The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) spokesperson on cocoa affairs, Eric Opoku says former President, John Dramani Mahama ought to be singled out for praise for the massive infrastructure and prudent policies that have shaped the country’s cocoa sector.
According to him, attempts by political actors to accuse the NDC flagbearer of doing nothing to ameliorate the plights of cocoa farmers during his tenure in office is not based on substantial evidence.
Eric Opoku’s comments follow recent cocoa sector debate by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Speaking on The Point of View on Citi TV, Mr. Opoku said the contributions of John Mahama in the cocoa sector albeit the construction of cocoa roads are worth commending and must be recognized.
“In fact, if there is anybody to commend for having contributed significantly towards the development and improvement in the cocoa sector in this country, [Ex] President Mahama should be the one to be mentioned. It is rather unfortunate that as top politicians, as we engage our people, we intend to use some of these abusive words without any evidence to demonstrate that what we are saying is anchored on facts. [Former] President Mahama while in office realized that the cocoa farmers contributed to the country’s development and so it was important for us to fix the cocoa roads from the rural communities to the urban communities. But the [NPP] government has failed to hear the cries of cocoa farmers. We have always asked for cocoa audit reports but it has not been provided,” he said.
The Akufo-Addo government has suspended work on over 230 cocoa road projects in 2017 for an audit due to corruption concerns.
It follows accusations that, the Mahama’s administration awarded over 230 road contracts to the tune of GHS3.5 billion under the cocoa road project to the detriment of COCOBOD's finances.
The NPP government had claimed that the total budget for the cocoa road projects had ballooned to over GHS5 billion and other corruption-related concerns triggered the need for the audit.
Former President John Dramani Mahama has challenged the government to publish the audit report of cocoa roads.
He has dared the NPP to produce the said report adding that the government has deliberately started reconstructing the roads few months to the election for political gains.
But, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), says the publication of the audit report on cocoa roads can only be made available after approval from the government .
Public Affairs Manager of COCOCBOD, Fiifi Boafo said the report was not originally meant for public consumption, adding that, the decision to publish it or otherwise depends on government.
“Yes there is a report, and unlike the expectation of some people that the report will be published, the essence of the report was to understand issues surrounding the management of cocoa roads. The report was to serve as a guide to management. So if the former President wants the report publicized for political discourse, I am afraid, our approach is different. We have not been instructed to put the report out there yet. It was submitted in 2019. When a decision is made by the board and management, of course in consultation with the government that we publish the report, we will not hesitate”, he said.