Dame’s tape and Pwalugu’s ‘final payment’
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Dame’s tape and Pwalugu’s ‘final payment’

I am biased when it comes to discussing Godfred Yeboah Dame, who for me is the most impactful Attorney-General (A-G) in the Fourth Republic.

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My opinion of him, when I first wrote about him on this page in the ‘Daily Graphic’ a few months ago, has not diminished. So, how could he have, a la Ato Forson ambulance trial, allowed those words to come out of his mouth in that meeting with Richard Jakpa, during which he was secretly recorded?

How I wish we would wake up tomorrow morning to hear that the tape was doctored! But doctored or not, the little we’ve heard is damaging to his reputation. The Dame we’ve known as A-G should not be the one to ask an accused person to go for medical excuse duty to absent himself from court.  

More about this another time.

Pwalugu payment

This week, my ire has been provoked by the top civil servants who featured in the Pwalugu Dam US$11 million “final payment” episode. Reactions of citizens have been predictable; which hungry Ghanaian would not fume, seethe and curse upon being told that final payment had been made to contractors for no work done!

The MP who raised the issue at a sitting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament was justifiably flabbergasted. “Not even a signboard, only a small heap of chippings,” he reported in controlled rage. You could hear the pounding of every heart in the hall of the meeting.

The blood of 30 million-plus Ghanaians, from Elubo to Paga, from Aflao to Elubo, was boiling, especially when officials of the Auditor-General’s Department and the Bank of Ghana (BoG), their faces expressionless, gave the final judgement: “Final payment”.

They explained that they had done so on lawful instruction. We could take this from the BoG. However, since when have auditors given the go-ahead for payments without insisting on an on-the-spot, ‘filifili’ inspection?

I was as alarmed as everybody else when I first reviewed the viral video and instantly forwarded it to every media person I knew. I later looked up the website of VRA and googled the project.

That was when I felt like a fool. The US$11 million was the “final payment” alright, but my reading tells me it was apparently the final payment for an infinitesimal portion of the work.

In our justified anger, it had not occurred to most of us to find out the cost of the project completed. Most of us apparently forgot that President Akufo-Addo, in cutting the sod on November 29, 2019, gave the cost of the dam as US$993 million.

The Pwalugu multi-purpose dam is expected to consist of a hydro-solar hybrid system with 60 MW hydropower and 50 MW solar power, and an irrigation scheme covering an area of 25,000 hectares to supply water to the northern parts of the country.

The electricity produced will be fed into the existing Tamale-Bolgatanga transmission line. As an irrigation project, it will develop the irrigation potential of the White Volta plains, boost agricultural production and set the basis for agro-industries, including the Pwalugu tomato factory, 117,000 tons of rice and 49,000 tons of maize, besides onion, tomatoes, sweet potato, sweet pepper and watermelon, in addition to developing the fishery industry.

For many people living in that part of the country, the other good news is that the dam would control the perennial flooding in the Northern regions caused by heavy rains and the spillage from the Bagre Dam! In sum, the Pwalugu project, upon completion, will be the single largest investment ever made in the northern part of Ghana.

It is the brainchild of Flight Lieutenant J.J. Rawlings, in whose tenure as civilian President, the pre-feasibility study was carried out in 1993.

PAC sitting

Today’s article is a lament. As I play back the viral video of the PAC sitting at which the Pwalugu Dam “final payment” revelation was made, I am ashamed of the performance of our highly rated public servants.

These are the men in suits, riding in fully airconditioned brand new 4x4s, taking home monthly salaries that can build classrooms for entire villages, jetting almost monthly into the major capitals of the world for conferences and negotiations.

At the PAC sitting, they couldn’t tell that the US$11 million couldn’t have been the final, final payment, critical information that could have stilled the storm.

The NDC Minority Caucus disappointed me. Couldn’t they, with all their unfettered access to information ‒ without an RTI ‒ have called for further and better particulars before demanding accountability?

The Fantes have a word for their indecent haste: “When your enemy picks up the slightest gossip about you, they run to broadcast it without pausing to pick up their cloth”. 
Final question: Does the government have funds for the rest of the work? Can it be completed before December 2024? So, what is the basis of Bawumia’s assurances during his recent visit?

The writer is Executive Director,
Centre for Communication and Culture.
E-mail: [email protected]

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