General News of 2014-05-05

Mahama's window-dressing bleeding SADA wounds – Northern Group

A Northern group has accused President John Mahama of “window-dressing," rather than fighting the corruption exposed at the rot-riddled Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).

SADA was created to be a vehicle to spur development in the Northern and Upper regions, as well as in parts of the Brong Ahafo region. It was to bridge the gap between the poor north and rich south by lifting the millions in the region from abject poverty and deprivation.

To this end, Ghc47 million meant for poverty reduction projects in the northern Savannah zone was allocated to SADA for specific projects, but was misapplied.

Ghc32 million of the amount was meant for an afforestation programme. About 5 million trees were to have been planted through the programme.

The remaining Ghc15 million was for a guinea fowl poultry project. The Minority in Parliament says virtually nothing was achieved from the two projects despite the amount of money sunk into them.

President Mahama recently reconstituted the Authority’s Board following the rot exposed.

In the group’s opinion, “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".

A statement signed by the group’s Spokesperson, John Krugu, bemoaned that the poverty reduction programme was “hijacked by a few elites 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,” the Forum said.

It said: “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 group argued.

According to the Forum, “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.”