Kumasi Airport Sod-Cutting: Mahama Was Misled But Didn’t Learn His Lessons - Kweku Baako

Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide, Kweku Baako has taken shots at former President and NDC Presidential candidate, John Dramani Mahama, over the latter's sod cutting for projects while in government.

NPP "Sakawa" Projects

President John Dramani Mahama, recently speaking at a Town Hall meeting of the NDC in Kumasi, charged Chiefs and people of Ghana not to repose confidence in the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) describing President Nana Akufo-Addo's sod cutting as ''sakawa''.

"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.

Sammy Gyamfi & Kweku Baako Clash

Mr. Baako, on Wednesday, September 16, 2020, pointed out that Mr. Mahama cut sods for the commencement of phase 2 of the Kumasi International Airport when funding had not been secured.

"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 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.''

Mr. Baako further exposed the NDC flagbearer saying his administration portrayed a similar attitude on the Tema interchange project in November, 2016.

''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'', he said.

He stressed the Tema motorway was also finalized in 2017 which saw Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia cutting sod for the same project.

He said "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".

But NDC Communications Officer, Sammy Gyamfi replied Mr. Baako, claiming the seasoned journalist lied in his accounts.

In a statement and directed at Kweku Baako after he (Baako) sought to expose John Mahama on the issue of sod cuttings, Sammy Gyamfi said; ''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.''

Mahama Was Misled

Responding to Sammy Gyamfi's statements, Kweku Baako, on Peace FM's 'Kokrokoo' on Wednesday, September 23, 2020, took with a pinch of salt Mr. Gyamfi’s claims that Ex-President John Mahama learned his lessons from the delayed start of the Upper West Regional Hospital project.

To him, he doesn't think Mr. Mahama learned any lessons because he repeated the incident in Kumasi.

Kweku Baako stated that Mr. Mahama replicated the incident when he went to cut sod for the commencement of the phase 2 of the Kumasi airport emphasizing that similarly, the necessary documentation and financial agreements for the said project had not been met for the former President to have undertaken the sod-cutting.

"President Mahama could not be right when in June, 2018, he said he went to cut the sod for commencement of the project. He could not be right. He cannot be right. He will not be right. He must not be right because his statement is not supported by contractual documentations and the processes, the trajectory of events.

" . .  In my view, it doesn't appear he learned his lessons; the Wa lessons because what he did at Kumasi is virtually a replication of what he did at Wa. So, his point that I learned some lessons because of the Wa incident is questionable. He did not because he repeated virtually the same error of judgment," 
he told Kwami Sefa Kayi.


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