Dr. Bawumia Goofs On SADA - Experts

Hungry and desperate for political power, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, running mate to Nana Akufo– Addo for the 2016 presidential election has waded into the unchartered saga of the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) and accused President Mahama of tokenism regarding what he described as the allocation of a paltry GHC 400,000 to the struggling Authority in the fiscal year 2015.

According to him this means each of the five regions covering the SADA zone will get the equivalent of $25,000 each in the financial year 2015 as captured by the Government’s 2015 Budget Statement and Economic Policy presented to the Parliament in November, 2014.

The NPP power thirsty running mate, who made a foray into partisan politics in 2008 after abandoning the much- respected job of deputy governor of the Central Bank, said it is an insult to the sensibilities of all Ghanaians and the people of the North for such infinitesimal allocations to be made to an agency whose main task is to reduce poverty in the targeted regions and gradually bring them at par with their counterparts in the Southern part of the country.

He pointed out that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) when in opposition promised the people of the north a seed capital of GHc200m and an annual allocation of GHc100m to the Authority, in order to facilitate the development of the poverty ridden regions and bridge the yawning development gap between those regions and the rest of the country.

“The case of SADA is especially sad with the misapplication of resources meant for northern development by northerners who should have been more empathetic towards their own.

“The stealing of these monies has a direct impact on the suffering of our people. Imagine the number of boreholes that could have been constructed, clinics, schools, etc.”

“To add insult to injury, the 2015 budget allocation is GH¢400,000. i.e. an average of GH¢80,000 per region or $25,000 for each of the five SADA regions for 2014. GH¢80,000 or US$25,000 is just about the amount the government spends on building one 3- classroom block. It cannot even build a 6-classroom block per the government’s own figures. This is against a promise of GH¢100 million per year for 20 years for SADA! In fact, the 2014 budget allocation of GH¢400,000 for SADA is an insult to all of us. How will this amount impact on the development in the north?” Bawumia queried.

This position of the NPP running mate and former deputy governor of the Central Bank contrasts sharply with the position of many Ghanaians, including serious-minded development economists and governance experts who spoke to The aL-HaJJ recently on the development at SADA.

Both the governance experts and anti-corruption campaigners postulated that, the President deserves commendations rather than condemnations for authorizing for the retrieval of all those monies from those individuals and phony companies who have conspired to fleece SADA.

According to them if he goes ahead to pump more money ie the GHc 100m annual allocations as he and his party promise to do at this stage, there is the likelihood that it will be dissipated again just as the seed capital of GHc200m.

“So what he is doing now is in the right direction and we need to encourage him to do more rather than condemn him.

“He has fulfilled the first promise of proving the seed capital in 2012 and that shows a President who can be trusted to keep his words…. It is just that he has been let down by his own people who wickedly misappropriated the monies….so he should be encouraged to deal with them and retrieve the monies rather than condemn him for not sending more money there. If he sends more money there it is possible he won’t get value for money … so at the moment, he is doing the right thing, so we need to encourage him,” a development economist, told this paper on condition of anonymity.

The expert pointed out “the same Dr. Bawumia and members of his party would begin criticizing the President if he transfers funds to the Authority and the funds get misappropriated again….the President is being cautious now with the past incidents in his minds, so they should support him.”

In our recent editions, we reported that “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 revelations that “President Mahama has given firm instruction to the new management and board of SADA to retrieve all the dissipated monies from 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 of whom are domiciled here in the South 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,” our story reported

“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 story added.

“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 disclosed 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,” the story revealed

“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.

According to our earlier reports, “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.

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.

The audit report further revealed “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 who has never worked in any place before SADA transferred almost GHc2.8m to his Plus One.