The Otumfuo Education Fund - Lack of transparency ?
Joseph Addison, once wrote in The Spectator (UK) "Education is a Companion which no misfortune can suppress, no crime can destroy, no enemy can alienate, no despotism can enslave. At home a friend, in abroad an introduction, in solitude a solace, and in society an ornament. It chastens vice, it guides virtue, and it gives at once, grace and government to genius. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave and a reasoning savage. Since his enthronment as Asantehene some five years ago, (26/04/1999), Otumfuo Osei Tutu 11 has initiated a number of development projects aimed at eradicating poverty and underdevelopment in the country. Prominent among these projects was the establishment of the Otumfuo Educational Fund (OTEFund) in 2001. The main objective of the fund is to assist needy but brilliant students and deprived educational institutions, particularly in Asanteman and generally, in Ghana. No doubt, this is a laudable idea and Oturnfuo Osei Tutu II deserves commendation for his vision and foresight. It is timely, particularly since it is at the time when greater majority of people in Asanteman are illiterate and benighted. So far, millions of cedis have been spent or disbursed under the fund to students and educational institutions to raise and improve upon standard of education. Now, the main issue is not so much about the setting up of the fund but what has been derived from individuals and organizations in respect of contributions and donations as well as what has been expended on students and educational institutions. For the past three years, Ghanaians have been kept in the dark about the state of affairs of the OTEFund. One would hope that, beyond setting up the OTEFund, there would be greater candor in its activities but that was not the case. This situation is casting a very serious doubt on the veracity of the OTEFund and the managers of the fund. It may soon face public vilification and displeasure. We believe that, it will serve a good cause if an immediate audit can be ordered into the receipts and disbursements of the fund, so that the public knows how the fund is being managed. We suggest that it should begin with: 1. How much donations or contributions have been received from individuals and organizations since the inception of the fund. A list of names and amounts contributed should be made public in the daily newspapers. No doubt, the publication of contributors would be a recognition for their sacrifices and a source of motivation for others to donate or contribute meaningfully to the fund. 2. How much has been disbursed to students and educational institutions. Details of names and amounts should be made public to ensure accountability and zero tolerance for corruption. When this is published, it should be an annual affair to give hope for the future. We have no doubt in our minds that until these are done and seen as public responsibility for our common good, rather than considering them as unquestioning and less significant, such despicable attitude would continue to undermine the very objectives of the fund and public confidence to contribute to the fund. It is significant to note that, Dr. Sam Jonah, the President of Ashantigold and Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) and a close pal of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has shown the way. He has set up a similar fund, known as the Sam Jonah Endowment Fund (SAMJEFund). The purpose of the fund is to help finance infrastructural development of the University of the Cape Coast. It is under the Board of Trustees headed by Nana Pra Agyensaim, Chief of Assin Kushea in the Central Region and a member of the Council of State. So far, Dr. Sam Jonah has made public the amount so far raised (¢4.6 billion) and names of contributors to the fund in the Daily Graphic of 04/06/2004, Pg. 1 & 3, which is appropriate and commendable: - SG/SSB ¢l00 million; Societe General-$ 15,000
- CIBC/Wood Grundy, (Canadian Investment Bank)-$200,000
- Norton Rose (UK-Based Law Firm)-$ 100,000;
. An Anonymous Donor- $30,000
- Goldfields Ghana ¢100 million; Taysec Construction- ¢100 million
- PW- ¢100 million; ECOBANK Ghana - ¢50 million
We believe that the OTEFund's future hinges on its being more candid in its activities, even if that means making public remuneration of managers of the fund. There is strong inference that the OTEfund is not attracting many donors as expected because of lack of transparency to its disbursement operations. Undoubtedly, the OTEfund is very essential for our national development and all efforts should be made not to allow it to be ephemeral. To conclude, Henry Peter Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux once stated, Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive: easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.