General News of Wednesday, 30 April 2014
The Minority in Ghana’s Parliament has vowed to bring a hellfire of pressure to bear on the Mahama administration in a bid to compel swift criminal prosecution of officials thought to have mismanaged state funds meant for the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).
Deputy Minority Leader, Dominic Nitiwul, stated the group’s intension in an exclusive interview on Citi FM late Monday.
He said, “The President should really do something about this SADA thing. People have to be punished.”
The Bimbilla Member of Parliament described continuing reports of alleged misuse of state funds at SADA as “very sad,” saying: “We will very soon come out on this matter; our strong position as a Minority on this particular matter. We will recommend seriously that people are punished for that.”
Mr. Nitiwul was reacting to the details of a leaked report, which suggests that SADA’s tree-planting exercise in the north of Ghana has been a success.
85% of SADA trees survived
The trees were planted by ACI Construction Limited, a company said to be a subsidiary of Roland Agambire’s AGAMS Group. The plantations followed a June 2012 contract signed between ACI Construction Limited and SADA, an independent State agency responsible for coordinating a comprehensive development agenda for the northern savannah ecological zone in Ghana.
“The average percentage survival of all the planted species in the SADA plantations were very high (85%) with the highest (88%) recorded in the Eastern Zone and the least (76%) in the Southern Zone,” says the “draft final report,” authored by the Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources of the University for Development Studies (UDS), Tamale.
“The dream of SADA to ameliorate environmental degradation and mitigate climate change as well as create jobs for the unemployed youth in its operational area will not be a mirage but a reality,” the UDS report says. “This is evident as plantations have been established simultaneously across all the political districts within the SADA programme area”.
On Eyewitness News on Citi FM Monday, SADA Spokesperson, Edem Worlanyo, called the UDS report proof that the Authority has, so far, been largely diligent in its use of public funds.
“We are happy with what the report,” Mr. Worlanyo said. “We were worried [about] media reports [that] the tree-planning project so we hired these UDS officials to undertake an audit for us… If 85 percent of the trees survived then why will people say the trees withered?”
Nitiwul rejects UDS report
But, Mr. Nitiwul has rejected the report a Citi News interview.
Alleging misuse of scare national resources, Mr. Nitiwul claimed SADA has only been able to plant less than one million trees, instead of the contract figure of five million trees per year.
“The people didn’t plant up to a million trees and you have paid them all the money and today that contract has been abrogated,” he said.
He posed a rhetorical question, “Somebody has stolen a mobile phone and he gets 45 years in jail and somebody can dish out the public money – 32 million Ghana Cedis – to an individual who doesn’t even do his work and then both are walking free? Why should that happen?”
NDC MP calls for Parliamentary probe
On the same program, the Ranking Member on the Public Accounts Committee, Alhaji Ibrahim Dey, called for urgent Parliamentary investigations into SADA’s activities.
“I think Parliament should act now,” the NDC MP for Salaga South said. “Leadership should set up a Committee to carry out their investigations [into SADA].”
So as to continue to engender public confidence in Ghana’s democracy, Alhaji Dey said Parliament must not wait for the Auditor General’s Department to finish its report on the SADA project before initiating Parliamentary hearings, saying that will be “a long process.”
Alhaji Dey said leadership of the House must set up “an ad hoc committee” to investigate SADA because “when these things are done swiftly and promptly, it assures the citizenry that our [public] purse is protected.”
Dominic Nitiwul supported Alhaji Dey’s call for Parliamentary investigations when he spoke on Monday. “If the government is failing people, I am saying that Parliament will act,” he said.
GYEEDA verses SADA
Like the crisis-ridden Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), SADA’s investments have been fraught with a string of financial scandals.
The Authority’s Guinea Fowl Project is thought to have been one of the worse hit, forcing President John Mahama to abrogate SADA’s contracts with Asongtaba Cottage Limited, mangers of the multi-million-cedi project.
In an official statement issued in January, 2014, President Mahama directed the Board of SADA to act in consultation with the Attorney-General in terminating the contracts.
According to the statement, the Presidential order “follows the submission of a report by the Minister responsible for Development Authorities, Dr. Ahmed Mustapha, regarding two SADA projects”.
Signed by Presidential Spokesperson, Ben Dotsei Malor, the January 31, 2014 statement requested the “SADA Board to hold consultations with the Forestry Commission and the Ministry of Local Government to work out a strategy for the proper implementation of the afforestation and tree growing project, on a decentralized basis.”