Many Ghanaians, especially the long-suffering and poverty-stricken people of the three northern regions and the northern part of Volta and Brong-Ahafo regions, who constituted the savanna ecological zone have hailed President Maham’s anti-corruption stance on the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).
This was following our story in the last edition of this paper that President Mahama has given firm instruction to the new management and board of SADA to retrieve all the dissipated monies by some phony companies and individuals in the name of afforestation, mango plantation, butternut squash, guinea fowl and many others.
However, a lot of those anxious people who have been calling the offices of The aL-haJJ to commend the fortitude of President Mahama in calling for the retrieval of those monies also cautioned the Attorney General’s Department (A-G) and the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to fully comply with the directives of both the President and the management and board of SADA.
They warned against further dithering in the retrieval of the dollop of cash that has been sunk into phantom projects by those culpable individuals and companies from these two agencies.
The weary northern sons and daughters, some whom domiciled in the South here who spoke to this paper advised the new management of SADA to put all the monies retrieved from those unscrupulous individuals and companies into infrastructural and social services to ameliorate the suffering of the people of the SADA zone.
According to them, President Mahama is a good leader and he meant well for the people of the north but was only let down by those he entrusted SADA to, especially the disgraced former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and board Chairman, Alhassan Andani.
“We are proud of President Mahama, the first son of the North to ascend to the highest office of the land in the Fourth Republic, but he alone cannot do everything.
“The people who are supporting him are there for their selfish interests, that is why SADA was nearly destroyed.
“He meant well by merely establishing the Authority and ensuring that we get the GHc200m seed capital as promised. But what happened now? You cannot blame him because he has no hand in what has happened to SADA, those people who squandered the money are the ones we should blame for the problems of the North.
“But now we thank him for getting the courage to ask them to pay the monies back to SADA for the development that we are all yearning for to continue.
The President should maintain his eagle eyes on those who are responsible for this financial mess and the A-G and the BoG respectively should work with urgency to recoup the money back” one senior northerner told this paper on condition of anonymity yesterday in reaction to our story.
Available information from impeccable sources at the presidency suggests that President Mahama has given specific and firm instruction to the newly constituted board and management of SADA to use all means necessary within the confines of the law to retrieve all monies wrongly paid to individuals, organizations and companies back to SADA chest.
Prior to that, this paper has also gathered that the President in his resolve to fight the canker of corruption that has bedeviled SADA, in both fiscal year 2013 and 2014 personally blocked budgetary allocations to the troubled Authority, and instead asked them to use remnant of the GHc200m seed capital that was mobilized for the agency in in the second half of 2012, a chunk of which was unfortunately dissipated by the Gilbert-Iddi led management.
In 2015 again, President Mahama only authorized allocation of only GHc400, 000 to the distressed SADA, waiting to see how the newly-constituted management would cleanse the Authority and rid it of all corrupt tendencies.
In a swift response to the corruption at SADA, President Mahama disbanded the graft-ridden management of Alhaji Gilbert Seidu Iddi and replaced it with a promising one headed by Mr. Charles Akelyira Abugre, a Rawlings-trained cadre with impeccable record of integrity and sound academic and professional background.
Not satisfied with the disbanding of the Gilbert-Iddi management, President Mahama also dissolved the scandal-riddled SADA board under the watch of Mr. Alhassan Andani of Stanbic Bank and replaced it with fresh faces.
The hardworking Madam Angeline Mornah Domakyaareh, who is also a legal practitioner, was appointed by the President as the chairperson of the Authority and her immediate task is to cleanse the SADA of all financial rot and then refocus it on its primary mandate of working to reduce poverty in the savanna zone.
As a first step in complying with President Mahama’s directives, the new chairperson recently disclose to Ghana News Agency (GNA) that Attorney General’s (AG) Department is working behind the scenes to retrieve with interest, funds meant for various projects of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) which were not executed.
Mrs Angelina Mornah Domakyaarah, SADA Board Chairperson, said the AG’s Department was negotiating with the various partners involved on the terms for the refund while the Bank of Ghana was now working out the interest rates due.
She assured Ghanaians that the new board would ensure openness and transparency in the activities of SADA.
“We acknowledge as a new board that SADA has had some image problems in the past. We may call that failings; it is a human institution, but we the new Board, having assessed the situation, acknowledge that even though there have been some failings, SADA has not failed,” she said.
“The previous board has done some good things; we are going to continue and build on them. The challenges that they faced and could not overcome; we have the benefit of hindsight to guide us. It is not our intention to repeat the shortfalls that plagued the old board,” she said.
“So based on that, we are refocusing SADA’s mandate from direct implementation, which the institution is not yet mature to do, to the other core mandate which have been given to SADA by the same act of coordinating, collaborating and facilitating development activities in the Northern Savannah Ecological Zone of Ghana,” Mrs Domakyaarah added.
She explained further that by doing so, the authority would be getting the maximum impact from its activities.
On the way forward, Mrs Domakyaarah said SADA was a national agenda; co-ordinating a comprehensive development agenda for five regions — Northern, Upper East, Upper West, the northern parts of the Brong Ahafo and Volta; representing the northern half of Ghana.
Some companies, individuals and organizations who have bankrupted the Savanna Accelerated Authority (SADA) in this scandal include the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SADA, Mr. Gilbert Seidu Iddi; ACI Limited, owned by Mr. Roland Agambire of the Agams Group; Kasmed Seed and Plus One owned by Mr. Dan Saaka Ahmed. Individuals as mentioned by the audit report include Mr. Akwesi Addae-Boahene and Madam Vicky Okine, Madam Rein Bruce Ackman, Mr. Kennedy S. Mohammed, Dr. Emmanuel Abeere Inga and Mr. Abass Kassim Nyo and many others.
According to the audit report which was recently a subject of debate in the media, SADA made a payment of GHc15m as its contribution in the joint venture business with ACI which is also supposed to contribute GHC 15m.
A lot of damning issues were raised by the audit report against ACI and SADA was asked by the auditors to “give ultimatum to ACI Limited to complete the project without any delay or be made to refund the amount together with interest at the current commercial bank lending rate.”
However, as at the time of writing this story, there is no evidence that ACI has resolved the various issues raised in the audit report and has made any refund back to SADA chest.
The other project involving the ACI is the afforestation project with a sum of GHc32.4m.
The audit report stated that “we discovered during our visit to the plantation sites that most of the trees especially in the Northern, Upper West and Upper East sites did not survive because the trees were planted during the dry season.”
“The Audit Team noticed that most of the trees did not survive mainly because the work load on the contractor was too much for him, hence his inability to plant most of the trees during the raining season. The following areas were badly affected by the dry season: all sites in the Upper East Region; Kpandai, Kpassa, Wa Municipal, Sissala East and West Bole and Sawla sites.
“As a result of this action, value for money was not obtained because of mode the contract was awarded.
“We recommended that management should engage the services of the Forestry Commission to count the trees that were planted and survived and recover all the excess payment that had been made to the contractor.
“We also recommended that management should institute action to invoke sanctions under Section 92(1) of the Public Procurement Act, Act 663 against the former CEO Alhaji Gilbert Iddi who signed the contract,” the audit stated.
In our further independent investigation, this paper has learnt that the Roland Agambire’s ACI limited sublet a chunk of the work to the now struggling Kasmed Seed Limited, owned by Mr. Dan Saaka Ahmed and ACI sources have told this paper that when it comes to crunch, Kasmed Seed would have a lot to answer in this financial debacle.
“We noted that management paid GHc69, 840 to Kasmed Seed Company to organize business trip to Birmingham and Berlin for three officers of SADA without prior approval from the Board even though the cost of the trip was above the threshold of the CEO.
“We also noted that Kasmed Seed Company is not a travel and tour agency but management released such a colossal amount to the company based only on the budget submitted by the company for the trip,” the audit report added.
On Plus One Limited, the audit report stated that
“Our audit discovered that management paid GHC38, 796 and GHC2, 771890 to Kukobila Farms Limited and Plus One Investment Limited respectively to engage in the cultivation and exportation of butter nut squash.
“Management however failed to produce records on the number of tonnage of the butter nut squash the companies had harvested and exported and the sale of the butter nut squash. This practice can be recipe for financial malfeasance.
“As a result, we could not ascertain the commercial viability of the project.
“Management’s unwillingness to enhance internal revenue generation to support the activities of SADA accounted for the irregularity.
“We recommend that the companies be made to refund the amount granted to them together with interest at the current commercial bank lending rate.
“With the agreement with Plus One Investment Limited, management gave such a concession to the company for the cultivation of a crop which is seasonal in nature and had been fully harvested and exported. At the time of our audit the company had not any refund to SADA.” The audit pointed out.
The Plus-One Investment Limited itself in the words of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Sadat Alhassan in an interview with Joy Fm when they were serializing the SAD SADA STORY, said they were able to pay about GHc60, 000 out of the GHC2.7m to SADA.
However, fresh information exclusively available to this paper from SADA sources indicates that, the said CEO of Plus One Investment Limited, Sadat Alhassan, is rather a young man in his twenties and a fresh university graduate at the time the payment was made to the company by SADA in late 2012 through to the first quarter of 2013.
While young Mr Sadat maintains the position of CEO of Plus One Limited, the big fish himself, Mr. Dan Saaka Ahmed stays at the background holding the position of a Programs Co-ordinator of the company.
Pressed on how SADA could splash almost GHc 2.8m to a fresh university graduate with no experience in any field, a new management member of SADA however told this paper that per their information from the previous management, the project was negotiated by Mr Dan Saaka Ahmed and that he is the one they know and not the Alhassan Sadat who they think is being used for selfish purposes by some selfish individuals.
SADA sources maintained that at one of their sittings to investigate the matter involving the Plus One Investment, they had to sack Mr. Sadat because he exhibited complete ignorance of the entire transactions that led to the transfer of almost GHc2.8m to Plust One.
They however asked Mr. Dan Saaka to appear himself and answer the relevant questions because he was in charge of the company and not the young, fresh and inexperienced university graduate.
Fresh information available to The Al-hAJJ indicates that a lot of the companies who benefited from the SADA loot such as the Kasmed Seed and Plus One are currently in distress and have been unable to pay their skeletal staff in their offices.
According to sources close to those distressed, salaries for their staff for a year and half have been a major headache because government on the authority of President Mahama cut budgetary allocations to the SADA and the Authority was also not been able to make any illegal transfer of monies to those companies. The workers are said to be up in arms with the management of the companies.
The companies are also said to owe huge amount of monies to field workers who helped with the afforestation, the mango and the butter nut squash projects.
Many of the field officers who have been calling the offices of this paper in the last two days asked the new management and board of SADA to compensate them from the monies that are going to be retrieved from the affected companies and individuals to help reduce their suffering.
“We work for them and for the past one year and half they refused to pay us and we can’t even see them anywhere, when we call them, we don’t get them, so we are appealing to the government and SADA to collect our monies for us.
“We also have wives and children to cater for and so we need our money now if they are collecting their monies from the companies, they should give us our share,” one worker calling from Tamale told this paper.
Source: The Al-Hajj
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