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Opinions of Saturday, 3 September 2016

Columnist: Ayorogo, Bismark Adongo

Prioritize SADA’s sustainability in your political party’s manifesto

Coalition of Civil Society Organizations are calling on all political parties in this year’s elections to prioritize the sustainability of SADA in their manifesto as part of commitment to addressing poverty and inequality in Ghana.
The Northern Development Fund (NDF) broadened and re-christened Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) was established to “provide a framework for the comprehensive and long term development of the Northern Savannah Ecological Zone (NSEZ). SADA’s evolution has been mired by controversy rooted in governance and management shortfalls and an inappropriate implementation strategy. As a result, the Authority is perceived as a drain on national resources. Dealing with the past is important but far more important is ensuring that the future is not a repetition of the past.
More recently, a ray of hope has emerged as an attempt has been made to redeem its credibility and revitalize a structure intended to promote balanced national development around which there has been a multi-party consensus. The dissolution of the old SADA Board, dismissal of the former CEO, the reconstitution of a new board with men and women of foresight and vision and the appointment of a new CEO with international reputation has sent positive signals, rekindling hope and regaining lost confidence in SADA. There is now a tendency to give this new management structure the benefit of doubt as manifested in a reduction of anti-SADA news coverage.
The enthusiasm of many civil society organizations particularly the Coalition of SADA Zone CSOs to engage with government and the leadership of all political parties to make the new SADA work is inspired by the preliminary efforts so far taken to restore the credibility of the Authority.
For example, on the allegations of corruption levelled against SADA, the new leadership is taking steps to deal with the 30 issues of resource misapplication or waste raised in the 2013 audit report of the Auditor-General’s Department. The new leadership has also gone further to retrieve the Authority’s assets in the hands of consultants and Techical Service Providers (TSPs) and discontinued contracts with TSPs associated with the infamous afforestation and guinea fowl projects. The launch of Agricultural Investment Guide for the zone, a comprehensive restructuring and streamlining of the financial management and reporting systems of the Authority, having SADA’s management information System (MIS) strengthened in a way that makes information about the Authority easily accessible to the public and the Master Planning exercise which seeks to use cutting-edge and innovative spatial and city modeling techniques to develop a unique regional vision: prescribing specific economic sectors, recommending game-changing regional initiatives as well as supporting SADA's investment promotion drive to transform the zone are all very laudable initiatives that need the support of all particularly political parties whose chances of forming a government after 2016 are very bright
Civil society Organizations remain convinced that the mandate of SADA to be a coordinator, facilitator and catalyst for building a more equitable Ghana is a national Imperative. The restructured, revamped, reshaped and repositioned SADA must therefore be supported to pursue its mandate with creativity, transparency and in an accountable manner.
It is against this background that the Northern Patriots in Research and Advocacy (NORPRA) and the Coalition of SADA Zone CSOs are urging government and all political parties to prioritize SADA’s sustainability in their respective party’s manifesto for the December, 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Funding commitments to SADA and strong support for the SADA’s Agricultural-led Transformational Agenda and Master Plan are worth considering in the parties manifestoes.

Author: Bismark Adongo Ayorogo
Executive Secretary of Coalition of SADA Zone Civil Society Organizations