Ghana’s transport minister resigned Wednesday after a controversy erupted following reports she spent about $1m to repaint over 100 buses with portraits of the country’s recent leaders.
Dzifa Attivor had commissioned a private firm to respray 116 imported passenger buses with the faces of the West African country’s past leaders and current President John Mahama.
But the seemingly innocuous branding exercise became a rallying point for the opposition party and anti-corruption campaigners, who used the issue to criticise the ruling party’s economic management of the country.
Attivor’s resignation is the first in many years for Ghana and comes after citizens filed a court action against the government demanding details of the bus contract.
The contract “did not ensure value for money”, said Ghana’s government after reviewing the bus painting deal and called for a reimbursement of some of the money.
Ghana’s economic growth has stalled in the face of tanking commodity prices, with the ruling party coming under fire for wasteful spending in the run up to presidential and parliamentary elections next year.
Earlier this week, President Mahama banned first class travel for public officials, warning them to avoid “unwarranted” trips.
The country was forced to look to the IMF for emergency loans to help bolster its ailing economy, struggling to change its fortunes amid a power crisis.
As part of the agreement with the IMF, Ghana’s authorities pledged to rein in spending.