A group calling itself ‘Transparency and Accountability Forum’ (TAF) is challenging President John Dramani Mahama to come clean on his relationship with the AGAAMS Group of Companies, the mother company of Rlg and Asongtaba.
Asongtaba is the company liaising with the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) for the multi-million cedi Guinea fowl farming and afforestation projects in the northern parts of Ghana.
The AGAAMS group is said to have been allocated a whopping sum of GH¢32 million (¢320billion) for the tree planting project, while the Guinea fowl project cost an additional GH¢15million (¢150billion).
The group said there is little or virtually nothing to show for the GH¢47million (¢470billion) sank into the two projects.
According to TAF, which describes itself as a non-partisan group, less than 20 percent of the number of trees allegedly planted by Asongtaba under the SADA afforestation project survived, which raises the issue of throwing away public money.
The group, at a press conference yesterday, questioned the rationale for granting such juicy contracts to AGAAMS group.
‘Our investigations reveal that less than 20 percent of the number of trees planted out of the so-called five million seedlings actually survived due to the unfavourable condition of bushfire, dry soil, heat, etc.,’ TAF revealed.
‘Can any prudent organisation worth its salt, engage a privately owned company, in this case Asongtaba, to go into tree planting in the dry season with a whopping GH¢32million, knowing that the rate of success would be low?….The question TAF and Ghanaians would want to ask is, why the urgent need for the project at that material time, when they could have waited a little while for the onset of the rains in order to ensure higher percentage of growth?’ TAF asked.
Earlier, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Efutu Constituency, Alex Affenyo Markin raised the same issue with the NDC administration, challenging the government to give a detailed account on the amount of money it has spent on the guinea fowl and tree planting projects embarked upon under the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).
According to NDC spokespersons, the government has spent about GH¢47 million worth of investment in afforestation and guinea fowl projects under SADA, but Mr. Markin debunked this saying there is no proof that the project is actually in existence.
The group appears to be linking President Mahama to the AGAAMS group, challenging him to deny that he does not own shares in the company.
The TAF is feeding into speculations that there is more to the preferential treatment that the AGAAMS group is receiving from the (NDC) government, looking at the allocation of juicy projects to the same company.
According to TAF, aside juicy multi-million cedi contracts for the supply of laptops and other ICT equipment, the company is now benefiting from a GH¢15m deal for the guinea fowl project.
Another GH¢32m was invested into afforestation programmes which have also raised eyebrows.
‘One would be tempted to ask whether AGAAMS group and the President are partners and are now using SADA as the Gravy Train’, said the group’s spokesperson, Saka Saalia, at the press conference.
The same AGAAMS group owns local communication giant Rlg which is investing $10bn into building a mega ICT infrastructure in Ghana dubbed the ‘Hope City’ project.
TAF wondered if the President, who inaugurated the Hope City project, is merely using the AGAAMS group as a front to protect any interest or shares he may have in the company.
‘Is the President part of the Hope City project?’ the group asked.
Mr Salia alleged that: ‘The President was [in] South Africa to meet with the co-founder of WBHO who are the contractors working on the project, to do negotiations, before the commencement of the project.’
TAF claims that President John Mahama played an active role in facilitating the Hope City project.
‘The president gave a V8 (Landcruiser) to a chief that eventually led to the acquisition of the land [for the project] by AGAAMS. We are aware that the late K.A. Mensah was refused the purchase of the land in favour of AGAAMS group.’
‘Could it be because of the involvement of the President?’ Mr Salia asked.
By Cephas Larbi & Raphael Ofori- Adeniran