Seasoned journalist, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako has berated former President John Dramani Mahama for claiming the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) has been embarking on a ''sakawa'' sod-cutting of projects.
The Flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Mahama, speaking at the party’s Town Hall meeting held in Kumasi questioned the NPP's commitment to complete the projects saying it's all a ploy to gain electoral advantage.
Sakawa Sod Cutting
Mr. Mahama raised red flags over validity of the NPP's sod-cutting, asserting there is no funding for them.
He believed the NPP is just pulling wool over Ghanaian's eyes.
To buttress his point and not as a sign of blowing his own horn, the ex-president revealed that he vowed during his tenure not to commission projects until contractors have moved to the sites of the specific projects, and he has been faithful to that promise.
“I learnt from a hospital project in Upper East when I was Vice President. Since that project, I told myself I will never cut sod until I have seen a contractor at the site. These days you see the President and Vice President cutting sod everywhere without any contractor there.
''Nananom, if they come to your town to cut sod for a project ask them two questions, let them tell you if the project were captured under the 2020 budget or whether parliament has approved a loan for the project. If they’re unable to answer then it means the sod cutting is a scam, it’s because of the elections. It is sakawa or 419'', he stated.
The NDC flagbearer made these comments regarding the recent sod-cutting ceremonies by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for the commencement of projects.
Setting the Records Straight
Kweku Baako, addressing the issue on Peace FM's ''Kokrokoo'', sought to reveal the real scam between projects by President Nana Akufo-Addo and that of Ex-President John Mahama.
He disclosed that, unlike President Akufo-Addo who does due diligence before cutting sods, Ex-President Mahama was guilty of cutting certain sods during his administration for electoral purposes only.
Mr. Baako, who is known for his impeccable record keeping, went into his archives and pulled out volumes of official documents to back his assertions.
He alluded to Mr. Mahama cutting sod for the construction of phase two of the Kumasi International Airport in 2016 but stressed it was needless and baseless because no proper preparations had been made for the project to materialize.
''My checks indicate that that particular sod cutting was needless. It had no real foundation because it's true Parliamentary approval for that particular loan facility had been effected but there were conditions precedent which were laid out that without that the agreements will not come into force. Some were value for money audit and others were that he should sign the loan agreement before they can proceed with the construction. At the time he cut the sod, the financing agreements had not been signed. Indeed, these things were done in 2018.
''My own checks and documentations I have accessed, point to the fact that the first sod cutting was for purely electoral purposes. Oh yes! It was completely baseless. There was no basis for it; no foundation for it but they did cut the sod on 5th December 2016...It was totally unnecessary but it was done for as I said electoral purposes'', he told host Kwami Sefa Kayi.
He added that it took President Nana Akufo-Addo to give the financial clearance for the project.
''It could be recalled that President Akufo-Addo also cut sod for the same project - phase 2. So, you had a ridiculous situation where two Presidents had cut sods for the same project at different times. You must ask yourself why and how? Which one was sustainable?
''The financial agreements were signed in 2018. It was in 2018, early days, that they completed the value for money audit.''
The veteran journalist further exposed the NDC flagbearer saying his administration portrayed a similar attitude on the Tema motorway in November, 2016.
He said ''at the time he (Mahama) was cutting the sod, there was nothing on the ground in terms of budget or loan agreement or anything. Indeed, at the end of the day, the truth is that they appealed to the Japanese government in 2013 for ground assistance to undertake that project''.
Again, the Tema motorway was also finalized in 2017 which saw Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia cutting sod for the same project.
''Bawumia's sod cutting was more meaningful because they had finished the feasibility studies and presented the final report for us and we had chosen which option of the interchange we wanted, and had also signed the financial agreement'', he said.
Kweku Baako, responding to former President John Mahama, made a sarcastic reference to the latter's sakawa comment.
''I've seen President Mahama has now fallen in love with the word 'sakawa''' Mr. Baako chipped in.
Regarding Mahama's penchant for sod-cutting projects without budgetary allocation, Mr. Baako light-heartedly stated; ''I haven't said it was sakawa''.