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30.01.2009 Feature Article

DEBATE ON INTERIM AUDIT REPORT ON GOLDEN JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS IN GHANA - A CASE OF GLORIFYING MEDIOCRITY

The Next Generation Youth League International (NGYL) has followed with concern the public debate, which has emanated from the content of the interim Audit, conducted by the Auditor General of Ghana, Edward Dua Agyeman, into the activities of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the country.

Whilst we are equally alarmed and concerned about the horrifying revelations coming from the report-

The total cost of the celebrations (60,172,251.8400)

Fraud in the form of over invoicing (432,000,000), purchase in excess of budget (1,080,000,000), failure to account for Vat deductions(3,796,575,000), failure to pay withheld Tax to Internal Revenue Service (1,396,400,000), etc

Financial recklessness-lack of proper cash books, no stock register of value books, no contract register, technically incompetent financial officer etc

The total debt owed to contractors and suppliers 184,439,340,000

The lack of priorities in spending
-we are far more disturbed about the limited scope of the public debate, which has confined itself to, the ability or otherwise of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations Secretariat to provide adequate documentations to support expenditures they have engaged in. It is our suggestion, that the debate should be widened to include ethical and developmental oriented issues such as;

Is it developmentally expedient and ethically justifiable, looking at the deplorable state of priority issues as health, education, poverty alleviation etc, to celebrate an anniversary with 601,722,518,400.00?

What impression are we sending a cross to our donor partners, who pay almost 60% of our national budget?

What were the historical and cultural significance of each one of the activities we spent money on during the celebration, to Ghana? To what extent will it pacify the memories of our fore fathers, whose toil we sort to commemorate? Perhaps the 6th March anniversary parade came close in terms of significance, but was the vulgar display of opulence and luxuries necessary at all?

Since those monies were spent in Ghana, what are the expected returns in terms of boasting the economy, creating jobs and opportunities and enhancing our international trade prospects?

What was the due diligence done to arrive at the type of anniversary we had and did it consider the above questions?

We posit that, accountability should not be limited to the ability of public servants to legally support their whimsical and impulse actions with documentations, but the extent to which such actions have satisfied ethical requirements, which includes, adding value and bringing improvement into the living conditions of the people they work in trust for. Anything short of this, is a proper case of causing financial lost to the state.

We find it unacceptable that the country is consumed in a debate, which merely questions whether, 25 toilets actually cost 19,691,245,200 and whether there are documentations to that effect. On the other hand, whether we can show prove that146,097,276,000.00 was spent on cars or whether we can back our claim that 129,346,994,000 went into buying souvenirs. Alternatively, whether 82,884,521,200 was dissipated on the AU villages.

Limiting the debate to these questions is a case of setting very low standards for leadership and glorifying mediocrity.

We rather prefer that Ghanaians engage in deliberations of this nature by using quality airtime and productive hours at their disposal to question the rationale behind using 19,691,245,200 to construct 25 toilets and not on agriculture since people must eat before using the toilets. Why we have to put 129,346,994,000 into buying souvenirs, when the hospitals in Ghana lack simple facilities like incubators and beds for patients to lie on, when there is a surge in disease like malaria which is sending hundreds to their graves prematurely? Why do we prefer to build AU villages, at a cost of 82,884,521,200, in the name of pleasing foreign dignitaries, when majority of our people sleep in the streets, cannot afford education, when many are engage in prostitution, hard drugs and violent crime, for want of a decent employment opportunities that can service their needs?

Putting the debate along this bearing is necessary for three reasons;

It seeks to create a responsible society and good examples of leadership for the next generation, where leaders are not only bonded by legal considerations but ethical and developmental demands in their service to the nation.

Unless we do not care about the suffering of our people or we do not hope they get out of it sometime soon, we need to do this to reassure our suffering people that we are doing everything to intervene in their conditions and under no circumstances will we endorse actions that entrenches their suffering.

We should not miss these wonderful opportunity in the wake of a new government to realign our priorities and compel governments to do achieve it.

In our quest to seek total accountability, we must be mindful of all manner of propaganda, which sole purpose is to divide our ranks and compromise our stands for the truth. We have heard a few of our guilty brothers -shouting witch-hunting, as we have heard others questioned the motives of the Auditor General for making his findings public at this time.

For the sake of argument, let us concede that indeed the finding in the report amounts to witch-Hunting and it is a ploy by the NDC leg regime and the Auditor General to persecute their political rivals. Does that assumption change the fact that,

The whole concept of Ghana at 50 was a fraud by a few political elites to enrich themselves. Is it not also true that Ghana has benefited nothing from this celebrations apart from the debts of 184,439,340,000 it has to service? Is it not a fact also that projects have been paid for, yet they cannot be located and that there were no proper books keeping? Did the opposition to the Ghana at 50-project start today, or the opposition is as old as the project itself? Who is not aware that it was opposed in parliament, people went on demonstrations over it and the government nonetheless used its numbers in parliament to pass the Bill? Wherein lays the witch-hunting? Visit www.nextgenerationyouthleague.blogspot.com and read more on witch-hunting). We went to bed last night with an itching anus and we should not be surprise when our hands smell this morning.

In conclusion, no matter how much of the dept we are able to get the organisers of the celebration to redeem, the extent to which this project has rolled our development backwards cannot over emphasize. Often times the country suffers too many setbacks and devastations, when civil society goes to sleep. Celebrating 50 years of liberation should invoke joy, a positive attitude to face the unknown future and a resolve that we are capable collectively as a people to surmount any challenge, which comes our way but ...we have missed that opportunity. We must however, not miss the opportunity to set the records straight by annihilating this culture of irresponsible leadership permanently and set good examples for future leaders to follow.

Issued Thursday,29th January,2009.by,
Akyena Brantuo Benjamin
Executive Director, the Next Generation Youth League International (NGYL) Former president Commonwealth Hall, University of Ghana, Legon E-mail [email protected], www.nextgenerationyouthleague.blogspot.com

Phone 233244825187, 233264825187
NB, figures are in the Ghana old cedis denomination (). The source of the figures is the Ghanaian times publication of Wednesday, January 28, 2009, where the entire report was reproduced by the said paper.

Akyena Brantuo Benjamin
Akyena Brantuo Benjamin , © 2009

The author has 39 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: AkyenaBrantuoBenjamin

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