The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has described the CEO of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), Dr. Charles Abugre, as one who has the expertise to effectively manage the authority but bound to fail because the financial resources needed to make things work are lacking.Dr. Abugre was plucked in 2014 from his position as the African Regional Director of the UN Millennium Campaign to help give SADA a new lease of life following the dismissal of Alhaji Gilbert Seidu Iddi, former CEO of the organisation, for alleged fraud.
He has continued to attract public applause for both his eloquence and experience in what has established him in the opinion of many, including that of the NPP, as the right man for the job. But the party says the new SADA boss is heading for a crash as the same employer- the government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) - who handed him the job has 'tied his hands' by denying the authority the adequate funds needed to make the envisaged impact a reality.
Former Northern Regional Minister, Prince Imoro Andani, pointed this out Tuesday at the National Forum on Transformation of Northern Savannah of Ghana organised in Bolgatanga, the Upper East regional capital, by the Coalition of SADA Zone Civil Society Organisations. The programme is expected to run for three days, featuring the presidential candidates of the NPP, the NDC and the Convention People’s Party (CPP). The first day was for the NPP with Prince Imoro Andani representing Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who was occupied elsewhere with campaign activities.
“We all agree that Dr. Charles Abugre is competent. We all agree that he has the competency to do the job. But he finds himself in a situation where the truth of the matter is that the funds are not provided. That is the truth. NDC started SADA with 260 million seed money. That is gone. That was in 2012. In 2013, the government provided Gh¢20 million; and in 2014, the government provided Gh¢20 million.
“And 2015 and 2016, zero. Is the President telling us the truth? Can we alleviate poverty by this? Can we alleviate poverty by good programmes on the drawing board? We want the government to move from the board to action. And that is what we want the government to deliver to you in this country,” Mr. Andani told the gathering, with the SADA CEO himself in attendance.
NPP to rename SADA
The theme for the Tuesday's forum was: “The vision of the NPP to transform the Northern Savannah Ecological Zone into a place of opportunities for all, free from poverty and inequalities”.
In response, the NPP indicated that SADA would be renamed NDA- the Northern Development Authority- which was initiated by the party when President John Agyekum Kufuor was in office.
“We will change the name but the activities may be basically the same. The Northern Development Authority will focus only on Northern Region, Upper West, Upper East with 1 million dollars for each constituency every year. There will be another authority for the middle belt that will take care of the regions that are in the middle belt.
“And, then, there is another authority that will take care of the coastal belt. We are even going further to have the Zongo Development Fund that will target our brothers in the slum to help them reduce poverty,” Mr. Andani stated. He attracted applause mostly from the NPP supporters in the hall each time he made a good point for the party or against the NDC.
The NPP’s parliamentary candidate for Bolgatanga Central, Rex Asanga, defended the one-village-one-dam policy being propagated by his party. He pointed at Burkina Faso as a good example he said Ghana could emulate to boost up food security.
“When Thomas Sankara became the President of Burkina Faso during the revolutionary time, he had what they called ‘Operation Stop the Water’. The [idea] was to stop the water. Wherever there was a small valley, the policy was to stop the water. In Burkina Faso, they don’t build bridges. Every road that they construct, if it is crossing a valley, they would create a dam for that valley. Of course, there are technical ways of getting excess water so that the road is not flooded.
“We may not be able to get a valley in almost every village but there are villages that share a big valley where we can turn into a dam. You also know there are dugouts. Where a village does not have a very big valley, we can create a dugout because the important thing is to have water for livestock, not just for only crops. We may not be able to get valleys in all villages. But by the definition of a village, I believe that we can always get to an area where we can construct a water reservoir for livestock and all that,” Mr. Asanga said.
Responsible people will not abandon SADA – Dr. Abugre
Addressing the forum, Dr. Abugre identified partisan politicking as a major hurdle standing in SADA’s way. He encouraged Ghanaians to ignore the sad past of the authority and support it to function as expected.
“The institution is established by law. It cannot be abandoned simply because there were mistakes four years ago. If an institution makes mistakes, especially the young institutions, you correct the mistakes. You help it get better. Somebody compared the situation of SADA to a very happy man. His wife is pregnant. He is very excited about the pregnancy. The woman gives birth and the child is severely deformed. What does a responsible father do? A responsible father stands by their babies and their mothers. An irresponsible father runs away,” the CEO said.
He continued, saying: “I’m comparing this not necessarily to only government but to all of us. We own a baby called SADA. It is only 4 years old in operation. It’s not an old institution. So, it can be reformed. It can make changes. It can get better. It can even learn from those mistakes and become better than any institution ever. Since the beginning of 2014, there is a new board of directors. The old board was completely removed. There is a new CEO. The new CEO started working full time January, 2014. Why beat the institution continuously for what happened four years ago?”
Highlights of a master plan developed by SADA for the transformation of the Northern Savannah Ecological Zone were presented at the forum that also saw prominent figures sign a peace banner made by the Women’s Situation Room ahead of the 2016 polls.
“It is important that as we decide as a country to go for elections to elect leaders who will be leading us in the governance of the country and the maintenance of the economy for the next 4 years, we get our priorities right. The leaderships are setting the agenda for us. We give them the mandate. It is not enough for us to sit for them to tell us what they want for us, but I think it is also important for us to tell them what we want. And we want to use this forum to do that, juxtaposing SADA master plan with the visions of the political parties for the zone,” the secretary to the Coalition of SADA Zone CSOs, Bismarck Adongo Ayorogo, told participants.
The CPP is scheduled to take its turn Wednesday and the NDC Thursday.