Enimil Ashon: Saglemi rot is unpardonable

I have never been so bashed by so many over one article. Last week, Daily Graphic readers descended on me via email in a cacophonous chorus for daring to accuse Wikipedia of publishing a cartoon depicting Satan (evil) as black-skinned and heaven and angels populated by Caucasians.

Readers rebelled. But, truthfully, the target of their anger was not me. Ninety percent of them were unanimous in piling the guilt on governments and politicians of Africa. While some agreed that part of Africa’s problem has its genesis in our being dehumanized and demeaned in our eyes, the majority felt that more than 100 years after this painful encounter, Africa should have recovered, as all others did. Even America was a colony of Britain, they reminded me.

For several days after the article appeared, I was in a back-and-forth with some of my critics, by phone and by text.

Then Ayarkof happened. The tour by Mr Hassan Ayariga, leader of the APC, to the Saglemi housing project and the resultant viral video proved my critics right. The Ayariga video confirmed that Africa’s problem is Africa’s leaders. They love their stomach and their political parties more than they love their countries and the people who voted for them.

The Saglemi housing is so colossally wasteful it is unpardonable.

The least the new Minister for Works and Housing should have done was to shut up. To describe Ayariga’s call for mass occupation as populist amounted to saying Ghanaians do not know what is bad for them.

Saglemi is so bad, nothing can be worse. It is a summary of the greed, incompetence and dishonesty of our governing class.

The US$200 million project was conceived by President Kufuor in 2009 who secured the 3,000 acres for it. It received Executive Approval by the late President Atta Mills in 2012.

The project involved the construction of 5,000 housing units for sale to the public through mortgage. Constructed by Constrastora OAS Ghana Limited, it was financed through a buyers credit of $200 million. President John Mahama cut the sod in November 2013 and the first phase of 1,500 housing units was to be delivered by March 31, 2016.

For once, a Ghanaian project did not suffer lack of funds. By the time the contract expired in 2017 - the contractor had been paid a total of $179,904,757.78.

Yet only 1,500 housing units have been put up. Of the 1,500 units, not one is ready for occupancy because by 2017, Akufo Addo was President and his Minister for Works and Housing was crying foul.

First of all, the Minister did not understand why a contract for 5,000 housing units had delivered only 1,500. The NPP accusation is disputed by the erstwhile NDC government which insists that the US$200 million loan facility was only for the first phase of the project, involving 1,502 housing units.

However, a Daily Graphic story published on May 31, 2019 quoted Parliamentary documents that proved that Parliament, at its sitting on October 31, 2013, approved the loan agreement between the Government of Ghana and Credit Suisse International for 5,000 affordable housing units by Construtora OAS Limited

By the time Akufo Addo came to power, the scope of works had been varied, reducing the number of housing units from 5,000 to 1,502 though the price remained US$200 million.

Akufo Addo’s Minister, Atta Akyea reacted, saying, “the country's laws do not permit a Minister or anybody to change any law passed by Parliament”.

Meanwhile, citing delays and disruptions, Constratora OAS Ghana Limited terminated the contract In April 2019.

My hunch is that somebody has “chopped” money belonging to the people of Ghana and we are not likely to get it back, nor is it likely that anybody is going to suffer punishment.

As far back as May 31, 2019, Atta Akyea announced that several officials involved in the project had been invited by the police for questioning. The people of Ghana are still awaiting the outcome of the CID investigation.

The current Minister’s promise, three days ago, to complete the project, is only the latest in the string of promises. In 2019, Atta Akyea promised that “the 1,500 units will be completed by December 7, 2020”.

Meanwhile, every six months, the government of Ghana services the loan with $5million.

As many as 1,500 housing units are rotting away. My prediction is that no one will be prosecuted. You know why? It is because these crimes against the state are committed by very intelligent, highly educated crooks holding double Masters degrees in Law and Business Administration, some with PhD et al. The deals are cut in the most sophisticated language and smoky circumstances. Prosecution will drag on for decades.

Here is my solution. Like the Agyapa deal, let the Office of the Special Prosecutor subject every contract to a Corruption Risk Assessment, as it did under Martin Amidu, before it goes to Parliament. Without that, we shall only be hurling unsupportable suspicions. Our clever Ministers, Chief Directors, CEOs of state owned organizations, and contractors know this.

True, Ghana is not poor; only our leaders’ appetites are too large.

The current Minister of Works and Housing has said it will require an additional $32million to complete the project. Trust Ghanaians! Even as the search begins to find the money, somebody or group of people in government, Civil Service, in Parliament have started looking for plots of land to build their dream house.

Hasn’t Ghana bled enough!


The writer, Enimil Ashon, is a former Editor of the ‘Ghanaian Times’ and now a columnist of the ‘Daily Graphic’.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.