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Opinions Thu, 10 Oct 2019

Re: Nicodemus Contracts: Dismantling the lies and the deceit

The NPP-USA Chairperson, Obaa Yaa Frimpong on Amenado Radio political talk show “Fire 4 Fire” yesterday launched an epic political program dubbed: “Let the Truth Be Told Series” which will be aired every Tuesday evening.

During the maiden show last night, the chairperson took time to dismantle the misinformation, the lies and the deception in the video by the infamous “Loud Silence Media: With All Due Respect” that was broadcast awhile ago on an alleged Nicodemus Contracts being recklessly signed by the Minister of Works and Housing Hon. Samuel Atta Akyea as she was quizzed by the host of the show.

Obaa Yaa took listeners through the process of obtaining a commercial contract at the Ministry of Works and Housing based on her own research that she undertook. She assured listeners that the alarmist bells being sounded was much ado about nothing. She explained that contracts of this nature entails more than the simplistic quoting of figures just to alarm Ghanaians that was seen in the videos. NPP government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is a prudent government and does not cut corners in processes and all their endeavors.

She cautioned that, as we geared towards 2020 campaign and subsequent elections, falsehood and alarmists are going to be on the rise with the main goal to mislead and misinform Ghanaians. She encouraged listeners not to panic when such videos of propaganda and lies are displayed.

She explained that, commercial contracts can be likened or equated to a contract a little elevated above an expression of interest. She stated that, when an individual or group of individuals or a company, express interest of having the capacity and the wherewithal to construct a certain number of housing units, they apply to the Ministry of Works and Housing and express that intent. The Ministry will then respond to the application and invite them after the submitted paperwork has been thoroughly studied, and if it meets the ministry’s requirements. Their application will include their technology(If any - which goes through a very rigorous processes before approval) and the preliminary drawings. If the technical team approves to the preliminary drawings and specifications then the ministry will sign an MOU with the said company or individual.

The submitted preliminary plans must contain the floor plans, pricing and costing, the bill of quantities, the room size and specifications for the drawings, the materials to be used etc; as part of the standard requirements. In some cases they will need clearance from the Standards Authority. All these due diligence work and many more steps are conducted by the Ministry of Works and Housing level before they sign a commercial contract which will spell out all the terms and conditions around the proposed project.

Commercial contract agreement sums are generally quoted in dollars and there is a very good reason why they do so, due to rate of exchange factors until the signing of the financial agreement where the conversion to cedis will be done.

Signing a commercial contract does not commit government to anything. The signed document is what expressly states the conditions and terms to be met before the actualization of a financial agreement between the client (MOWH) and the contractor. This is not a tendered project by the ministry for procurement processes to have applied. The Minister of State in Charge of Procurement does not come in on this kind of contract situation what-so-ever, likewise the Central Tender Review Board.

She reiterated the fact that, once one have obtained the commercial contract, one cannot proceed to do a structural plan yet which will capture the cost of structure, the cost of infrastructure etc. without an allocation of a land to evaluate the nature and the topology of the land where the houses will be built. At the structural plan stage, some of the due diligence conducted at this point also includes presenting the term sheet- interest rate, the loan itself, the penalties involved, the origin of the loan, bank statements, proof of funds etc. As part of the authentication, the Ministry of Works and Housing can even fly to the country where the funds is being sourced if outside Ghana to make sure the funds are not money-laundered funds. The proposed land and the leases associated with them should all have been obtained at this point. Town planning, zoning and other drainage system requirements are all to be satisfied, and concluded before the comprehensive document is submitted to Ministry of Finance for further preparation for parliament.

Before it goes to Parliament, copies are sent to Attorney General, Inter-Ministerial group(if any) or to any ministries or agencies that have or may have oversight on construction to pass their approvals and due diligence processes and tests. There is also the possibility of the contract going to cabinet for approval before it is presented to Parliament.

At the Parliamentary level, select committees also get involved in the due diligence process before the entire Parliament could approve or eject it. The Attorney General’s approval will be required as well. Once Parliament approves it, then it goes back to the Ministry of Finance. It is at this stage that the Ministry of Finance will sign the off-taker agreement (Financial Agreement) during which the project cost will be finally quoted in Cedi equivalent due to exchange rate factors and how long the processes take to complete.

The Ministry of Finance will also review the delivery schedules, make adjustments, review all other payment terms and the quantity of housing units they can absolved. All these details will be spelt out in the financial agreement document before signing, and the transaction would likely appear in the next budget statement of the Ministry of Finance. At this stage the contractor can move to site and start work.

The Government of Ghana would have also committed herself to a financial agreement which is now binding on Ghana. If the contractor builds, the Government of Ghana have no choice but to take the houses built.

Let’s be reminded that, the Government of Ghana does not give guarantees or mobilization for such projects. The individuals and their companies source their own funds to build, while the Government of Ghana becomes the off-taker.

From the above, where is the scandal? Where is Ghana going down the drain? Where is the country being robbed? Where is the misinformation that Ghana will not have a dime? Where was due diligence not being followed by Ministry of Works and Housing? Where lies the criminality and the name calling? We should not hide behind social media and think that we can denigrate people just because we think we are exercising our freedom of expression.

If the infamous “Loud Silence Media: With All due Respect” is to worth his sort, then he needs to devote quality time to research, study and understand processes before coming out to quote big figures around thinking the good people of Ghana are gullibles and will swallow the misinformation, the lies and the deception hook, line and sinker.

In her conclusion, Obaa Yaa emphasized that, if a little research to understanding of the processes was respectfully done, it would have unraveled and answered most or all the 30 or so questions “With All Due Respect” had and bandied around.

Let us continue to have faith in the Akufo-Addo’s NPP government the surest way to a sustained development.

Be assured that, NPP-USA will continue to do her research, get the facts, to debunk and dismantle all the lies, the deceit and the misinformation being circulated with the goal to mislead Ghanaians.

Columnist: NPP-USA Communications Directo