The Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has described as embarrassing the fact that some beneficiaries of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) scholarship were his fellow legislators instead of needy but brilliant students.
Some legislators were captured in a performance audit report from the Auditor-General which indicted the GETFund of illegally funding foreign scholarships at the expense of more deserving candidates.
Speaking at a forum to mark 54 years since the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President, Mr. Ablakwa insisted that awarding scholarships to legislators was a clear abuse of power.
“Government scholarships are for the poor masses. Now it is not even for their [MPs’] children and nieces and nephews. Now they themselves are struggling over the few scholarships for the young people of this country.”
“I am deeply embarrassed by this example my colleagues are setting. This is not what Nkrumah stood for,” Mr. Ablakwa remarked.
What the report said
The performance audit report said the GETFund Secretariat “breached the object of the fund and administered the scholarship themselves.”
The report also said, “GETFund did not establish any systems, policies and procedures to ensure the economic, efficient and effective use of public funds.”
The Auditor-General concluded that the failings of the GETFund led to brilliant but needy students being deprived of scholarship in favour of politicians in some cases.
According to the GETFund’s Annual Reports from 2012 to 2018, the secretariat spent GHS425,698,937 on scholarships on 3,112 beneficiaries out of which 2,217 persons were unlawfully granted scholarships to study abroad.
Defence from former administration
A former Director of the GETFund, Sam Gariba has denied any wrongdoing in the manner in which he administered scholarships during his time in office.
Mr. Gariba, who served between 2012 and 2016 said he only followed the existing procedure in awarding scholarships upon assumption of office.
He also criticised the Auditor General for the claims in the report, arguing that they were scandalous, ridiculous and unfounded.
He further questioned why he would be surcharged for something he did with due diligence.