General News of Sunday, 6 January 2019
Ace Investigative Journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni, has underlined the importance of upholding one’s integrity and morality in every situation particularly in a corrupt country.
Recounting challenges he faced having had to conduct in-depth investigations at the National Youth Employment Programme, now Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency at the time, he said his vision to unravel the truth and cleanse the country of corruption is what drove him to stand his grounds.
He was gratified by the fact that he stood his grounds regardless of which offers were thrown at him to ‘tie down’ his hands and get him to ‘bury’ the story.
Speaking at the ‘Resolutions Youth Summit 2019’, Mr. Manasseh said,
“Society has a way of getting us to be corrupt. I had a motorbike when I became most promising journalist and they said now you are an award-winning journalist, motor bike doesn’t befit your status, then I became journalist of the year all I still had was the motorbike and colleague journalists said, ‘you are now like the face of journalists in Ghana, you shouldn’t be seen riding this small motorbike but the truth is that I wasn’t being paid, I just loved the job I was doing so where was I going to get that money?”
“Then 2013 I did an investigation on the GYEEDA scandal, then the first GYEEDA official I met was promising me a car then when I got to the bigger companies and the bigger people, it got worse but I told myself I was never going to take a penny to kill the story, I’ve never done that and I’ll never do that”.
Urging youth participants at the programme to make the truth ultimate in all their endeavours, he said;
“I’m letting you know that poverty is real, the difficulty is there, but don’t let that drive you into thinking that everything you must do is to get money, when the time comes for you to get money, the money will come. Define wealth, money and material things, that shouldn’t be your only source of money”.
Joy News’ investigations uncovered shady deals involving the National Youth Employment Programme, now Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency (GYEEDA). It was revealed among other things that GYEEDA had become a breeding ground for corruption as some officials of the programme divert state funds into their private pockets.
Manasseh Azure Awuni revealed that questionable contracts signed with service providers robbed the nation of millions of cedis while beneficiaries’ service conditions worsen.
Manasseh investigated the Youth in Sanitation module, which GYEEDA runs in partnership with Zoomlion Ghana Limited and revealed government pays GHS 500 per beneficiary every month. But out of that, only GHS 100 is paid to the beneficiaries monthly. Zoomlion keeps the rest, GHS 400, as management fees.
A contract signed by the then Minister for Youth and Sports, Clement Kofi Humado in March, 2011 and sighted by Joy FM pegged Zoomlion Management fee per beneficiary at GHS 300 per month and beneficiary allowance at GHS 50.
In November that same year, then Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, signed a document in which the beneficiary allowance was increased from 50 cedis to 100 cedis, and Zoomlion’s management fees moved from Ghc300 to Ghc400.00.
Subsequently, former national Coordinator Abuga Pele and Philip Assibit, Chief Executive Officer of Goodwill International Group were hauled before a court to answer for the reported malfeasance under his tenure.
The Accra court after proceedings convicted both persons who were found guilty of 19 counts including dishonestly causing financial loss to the state.