It has been revealed that a whopping GH¢7.7 million was used by Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni – former Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) – to construct a guest house at Bole in the Northern Region as a holiday resort for former President John Dramani Mahama.
The initial cost for the construction of the guest house was pegged at GH¢5.5 million but DAILY GUIDE sources at COCOBOD revealed that the amount was adjusted upwards later to GH¢7.7 million.
Mahama has denied that the building was put up during his tenure, but information available to DAILY GUIDE indicates that the contract was awarded in 2016, as well as the refurbishment of the old guest house.
Sources claim that the Dr. Opuni-led Cocobod at the time gave the excuse that some changes had to be made in the project, which led to the increase in the cost from GH¢5.5 million to GH¢7.7 million.
It has been speculated that out of the GH¢7.7 million, only GH¢3.5 million had been paid to the contractors – Messrs Gazelle Enterprise Limited – meaning the current New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration might have to pay GH¢4.2 million for the immediate past president to continue to ‘enjoy’ his holidays in peace.
The contract was sole-sourced to perhaps a crony of the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.
News about the construction of the plush guest house in ex-President Mahama’s hometown (Bole) was brought to the fore by the current Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cocobod, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, during a press conference on Wednesday in Accra.
It was to respond to some allegations put forward recently by the minority NDC in parliament.
The minority members held a press conference at Bodi in the Western Region, demanding answers to the utilization of proceeds of cocoa production above 850,000 metric tonnes projected for the 2016/2017 crop year.
They also asked the NPP administration to increase the cocoa producer price for 2017/2018.
Responding to the NDC, Mr Aidoo indicated that Opuni carried out grandiose projects at ridiculous costs to cocoa farmers, including the construction of the eight-bed guest house for John Mahama.
“The contract for COCOBOD to construct a guest house at Bole in the Northern Region was needless at the time it was awarded,” Mr. Aidoo observed.
He added, “President Mahama was said to have influenced the award to enable him enjoy comfortable holidays during visits to his constituency.”
Mr. Mahama has, however, denied that the guest house was built on his instructions to provide him comfort.
In a statement issued by his special aide, Joyce Bawah Mogtari, Mr. Mahama, said the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) Guest House was built in the 70s, not during his tenure as President of the Republic.
“The office of former President John Dramani Mahama has learnt of a number of claims by Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Joseph Boahen Aidoo, at a press conference in Accra on Wednesday.
“Among others, Mr. Boahen Aidoo stated that President John Dramani Mahama influenced the award of a contract to construct a guest house at Bole in the Northern Region to “enable him enjoy comfortable holidays during visits to his constituency.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, the office of the former president wishes to state that this claim is false,” the statement indicated.
It added, “The guest house in question, the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) Research Station Guest House, has been in existence since 1975, and could not possibly have been constructed during the tenure of President Mahama.”
The statement indicated that “the assertion therefore that he influenced its construction is also false.”
Meanwhile, DAILY GUIDE has chanced upon a document from COCOBOD headquarters in Accra which shows that the guest house was constructed in 2016.
According to the document, the construction of the new guest house commenced on January 18, 2016 and original completion date was September 30, 2016 and had a revised completion date of November 30, 2016.
The project, titled, “Proposed refurbishment of Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) Guest House and proposed construction of new guest house with outhouse at Bole Northern Region,” has the project reference: CE/CWD/V.1/001