The National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) has suspended its Upper West Regional Stores Manager, Ali Sulemana, indefinitely after expired food items were distributed to flood victims in the region at the weekend.
The NADMO Upper West Regional Coordinator, Seidu Issahaku Sulemana, has also been queried over the incident.
A three-member committee has also been instituted to investigate the facts about the incident that appears to have embarrassed Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia, who visited the region to release the items to the affected communities and individuals.
The committee is expected to submit its report within 14 days.
Mr Eric Nana Agyemang-Prempeh, the Director-General of NADMO, who announced the suspension at a news briefing in Wa yesterday, said further necessary actions would emanate from the report of the investigative committee.
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Mr Agyemang-Prempeh led a team of officials of the organisation to the region in the wake of news that some items among relief materials distributed to flood victims had turned out to be expired products.
While conceding that some expired items, particularly cooking oil, were, indeed, in the stores of NADMO in the region, Mr Agyemang-Prempeh said “those that unfortunately were mixed with the distributed items were few”.
He apologised for the error, but stressed that anyone found to have compromised standards and procedures would be dealt with.
He denied that the rice distributed by the organisation to the flood victims had expired and said although there were no expiry date on the 25kg bags, the 5kg contents were embossed with the appropriate expiry dates.
He said none of the items distributed to people in the Upper East and Northern regions had been reported to have expired.
Mr Sulemana has become the first casualty of a potential tsunami waiting to happen within the organisation.
Indeed, there are fears that a few heads could roll for the embarrassment caused the Vice-President through the distribution of expired food items to the flood victims.
But although the regional coordinator remains at post, his query is viewed by watchers as a precursor to an expected job loss.
Dr Bawumia, on September 22, 2018, travelled to the region to distribute relief items to flood victims in the Wa and Sissala municipalities but some of the items were found to be expired products.
NDC press conference
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) demanded the removal of the Upper West Regional Coordinator of NADMO, Mr Seidu Issahaku Sulemana, at a news conference last Tuesday, but the potential damage may go beyond the regional office.
The Upper West Regional Communications Officer of the NDC, Mr Prosper Puo-ire, accused the government of insensitivity by inflicting more pain on persons already devastated by floods.
“We are yet to come to terms with why our Vice-President will choose to exacerbate the suffering of our people by exposing them to unquantifiable health challenges at a time they are grappling with pulling the pieces of their lives together after suffering a disaster,” Mr Puo-ire said.
In a statement issued last Tuesday, NADMO admitted the presence of some expired food items among the distributed list but claimed they were only six bottles of cooking oil.