Mr. Malik Kweku Baako Jnr, Editor-in-Chief, Crusading Guide Newspaper
The Editor in Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper has taken Ghana's surviving ex-presidents down memory lane over what has been a never ending controversy over the construction of the Keta Sea Defence wall.

Malik Kweku Baako Jnr says ex-president John Rawlings swindled Ghanaians into thinking his government was going to construct the wall but rather presided over an era of embezzlement of the monies accrued for the construction of the wall.

He also faulted ex-president John Kufuor for a lapse in memory of the year in which the actual embezzlement had occurred.

He made the comments on Joy FM's newsfile programe while contributing to the ongoing controversy and political contest of achievement in the Volta Region- a contest between the governing NDC and the opposition NPP.

President John Mahama triggered the controversy with his claim that the New Patriotic Party did nothing for the people of the Volta Region in its eight year tenure.

That claim did not sit well with Ex-President John Kufuor who hit back in equal measure accusing the sitting president of dishonesty.

Mr Kufuor in chronicling the many achievement of the NPP mentioned the Keta Sea Defence project which he said was successfully completed under his tenure in 2004.

The project was to save the people of Keta from the sea erosion they were suffering at the time but Mr Kufour said a $92 million exim bank loan contracted by the Rawlings regime for the execution of the project was squandered.

He said when the NPP took over government in 2001, it had to start from the scratch and build the defence wall for the people of Keta.

He therefore found it rather disheartening that several years later, president Mahama will say that the NPP did not execute any project in the Volta Region. But critics have lunged at Mr Kufuor for suggesting that the monies for the project were misappropriated.

Speaking on the matter, Saturday, Malik Kweku Baako Jnr said ex-President John Kufuor was right in suggesting that funds for the project were embezzled but said he got it wrong in respect of the year of the embezzlement and the actual loan facility that was embezzled.

Kufuor's Amnesia

Kweku Baako explained that the $92 million Exim Bank loan procured in 1999 was not embezzled but a previous facility secured for the project was embezzled with impunity.

According to him, in 1996 the vision to construct a sea defence wall for Keta began with some funds allocated for it. However those funds were not used for the purpose for which they were secured.

Quoting a report of a committee set up to investigate the circumstances under which the funds were embezzled, Malik Baako said the contractors had been overpaid $3.9 million.

"The guys chopped the money left right and centre," he said, adding, the minister at the time told Parliament that government had retrieved an amount of $1.5 million and was going to collect the remaining $2 billion in due course.

Rawlings' propaganda

According to Malik Kweku Baako who is one of the fiercest critics of the ex-president, Mr. Rawlings deliberately sat in the bulldozer in 1996 with a promise to execute the sea defence wall.

At best, he said the bulldozer spectacle was only for propaganda value because two years after that charade nothing had been done on the project site.

The New Crusading Guide Editor also quoted the 18th May 1998 Joy FM report which suggested that nothing had been done on the project site two years after Rawlings went to cut sod.

He said the project manager of the Great Lakes Company, the company contracted to execute portions of the project admitted that his company put something on the site to create the impression that the sea defence wall was being constructed.

It was after all these that Exim Bank loan was procured for the project in 2000 but the Rawlings led NDC lost power in the 2000 elections with Mr Kufuor taking over the reins of power.

Kweku Baako said the NPP completed a chunk of the project but was quick to add the Keta sea defence was a comprehensive project, which covered more than the Rawlings and Kufuor administrations.

Environment Science and Technology Minister Mahama Ayariga who was also on the show defended the president's decision to criticize the NPP for doing very little in the Volta Region.

He said the president only responded to queries from the NPP, that his presidency had turned a blind eye to the needs of the people in the region, despite their massive support for the party.

Source: Myjoyonline

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