Northern Development Authority has no record

Thu, 8 Oct 2020 Source: Kwesi Mbire Jr.


There was a recent news item doing the rounds on mainstream media and social media platforms in which Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia was quoted as having challenged HE John Dramani Mahama “to name one legacy of his failed SADA.” According to the news item, Dr. Bawumia was speaking at a durbar held in his honour by Obore Gariba Yonkosor II, Paramount Chief of Tatale in the Northern Region.

Dr. Bawumia was quoted as saying, “under Nana Addo Dankwa Akufu-Addo, we have the Northern Development Authority (NDA) and we have many projects that are ongoing in Tatale across the districts. In the last three years, we have dug 69 boreholes to deal with [the] water problem across the district. We have completed five (5) small-town water systems as well as built classrooms in many places.”

Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA)

The late President JEA Mills after looking at the original concept of creating a vehicle to push the development of the regions in the north, decided to broaden the scope of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) to cover the then five regions of the country, which had the same Savannah climatic conditions.

The SADA zone therefore stretched across 63 districts, from the northern parts of the then Volta, Brong, Northern, Upper East, and Upper West Regions.

The following are visible structures put in place by the Mills-led administration to allow the Authority realize its vision of becoming “A transformed Northern Savannah Ecological Zone (NSEZ): a place of opportunity and free from poverty.”

* The most single major achievement under SADA by the previous government was the development of the SADA Concept Master Plan.

* SADA also concluded the preparation of a master document in 2016 for priority projects under what was termed “Selected Catalytic Projects.”

Below are highlights of projects which would have commenced in 2017 but for the change in government:

a. The North-South Highway or Expressway – was proposed in anticipation of the growing number of vehicles on the road in the next decades due to the improvement in the living standards of Ghanaians as well as the increase in the volume of goods movement within Ghana and from Ghana to landlocked Burkina Faso.

b. The Ada-Buipe/Yapei Shipping Route Project – this project was was envisaged to provide a continuous water navigation route from the sea up to 700 plus kilometres to Buipe, to make Ghana more competitive for transit trade to our Sahelian neighbours, reduce cost of doing business in the North and facilitate the mining of the Sheini iron ore and lime deposits in the Gonja and Mamprusi areas. It was also meant to open up underlying areas for tourism (for example, Digya Forest) and other development (for example, Keta Krachi, Makango and Yeji).

c. Nasia-Nabogo Irrigation and Commercial Agriculture Project – the proposed project had three components: bulk water infrastructure; the management of the infrastructure and the cultivation of the irrigable area.

d. Tamale new Central Business District – this was to provide landmark twin towers to be built, an integrated commercial hub and podium exhibition/convention centres, multi-storey car parks, four-star hotels, retail centres, high rise apartments, among others.

e. Tamale Airport City and Industrial Park – to create a vibrant economy in and around the Airport with a logistics infrastructure to turn Tamale into the logistics hub of West Africa.

f. Buipe Waterfront City – proposed project involved development of a 1,000-hectare multi-purpose port and Special Economic Zone in Buipe to include warehouses and logistics complex, truck terminal, 70 MW solar power farm, small container port, and a waterfront with picturesque identity and so on.

g. Development of the Bolgatanga Dry Port, Logistics and Free Trade Zone – development of a 400-hectare Free Trade Zone with warehouses and logistics, hotels, car workshops, reassembling and packaging industries.

h. Wa Agro and Food Processing Park – proposed project included development of a 150-hectare Industrial Park with Agro-processing industrial cluster, services and warehousing facilities

i. Dambai Aquaculture Centre – Development of a 30-hectare aquaculture centre in Dambai with fish breeding area at the waterfront, R&D and fish processing facilities.

j. Sep up of the Centre of Excellence for Polytechnic and Technical Education in the Northern Savanna.h Ecological Zone.

* Under the previous regime, the SADA Act 805 was promulgated and the late President Mills and released a seed fund of GHS280 million (Two Hundred Million Ghana Cedis), which was part of funds originally voted by the J.A. Kufuor previous regime.

* Again, SADA prepared a comprehensive Districts’ Investment Guide, which detailed the investment potentials in the 63 districts covered under the Authority.

* The previous regime also secured the land and buildings at Lamashegu in Tamale, to serve as the headquarters of SADA. The then government also donated a prime office with a vast compound near the American Embassy in Accra, which serves as the Liaison Office of the Authority. This Accra Liaison Office, which the NPP government upon assuming the reins of government in 2017 wanted to annex for the Ministry of Special Development Initiatives, interestingly, currently co-hosts the Middle Belt Development Authority and the rechristened Northern Development Authority (NDA).

* A Commercial Agricultural Investment Guide was also developed by SADA.

The following table shows some remarkable, if modest details of the records of SADA. All this information is available on the internet:

Sad story of Northern Development Authority (NDA)

When it comes to the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, led by HE President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Vice-President Dr. Bawumia do not have any moral right to complain, because all they have to show is the change in name from Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) to Northern Development Authority (NDA).

For three-and-a-half years, they have no tangible life changing project on the grounds but have rather converted the once profitable and attractive SADA into a huge liability that is tethering on its past glory.

Some low points of the [new] NDA include but not limited to:

Firstly, prior to 2017 SADA (now NDA) had just one Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and a Chief Operating Officer (COO). The NPP government scrapped the lean organizational structure they inherited and created an amorphous structure, with a CEO and three (3) deputy CEOs.

The major beneficiary of this bizarre structural change is Dr. Bawumia, who has appointed his sister, Hajia Lariba Zuweira Abudu as one of the three deputy CEOs. Bawumia’s sister who was a basic School Teacher before her appointment is also the current NPP parliamentary candidate for Walewale.

Secondly, at the time the NDC left office, as stated above there was only one CEO. With the current situation of a CEO and three deputies, each deputy has a brand-new Toyota Landcruiser Prado and a brand new saloon car, while the CEO has a brand new Landcruiser in Tamale, a brand new Toyota Landcruiser in Accra, as well as a brand new saloon car. Just do the math and see how much development you are depriving the Savannah Zone of from this elephantine organizational structure!

Thirdly, under the NDA, the current government has [only] reduced the coverage area of the Authority from the previous 63 districts to 50!

Fourth, the NDA led by Dr. Majeed Haroon a former CEO gifted (dashed) more than 400 tricycles to the dreaded “Kandahar NPP vigilante” group. The cost of a tricycle was GHS4,500. This means Dr. Bawumia and his NPP gifted GHS1.8 million of the NDA’s assets to their vigilante group.

It should be noted that SADA purchased the tricycles with the intention of using them to help alleviate the transportation woes of people in deprived SADA zones. But the NPP government has audaciously shared the bikes to its dreaded Kandahar vigilante group free of charge.

Fifth, the NDA has land for development into a modern Head Office Complex at Watherston Road in Tamale. But the current management, possibly upon advice from government, chose to spend a whopping GHS2.5 million to rent a luxurious office space from the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) as a temporary Head Office in the same Tamale.

The NDA and its current management have also sold the Hydrafom Block Laying Machines which were bought to mould blocks for the rural folks at affordable prices. These machines are also believed to be running into several hundreds of Ghana Cedis.

What is even worse, painstaking investigations show that today’s collapsing and heavily polarized politicized NDA is hardly even able to meet the payment of salaries and honour statutory obligations of its employees on time. For more than a year now, staff salaries have always delayed, sometimes staff salaries are in areas for three months!

The long and short of the NPP government’s achievement under the NDA can be best summarized into one sentence: “The NPP has only succeeded in cannibalizing assets of the authority and reduced the entity into a pale shadow of itself.”

Instead of rather praising himself and his government on ‘turning the NDA zone into a non-existent paradise on earth, in the public interest, Veep Dr. Bawumia should rather help institute some sanity into the operations of the NDA.’

Finally, which serious organization, particularly a development focused vehicle such as the NDA could be operating for almost four years without a strategic plan or concept paper? This is a scandal unmatched in the world of development.

Kwesi Mbire Jr. is an Economist based in the US. He has consulted for reputable institutions, including the UN, World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), among others. He can be reached at: mbire.kjunior@gmail.com,/I>

Columnist: Kwesi Mbire Jr.