General News of Tuesday, 10 June 2003
The NDC’s desperate move to whip up tribal sentiments to discredit the NPP government in order to regain power has backfired. The NDC has resorted to peddling naked lies and misinformation, targeting the traditional institution with a view to pitching the Asanteman Council and the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council against the rest of the country.
In a series of publications by the Ghana Palaver and supported by John Mahama, MP for Bole and NDC Communications Director, the NDC has accused the NPP of promoting the two traditional authorities by contracting $5 million loan at the expense of others.
The NDC had claimed that the ''NPP government has entered into a secret deal with the World Bank to secure funds for some traditional authorities in furtherance of the party’s political agenda to create ethnic hegemony.'' This was supported by John Mahama in an interview on an Accra radio.
The $5 million World Bank funding facility for social services in the two traditional areas was not engineered by the NPP government. The loan process, which was initiated by NDC functionaries, started before the NDC was dumped at the December 2000 polls.
Available documents indicate that the Samuel Nuamah-Donkor led Regional Administration was represented at the discussions for the granting of the loan facility. According to minutes of the second meeting of the Committee set up by the Regional Administration and the Manhyia Palace on August 16, 2000, the NDC government was heavily represented with Joe K. Issachar, the then Regional Co-ordinating Director as the Chairman of the Committee.
Other members of the Committee included Nana Boakye Ansah Debrah, Asokore Mamponghene, Co-Chairman,Oheneba Agyeman Atwereboanda, Hiahene, A. Atta-Poku,A.S.Y. Daramanu, Regional Director of GES, Dr.Kyei-Faried, Ministry of Health. Kumasi, C.S.A. Manu,Deputy Regional Co-ordinating Director and Pat Eghan from the RCC, serving as Secretary.
Between August 11 and October 16, the Committee had six meetings dwelling on issues related to health and education which formed the basis for the loan.However, the World Bank money could not be accessed before the NDC was booted out.
With a new government in the saddle, the World Bank demanded for its commitment in the disbursement of the loan under the World Bank Assisted Partnership with Traditional Authorities Project.The idea of the project was conceived in December 1999, when the Vice-President of the World Bank conferred with Otumfuo, Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene during his visit to the region.
In a similar effort to enable his Kingdom benefit from the facility, the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin also approached the immediate past Country Director of the World Bank Peter Harold in December 2001 during the celebration of the World AIDS day hosted in Kyebi.
According to sources close to Ofori Panin Fie, Harold informed the Okyehene about the existence of the Bank’s facility for traditional authorities and the Okyenman Council subsequently applied.
But the bank was not ready to deal directly with the traditional authorities and therefore asked for government guarantee.However, the government refused to guarantee the loan saying that it cannot guarantee loan for ''private entities,'' an indication that traditional authorities were considered as private entities.
The World Bank was asked if the facilities could be disbursed as a grant.
In a letter dated May 28, 2003 signed by Mats Karlsson, Country Director for Ghana, the Bank accepted to convert the loan to a grant. ''I am happy to inform you that the World Bank has approved the conversion of the $5.0 million credit into a grant.''
''Politics of ethnicity is not good for the country,''said by a source at Manhyia Palace