Between 7 and 9 April 2017, a government retreat was held at Peduase Lodge. The event was attended by Ghana government officials (President Nana Akufo-Addo, Vice President Dr Mahamadu Bawumia and Ministers of State), and by a special guest: Brenthurst Foundation Chairman (and Nigeria’s former military ruler) Olusegun Obasanjo.
Strangely, the chairman of a foundation funded by the billionaire South African family Oppenheimer, co-presided over a key Ghana Government meeting, together with Ghana’s president and vice-president.
The Peduase Lodge government meeting was key to establishing Akufo-Addo administration’s priorities and goals: “We agreed amongst ourselves the priorities and the goals of our government and the strategy for achieving them,” president Akufo-Addo said, adding that “Olusegun Obasanjo, the former president of Nigeria, was there to assist us in our deliberations, as a resource person.”
What Nana Addo failed to mention, was the the fact that the resource person, Obasanjo, who was to coach him and his government on the priorities and goals of his NPP government and how to achieve them, was on the Oppenheimer family payroll and a mouthpiece of the Anglo-American founders.
It would seem that the Akufo-Addo government’s easy allowance of a stranger, the chairman of the Oppenheimer-funded Brenthurst Foundation to preside over the sensitive Ghana Cabinet meeting in which the government priorities and goals were adopted, for the next four years, was a precursor adding to many other foreign interests and dealings some of which would lead to scandals that would rock the Akufo-Addo administration.
The question begging for answer is if President Akufo-Addo’s dealings with the group was ethical and in the national interest, why did he make efforts to ensure that these meetings were not reported to the Ghanaian people?
As part of their mode of engagement, the Brenthurst Foundation received an invitation from Nana Akufo-Addo to advise the Ghanaian government and works directly with the Office of the President. According to a US State Department document released by WikiLeaks, Brenthurst provides “confidential policy advice” to African countries if only the Foundation works directly with the Office of the President in the respective African countries, and is invited by the President himself.
Today, the Johannesburg-based Foundation is deeply and secretly involved in Akufo-Addo administration.
The union between the Foundation and Akufo-Addo did not just occur when he took office in January. On 20 December 2016, two weeks after the presidential election, Nana Akufo-Addo was already meeting Brenthurst Foundation Chairman Olusegun Obasanjo in Nigeria.
During the first months of 2017, right after Nana’s inauguration, a Brenthurst team spent several weeks in Ghana for a “first phase” of a secretive “field work”. The team, led by Brenthurst Director Greg Mills, conducted a research, comprising “more than 150 consultations across all sectors”.
On 20 February 2017, a Brenthurst Foundation delegation, including Director Greg Mills and Chairman Olusegun Obasanjo, met with President Nana Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House. The Foundation presented the President with the results of its “field work”. Vice-president Bawumia and Finance Minister Ofori-Atta also participated at the meeting. https://www.facebook.com/thebrenthurstfoundation/photos/a.221100701274807/1415366751848190/
Ghana Government kept the meeting secret.
During the same period, the Oppenheimer family’s PR firm, Sabi Strategy Group, was also working in Ghana, cooking up an “economic development project for the new Head of State” – the “Ghana Beyond Aid” plan.
Sabi Strategy, a firm like Cambridge Analytica, the British data company accused of improperly harvesting and using personnel data from tens of millions of Facebook users to help Donald Trump win the U.S. presidency, and according to its own presentation (https://www.sabistrategy.com/expertise) specializes in manipulating public opinion, influencing voters’ behaviour, delivering discreet and targeted campaign.
And yet President Akufo-Addo, aware of the ethical questions surrounding the firm contracted their services Sabi who are using the shady tactics of Cambridge Analytica to influence Ghanaian citizens so that he can hold on to power.
Being a propaganda document that paid no heed to ethical considerations, it was not surprising that the document to guide the Ghana’s agenda of independence and self-reliance had the picture of a Kenyan skyline on the cover page. (https://www.myjoyonline.com/news/presidency-photoshops-kenyan-building-on-ghana-beyond-aid-document/).
On 26 July 2017, the Brenthurst Foundation organized an event at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra. President Nana Akufo-Addo was pleased to launch a book called Making Africa Work: A Handbook for Economic Success”, written by Brenthurst’s Greg Mills, Olusegun Obasanjo, Jeffrey Herbst and Dickie Davis. The book was promoted by Brenthurst as a “guide to running Africa’s economies”.
The Founder of the Brenthurst Foundation, South African mining tycoon Jonathan Oppenheimer, flew in to Accra specially for the event.
Nana Akufo-Addo described Brenthurst’s book as “compulsory reading” which he “recommends to everyone.” And while pretending the document was a
Ghanaian creation which in practice he did not trust his own “men” to produce, Nana also outlined his “Ghana Beyond Aid” strategy which had just been secretly fabricated by Brenthurst’s PR firm Sabi Strategy.
In Ghana, Jonathan Oppenheimer and Brenthurst’s representatives also work with Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia.
On 8 May 2018, South African billionaire Jonathan Oppenheimer met with Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia in Accra. Oppenheimer was accompanied by his acolytes in the Brenthurst Foundation Greg Mills (Director), Olusegun Obasanjo (Chairman) and Erastus Mwencha (Member of the Advisory Board).
The meeting, as has been the pattern, was not disclosed by the Ghana Government.
On 21 January 2019, at the Centre for Democratic Development-Ghana, Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia launched another book published by the Oppenheimer-funded Brenthurst Foundation. Titled “Democracy Works: Rewiring Politics to Africa’s Advantage,” and authored by Brenthurst’s Greg Mills, Olusegun Obasanjo, Jeffrey Herbst and Tendai Biti, the book provides “lessons” on how African nations should organize elections and adopt policies from Western countries.
Bawumia praised the book as a “worthy addition to the growing body of works championing the spread of democracy in Africa” and explained how it provides lessons in enhancing democracy in Africa
Brenthurst Director Greg Mills lauded NPP Government decision to follow “Ghana Beyond Aid”, an agenda dictated by the Oppenheimer family, noting that “such fresh direction was crucial in accelerating national development”.
As is to be expected when self-seeking interests must be protected, Brenthurst has strongly supported and constantly lauded Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP Government, while criticizing the NDC.
While accusing NDC of “actual and perceived corruption, and a perceived insensitivity to the plight of citizens”, the Oppenheimer-funded foundation has praised NPP for “crafting a message of hope backed up by specific proposals behind which people could rally” or for assuming “the belief in education and a thriving private sector” as “core values”. According to Brenthurst, “the NPP victory was a result of a credible message; they promised and they delivered, despite the challenges and pointed criticism by naysayers.”
On a lighter note, if you ever wondered who else apart from President Akufo-Addo uses the outdated expression “naysayers”, you know where to look.