It reportedly cost the Government and people of Ghana GH¢32.5 million and was supposed to have culminated in the planting of 5 million trees (See "SADA Paid for 5 Million Trees but Got 700,000 – Dominic Nitiwul" MyJoyOnline.com 4/30/14).

The first problem is the fact that the contractor, AGAMS Group, owned by Mr. Roland Agambire, was paid the full contractual sum even before the first tree had been planted.

That, of course, was not a smart move on the part of the officials who deputized for the government of the National Democratic Congress.

This is not sound business; it sounds more like an epic scam cobbled together by some crooks to rip off the Ghanaian taxpayer.

The more intelligent and conventional approach ought to have been to have the government fork up the contractual money involved in installments, according to the amount of work done by the ACICL-AGAMS Group, as inspected and confirmed by the sector minister and the latter's expert deputies.

The project also seems to have been packaged as a blind largesse of sorts – more like a welfare package – for Ghanaians of northern descent and/or extraction, rather than its being competitively ceded by the Government to people with managerial expertise on forestry and environmental issues, both Ghanaian and foreign nationals.

The unsavory result is that the SADA afforestation project came to be squarely and primarily envisaged as an entitlement program, instead of its being reckoned as integral to the general national development agenda of the erstwhile Mills-Mahama regime and, now, the Mahama/Amissah-Arthur government.

What the foregoing further means is that from the get-go, as New Yorkers are wont to say, the project was not designed, or at least executed, with the most competent administrative personnel in the minds of the architects. But, of course, we ought to have retrospectively surmised from the Aveyime debacle that the key operatives of the National Democratic Congress have a pathologically chronic problem with successfully and effectively designing and implementing projects of this nature.

It is, undeniably, alright to talk about a Savannah Accelerated Development Authority; but what matters at the end of an umpteenth retelling of this story of veritable British colonial mintage that is the perennial economic denudation of Ghanaians of northern descent, is having the best qualified personnel in charge of such an authority. As it presently stands, SADA is a criminally inexcusable circus act put in place by people more interested in their own parochial political fortunes than those of the Ghanaian citizenry at large.

It was also quite progressive to have faculty and staff of the University for Development Studies (UDS) monitor the SADA afforestation project, but such personnel ought to have been made to work cheek-by-jowl, or hand-in-glove, with experts in the field from the other better established universities in the country, such as the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the nation's flagship academy, the University of Ghana.

Ultimately, though, the onus of closely monitoring the project to ensure that it was executed to the letter rested squarely with the Government, working through the sector ministry and its allied agencies. Not much, by way of the preceding benchmarks, appears to have been done. Good, old dirty cronyism appears to have pretty much ruled the roost, as it were. And this is what is inescapably wrong with the way and manner in which the people's business is conducted, and has been conducted since 1951, when the Nkrumah-headed transitional quasi-government was established by the British colonial regime.

What is also significant to consider, here, is not whether 700,000 trees were, in fact, planted by the ACICL-AGAMS Group instead of the contractual 5 million. Rather, it has to do with the kinds and species of trees planted and whether such trees were environmentally adaptive. As well, what kinds of feasibility studies were conducted, vis-a-vis the climate and soil texture(s) of the four, or so, zones earmarked for the SADA afforestation project?

You see, good and effective governance is the domain of conscientious, patriotic and mature minds; it is not the play toy of freeloading scam-artists. This is utterly embarrassing for me to have to acknowledge, but it is the incontrovertible story of SADA. A shameful misdeed, indeed!

 

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