Flight of The Asongtaba Akonfem

Feature Article of Monday, 1 April 2013

Columnist: Casely-Hayford, Sydney

Critical News, 31st March 2013

Sydney Casely-Hayford, [email protected]

Sitting on the curb of our Family House in James Town, I am chilling with my cousins and uncles, formally ushering a new head of our family and enjoying the late hits from Wulomei and other King Bruce greats. My cousin Kpakpo, a walking lexicon of the Ga language is at his best, keeping us all engaged in the kind of banter you exchange after you have boxed your drinks, no matter which, with a tot and two of Mandingo bitters. I am a Guinness-Mandigo Akonfem weight and it is a thoroughly pleasant evening. There is a gentle and comforting breeze blowing from south side, but for the occasional taxi and Trotro fumes we have no issues. We are used to the agitation from the foot soldier types, and we are very comfortable with the stench from the Korle. It has been like that since I can remember, and hey, we know our Government has no interest in fixing it, so we manage and shut it out.
The exodus of the Kwahu-Easter-loving migrants has calmed the streets and we muse on the way Accra used to be in the old days. I played football in the alleyway of the house and on the streets, always drifting closer to the Palladium cinema house to sneak by the gate to watch “Seven Slaves Against Rome”, much to my mother’s mortification. The Cinema House is now a church. Signs of the times.
So Kpakpo is explaining how the young girls are beginning to appear with tight skirts and silky thighs, shaking and gliding past, confident in their titties and butts, secure that we old fuddies now crouched behind empty beer bottles are absolutely no threat, meanwhile hedging that maybe an old man’s heart pacer might work a Viagra and “tsoo lai momo”. It is about 6.30pm, we have arrived at that point when you start nodding off, the Mandingo has kicked in at last and the words are slurring. You know what happens. “Dum”, no “so”. The outrage. We rain curses on Mahama and the NDC Government and turn over the NPP, cursing them for not winning the election. At this moment; the conclusion? Things would definitely have been better.
Anyway, our family NDC foot soldier, we all take jibes at him these days, he is thin on excuses, so good fodder for teasing, starts telling us about his friend in the Upper East who also got some Akonfem funding. His friend lost all his Guinea Fowl to kites and hawks. He received 20 chicks and placed them with a hen as instructed but without fencing and free-range rearing them, he noticed they were “dying” yet he had no carcasses. Three weeks later, all lost and he had nothing to show for the investment. All this under NYEP, now GYEEDA. And if you think the GYEEDA corruption is anything to go by, wait till we start unraveling the LESDEP program.
Doctors are agitating a strike. This time they have sutured pay and allowances to Government spending and verbal excuses now cease to be adequate anesthesia for Single Spine claims. But the teachers capitulated and agreed to do President Mahama a favor. Back to their classrooms go GNAT and NAGRAT as well as TEWU to bide their time for another when Government fails to meet its obligations. I don’t think they have a long time to wait. This government is broke. Pharmacists want to strike, University lecturers want to strike, NPP MP’s are on strike against Mahama, TUC is holding members down, and the Hausa Koko sellers? Can’t afford to lose a day of income.
The Petition case is now scheduled for 2nd April. But we still have to deal with the nuisance of procedure for presentation. The feuding parties could not agree on the detail. I suppose the Supreme Court has to define this on Tuesday before we start this all-too-important historical event. Bawumia spoke up about his accident ordeal, we all read and listened and carried on with life. Even Woyome’s granted request to travel out of Ghana from 5th April to 17th, could not phase us this week.
Our media concerns focused on Ministerial appointments and Government deputies now numbering 85? Is it bloated? Should it be more or less? All I know is they are inefficient and all the “experts” who hogged the airwaves making comments here and there couldn’t say for sure if this burdens the Government purse and how much. My take is we do not need Regional Ministers and their deputies. If you have all the District Executives who make up a Region, why not nominate one of them and give that person additional responsibility to coordinate the region? It could be the DCE of the Regional capital. The District Executives could also do this by voting, as we should all District Executive positions as per the Constitution Review Commission, on which we spent over two million dollars, which report we have now left to gather dust. Ah, but what is new? So lose 20 regional positions and you have 65.
The new MTTU Superintendent is DCOP Timothy Bonga Yoosa. I mention this because I think he has a superb name. Forget that Policemen are wary of change once a new chief is in place and I yelled at every traffic jam through Kaneshie to Nkrumah circle this week, as the MTTU abandoned most of the intersections for what reason and the trotro and taxis went back to jam mania. For some reason, the MTTU will just not allow me to say something nice and I am trying every week to praise them. It has been a horrible week in traffic, so a big “Bonga Yoosa” up to the new Superintendent as he hopefully disciplines this street canker called trotros.
I curiously went to the SADA website to see what I could find about Asongtaba. The first mention in the media was under the NYEP in July 2012. The 2011 budget allocated ghc30million to SADA with the intention to raise additional support of ghc350million to support development over the next 5 years. The last update on the SADA website was 27th November 2011 and shows no news item on the SADA partnership with Asongtaba. There is nothing on the site and no facts on its programs. The website was frozen after this date and that is how we pay for IT and communications staff to keep the people of Ghana in the dark about their thirty million cedi tax investment. The events calendar is blank, the Public hearings calendar is blank and the Committee hearings calendar is also blank. So what exactly has been going on in SADA? I cannot find out, maybe you can. But they invested fifteen million cedis in a Guinea Fowl project. Visit the website from here www.sadaghana.org you will learn a lot about career opportunities. According to the website, SADA is still looking for a CEO.
Board Chairman is Alhassan Andani, Mr. PV Obeng is a member of the Board and others are Dr. Alhassan Iddrissu, Chief Musa Badimsugru Adam, Ms. Victoria Okine, Mrs. Blandina Battir, Mrs Akanbangbiem Agamu Asokea, Mr Akwasi Addae-Boahene and according to the website, the CEO is yet to be appointed, but we know Mr. Gilbert Iddi is the appointed CEO. Maybe they have forgotten they have a fiduciary responsibility, so I remind them.
The strategy document was prepared by Dr. Sulley Gariba and presented at a conference at GIMPA on 28th November 2011 a day after the website was updated. Clearly this was a one-time event. The site declares that SADA has no Environmental Policies. It is a well-prepared document and a masterpiece that Ghana’s technocrats and planners are good at putting together. Once done, our next key expertise is to leave it to fester while we move on to the next best planning write up. It features prominently on the Official Website of the Presidency of The Republic of Ghana. There is questionable value to this investment and the Daily Guide has a brief but good summary in this report.
Asongtaba is owned by Agaams, which is owned by Agambire, who also owns rLG, whose icon appeared on a lot of the billboards for the John Mahama Presidential campaign. It also received a contract to deliver 60,000 laptops to schools last year, another project that has been questioned openly in the media. Its most recent project inaugurated by the President is the $10 billion Hope City project. JDM has been at every opening event for Roland Agambire. But read this interesting document from the Joyfm website. We are in revealing times.
So fly away Akonfem. Your wings of fate are on the success of the Asongtaba warriors, whose path is a “forested North and Green North”, with Akonfem down-feathers and European delicacy, providing foot soldiers and board members with suya-grilled whole birds at ten cedis a pop in the Bukom market. Rush it down with a pot of Pito and it matters not if the lights “dum” and do not “so”.
Ghana, Aha a ye de papa. Alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!

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