We called you here today to discuss and evaluate the Northern Developmental Agenda and how far we have come eight years since our people were promised a Special Development vehicle which would ultimately lead to rapid economic development, poverty reduction and social progress!
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is also four (4) years since our people were told that we needed a Northern President, because with a “brother” as President, our troubles were over, the shameful poverty that confronts the vast majority of our people, would be over and that it is a Northern President who can bring to bear, the commitment needed to develop the North and create the opportunities needed for prosperity and wealth.
Why the NDA or SADA ?
Ladies and Gentlemen, by 2008, there was a general consensus nationally that the north had become generally underdeveloped compared to other parts of the country with a high incidence of poverty.
The Northern agitation which began in the 1940s and 50s, even before Ghana became independent was championed by stalwarts of the then Northern People’s Party who believed that our people needed special interventions to catch up with Southern Ghana, seemed to have finally been accepted nationally as true.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP), whose antecedents includes the Northern People’s Party and our flag bearer, Nana AKufo-Addo, who fully agreed with the principles and the agitations initiated by the likes of Chief S.D. Dombo, Mumuni Bawumia, Jato Kaleo etc. took on the Northern Challenge and pledged to create this special vehicle – the Northern Development Authority (NDA) to spearhead an aggressive programme of action to immediately bridge the developmental gap between the North and the South and to create the necessary opportunities for production in the North, create prosperity and jobs for our people. For this programme, the NPP pledged a billion dollars in all, to create the necessary impact desired.
Despite initially ridiculing the pledge of the NPP and Nana Akufo-Addo to establish a Northern Development Programme, the NDC, led mainly by its then Vice-Presidential Candidate, John Dramani Mahama, also bought into the idea and eventually promised setting up a similar programme. We quote from the NDC 2008 Manifesto –
“DEVELOPING THE NORTH – SAVANNAH ACCELERATED DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (SADA)
And this is what the NDC said to justify the setting up of the SADA (even though as earlier mentioned, they ridiculed it)
“All data from every credible institution or source speak about the desperate condition of the north. Available data reveal that 9 out of every 10; 8 out of every 10; and 7 out of every 10 people are classified as poor in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions respectively. It is the considered opinion of the NDC that this grave manifestation of poverty in the Savannah Belt comprising the three regions and the northern parts of the Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions is caused by historical, ecological and political reasons.
An NDC Government shall therefore take immediate and urgent steps to bridge the development gap between the North and South as follows:
• Set up a Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) to be directly under the President, with a vision and mandate to accelerate the socio-economic development of the Savannah Belt through strategic investment in human capital and the harnessing of its resources; Commission the development of a Master Plan for Northern Ghana’s Development, based on the harnessing of the development potential of the Savannah areas of Ghana. The plan will focus on accelerated development by supporting infrastructure and utilities to tap and mobilise the full economic potential of the Area for the benefit of the people;
• Establish a Special Development Fund for SADA to be sourced from the Consolidated Fund, Multi-donor Agencies; Bilateral and Multilateral, Development Finance Institutions; private sector capital, notably from local and international Banks as well as investors in the Savannah economy.
The initial start-up contribution to this fund shall be 200 million GH¢, with annual contributions from Government of 100 million each year for 20 years. Once established, the Government of Ghana will lead a Donor Conference on Northern Ghana, with the aim of raising an additional $ 200 million from Ghana’s Development Partners and the Private sector, in order to assure the new Authority a firm and financial solid foundation.”
Per the Manifesto promise of the NDC itself, SADA should have had at least a billion cedis allocated to it by now in addition to other funds that was to be sourced from Development Partners and the Private Sector.
How Much Has Been Allocated?
According to the 2012 Manifesto of the NDC, 260 million Ghana cedis had been allocated to SADA by 2012, instead of a promised 600 million Ghana cedis. According to the 2013 and the 2014 Budgets, 20 million Ghana cedis was allocated to SADA per year while there was virtually no mention of SADA in the 2015 and 2016 Budgets.
This means that a total of GHC 300 million Ghana cedis has been allocated to the SADA Programme, as compared to a promised 1billion Ghana cedis.
This means that the NDC government has only delivered at most 30% of what it promised the people of the North but ladies and gentlemen, the critical question to ask is, how even these meagre amounts compared to what was promised, has been utilised.
How Has The Money Been Utilised?
Indeed ladies and gentlemen, the record is even worse when John Mahama government, from 2012 is isolated, the record is even pathetic!
Not only has the government of John Mahama per their own records allocated only GHC 40 million out of a promised GHC 400 million cedis they should have allocated per their own manifesto promise in 2008, but they have also supervised and led the wanton thievery of these resources which were allocated in the name of Northern development.
Among others these resources which were released to ostensibly help the Northern poor and uplift them from suffocating poverty, was virtually pilfered into private accounts and pockets and into buildings and cars for the President, his friends and family while the ordinary man and woman of the North have been left poorer and more deprived.
Various Audit reports have revealed the amazing levels and shameless schemes with which these resources were stolen by men close to the ‘Northern President’.
A few examples will have to be mentioned.
Some officials of SADA were involved in corrupt deals notably the use of over GHc 250,000 on unapproved and “wasteful” trips to Birmingham, Berlin and Istanbul.
The payment of GHc 620,000 for the services of consultants. Indeed, the initial Audit Report put this amount at over GHC 1million Ghana cedis
The four are Dr. Charles Jebuni as Chief Technical Advisor who took a total of GH¢437,206.00 in a period of 22 months (GH¢19,873.00 monthly); Salifu Mahama as Engineer for Housing, took a total of GH¢96,000.00 for 16 months (GH¢6,000.00 monthly); and Kennedy S. Mohammed, Resource Mobilization, collected a total of GH¢75,000.00 for 10 months (GH¢7,500.00 monthly).
In the 2012 farming season, SADA supplied 714 bags of hybrid seeds to two service providers at a time the farming season was over. Because of this, SADA lost over GH¢320,000.
The biggest of all these wastages was the sinking of GHC48 million into Guinea Fowl rearing and Tree Planting projects.
For the rest of the resources that the NDC claims to have invested, all one can say is that, for whatever reason, it has not trickled down into improving on the lives of our people. –Our people are now suffering more than ever, jobless more than ever, and hungrier and thirstier more than ever.
Ladies and Gentlemen, one can only assume that in similar fashion, the rest of the GHC 300 million apparently allocated were all embezzled or craftily wasted.
We call on the President and the government to immediately release a full breakdown of the 300 million Ghana cedis allocated and when it was released as well as what it was used on.
8 Years of No Show & Corruption at the expense of the Poor
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, the cumulative effect of the lack of a comprehensive vision and game plan for our people, the thievery and the lack of commitment to the North and the people has meant that the last 8 years has virtually been 8 wasted years for the North as development has stalled and poverty is on the rise.
The only thing the people of the North have witnessed is obscene corruption at their expense and by people we consider our own.
To worsen matters, the government of John Mahama either deliberately or through its sheer incompetence, have either abolished or weakened many of the social intervention schemes that provided great relief to our people.
The current poor state of the National Health Insurance Scheme and the virtual return of the Cash & Carry System have led to increased suffering and in some cases avoidable deaths of our people!
Many are no longer able to afford healthcare as they were some years back when the NHIS was fully functional and meeting the needs of the poor.
Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the saddest cases is the issue of the anti-snake serum, which has been taken off the drug list by the NHIS, in an environment where snake bites are very common, especially during the farming season, this decision and action can at best be described as wicked! Our already poor and suffering people would have to cough up huge monies to secure treatment or face death.
Again, nowhere is the cancellation of the all-important Teacher and Nursing Trainee Allowances having a toll than in the North. Northerners who hitherto relied on these allowances as vital support pillars to gain training to become Teachers and Nurses, have now been denied this pillar and have no choice but to remain out of these Teacher and Nursing trainee institutions as the cost of pursuing training today has been totally priced out of the reach of the poor.
No mention of SADA by JDM & No Commitment to Recover Monies
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, it is instructive to note that in all his rounds in the five (5) SADA regions during the just ended Accounting to the People Tour, no mention was ever made of SADA, its supposed legacy as of now and what the future holds for it. The pressing question is why the President seems to have totally abandoned this Pet Project of his and why he is no longer bold to even name it and account to the Northern people on how ‘well’ they have managed SADA and bridged the gap between the North and South as they originally promised.
Clearly, the President’s unwillingness to touch the SADA, subject these days is an admission of his failure and the legacy of shame he is leaving with regards to Northern development and the many promises he made to the people of the North especially in 2012 when he led the onslaught to tell Northerners that with a Northern President, the North would see the deserved commitment and attention for development.
Perhaps the area where the President has shown a total lack of commitment to the issues of the North and SADA, is with regards to retrieving the monies pilfered in the name of SADA. So far, virtually no action has been taken to retrieve these monies and to properly invest them for the people of the North and no action instituted to prosecute perpetrators of the thievery which occurred to set a precedent for future handlers of such schemes. Years after the rot in SADA was exposed, it can be concluded that those who enriched themselves with SADA funds have gotten away with their crimes and loot.
It is clear that with few months to the election, nothing will be done and obviously, the people of the North can only expect action on this score under a new administration since it is clear that whatever happened was from the President and people too close or to dear to the President for him to take any action.
Donors Have Abandoned Programme
Ladies and Gentlemen, what the Northern President and his henchmen have done to the North, will obviously have long term effects on the quest for Northern development and transformation.
Thanks to the obscene mismanagement of SADA and totally failed legacy of the Northern President, many Ghanaians including even Northerners, view with scepticism any push for special resources for Northern development as they feel that such resources like the ones that have already been committed, would end up in individual pockets and on wasteful and reckless ventures.
Already, donors who showed a great deal of interest in SADA in its early days, have all abandoned the programme and unwilling to commit any form of resources to it. The ordinary Northerner through no fault of his or hers will have to bear the consequences of the actions and crimes of people in Authority.
Felling of Rosewood tree
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, one of the biggest unexposed issues confronting the North today has to do with the ongoing reckless destruction of the Northern ecology with direct supervision of the current government. These actions if not checked immediately will lead to permanent and irreversible damages to the environment and the climate of the North which will can only lead to more suffering, drought and harsh weather cycles.
Aside failing woefully to bring the needed development to the North, the NDC John Dramani Mahama administration is also strenuously trying to destroy the ecology of the North just because it would serve their selfish interests and the interests of businesses they have set up or those that belong to cronies and people willing to cut deals with them.
As we speak, the government through its Minister of Lands and Forestry has regrettably authorised the felling of Rosewood trees in all the three Northern Regions and this is being done at an obscene speed and without any scheme to replace these trees or to tap these resources sustainably despite the obvious risks such dangerous actions pose to the generality of the millions in the North and Ghana as a whole.
As we speak, as many as thirteen (13) companies have been authorised by the government to recklessly engage in an unprecedented deforestation exercise of the North. Thirteen Companies.
These Companies include – Trans Atlantic Resources Limited, GL Interlink Limited, Riyaad Farm and Wood Limited, Dero Limited, Kofi Vinyo and Company Limited, Jowak Limited, Time Concept Limited, Doakyewaa Enterprise Limited, Adu-Tutu and Sons Limited, Savanna Investment (GH) Limited and Brasoma Company Limited.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the question is, why would the government of John Dramani Mahama, deliberately throw all caution to the wind and endanger the very lives and livelihoods of the people of our people6
for self-enrichment purposes? Is all they care about money, even if the obscene quest for it endangers the lives of our people?
Most shocking is the fact that this government found it prudent to invest GHC 32 million in an afforestation programme for the North barely years ago, but is currently also engaged in the massive deforestation of the North even after the programme to grow trees in the North failed woefully. It is clear that this government has only one guiding principle. Whether it is in the decision on growing trees or cutting trees, there is only one common factor that runs through such decisions – how much money the President and his cronies will make from such deals.
Why would this government in its SADA policy document indicate that the vision for the Savanna Areas is a forested and green north, admit that climate change is altering the farming cycle of the people of the North and leading to sharp falls in harvests but then go ahead to cut down thousands of existent trees for sale?
Ladies and Gentlemen, it would interest you to know the high prices of these woods. It is then that you will understand the rush of people in this government to rid the North of all these trees despite the obvious risks and without any attempt to protect the ecology of the North or even replace these trees.
Per the current world market prices, one square metre of these woods cost as much as 50,000 dollars. This is why all over the world especially in places like Thailand, people have gone to all extents, including bloodshed, to fell these trees and sell them.
At this point, ladies and gentlemen, one wonders how more reckless John Mahama and his NDC can be.
It must be also stated that all the millions of dollars being made out of felling these trees is going into the pockets and bank accounts of persons in government and their cronies and that nothing is being invested back in the north.
We wish to call on the Mahama administration to immediately end the ongoing destruction of our ecology and to immediately come clean on the issue of the Rosewood tree. What influenced the regrettable decision to cut these trees, why the government decided not to take any action to replace these trees or conserve the ecology of the North even after taking this regrettable decision and how much has been accrued to these Companies from these trees. We will also like to know the process of selection that went into picking these 13 Companies to fell these trees and what consultations went into these decisions.
In ending, ladies and gentlemen, it is clear that the current government has orchestrated and supervised a legacy of shame in the North. They have failed to live by their promises, failed to meet the expectations of the people of the North and failed to even meet up to the standards other governments set in the area of bringing development and relief to our people.
What John Mahama and his NDC government have achieved is ensuring that cronies of the government enrich themselves obscenely in the name of Northern Development and the destruction of the Northern Brand and even environment. And there appears no end in sight to this legacy of shame and the nightmare the people of the North are seeing today. We say enough is enough.
Thank YOU very MUCH.
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