man delegation led by the Minister of Defence, Lt. General Smith (rtd) subsequently was in Brazil from 25th July to 6th August, 2009 for further discussions with officials of Messrs Embraer. The trip which was successfully facilitated by the Ghana Embassy in Brazil, culminated in the signing of an MoU for the purchase of the Embraer 190 aircraft.
Parliamentary records show that a technical team of officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Attorney-General’s Department and the Ghana Air Force also travelled to Brazil from 10th to 18th October, 2009 to finalize the technical details and the loan agreement with Embraer for the purchase of the Embraer-190 aircraft.
Eventually, the deal for the purchase of the aircraft fell through but the Hangar which cost $17m was built.
Meanwhile, controversy is raging in the country over two C-295 aircraft sold to Ghana by Airbus SE. This is after three separate investigations in the UK, France and the US have uncovered that Airbus indulged in criminal payments of bribes in its dealings in Ghana and other jurisdictions.
President Akufo-Addo has since asked the Office of the Special Prosecutor to investigate the Ghana side of the fall-outs of the the investigations and judicial pronouncements arising out of them.