The Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) has said it was wrong for the Sanitation Minister to extend the President’s timeline to make Accra the cleanest city in Africa.

A member of the Coalition and WASH Consultant, Ibrahim Musah, said Cecilia Abena Dapaah was “playing smart Ghanaians” when she moved the President’s date four years ahead.

She is setting the agenda and you cannot begrudge her because she is an employee of the President, she serves at the behest of the President. So if she is able to set the agenda of exciting Ghanaians to renew the mandate of the President for another four years it means she will be in employment.

“So on that note, I will say that let’s forgive our Minister for saying that,” the CONIWAS Consultant said on PM Express, Wednesday evening.

The Sanitation Minister had said that President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s promise to make Accra the cleanest city in Africa by 2020 will be achieved in 2024.

“In sha Allah [God willing], the President would go for two terms and at the end, Accra would have been the cleanest and the battle is still the Lord’s,” Cecilia Dapaah said at a press conference recently.

President Akufo-Addo had promised in 2017 to make Accra the cleanest city before the end of his first term.

Related: Related: Poor sanitation costs gov’t $290m annually

Commenting deplorable sanitation situation in Accra on the nightly current affairs programme, Mr Musah said the Minister has no excuse for extending the timeline to improve the sanitation situation in Ghana.

According to him, President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has remained committed to improving sanitation and it was the Minister’s duty to push his boss to deliver on the promises.

“If you look at the 2010 Sanitation Policy, sanitation is designated as essential social service…so if the President sets this agenda, why should his Minister contradict?,” he quizzed on PM Express.

“We need to proiritise sanitation and I say this without an iota of doubt that if his Excellency the President sets an agenda and says ‘let’s deal with sanitation’, he has no doubt about the importance of sanitation. In The National Environmental Sanitation Policy;  in the Programme Of Economic and Social Development, the President’s vision for Ghana states clearly that sanitation is a driver of human development.

“What that means is that if you were to take all our facets of development, sanitation underpins all.  When our President set the agenda for Free SHS are we not getting it? Are we not finding the money? So if honourable Abena Cecilia Dapaah wants to tell us that she is resetting the agenda because, perhaps, she might be reasoning that there is no money, she could have gone to the President and say, ‘look you gave me a job and a tough job but my budgetary allocations are not coming,’” he advised.

In CONIWAS’ overall estimation, the government has performed poorly in addressing the sanitation crisis facing the country.

Mr Musah said although President Akufo-Addo launched a National Sanitation Campaign to effectively deal with the challenge, that is yet to be fulfilled.

CONIWAS, therefore, wants the government to stop paying lip service in addressing the sanitation crisis.

Get more from the discussion in the video below.