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General News of Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Source: Today Newspaper

SADA is a failure - PPP Guru

The Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) has been a failure and must be scrapped to pave the way for a more pragmatic nationally-thought-out programme for the development of the country.

Director of Operations of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Nana Ofori-Owusu, believes this is the only way to do away with the “disaster called SADA” which has become a major disappointment, not only to the people of the north, but the entire nation.

“SADA as an organisation and a programme has failed and must be scrapped,” he insisted in an interview with this reporter.

SADA was propounded by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) during the 2008 electioneering campaign and was subsequently instituted after the party won the general elections to help tackle the development gap between the north and south.

The authority [SADA] which is chaired by people from the Northern extraction, investigations have shown, has failed woefully in an attempt to execute its mandate, with the authority initiating wrong projects for the area.

Trees planted by the authority as part of its afforestation programme could not survive the weather, leaving many people to wonder who and which authority from the office of the president wrongfully awarded a contract to Asongtaba, a subsidiary of AGAMS Group, to undertake such a venture in a clear desert.

With this gross mismanagement, the PPP director of operations did not mince words in calling for the head of the authority, arguing he has supervised over a great loss to the country.

He added that SADA’s failure can also be attributed to the lack of development professionals in the body to ascertain the developmental needs of the people of a particular area.

Thus, he blamed the president for not heeding to calls for the mandate given to SADA to be withdrawn and handed over to the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) which, according to him, has a better track record than SADA in terms of the implementation of developmental projects.

The call, he said, was in order as per Act 706 which established MiDA specified that the body has a mandate to execute other programmes which the president would assign it.

Projects such as schools and water facilities which are dotted throughout the country and rural electrification, he said, can all be attributed to the work of MiDA.

He did not, however, blame the authority (SADA) that much since according to him, its establishment was a “mistake” in the first place, because not much research was done before it was set up.

Despite describing SADA as an illegality, Nana Ofori-Owusu said the body was established as a panic reaction to the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) idea of a Northern Development Fund (NDF).

He opined both SADA and NDF was wrong, and called on the two parties to recognise the fact that Ghana is a unitary state and hence needed a common programme for development and not a sectoral one since under-development cuts across the entire country and not only the north.

To him, the idea of SADA being a programme just for the north has contributed to public apathy towards the project and its abysmal implementation, thus making most Ghanaians silent on the poor work done by the authority leaving only people of northern descent to criticise the project.

“Ghanaians are silent about SADA because the problem is thought to be a regional one and not a national problem, they [Ghanaians] would have been calling for the removal of the head if the problem was taught to be a national one,” he said.

This, he explained, should not be so as the money for the execution of SADA projects is from the taxpayer and thus, must be a national headache.

Against this backdrop, Nana Ofori-Owusu called for an end to the habit of creating development programmes or schemes for just a section of the people in the country since that is succeeding in further dividing the country.

“The concept of developing special programmes for special areas is tearing us apart as a people instead of unifying us hence there is no need for such programmes again…poverty has no name so must be fought in unison and not regionalised…

“Until we begin to have a nationalistic and holistic view to the cause and the conditions of the nation, we cannot solve the problem of development…,” he added.

He, therefore, urged the president to treat the problem of SADA with the seriousness it deserves, forgo the NDC campaign promise and hand over the mandate to MiDA which to him would do better than SADA due to the abundance of professionals at MiDA.

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