Ghana Politics

‘Kweku Baako Lied’ – NDC Defends Mahama On Sod-Cutting Controversy

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The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has said it is not true that its flagbearer for the 2020 elections and former President, John Dramani Mahama, cut sod for projects that didn’t have funding.

Veteran journalist, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, criticised Mr Mahama recently during a radio discussion for saying that the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) has been embarking on a “sakawa” sod-cutting of projects.

Mr Mahama had used the term “sakawa” to suggest that the projects that the governing NPP was cutting the sod for were phantom initiatives and a mere attempt to win votes.

But Mr Kweku Baako, who has leanings with the governing NPP said unlike President Akufo-Addo who does due diligence before cutting sods, former President Mahama cut sods during his administration only to win votes.

But the NDC said in a statement released on Thursday, September 17, 2020, that “Mr. Baako’s claim that President Mahama cut the sod for the Tema Motorway Interchange project when no budgetary allocation or funding was available for same is a palpable falsehood.”

“The facts show, that even though the preparatory works and funding for the said project (a US$55 million grant from the Japanese government through JICA) was secured by the erstwhile NDC/Mahama government, H.E John Dramani Mahama never cut the sod for the commencement of the project when he was President of the Republic of Ghana between the period of 2013 to January 7, 2017,” the NDC added.

Read the full reaction from the NDC below.

Press Release

17th September, 2020

KWEKU BAAKO LIED ON THE MATTER OF SOD-CUTTING CEREMONIES BY JOHN MAHAMA.

The attention of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has been drawn to a publication by Peacefmonline.com and other online news portals, under the caption, “Kweku Baako “Exposes” Ex-Prez Mahama Over ‘Sakawa’ Projects”. In this story, the Editor-in-Chief of the Crusading Guide Newspaper, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako is reported to have accused H.E John Dramani Mahama for cutting the sod for the commencement of some projects, when funding for same had not been secured.

The NDC states unequivocally, that the claims attributed to Mr. Baako in the said publications are false and wish to set the records straight as follows:

1. Mr. Baako’s claim that President Mahama cut the sod for the Tema Motorway Interchange project when no budgetary allocation or funding was available for same is palpable falsehood.

The facts show, that even though the preparatory works and funding for the said project (a US$55 million grant from the Japanese government through JICA) was secured by the erstwhile NDC/Mahama government, H.E John Dramani Mahama never cut the sod for the commencement of the project when he was President of the Republic of Ghana between the period of 2013 to January 7, 2017.

Rather, it was the construction of two (2) 105-metre span flyovers from the Flower Pot Junction to link the Tema Motorway (BOG-funded) and another to link the East Legon/Shiashi stretch projects (GOG-funded), that President John Dramani Mahama cut the sod for, on 2nd November, 2016.

As a matter of fact, the sod-cutting ceremony for these two (2) projects which are separate and distinct from the JICA-funded Tema Interchange project, was done on the same day that President Mahama inaugurated the 4.7-kilometre road which runs from the Congo Junction at Burma Camp, through the Airport Hills Overpass to the Flower Pot Junction on the Spintex Road. See https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/prez-mahama-inaugurates-airport-hills-overpass.html.

It is instructive to note that the Contractors for both projects were already on site at the time President Mahama cut the sod for the commencement of the projects which were being funded from the government’s own resources and expected to be completed within 24 months at a cost of GH¢50 million. Therefore, the claim by Mr. Baako, that President Mahama cut the sod for the Tema Interchange project when no budgetary allocation or funding was available for same, is not borne out by the facts. For emphasis, H.E John Dramani Mahama never performed any sod-cutting ceremony for the Tema Motorway Interchange project when he was President of the Republic of Ghana. Mr. Baako’s claim is false, hence, must be retracted and an unqualified apology publicly rendered for same.

2. On the matter of the 2nd Phase of the Kumasi Airport Expansion project by President Mahama, it is instructive that Mr. Baako acknowledges that the loan for the project had been approved by the Parliament of Ghana at the time President Mahama cut the sod for the commencement of the project in December 2016. Indeed, President Mahama performed the sod-cutting ceremony after securing parliamentary approval of a loan of 65,037,500 Euros from Banco Santander S.A. and export credit support from the United Kingdom Export Finance Agency, for onward lending in the sum of 7,762,500 Euros, to the Ghana Airports Company Limited, in November, 2016.

Aside the fact that Parliament had approved the loan facility at the time President Mahama cut the sod for the project, the contractor, who had completed the first Phase of the project, had moved to site and had cleared and fenced the land for the take-off of Phase 2 of the project.

The claim by Mr. Baako that certain conditions precedent in the Project Agreements had not been fulfilled, hence it was “needless” for President Mahama to have cut the sod for the commencement of the project, is totally untenable in our view. The fact still remains, that Parliament had approved the loan facility for the project and the contractor was already on site at the time President Mahama cut the sod for the commencement of the project. Therefore, Mr. Baako’s assertion about unfulfilled conditions does not in any way contradict the statement made by President Mahama at the NDC’s Kumasi Town Hall Meeting that, he vowed never to cut sod for any project until he saw a contractor on site due to lessons he learnt from the delayed start of the Upper West Regional Hospital project.

The NDC wishes to reiterate President Mahama’s caution to the Chiefs and People of Ghana not to be hoodwinked by the fake (“Sakawa”) sod-cutting ceremonies being performed by President Akufo Addo and other officials of his government in recent time for the commencement of various projects across the country, funding for which are neither captured in the 2020 mid-year budget nor approved by Parliament.

We submit that, but for his wastefulness and unbridled penchant for profligacy and corruption, President Akufo Addo should have been commissioning significant developmental projects by now given the unprecedented total resource envelope of GHS374 billion that has accrued to his government in the last three (3) and half years and not be performing the fake (“Sakawa”) sod-cutting ceremonies we are currently witnessing, which are calculated for electoral votes and nothing more.

The desperate attempt by Mr. Abdul Malik Kweku Baako and other government spokespersons to parry this important issue and create the false impression that President Mahama is equally guilty of the practice of fake sod-cutting ceremonies should be dismissed and roundly condemned.

Signed

Sammy Gyamfi Esq.

(National Communications Officer)

17th September, 2020

Source: ghanaweb.com

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