THE DISTRICT Finance Officer of Wenchi Municipal Assembly, Patrick Peprah Appiagyie, on Friday told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry investigating the activities of Ghana @50 Secretariat that staff of the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies are at the mercy of the Chief Executives who have taken internal control of the system.
Testifying before the Commission, Mr. Appiagyie said DCEs have hijacked the system and bullied staff who tried to correct them when they went wrong.
He therefore called for separation of powers in the assemblies to give real meaning to the local government system.
The witness's revelation was in connection with how DCEs monopolized the distribution of Ghana @50 anniversary souvenirs during the celebration of Ghana's Golden Jubilee.
According to Mr. Appiagyie, some DCEs perceived the decentralization process as a 'private company', advocating for the recruitment of legal advisers to be part of the system to help check some of the lapses in the Assemblies.
Narrating to the Commission how the municipality received items without waybill attached, he said the assembly made a trace to the Sunyani Regional Coordinating Council for the waybill where they were informed that Wenchi and Techiman allocations did not come with waybills. As a result, he noted, the assembly used the waybills of other assemblies as a parameter to conclude on the quantity of items received.
“My Lord, I was not happy about why Wenchi alone suffered from waybill,” he stressed
Mr. Appiagyie also hinted that following the money received from RCC for the celebration, the municipality was instructed to ensure massive participation; therefore, the remaining items in stock were distributed freely.
When asked what informed the assembly's decision for free distribution, the witness recalled, “The former MCE , Bentum Farizana Ibrahim, took that decision in consultation with a 16member-committee set up to steer the affairs of the celebration”, adding that proceeds from the sales of souvenirs was used for sponsorship for needy but brilliant school children.
During his turn, the Asunafo South District Coordinating Director, Ibrahim Kwaku Acheampong, told the Commission that an amount of GH¢2,814 realized from the sales of souvenirs was borrowed by the assembly for its activities, with the intention of paying back.
Making suggestion to the Commission, he said if ideas were solicited from stakeholders, political parties, among others, the Secretariat could have avoided the mess. Consequently, he called for the involvement of stakeholders in national programme in future in order not repeat past mistakes.
The Jaman South District Coordinating Director, Mohammed Sani, said the assembly did not have enough T-shirts and cups, and that when he contacted the RCC for explanation, the assembly was informed that it was inadvertently given to Kintapo South. However, the assembly did not pursue further.
Explaining to the Commission why the Assembly received 125 pieces of cloths, out of which 25 pieces were sold and the remaining 100 pieces given to the DCE, Hon Apraku, the witness could not provide documentary evidence showing that the rest of the cloths were given to the DCE. The Commission therefore instructed him to submit it with store voucher and receipts.
When he took his turn, the Tano South District Coordinating Director, Daniel Osei Asibey, who told the Commission that proceeds amounting to GH¢20, 156 were given to the DCE for road a construction leading to an industrial site, he was instructed by the Commission to prevail upon the former DCE, Osei Sekyire, to account for the fund and brief the Commission as soon as possible.
Sene and Assutifi District Coordinating Directors, Bening Bayoti and Samuel Kwaku Gyimah, also testified before the Commission.
By Sheilla Sackey