The Herald is picking up reports of a massive rot at the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) calling for urgent action to save the institution which is heavily indebted.
Amongst the allegations are that, goods supplied to schools in the name of NAFCO, are not meeting the right quantities for the prices they are charged by the suppliers.
Officials of NAFCO, are said to be deeply involved in these criminal conduct of bloated prices with the connivance of some unscrupulous school heads. Some audit reports from the Auditor-General’s Department, are said to have identified some of these rots.
However, the Chief Executive Officer of NAFCO, Alhaji Hannan Abdul-Wahab, who is expected to ensure the proper checks and balances are put in place, is said to be busily chasing a Parliamentary seat, hoping to make it to the 2025 Parliament, hence is shirking his responsibilities.
Alhaji Hanan Abdul-Wahab, in May this year, declared his intention to contest the Pusiga constituency parliamentary seat in the Upper East Region on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) when the party officially opens nominations.
He hardly stays in office to address concerns about the institution.
Last week, members of the National Food Suppliers Association, besieged the premises of NAFCO, refusing to leave until the debt owed them is paid.
The aggrieved members besieged NAFCO’s premises to start a picket as part of their efforts to compel the company to pay them money they are owed for food they supplied to Senior High Schools across the country.
In the midst of this, monies released by government to the NAFCO for onward payment to various suppliers, The Herald learnt, are not getting to them as they are dissipated at the head office on the claim of servicing legacy debts. Interestingly, the payment of these debts, are never exhausted, so the institution remains heavily indebted.
The Herald has cited a letter dated June 4, 2023 signed by Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum to Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, in which he demanded the “release of funds for the payment of 2022 Outstanding Interventions”.
Amongst other things, the letter said “we humbly request for the release of an amount of Two Hundred and Seventy-Five Million, Thirty-One Thousand, Five Hundred and Forty-Two Ghana Cedis, Seventy Pesewas (GHC275, 031,542.70) to enable the Ministry honor the 2022 Free SHS outstanding claims that have been vetted for payment.
The greater part of last week had seen members of the National Food Suppliers Association lamenting to the public about their plight as a result of the debt owed them by NAFCO.
On Wednesday, the spokesperson for the association, Kwaku Amedume, told the media that arrangements had been made to provide shelter for the aggrieved members, so they could have a meeting with the company’s Chief Executive Officer, but they would not accept this offer.
“This afternoon, around 2 p.m., the deputy CEO, Peter Amankwah, came to us and said he would like to provide us with a place to sleep and have a meeting with the CEO on Monday. He said two people would have to share a bed, and they said they could not provide us with food. But we don’t want to hear any more of these stories.
“We rejected the offer to provide us with a place to sleep because we are comfortable on the NAFCO premises. Our money has depreciated by over 400% in the past two years.”
In a statement released on Thursday, July 6, NAFCO said it acknowledged its debt to the National Food Suppliers Association and sympathized with them for the unfortunate situation they have found themselves in saying the company has scheduled a meeting to resolve the issue.
Two members of the association were also taken ill on Wednesday, July 5, after sleeping in the harsh weather.
On Friday, there was an argument between the Minority caucus and Bryan Acheampong when the caucus paid a working visit to the NAFCO on Friday to ascertain the issue on the ground.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Juaboso, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, who was part of the group noted the arrogant posture of the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Bryan Acheampong, saying will not address the issue for which members of the Association have besieged the premises of the NAFCO.
A video circulating on social media showed Mr Acheampong in a heated exchange of words with members of the Minority caucus.
“The arrogant posture of the Minister when we visited the protestors was highly unacceptable, unwarranted, and I think that it is becoming unbecoming of him and the earlier he puts an end to that kind of behaviour the better for him,” he was speaking in an interview on Citi FM in Accra on Friday.
According to the NDC MP, what the Food and Agriculture Minister ought to have done, was to have engaged them when they went there and not attack them.
“The most responsible thing he could have done was to have called us aside, jaw-jaw with us before engaging the press and not start attacking the Minority Leader,” he said.
Mr Akandoh explained that the caucus went to the NAFCO to have first-hand information on the matter so as to ask the relevant questions if the Agric, Education and Finance ministers appeared before the house as directed by the Speaker of Parliament.
“This issue of picketing was raised on the floor of Parliament on Friday during proceedings and therefore the Speaker directed that the ministers involved must be programmed to appear before the house next week.”
“So as a responsible Minority and any MP, you need to have first-hand information before you can ask the relevant questions. So when we heard that they were picketing at the Buffer Stock Company, we took the opportunity to show concern and have first-hand information,” Mr Akandoh stated.
He emphasised that they were all stakeholders in the country’s governance process for which reason they were going to ensure that the right thing was done at all times, adding that “Arrogance won’t solve problems, disrespect doesn’t add up to competence.”
Mr Amedume, said the rough weather conditions and the emotional trauma that members are going through during the picketing at the Buffer Stock Company contributed to the unfortunate occurrence.
“Yesterday, we had some of our members taken ill. Two of them were treated and discharged, and one is okay. We hope the other one gets well.
“Sleeping out here is part of the reason she fell sick. Also, the mere fact that her money is still with the Buffer Stock Company and there is no hope as to when her money is going to be paid is part of it. If creditors call you and shout on the phone, you have no idea the kind of emotional torture that we go through. So, these are all part of the reasons the two were taken ill yesterday.”
The disgruntled members, who are pushing for their two years’ arrears to be paid immediately to keep their businesses afloat, also emphasized that, they are undeterred by the silence of the Buffer Stock Company on their demands.
Mr Amedume, further disclosed that members were told to be patient until the chief executive officer of the Buffer Stock Company arrived from Hajj last year, but their monies have yet to be paid a year after his arrival.
“It only confirms that these people are not serious about working for the government. It tells you that they don’t want to serve but only want to be served. We were told last year to wait until the CEO arrives from Mecca, and he came back, and it is still the same story.”