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Gov’t pays Asongtaba Cottage Industries GH¢33 million for trees not planted

As details emerge of how the John Mahama led government sunk GH¢15 million into an NGO owned by Roland Agambire of rLG fame for a Guinea fowl project which has so far only 600 birds and 20 eggs to show for the money, he has been associated again with another ‘scandal’ of gargantuan proportions.

Asongtaba Cottage Industries, the NGO owned by Mr Agambire, was handed GH¢33 million to plant trees in a re-afforestation project. Thus far, there is little on the ground to show for the huge investment sunk into this project.

According to details emerging from this project, the John Mahama government through SADA, gave GH¢33 million to Asongtaba for the planting of five million trees. This puts the cost per tree planted at GH¢6.60, a cost insiders claim has been inflated by as much as 70%.

But even then, those who took part in the tree-planting exercise in the North say less than 300,000 trees were planted in the project which took off in the second half of last year.

It is recalled that on November 27, 2012, the Chief Executive Officer of SADA, Gilbert Seidu Iddi, claimed that it had cultivated 4,200,000 seedlings of tick, mahogany, cassia and shea in the five regions of the SADA ecological zone aimed at greening those areas and reducing climate change effects.

This claim, the New Statesman can reveal, is not true but was only made a few weeks to the December 7, 2012 elections, solely to boost the electoral chances of then caretaker President, John Dramani Mahama.

Evidence available to the New Statesman shows millions of Ghana cedis of cheques were issued from Ghana Government accounts into accounts of Asongtaba in Stanbic Bank, Access Bank and Ghana Commercial Bank, just weeks before the election.

Ongoing investigations by this paper suggest that hundreds of millions of Ghana cedis was spent in the last few weeks to the election to allegedly “buy and steal votes.” The details are shocking and go to show how much of the taxpayers’ money was used by the NDC to influence the election, only to come back after the election to demand of the people to tighten their belts and pay for the record overspending of 12.1% of the budget.

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