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SADA’s ambitious master plan suffering from lack of adequate funding from government

Amid the noise and hand wringing created by the Montie Radio controversy,  the  Savanna Accelerated Development Agency, is hard at work behind the scene, quietly soliciting funds to finance its ambitious master development plan which it trotted out a while back.

One of the agency’s primary source of funding is the Ghanaian government, so as would be expected, SADA has to go begging, cup in hand, to Accra to try to convince parliamentarians to release much needed funds.

But SADA’s efforts to pry money out of the government are meeting a wall of resistance from some skeptical law makers who have this erroneous notion that the agency is irredeemably corrupt, and therefore giving it money is tantamount to dropping water down a sink hole.

But get this:  even if money is being released, it is done in drips and drabs……. a small amount here and a large amount there……not substantially in huge portions  that could significantly impact and sustain SADA’s ambitious project of developing a port, an international airport, revitalizing highways and roads, and finally, extending the railway system to the northern region for the first time in the nation’s history.

I clearly understand where the legislators are coming from. SADA has had massive internal problems: the agency faced charges of corruption and mismanagement two years ago.

It has credibility problems, no doubt about that.  There is, and that is putting it mildly,  a trust gap between the agency and the state.

However, the legislators’ stubborn refusal to pleads from SADA ‘s management to release substantial amounts of money, unfortunately portrays them in a bad light.

They are seen by many in the north to be exploiting SADA’s perceived corruption problems to deny the northern regions the much need economic and structural development they desperately need and deserve.

More frustrating and immensely troubling is the fact that some legislators’ refusal  to approve funds for SADA is influenced by deep tribal prejudice.

These legislators, southern lawmakers, of course, are resentful that the northern regions are getting all the goodies….structural development and economic growth, while their regions struggle and  stagnate.

It is a crying shame that southern legislators will continue this charade: they have always resisted efforts to develop the north; we are all witnesses to their adamant and protracted withholding of funds earmarked for an international airport in Tamale, and there is a cluster of examples of this shameful behavior.

The problems afflicting the northern region are too numerous to recount, but here are five of them for our southern legislators to chew on: the region has low household income, limited education, suffers from lack of health insurance, it has concentrated spatial poverty and huge unemployment.

SADA’s policy going forward, should be and must be, to try and reduce the number of disadvantaged people on each of the five dimensions mentioned above.

Yes, we all agree that SADA, like any human institution, has faults.  And in the face of withering criticism, the agency has reformed substantially.

Under its new CEO, Mr Charles Abugri, the agency has embarked on a path that is innovative, corruption free and calculated to fundamentally alter the lives of the residents of the northern region.

I think SADA would be doing itself a lot of good if it creates  a nest of private donors, preferably outside the borders of Ghana.

I am not intimately familiar with the fund raising activities of the agency, but I believe strongly that relying on the government for all the money it needs to transform the region is a lose, lose situation.

The agency needs all the help it can get to make its dream a reality, the Ghanaian legislature should not be a stumbling block to this dream.