One of the sad episodes of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government was the perception that it lacked the political will to deal with corruption or the perception of it. No other institution came to symbolise this creeping abuse, misuse and mismanagement of state institutions than SADA amongst others. SADA was a flagship project.
When President Mahama took the bold step of changing the leadership of SADA, this was expected to herald a new era of hope for the long-suffering people of the SADA zone. Jokes apart, SADA almost came to exemplify the failure of the Northern elite, who when given an opportunity to serve the poor people of the area failed so miserably that it was almost shameful to identify oneself as part of that small but rapacious elite.
Then comes Charles Abugre appointed by the John Mahama administration as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Once in a generation a personality comes to represent the hopes and aspirations of the people. Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah came to represent the hopes of Africa the world over. Other world leaders have done the same. In the case of SADA, this role was left to Charles Abugre, who came not to save SADA as an institution but also to save the Northern elite from shame. Undoubtedly, he held SADA back from the brink, and turned it round. It has regained its status as a flagship project of the Ghanaian state.
Recently Public Agenda has learned that for the past 5 years, and in the latter years of the NDC administration, the institution was starved of funds. It is tempting to ask why, but to what purpose? Fortunately for SADA, Charles used his excellent fundraising and interpersonal skills to keep the vision of SADA alive. Others would have walked away. More than that, he went on to initiate projects which gained the acceptance of Ghana’s development partners and the international community.
At the time of writing this editorial, the Nana Akufo Addo’s government is in the process of creating three new Development Authorities. Ghana will have the Northern Development Authority; the Middle Belt Development Authority and the Coastal Development Authority. This is no doubt a laudable objective which holds great promise for Ghana’s efforts to eradicate poverty.
However, the NPP government should ensure that it does not treat these Authorities the way SADA was treated. Creating a Development Authority should not be a matter of fulfilling election promises. It is about the lives of people. This also requires financial resources, political commitment, a visionary national leadership and political will to take on the corrupt elements in these regions. SADA suffered because none of these was forthcoming, in spite of all the good intentions of President Mahama and his predecessors.
We should learn the lessons that SADA provides in the creation of these Authorities. The NPP administration should ensure sufficient allocation of resources; the appointment of competent and committed personal like Mr Abugre, and involve the citizens at all levels to ensure accountability, effective monitoring of the use of resources and in the implementation of projects.
Without the above, these Development Authorities will simply not deliver development. The current government cannot fail the people of Ghana once more. SADA survived 5 years without resources. It is not comfortable. The new Development Authorities will deliver, but they need the support of both the President and his Vice. Public Agenda welcomes this initiative.