Act On SADA Now, Mr. President!

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One of the major criticisms against President Mahama by his political opponents is his supposed confession of indecisiveness and inability to take tough decisions in his entire political career from his first term as a Member of Parliament (MP) in the late 1990s up to his ascension to the high office of the President of the republic in 2012.

The litmus test to that criticism is the on-going corruption revelations by the Accra-based private radio station, Joy FM involving some top officials of Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) and their collaborators. Key among them is the disgraced former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SADA, Mr. Gilbert Seidu Iddi.

Just as President Mahama, Mr. Iddi is a Gonja from Bole in the Northern Region of Ghana and coincidentally is also a former Member of Parliament for Bole-Bamboi before he was defeated in akeenly contested parliamentary primeries in the run-up to the 1996 elections by then candidate Mahama who went ahead to win the seat for the then Rawlings-led NDC government.

Therefore, one wonders whether the President can muster the needed courage and political will to overlook the dicey ethnic and filial ties to bring Mr. Gilbert Iddi to justice in this unfolding SADA corruption saga.

In my opinion, it is better for Mr. Iddi to stand trial now under a friendly regime than to postpone the punishment for another government that could potentially be the opposition NPP should the pendulum swings in the elections 2016. Should that happen, he is likely to face a harsher punishment.

Others who are said to be participants in this gang rape and organized robbery of SADA funds are Mr. Roland Agambire of ACI limited, Mr. Dan Saaka Ahmed of the struggling Plus One Investment Limited, among others.

Mr. Roland Agambire is seen as a close ally of President Mahama but is also said to be a deeply unpopular figure among majority of the senior members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), who see him as an outsider scavenging in their territory and taking everything to himself and his empire, to the detriment of the party and its members. While he has friends on the other side of the political divide, Mr. Roland Agambire is seen as selfish and greedy person, given the reports on both GYEEDA and SADA. His two companies; ACI Limited and Asongtaba Cottage Industry are mired in allegations of serious financial impropriety as captured in the Auditor-General’s report being serialized by Joy FM.

A whopping GHC 32, 498, 000 (over c320 billion) paid to Roland Agambire’s ACI Construction Limited for the afforestation program has turned out to be waste.

Again, the reckless Gilbert Iddi management at SADA sunk GHC15 million to the Asongtaba guinea fowl project with nothing to show in terms of value for money.

Moreover, we have not been told why SADA’s GHC74.5m is sitting idle at Stanbic Bank since December 2012. No explanation on the interest accrued to this huge amount belonging to the poor people of the north. Mr. Alhassan Andani, as the SADA board Chairman, also doubles as the Managing Director of Stanbic Bank.

Again, an amount of GHC2, 771, 890 (almost c27 billion) paid to Dan Saaka Ahmed’s Plus One Investment Limited has also gone into the drain. The butter nut squash business at Yapei he tried operating died at birth. In fact the business collapsed four months after it started operation. Mr. Saaka is said to have diverted a chunk of the money he collected from SADA just about a year ago to support his greed and selfishness. We have information here in
Tamale that he bought several brand new cars for himself, his friends and relatives. He is also alleged to have bought houses in Accra and other parts of the Northern Region. Most former workers of Plus One Investment Limited who spoke to us here in Tamale said they were not paid for almost seven months now after discharging various services to the company. Other farmers with the company also disclosed that they were cheated by Mr. Dan Saaka’s Plus One Limited. They are therefore appealing to the government to take action to retrieve their monies from Mr. Dan Saaka for them.

Mr. Dan Saaka Ahmed is a relatively unknown person in this saga, but my investigations revealed that just like President Mahama and Mr. Gilbert Iddi, he is also a Gonja from East Gonja District. However, he is said to be a staunch NPP supporter and an ally to Hon. Boniface Abubakar Sadique, former Works and Housing Minister under the Kufuor administration and MP for Salaga.

He was introduced to Mr. Gilbert Iddi by friends with the false assurance of capabilities in agro-business especially, butter nut squash, mango and other fruits.

So far, President Mahama has kept mute on the revelations and one wonders what is going on in his mind given the pervasive perception of corruption and the opposition NPP’s determination to use the issues of corruption and the failing economy to prosecute their campaign for the 2016 elections.

Already, they have many unresolved corruption cases in their campaign arsenal against the Mahama-led governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) including GYEEDA, SUBAH, WOYOME, SADA, among others.

The enterprising Joy Fm investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni in his on-going revelations has thrown more light into the worrying SADA corruption allegations. This should be a source of worry for the President given the fact that SADA has been his brainchild during the electioneering campaign in the run-up to the 2008 elections.

Almost six years after the elections with him as the vice-president and now the president, the NDC has absolutely very little, if anything at all to show to the people of the northern regions that they are committed to fulfilling their promises to them.

With these reports of corruption at SADA, one wonders what message his party will be going back to the north with, two years from now, when we are going for another election.

I wonder what would significantly change in the north from now to December 2016 when we go back to the polls to decide who gets the people’s mandate to lead this nation.

That is why the President has to take action against those who have ravaged the concept and the coffers of SADA to show to the northerners that he is not complicit in the lootings that denied them the opportunity to develop and catch-up with the rest of the country.

For, in my estimation, what has been wasted by these corrupt and filthy elites in the name of SADA projects could have built at least one good hospital in all the district capitals of the SADA zones where people could die for their inability to afford the cost of medication ofa mere snake bite. Pregnant women have to be taken on bicycles or motor bikes for long distances to hospitals to give birth. In fact most of the district hospitals refer some pregnant women and some severe sicknesses to the regional hospitals in Tamale, Bolgatanga or Wa for medical care. In some circumstances, the patients die before they could reach these hospitals given the bad conditions of the roads.

This is the grim reality we northerners have found ourselves and then you have this heartless people raiding the coffers of SADA for their greed and selfish ends.

I am therefore alarmed to see President Mahama shown on GTV on Monday 21st April, 2014 visiting a church in his hometown of Bole to celebrate Easter festivities andin his retinue included the disgraced former CEO of the corrupt-ridden Savanna Accelerated Authority (SADA).

While I do not know the circumstances under which Mr. Gilbert Iddi joined the President’s retinue in that church, I believe that the President would save his image from further battery from the opposition and his critics if he avoids moving in public gatherings with the disgraced former SADA boss.

I think Gilbert Iddi and his collaborators should have been arrested by now if the President is interested in fighting corruption and organized robbery of public funds.

Mr. Gilbert Iddi cannot absolve himself of the responsibility for what has happened at SADA and if President Mahama fails to prosecute him, then Mr. Gilbert should pray that the NDC and President Mahama win the 2016 elections. If he cares to know, the NPP, given their records in the Kufuor era, would ensure that he and his collaborators are prosecuted for their crimes against the people of the north, should they get the mandate of Ghanaians in the 2016 election.

Again, I was alarmed to have read on this same Ghanaweb a news story attributed to GNA, on Sunday April 20, 2014 that some engineers have presented development proposal to SADA for the infrastructure development of the savanna zone.

According to the story, “the Ghana Institution of Engineers (GIE) has presented an infrastructure development proposal document to the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) for effective collaboration to bridge the development gap in the SADA zones.”

“The two institutions would be signing a Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) to serve as a working document that would guide the execution of the work plan, aimed at transforming the infrastructure and economic systems in SADA’s operational areas.”

My advice to the Mahama government is to tread cautiously in this so-called infrastructure development in the SADA zones. The government should be guided by what is currently happening with SADA funds in even very less complicated projects like guinea fowl, afforestation and butter nut squash.

Government should channel whatever resources available for infrastructure development in the north to the requisite infrastructure MDA (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) to carry out the projects in order to ensure accountability and value for money for the poor people of the north.

The Three Presidents immediately preceding President Mahama had successfully undertaken infrastructure development in the northern regions through the existing MDAs.

President Rawlings’exemplary performance on road and electricity projects in the north has been one of the best things to have happened to the north. President Kufuor also did his part in transforming the northern regions. And one can easily mention the Tamale Sports Stadium. On his part, President Mills, despite his health challenges during his time as the President also initiated the modernization of the Tamale Hospital.

President Mahama should do well and at least do one thing that the people of the north can remember him with. And this can only happen in the next two years because nobody knows the outcome of the 2016 elections.

That is why he has to muster the needed political will and courage to retrieve all the monies squandered by SADA officials and their collaborators so that government can use that to launch some infrastructure projects.

If not, should President Mahama lose the next elections he would go down in history as one of the leaders who have done very little to reduce poverty and deprivation in the three northern regions; with no single project or infrastructure to be remembered with.

SHAKUR NURUDEEN MAHAMA
Nuru2014mahama@gmail.com
TAMALE

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