A group known as Northern People's Forum is asking president John Mahama to retrieve with interest, monies spent on various projects undertaken by the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).
The group says this will provide an opportunity for president Mahama to "convince those who believe he is simply playing gimmicks that this time around he means business and that his intentions are noble".
SADA has been embroiled with allegations of corruption and misappropiration, following a Joy News' investigations into its afforestation project in northern Ghana. Although ¢32 million is reported to have been spent on the programme the Member of Parliament for Bimbilla, Dominic Nitiwul says available evidence proves otherwise.
The president must settle once and for all, the murky nature of the various projects SADA got itself involved in, including the guinea fowl project. The 15 million cedis paid to Asongtaba must as a matter of urgency must be retrieved with interest," the group said in a release issued Monday.
The statement which was signed by spokesperson for the Northern People's Front, John Krugu is published below:
5th May, 2014
MAHAMA IS WINDOW DRESSING SADA’S BLEEDING WOUNDS. WE DEMAND ACTION ON THE REAL ISSUES
The Northern People’s Forum takes notice of the reconstitution of the struggling Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) by the President. Whereas the President exercised his mandate, we believe that this move does not address the critical issues which have rendered SADA ineffective and defeated the very purpose for which it was created.
SADA was created to be a vehicle through which accelerated development would be brought to the deprived North of this country as a means of lifting the millions in the region from abject poverty and deprivation. In the last few months, however, Ghanaians, and in particular, people of the three Northern regions have had a rude awakening to the fact that instead of SADA being used to alleviate their poverty, this vehicle was hijacked by a few elite to serve their parochial interests. The organisation has been mired in deep-seated rot ranging from institutional inefficiency, misplaced development priorities to naked, heart-breaking thievery.
SADA symbolised a ray of hope for a desolate people of the North. The expectation was that the then Vice President and now President, John Mahama (himself a Northerner) will pay much attention to the operations of the Authority. Aside its failure to provide SADA with the promised resources outlined in the NDC Manifesto for the 2008 Elections, the revelations in the last few months showed that government rather than ensuring that SADA fulfilled its purpose, oversaw blatant misuse of even the insufficient funds allocated to the Authority either deliberately or as a result of its negligence. This sorry state of affairs allowed the Alhassan Andani led board and Management of SADA to do as they wished and waste rather sadly these precious resources which should have gone into solving the basic issues confronting the North.
The actions of the SADA Board and Management had consequences. Millions of SADA’s limited funds were spent on phantom projects like tree-planting and Guinea fowl rearing and in some instances, out rightly embezzled through dubious collaborations with private companies.
Though as stated above, the President acted within his mandate in appointing a new board, we of the Northern People’s Forum are of the view that this does not address the critical issues we are faced with today and that the President ought to take various steps to ,first of all, recover the funds pilfered and those woefully mismanaged and to also assure the people of the North that the Authority is now committed to delivering on its purpose of facilitating the accelerated development of the North.
To start with, the president must convince those who believe he is simply playing gimmicks that this time around he means business and that his intentions are noble. He must do this by settling , once and for all, the murky nature of the various projects SADA got itself involved in, including the guinea fowl project. The 15 million cedis paid to Asongtaba must as a matter of urgency must be retrieved with interest.
Again, the decision to invest millions of SADA funds into an afforestation programme when there were several other priority areas the Authority could have invested in should be thoroughly investigated and the officials responsible dealt with according to the law, if it is established that they acted based on other motivations other than fulfilling the core mandate of SADA.
In the very short term and as a matter of urgency, since less than one-fifth of the five million trees required, were planted under the afforestation project, the remainder of the 32 million cedis paid to the contractor should be retrieved and ACICL ordered to ensure that any seedlings still alive on the field are catered for to ensure their survival. That is their contractual obligation.
Also, the GHS 75million invested in a call account at Stanbic Bank, the Bank where interestingly the immediate past Board Chairman, Alhassan Andani serves as Managing Director, should be immediately redeemed by the Authority and invested in core poverty alleviation and development oriented programmes after a proper framework has been developed for SADA’s operations. The circumstances under which these funds were placed in the call account should also be thoroughly investigated and the necessary sanctions applied to those who may be found to have betrayed the people of the North.
Again, the President should ensure that all conflict of interest issues in the management of SADA and its funds, possible abuse of office issues which led to mismanagement or misappropriation of SADA funds and all issues of financial loss and corruption are properly investigated by the Security agencies with every alacrity and the culprits brought to book for their actions.
Finally, those who approved expenditures that they had no authority to approve and awarded contracts in contravention of the procurement laws must be prosecuted without further delay. People of northern extraction, just like SADA, are bleeding to death because of the haphazard manner in which the organisation has been managed.
We welcome the new board. But the mere appointment of a new board cannot and will not lull Ghanaians and the northern people to go to sleep. Clear pragmatic steps as we have outlined have to be taken if the president is to be taken seriously and if the reconstitution of the board is not to be regarded as a red-herring.
We wish to serve notice that the Forum is readying itself to institute legal action using the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) for investigations into the SADA mess. We believe that the comment by the CHRAJ Boss that the Commission is unable to investigate the rot because of a lack of resources is just an attempt by the Commission to run away from its Constitutional duties. CHRAJ has offices in the various Regions and Districts of the country with officers who are remunerated to carry out these constitutionally stipulated functions.
In ending, we call on all Ghanaians especially people of the North to join the struggle and make their voices heard on the matter. It is time to stand up for our people and to stand up to be counted.
To the President, please note that the people of the North are watching with trepidation on whether you will take any action against those who have robbed our people or whether you will continue to turn a blind eye as you have done so far.
020 5 485 387