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Politics of Monday, 15 October 2018

Source: Myjoyonline.com

NDC complicit in misappropriation if it used $6m of hospital loan for election research - Ahadzie

The National Democratic Congress’ Head of Research says if it can be established that the party used part of the $175 million loan meant to build hospitals to conduct an election-related research, then the party may be said to culpable of misappropriation of funds.

A Joy News investigation has revealed that the Ministry of Health under the previous Mahama-led NDC administration diverted part of a government loan facility into researching the then governing party’s chances of winning the 2016 general elections.

The research was a sub-contract under a 175 million dollar project awarded to British infrastructure company NMS for the construction of seven district hospitals and an integrated IT system.

The research was conducted by UK-based SCL Social, the mother company of Cambridge Analytica.

SCL Social was paid $6 million to undertake a nationwide survey to provide data for the proper planning of the healthcare needs of Ghana.

According to the contract signed by the government of Ghana and NMS, Rojo Mettle-Nunoo was the head of the Project Steering Committee.

Mr Mettle-Nunoo, who was an administrator of the Mahama campaign team admitted knowing SCL Social and confirmed crucial campaign intelligence was gathered through a research.

He was also the Deputy Health Minister.

Responding to the issues on Joy FM’s Top Story, Dr Ahadzie said although he was aware of the research, he did not know public funds were used in conducting it.

He didn’t think that Mr Mettle-Nunoo would use public funds for a party project but added that if that happened, “clearly that would be a misappropriation of funds if that was the intention.

“But I doubt If that was the case,” he added.

Dr Ahadzie said when a report on the research was presented to the party by Mr Mettle-Nunoo and his team, his understanding was that as the health issues were being investigated, the team also collected sentiments, attitudes and the general perceptions or respondents which they extracted for the party.

He explained that the research was only conducted as part of an impact assessment study of the health projects undertaken by the Mahama-led administration.

According to him, the party did not interrogate the researchers on how they came by funding for the research but understood that they had raised the funds themselves.

“Our focus was on the findings more than the financing. But it is not surprising it happens sometimes when a major project is going to be done, otherwise then you probably won’t be spot-on on the impact that you want to achieve with a particular project.”

That perhaps is the reason the Mahama-led administration did not make use of any of the findings for the 2016 elections as Mr Mettle-Nonoo has already complained about, Dr Ahadzie said.

“It was not a deliberate policy of government to contract anybody to do that kind of study for political purposes,” he added.

Rojo Mettle-Nunoo’s response

In a response to the Joy News exposé however, Mr Mettle-Nunoo in a statement said the suggestion that government diverted funds from a loan facility on research into the chances of the then NDC government is completely untrue.

He explained that sometime in 2010, a decision was made to develop seven new district model hospitals at various locations in Ghana to improve access to quality and specialised healthcare.

“The scope of the project included scientific operational health research to inform the choice of location, hospital design and the needed specialised care each facility would provide. As part of the overall execution of the contract, the main contractor, NMS, had responsibility for selecting a firm to conduct the operational health research.

“The selection and justification of the locations of these hospitals required that they were based on scientific medical data, access and prevalence of certain diseases,” he added.

He continued that 30,000 households were interviewed all over the country and the results gave solid data, upon which to structure the correct healthcare into most needy areas.

This information was expected to drive the best use of Ministry of Health resources by building the right establishments, of the right size, in the right place and giving the right capabilities, he added in the statement.

“The survey drove project architecture of not just the buildings but also content and all the supporting systems. Part of delivering capability was the need to provide not just a fully equipped hospital but also to support the infrastructure during its nascent years.

“Therefore the claim and or suggestion by Joy FM, that the operational health research in question was for political and electioneering purposes and that it was used to assess the chances of President Mahama in the 2016 elections, is baseless and misleading,” the statement concluded.

Meanwhile, the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu has written to Joy News calling for all available evidence on the exposé.