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Opinions of Monday, 30 November 2020

Columnist: Bright Asamoah

Mr. Busia’s fib achievements: The DVLA Story

Kwasi Agyemang Busia, CEO of the DVLA Kwasi Agyemang Busia, CEO of the DVLA

Four years. Almost four long years into the last days of the NPP Administration and the DVLA is finally bandying around a lone activity as a major achievement. The pattern of deception and self-dealing by the NPP Administration, while appropriating the achievements of the NDC Administration as their own has now cemented its place in the Ghanaian political space as the signature operation of the failed and corrupt NPP Government under Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo. It is also the signature NPP 2020 Campaign message – lie as much as possible, and hope that Ghanaians don’t remember. “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”.

In line with the unenviable reputation uniquely the NPP's and the NPP's alone, four long years of corruption, failures and shameless lies have completely undermined the trust bestowed on the NPP to govern and manage the affairs of this country. Equally, the NPP's so-called men of competence (“we have the men”), like everything else the party claimed in the 2016 campaign, are turning out to be farcical. With virtually nothing to show in concrete terms, for the over 154 Billion Cedis borrowed so far in just under 4 years, the largest by far of any government borrowing in Ghana’s history, appointees of the NPP are on an award-gathering spree in self-congratulation, for achievements long since chalked and established by the NDC. This is the case with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) under the NPP.


Such is their appetite for collecting these awards that on Wednesday, November 18, 2020, Ghanaweb carried a publication that the CEO of the DVLA, Mr Kwasi Agyemang Busia, had been adjudged the Public Sector CEO of the Year, for the third consecutive time – 2018, 2019 and 2020 – afoot, people in a position to know allege is undeserved.

The 2020 CEO of the Year award to Mr Busia, by the Ghana Information Technology and Telecom Awards (GITTA), is a culmination of twenty-seven (27) awards, supposedly won by the DVLA in less than 4 years since the NPP came to power in 2017. On average, the DVLA has received almost seven (6.75) awards for each year it has been in office. The obvious, logical question therefore is, what has the DVLA CEO Kwasi Agyemang Busia, under the NPP, achieved over the same period, that he deserves these awards in such rapid succession?

To be perfectly clear, the staff of the DVLA, long at the post before Mr Busia ever dreamed the NPP would win power and appoint him CEO, are hardworking and diligent and deserve commendation and recognition, for work they had long been successful at, before Mr Busia’s provenance. But Mr Busia has found a way to make the recognitions mostly about himself, riding on the coattails to f hardworking DVLA staff, and achievements of the last NDC government, to claim success.

The highfalutin awards are typical of the NPP’s genre of achievements: bloviating garbage with little substance.

A prima facie examination of the awards reveal a bizarre common characteristic: many of the awards are tautological awards. In other words, they mean one and the same thing, repeated over and over again, in different words which mean virtually the same, presented as separate awards. Take for instance the HR Innovation of the Year Award and the People-focused CEO in the Public Sector Award – one cannot possibly be achieved without the other.

Similarly, the Most Innovative Public Sector Institution Award covers everything else for which DVLA was awarded since innovation can take place in every facet of organizational development.

So what is the point of the needless, effusive, self-pleasuring? This is the pattern right from the top of government – Akuffo-Addo lies, Dr Bawumia lies and all their appointees follow suit.

This deluge of sham awards is a policy straight from the top, like Akuffo-Addo’s certificates and fib accomplishments, combining coercion and falsification.

And Mr Busia’s actions are simply a desperate extension of a now well-established modus operandi of dubious record-creation of the same fib achievements, which the NPP can then point to for campaign purposes, as examples of substantive achievements at the DVLA.

The NPP's achievement at the DVLA in four years

Immediately upon assumption of office, Mr Busia appeared to have banned the operations of “Goro Boys”, the illicit providers of vehicle registration and licensing services. However, this action was deceptive and ephemeral. What actually happened was that Goro Boys activities were replaced by more dedicated individuals who wear DVLA-reflector jackets, have clearance to enter the premises and any service office, serving as NPP middlemen between the Goro Boys and selected pro-NPP higher-ups, who ultimately get a cut for charges on services rendered. While outside the premises, the Goro Boys then channel business to these dedicated NPP middlemen, creating an alternate route to providing DVLA services. In essence, Mr Busia simply took the Goro Boys services outside the premises, however, it has been business as usual for the Goro boys. So like everything the NPP inherits, it finds a way to make illicit money off it, pocketing the profits directly, and corrupting a well-established institution.

On Saturday, November 21, 2020, the Ghanaweb again carried a publication that DVLA had opened a new branch at Effiduase in the Sekyere East District in the Ashanti Region. However, through extremely creative and diabolical journalism, commissioning of this one DVLA branch was presented as though it was the seventh (7th) branch to be established by the NPP's DVLA administration in the Ashanti Region, which of course is false. The Deputy DVLA CEO sought to present this as his administration’s “… commitment to make services accessible to the public.” If the current DVLA Management is true that committed, does it have to take almost four long years to open one (1) DVLA branch in the whole Ashanti Region? As someone who hails from the Ashanti Region, I feel insulted that a mere token such as the opening of this ONE DVLA branch, in one of Ghana’s most populous regions, should be so vastly exaggerated and commingled with already established branches by another government. What about the other fifteen (15) regions, how many new branches have been opened under the NPP-DVLA Management in order to make services more accessible to the public?

DVLA under the NDC Government

A cursory look at achievements by the DVLA under the NDC administration, from November 2015 to November 2016, in just a year before it lost power, reveals a record that the NPP-DVLA cannot even match. In that year alone, the NDC administration recorded several significant and innovative achievements, many of which were inherited by the NPP administration, and it is those achievements that Mr Kwasi Agyemang Busia now shamelessly takes credit for as if Ghanaians are to dump to remember.

1) Human Resource Development /Administration

The DVLA under the NDC recruited over 80 technical staff for vehicle registration, inspection, testing and licensing, completing dwarfing the last recruitment intake in 2004, incidentally under former President Kuffuor’s administration. Over 40 staff were recruited into various non-direct DVLA service areas such as finance, public relations, administration, security, procurement and ICT. Over 230 staff was in various departments at various levels within the DVLA benefitted from additional training and development over the same period. These were real jobs, not the mirage “planting for food and jobs” that the NPP is touting as job creation; or the jobs that they have invented for their families and friends.

To incentivize DVLA employees, a collective bargaining agreement was signed which guaranteed staff tenure, remuneration, additional benefits and stability within the DVLA, laying a solid foundation for durable and sustainable jobs.

2)Premium DVLA Services

One game-changing innovation, at least within DVLA, was the introduction of Premium DVLA Services, as a pilot, at the DVLA Head Office by the then CEO Mr Noble Appiah. This innovation allowed DVLA customers in a position to pay for any DVLA services at a marginally higher level than usual, to access those services comfortably without the usual hassles, and expeditiously. As a patron of such services, I can attest that the premises for premium services are tastefully furnished and customers can have coffee while waiting for service. On average, the services requested are completed within 15 minutes. The outfit has seen excited, increased patronage since its establishment. The intention of then CEO, Mr Appiah, according to DVLA staff who worked closely on making the idea a reality, was to replicate such premium outfits in all regional capitals.

However, upon assumption of office, Mr Busia has laid claim to this achievement as his, without adding any more such services. Instead, he didn’t. He simply claimed total credit for the idea and the outfit, confirming the fact that the NPP only takes from the national kitty; they never add to it.

3) Improved and Expanded Services

Driver training, testing and licensing services saw significant improvements. For example, over 60 modern biometric data capture equipment were acquired and integrated into the service delivery infrastructure. At the time, all backlog driver licenses had been printed, with the exception of those for 2014, and licensing services now had a lead time of at most 2 weeks with a target of reducing vehicle registration services to one hour, from start to finish.

3) Information and Communication Technology

A number of ICT projects and enhancements were undertaken over the same one year period, including the networking of all the 28 operational offices of the DVLA nationwide; a state-of-the-art data centre was started and completed as well as an internal telephony system. The old payment platform, which was largely manual was replaced to meet evolving exigencies of a fast-paced, technologically driven business environment while meeting the rapidly growing demand for DVLA services. All of these improvements were anchored in an enhanced internet connectivity environment to further boost service delivery. The DVLA under the NPP had made no additional contributions to these enhancements.

The DVLA website was redesigned to extend user experience and automate many routine customer requests. Since these improvements, little else has happened under the NPP-DVLA administration yet Mr Busia is shamelessly taking credit for a DVLA web platform that existed long before his appointment as DVLA CEO.

3) Private Vehicle Testing Stations and Moblie Services Unit

The idea for expanded vehicle inspection, testing and registration, was implemented through the Private Vehicle Testing Stations (PVTS) mechanism, an innovation which boosted revenue and made DVLA services more accessible to the general public. Not satisfied with what was already a groundbreaking idea involving private sector participation in service delivery, the DVLA under the NDC launched a DVLA Mobile Services outfit, with the acquisition of four (4) fully equipped vans, to deliver services on schedule to areas that do not have immediately accessible fixed DVLA locations for service delivery. The NPP-DVLA has made no additions to the mobile service unit, and it has not added any PVTSs, except the one DVLA branch it recently opened in Effiduase.

4) Revenue Growth

These various improvements led to substantial growth in revenue, putting the DVLA on a path to sustainability, but when the NPP assumed power in 2017, what did they do? With revenue growth of between 25% and 27% annually, the NPP saw the existing DVLA as a cash cow, ripe for pillage. Under the leadership of Mr Busia, it is alleged that at the end of every month, off-the-books withdrawals of cash from DVLA receipts from services rendered to the public, are hauled away. No one knows what happens to those funds. This has been on-going to date. Like everything else they have inherited from the NDC, they are running DVLA into the ground, threatening its sustainability by stealing its resources.

These are but a few of the achievements by the DVLA under NDC management, which the NPP-DVLA administration is now busy taking credit for. The failure of the NPP Administration to give credit where credit is due is the bane of Ghana’s development. So, as this achievement-starved NPP government has shown, it will not hesitate to take credit for others work and engineer false records in order to attract dubious recognition through coerced awards. But time’s up to Mr Busia, tighten it up. December 7, 2020, is not too far off. Watch this space….

Bright Asamoah