President John Dramani Mahama, we are told, returned to Accra early Saturday morning on January 4th 2014. Certainly 2013 was one of the most difficult years for most people in this country.
We thank the Almighty for the safe arrival of the Head of State. One hopes that with the Commander in Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces safely tucked in his bunker at the Jubilee House, he would begin to work out some magic to enable Ghanaians enjoy the benefits of a nation so rich in human and natural resources, and yet so poor that it is unable to cater for the basic needs of the citizenry.
While President Mahama was rollicking in oil-rich Dubai with his family, many heads of households at the centre of the earth, were struggling to provide one decent meal a day for the family at Yuletide. The escalating cost of living coupled with the fact that most companies could not even pay their workers before the Christmas break, conspired to deny most families the benefit of the traditional chicken at Yuletide.
The failure of this administration to complete the 31.7 kilometre Teacher Mante-Suhum-Apedwa stretch of the Accra-Kumasi Highway, after five years in government, means that many Ghanaians had a bumpy ride home for the Christmas festivities, while the President was spoiled for choice in oil rich United Arab Emirates.
An official release from the Office of the President, on the Presidential retreat in Dubai, included an official photograph of President Mahama, virtually grinning in discussions with Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on a bench.
I bet the President of the Republic of Ghana, is not used to sitting on that kind of hard surface provided by a bench. The Head of State constructing a Better Ghana, propelled by the latest arrival to the table of social democrats, is more comfortable relaxing on sofas with their soft padding.
We are told in the official release that discussions centered on government’s efforts at modernizing especially the capital city. Once upon a regime, there was a ministry in charge of modernizing the capital city. Five years after the exit of the regime, a number of police barracks in the capital city, still need the services of human beings carrying the night soil. Our developmental issues are that dire.
“President Mahama recognized Dubai’s growth and development over the last few years, noting that Ghana and especially Accra, can go the way of the Arab city,” according to the official Presidential bulletin.
The problem with this kind of pronouncement is its ability to translate from the word into action. Dubai and its entire Emirates have been built on returns from the Gulf state’s huge oil deposits. This nation began extracting the black gold from the bosom of the Gulf of Guinea, off Cape Three Points, in December 2010.
Apart from socialist Tsatsu Tsikata, who was handed US$5m by the incoming administration, headed by deceased President John Evans Atta Mills, with Mr. Mahama as his understudy, not many Ghanaians have had their lives impacted by the exploitation of our oil reserves.
“Ghana,” in the words of the sitting President, “will draw lessons from Dubai’s developmental model and benefit from its human expertise and energies,” The last time Mr. Dramani Mahama was involved in a city development model, the Graphic Road in Accra, spotted a flyover that took its shape from an anthill.
Even then, Ghanaians cannot afford to lose sight of the significance of the official bulletin which ended with Sheikh Bin Rashid, listed as also Vice-President and ruler of Dubai, stressing the need to enhance bilateral co-operation and exchange of expertise in areas such as tourism, oil and infrastructure development.
In spite of the intentions contained in the official bulletin, Ghanaians have reasons to wonder about the real motive for the Presidential retreat in Dubai, especially when information is filtering through that the trip was facilitated by Mr. Roland Agambire, Chief Executive Officer of AGAMS Group of Companies, one Ghanaian who appears to be enjoying all the goodies of state, since President John Dramani Mahama moved into the Presidency.
Let me stress though that it is never an offence for a Ghanaian to arrange for the visit of the Head of State of the Republic, to any country. The problem with this leisure trip to the Emirates is the impact it would have on the already depleted state coffers. I do not have only the cost of air tickets and hotel accommodation in mind.
I am looking at the broader picture of how state resources could be compromised as a result of this trip. Already, evidence has emerged of state patronage of the various companies under the AGAMS Group in very bizarre circumstances.
We are told, for instance, that under the Savannah Accelerated Development Agency, the state of Ghana advanced a cool GH˘33m to the Asontaba Cottage Industry operated by the AGAMS Group, for an afforestation project in northern Ghana.
The news in that novelty is that not a single tree has been identified standing in the name of that project. We are told that the trees withered because they were planted in the dry season.
The interesting development is that no one has been able to identify the site where this pilot scheme was carried out. As at now, there is no information on any one has being called to order about the state expenditure.
There is this project too of making guinea fowls available to Ghanaians at cheaper cost. The snag is that the birds are said to have migrated to Burkina Faso. We have waited all this while without any information about their return.
Once more officials voted into office to safeguard the national purse have decided to keep mute over the issue. The beneficiary company, dear reader, is Asontaba Cottage Industry under the AGAMS Group of companies.
The stinking report on GYEEDA (National Youth Employment and Entreprenuerial Development Authority) cited a number of wrong doings on the part of the AGAMS Group, which together with other service providers, were alleged to have fleeced the state of over GH˘200m. As you read this piece, no mechanism has been put in place to recover the huge state funds that have gone down the drain.
As the nation prepared for the Yuletide festivities, it emerged that the Ministry of Information and Media Relations had used the GH˘1m seed money set aside by this caring government, as Media Development Fund, to purchase lap-tops from guess where, the AGAMS Group.
The interesting development in this latest saga is that the various media organizations including the National Media Commission had no idea about how the decision was arrived at. Dear reader, that is not the only reason that makes the Presidential link to Mr. Roland Agambire and his business empire questionable.
In the run-up to the 2012 Presidential and Legislative elections, the state of Ghana, under President Mahama conceived the idea of empowering every school child in Ghana to own a lap-top.
Millions of Ghana cedis were poured into the venture which involved purchasing computers from the AGAMS Group amid roof-top advertisement of presentations to institutions and individuals.
The exercise appeared to have ended with the vote. For me as a Ghanaian and a social commentator, I am under no illusion that there is a link between President Mahama and the AGAMS Group of Companies and Jubilee House needs to come clean.
If the President is not aware, the rumour mills are busy churning out all sorts of information linking him to the fortunes of Mr. Roland Agambire. To be brutally frank, there are suggestions that President John Dramani Mahama may have shares in the company, which may be held in trust. When the President rollicks in Dubai at Christmas, there is a lot he needs to tell Ghanaians about.
Source: Ebo Quansah/The Chronicle
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