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The Arthur: Manasseh Azure Awuni

Manasseh’s Folder: Why the final GYEEDA report can’t change

The writer, Manasseh Azure Awuni

President Receiving Gyeeda Report

President Receiving Gyeeda Report

It was Abuga Pele who started what has become an endless slideshow of GYEEDA committees and reports without any action. The Member of Parliament for Chiana-Paga Constituency and immediate past National Coordinator of the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), set up the first committee to ascertain the persons behind the stealing of government money from the Okomfo Anokye Rural Bank in the Ashanti Region.

The committee came up with names of some GYEEDA officials, most of whom confessed that they committed the crime. Mr Pele then wrote to then Youth and Sports Minister, Clement Kofi Humado, asking that sanctions be taken against the culprits.

The people were interdicted while Clement Kofi Humado ordered the National Security to do a more thorough investigation. The National Security operatives, who conducted the investigation, completed their work and presented the report to their bosses on June 7, 2012. My sources say Mr Kosivi Degbor, Deputy Natioanl Security Coordinator, received the report in person.

That report was more damning than Abuga Pele’s committee’s findings: Some eight officials of GYEEDA and an official of the Okomfo Anokye Rural Bank were to be arrested and prosecuted. But before that, they should be made to refund the money they had stolen.

Mysteriously, the National Security failed to release that report. Clement Kofi Humado said he followed up but they would not give it to him. What reason did the National Security give for not releasing such a damning report for action to be taken?

“These are National Security issues. I would not want to go deep into it,” Kofi Humado told me in a recorded interview.

When I met with the National Security Coordinator, Lt Col. Larry Gbevlo Lartey, in the course of my investigation, he said he remembered the said investigation. But that morning he was visibly busy and asked that I come the following day, by which time he would have refreshed his memory and be in a better position to answer my questions. All other attempts to have another encounter with him failed. But the story had to be told.

In the heat of the electioneering campaigns, a letter signed by the Chief Director of the Youth and Sports Ministry, Alhaji Abdulai Yakubu, recalled all the indicted persons from interdiction. They were to resume work and all their entitlements and arrears be paid to them.

Why? Did the National Security exonerate them? I asked , Alhaji Abdulai Yakubu.

No, he answered. The people were complaining that they had been treated unfairly and they were waiting for too long. So?

The Ministry set up another committee, COMMITTEE NUMBER THREE, which said the people should resume work, he told me. What about those who confessed stealing state funds? Some of them have never denied their role in the crime. Joseph Osborn Djeni, who was then Deputy National Coordinator of GYEEDA in charge of operations, confessed to me the evening we met at Weija Shoprite. I put this to the Chief Director.

The culprits were brought back on technical grounds, he explained. And what were these technical grounds?
The first reason was that Abuga Pele’s Committee did not contact the accused persons for their side of the story. But I found out that was not true. The only person who denied having been contacted was Tabsoba Alhassan. But he admitted he helped Abuga Pele to summon the rest of the people to Accra for questioning.

Abuga Pele said Tabsoba was questioned on many occasions and he denied.
The second reason, which Alhaji Abdulai Yakubu gave for the recall of the interdicted officials, was that Abuga Pele’s Committee involved some officials who were of lower ranks than the officials being investigated.

Is there any law in the public service saying that if a committee investigates wrongdoing and finds the people culpable, they can walk free because a member of the investigative team is of a lower rank than some of the culprits? No, he told me. It is a norm. Yes, a norm.

But GYEEDA is a weird institution. You have a master’s degree holder serving under someone with an allegedly forged A-Level certificate. And the master’s degree holder does not disqualify to be part of a team that investigates the A-Level holder.

In short, Committee Number Three did not say the culprits were innocent. But they are free.

It was at this point that the Boy from Bongo made an adventurous journey to Mount Gyeeda, lifting mysterious stones and reporting on the two-headed and three-headed creatures suckling the national coffers dry. Newly appointed Minister of Youth and Sports, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, stepped in and set up a committee.

This was the Fourth Committee. After 12 weeks, the committee presented its findings to President John Dramani Mahama. The President promised “radical reforms” but went silent in the days that followed.

We were later to hear that a FIFTH committee, headed by one of the sages at the Presidency, Mr P. V. Obeng, was set up to review the ministerial committee’s findings. Government communicators say we should call P.V. Obeng’s group a “team” and not a “committee.” If you followed this piece from paragraph one, you should know why. The endless slideshow of committees is embarrassing, isn’t it.

For now, we do not know whether a SIXTH committee, the GYEEDA Report Implementation Committee would be formed or not. But what we know, apart from those who arrived from Jupiter this morning, is that tongue wagging, cynicism and mistrust about the president’s intended action has been growing ever since the report was submitted to him.

Ghanaians want the presidency to release the report. You cannot stampede the president, government communicators would retort in a seemingly well-rehearsed refrain. The word stampede has again gained much currency after it was born in the May 9, Stadium disaster.

No official comment has come from the Flagstaff House, except Stan Xoese Dogbe of the Office of the President, who once a while goes onto social media to accuse Joy FM of using a report that is far from the one in the possession of the President. He doesn’t end there. He goes ahead to tell inexplicable lies. For instance, he says current GYEEDA committee was set up many long before Joy FM started its investigations. He also said Tabsoba Alhassan, an official said to be implicated in the report was dismissed many years ago and he is no longer with GYEEDA. But Tabsoba is still at post.

Then just as NPP’s Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie and Hopeson Adoye’s summon to the Supreme Court threatened to consign GYEEDA to obscurity in terms of news value, the President met a group of civil society activists. And of course, the interaction would not end without the mention of GYEEDA. The Executive Secretary of the Ghana Integrity Initiative, Vitus Azeem reminded the President about the need to act on the GYEEDA and any other report that sought to punish corrupt government officials.

“The ministry [of Youth and Sports] conducted an investigation into GYEEDA, and it is my intention to publish the report,” the President said. “There is a version of the report that is circulating, which is not the final report, it was a work in progress at that point in time, we have the final copy of the report, which might deffer in some ways from what is being circulated.”
Differ in some way? In what way? Is that why Stan Dogbe warned Joy FM to be careful with what we are feeding the public? But Stan Dogbe was not alone.

One of Clement Kofi Humado’s boys, Ivan Akrobotu, also sent a text message warning a Joy FM producer that “some modifications” had been made to the report so we should be careful with what we had. So how did he know this?
On Joy Midday News last Tuesday, the opinion of an expert was sought on whether a draft report could vary from the final report. An auditor and Senior Partner of international auditing firm, KPMG, Dr. Joseph Winful, said draft reports can be totally different from final reports. He explains that draft reports are usually reviewed as facts and are likely to change or remain the same.

The auditor cannot be faulted because in the field of auditing, that may be possible. But in the situation of the GYEEDA Committee and its report, it is not possible for the so-called final report to be any different from the one with the word “Draft” emblazoned across it. The reasons are simple:
First the president did not say that the report being circulated is not the work of the committee. So the authenticity of that document is not in question.

Secondly, very reliable sources say that was the status of the report after the 12th week of the Committee’s work when it was presented to the President. There were a few typos and cleaning ups to be done after the “symbolic” presentation to the President before he travelled. The substance of the report would not be affected, my sources told me.

Another reason the final report cannot be different from the draft report in content is the issues at stake. The GYEEDA Committee’s report did not come as a surprise to anyone who followed Joy FM’s investigations into GYEEDA. That report confirmed Joy FM’s works and the general public did not expect anything different .

And in our investigations, we spoke to the culprits and service providers as well as victims of the malpractices as well as regional and district officials of GYEEDA, who alluded to the malpractices and gross misconduct of service providers.

The main recommendations that came up in the Ministerial Committee on GYEEDA’s report, apart from the restructuring aspect, had to do with the fraudulent GYEEDA officials and the misconduct of government officials and service providers. The officials have been indicted in two previous reports so one does not see how their names can be taken off the final report of this committee.

As for the service providers and their contracts with GYEEDA, any idiot who gets hold of some of the contracts should know that there’s something wrong. Of course the only other quality that idiot may need is a conscience with a breath of life in it. After reading through one of the contracts, my first reaction was: “Even a mad person should not sign this contract.”

So what will change in the final GYEEDA report? The fact that a contract allowed Zoomlion Ghana Limited to keep GH¢400 as management fees and pay the “zoom donkeys” battling with filth and stench in the trenches GH¢100 has not changed, and one does not expect the recommendations to change.

The fact that Better Ghana Management Services took so much as management fees and reneged on its responsibilities, including the payment of provident fund, has not changed and the recommendation that the contract should be canceled should not change in the so-called final report.

The fact that RLG Communications was paid GH¢25.5 million to train 15,000 youth in ICT and was found to be training only 4,222 youth provided to it by GYEEDA, cannot change in the final report. The interest-free loans granted to the AGAMS Group have not vanished from the contracts and one does not expect the recommendations on them to change in the final report.

The members of the GYEEDA Committee are individuals with unquestionable credentials. They have their integrity to protect and one does not expect anything that will mar their hard-earned credibility. If the final report should have any change in the content, they will have to explain to Ghanaians what caused that change. Ghanaians knew the extent of rot in GYEEDA before the committee finished its work. And the committee’s “draft report” reflected what we knew.

Besides, between the time the committee finished the “draft report” and the time it submitted the “final report” they did not speak to any service provider or victim. So if there’s any change, what caused it? Who recommended that change? Government.

Or is it possible to generate two different outputs from the same input?
If there is any possible difference between the draft GYEEDA report and the final report, then the final one should be worse and more damming than the draft. This is the only difference anyone who really knows the true extent of rot in GYEEDA can expect. It cannot be massaged into anything less as many commentators fear.

The writer, Manasseh Azure Awuni, is a Senior Broadcast Journalist at Joy FM. The views expressed in this article are his own thoughts and do not reflect those of Joy FM or
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