By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Folks, President Mahama has appointed a new team to superintend the affairs of SADA in the hope that what got botched by the previous team will be tackled and the agency used to solve pertinent problems up north.
In principle, the SADA effort is laudable. But people living in narrow circumstances won’t eat principles, which is why President Mahama needs to exert much pressure for it to succeed. If for nothing at all, it will be a commendable legacy.
Who knows whether the SADA effort can be replicated elsewhere in the country if it succeeds? That is why I am concerned that even before the dust has fully settled on the malfeasance that checkmated SADA’s operations, a new team should be appointed.
Shouldn’t a house-cleaning exercise have been done first to close all the loopholes that were exploited by those who fleeced the national coffers under the auspices of SADA? Not so yet. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
A new team is empowered to do what President Mahama and his government think will restore public confidence and trust in them.
Two of the actionable areas of SADA’s purview jump at me for comment:
1. To coordinate a comprehensive development agenda for the northern savannah ecological zone in Ghana.
2. To promote sustainable development using the notion of a forested and green north to catalyze climate change reversal and improve livelihoods of the most vulnerable citizens in the area.
These are laudable objectives by any stretch of imagination, at least, in principle and theory. The real nub, though, is the practical aspect:
1. What exactly constitutes the “development agenda” that SADA is to pursue for the northern savannah ecological zone? Does that agenda already exist or is it to be defined/determined and formulated by the Board of SADA for implementation?
2. How are the implementers determined and selected? Is there already a pool of such implementers in existence to be fallen on to prosecute SADA’s agenda? (I am asking this question because of the slapdash and slipshod manner in which the previous SADA management did things to throw the entire agency overboard, crippled with corruption and disgrace.
3. What scientific study has been done to support the establishment of SADA to do the tasks given it in that ecological zone, where unfavourable weather conditions and uncontrolled human activities are causing environmental/ecological degradation (even as the Sahel/Sahara threatens the area)?
4. What arrangements have been put in place for SADA “to promote sustainable development using the notion of a forested and green north”? It seems that the politicians pushing this SADA project are even not sure of how the north can be “forested/greened”, given the erratic rainfall regime and the fact that irrigation is impossible to nurture the trees being or to be planted. How is the project designed to survive the harsh weather conditions? Over-dependence on Nature (rainfall) or a sustainable support mechanism for irrigation purposes?
What, then, made it difficult for the previous management of SADA to achieve the agency’s objectives? And what lesson has President Mahama learnt from their failure to ensure that this new management won’t follow suit?
More importantly, what control mechanism has been put in place to ensure success? I wonder if the SADA effort isn’t geared more at seeking political leverage than doing what will really affect positively the livelihood of the deprived citizens living in the ecological zone in Northern Ghana being used as the justification for this SADA thing.
Money sunk into the first phase of SADA has gone away with the wind; some of the undeserving beneficiaries of the malpractices are reported to be coughing out the loot. But not until the culprits are prosecuted and punished, there will be little to assure and reassure Ghanaians that this SADA effort is really intended to solve problems.
In the meantime, we will continue to caution President Mahama not to lose his guard. This SADA effort can make or mar his political career, beginning right from his own backyard in Northern Ghana. If he manages to push SADA to a successful end, he will be praised and assured of support. If he fails, he will live to rue it.
I shall return…
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