The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) is, for the second successive year, in a turmoil following allegations of financial impropriety levelled against the president and their officers.

This time, the confusion is over how to account for a 193 million cedi sponsorship package given to the union by the Ministry of Health for the organisation of programmes as part of the country’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.

While the Press and Information Secretary of NUGS, Abdulai Abdul-Rahman alleges that the President of the union William Yamoah and other officers have not accounted for the money, the president says he does not handle money at the secretariat.

Mr Yamoah told said that the union had a finance team, chaired by the treasurer, of which he was a member, adding that there were structures in the union through which Abdul-Rahman could have channelled his grievances, instead of going public.

Last year, the union was hit by crisis when the Students Representative Council (SRC) of the University of Ghana seceded from the union as a result of what it described as interfer¬ence by the union in the affairs of the SRC.

Explaining how the union got the 193 million cedis, Mr Yamoah said the money was secured through the efforts of a man whose name he gave ‘only as Edem of the Ministry of Health.

“When we wrote a number of unsuccessful letters, this man came to our aid and advised us to give him some letters so that he could follow up for us. So I was advised to address the letters to the UNDP, BSI, an NGO, and the Ministry of Health,” he said, adding that originally the programmes of the Golden Jubilee were to be organised nation-wide.

GhaMr Yamoah said 193 million cedis was earmarked for the programme, “Ghana @ 50 – Taking Stock of Life as a Nation”, to be held in Kumasi, Winneba, Cape Coast, Tamale and finally climaxed in Accra.

Mr Abdul-Rahman said the programmes were never planned to be replicated and that the University of Education, Winneba and the University of Cape Coast presented separate budgets for their programmes, stressing the need for the Ministry of Health to set up a body of enquiry too look into how the 193 million cedis was spent.

Mr Yamoah said the Kumasi programme came off successfully and an amount of about 50 million cedis was spent on boarding and lodging, per diem for national officers and their transportation, adding that because the programmes were ongoing, the finance team had not been able to come out with its accounts since the programmes had not been held in Tamale and Accra.

“We got the money the very day we were to depart for Kumasi for the programme,” he said, adding that it was cash.

“The National Secretariat did not receive the whole 193 million cedis. The 193 million cedis was earmarked and it was pumped into students’ activities which students of the University of Education, Winneba, the University of Cape Coast and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi benefited from,” he said.

The Financial Controller of the union, Samuel B. Quansah, confirmed that an amount of 50 million cedis was expended on the programme in Kumasi.

“The money that was given would be captured in black and white at the appropriate time for all to see,” he stated, adding that the money was released to the facilitator, who had travelled outside the country.

Mr Yamoah indicated that Mr Abdul-Rahman, who attended the Kumasi programme, was housed, fed and given per diem of 500,000 cedis, saying the “president also got the same amount because I don’t like cheating”.

However, Mr Abdul-Rahman said that he initially rejected the money, since he did not know the source and the actual amount involved in the organisation of the programme in Kumasi.

“Later, colleagues advised me to take the money, after I had protested over its source. It was meant for transportation and that was why I took it,” he said, and indicated that records available to him showed that the total money (193 million cedis) was released in two trenches of 93 million cedis and 100 million cedis, respectively”.

“The money (93 million cedis) was released for the programme in Kumasi. But the president admitted on tape that he was only privy to 50 million cedis,” he explained.

Mr Yamoah said at a Central Committee meeting which Abdul- Rahman attended on June 1, 2007, nobody asked a question about the money and so he was surprised at the turn of events.

Mr Abdul-Rahman stated that at the time of the meeting he had gone to town to cash a cheque for 8 million cedis from the bank and that when he returned the meeting was almost over so he could not raise questions about the money.

Source: Daily Graphic