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Opinions of Saturday, 17 November 2018

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

Stop throwing dust into our eyes: Akufo-Addo couldn’t have paid the dubious GH5.4 billion!

I could not believe my ears when I heard Ex-President Mahama claiming in one of his travels across the length and breadth of the country that the banking sector is facing extreme challenges because the Akufo-Addo’s government failed to pay the contractors arrears.

Why must former President Mahama find it somewhat convenient to blame Akufo-Addo for the arrears he (Mahama) wilfully failed to honour?

It is also quite bizarre that Ex-President Mahama would find it appropriate to attribute the unfortunate collapse of the banking sector to the non-payment of some questionable arrears.

With all due respect, former President Mahama is misleading the public because the collapse of the banking sector was due to the actions and inactions of some conspiratorial plotters.

To be quite honest, I could not end my puzzled countenance upon listening to former President Mahama’s weird statement. I thought I was dreaming, but in fact, I was not. I was wild-awake, after all. Well, wonders shall never end, they say.

Given the fact that Mahama’s government left huge debt amidst puzzling arrears for the NPP government, one would have expected the same person who supervised such mess to show a little remorse, but this is not the case.

Believe it or not, there is admissible evidence of gargantuan bribery and corruption cases in the Mahama administration, including monies that were given to individuals who did not render any services towards the national development. Woyome and Madam Akua Donkor of GFP, so to speak, come to mind.

Trust me, the funds involved in the bribery and corruption cases of SSNIT, SUBA, SADA, GYEEDA, Woyome, Bus branding, Brazil World Cup, NSS, amongst others would have reduced the contractors arrears drastically.

In fact, the rot in the erstwhile Mahama government was so pervasive that even the diehard supporters expressed their displeasure and threatened to boycott the 2016 general elections.

Dearest reader, if you may recall, somewhere in February 2017, Vice President Dr Mahmoud Bawumia broke the news about inflated cost in relation to the construction of a vice presidential palace.

Somehow, the officials of the erstwhile Mahama administration quickly came out and stated $5 million as the cost of the palace. However, according to an AESL (the contractors of the project) document intercepted by credible sources, the total cost of the project is $13,968,252.66 covering the cost of stone fencing works, hard wood panel doors, eternal electrification works, sculpture and emblems.

Incredibly, though, according to the authentic document from the contractors, AESL, a total amount of $8,179,138.95 had already been disbursed on the project with an outstanding amount of $5,789,113.71 left to be paid for completion.

Well, this is one of many questionable arrears former President Mahama is said to have taunted President Akufo-Addo to effect payment. How pathetic?

Despite the massive economic mess created by the outgone Mahama government amid stunted economic growth, Akufo-Addo’s government has managed to settle some of the arrears to the delight of the contractors.

Speaking on Peace FM on Friday 16th November 2018, the Finance Minister, Mr Ofori-Atta revealed that upon a stern auditing into the perceived contractors arrears of GH11 billion, it came to light that the officials of Mahama administration had inflated the cost by GH5.4 billion.

Mr Ofori-Atta, however, stressed that following the successful investigation to ascertain the actual arrears, the NPP government has managed to settle over GH3 billion of the contractors arrears and further GH1 billion is expected to be paid to the remaining contractors in earnest.

I recall somewhere last year, the Roads and Highways Minister, Mr Amoako-Attathe revealed that the Road Fund, which was supposed to receive an average between GHC70 to GHC80million every month, had not gotten the required amount due to a loan the previous government contracted from the United Bank of Africa (UBA).

“The Minister said the Government was currently paying GHC 67million every month to the UBA to service the loan at an interest rate of 30 per cent, which would be completed by the end of August next year, therefore GHC 37 million was left in the Fund every month (Source: omanfm1071.com, 29/12/2017).”

Dearest reader, tell me, if the rampant bribery and corruption, dubious judgment debt payments, stashing of national funds by some greedy opportunists , misappropriation of resources and crude embezzlement of funds meant for developmental projects by some public officials do not warrant criminal charges, then where are we heading as a nation?

Well, we could only hope and pray that the Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu, will work studiously and assertively in our almost impossible fight against the unbridled sleazes and corruption that have slackened our development thus far.

K. Badu, UK.

k.badu2011@gmail.com