On Tuesday, September 15, 2020, former President John Dramani Mahama described the sod-cutting spree embarked on by the Akufo-Addo government as an attempt to court votes in the upcoming elections.
The NDC flagbearer labelled those projects as ‘sakawa’ and charged Ghanaians to question the government on whether the projects were captured in the 2020 budget.
Mahama reckoned the projects are not intended to solve specific problems but rather garner votes on December 7.
The former president disclosed that he made a promise not to commission projects until contractors have moved to the sites of the specific projects and he has been faithful to that promise.
“I learnt from a hospital project in Upper East when I was Vice President. Since that project, I told myself I will never cut sod until I have seen a contractor at the site. These days you see the President and Vice President cutting sod everywhere without any contractor there.
“Nananom, when they come to cut sod in your area, ask them if the projects they are cutting sod for is in the 2020 budget, ask them if the projects are in any approved loan agreement before parliament if they are not there then those projects are 419, they are sakawa, they are cutting sod because of the elections, it is 419,” he said.
But veteran journalist, Kweku Baako has discounted those claims with a list of sod-cutting ceremonies the NDC government held days before election 2016.
Baako reminded Mahama of how he cut the sod for certain projects barely two days to the 2016 elections.
In the wisdom of the New Crusading Guide editor, the exercise which happened on December 5, 2016, was needless and baseless as the government had not secured funding for the project.
“Mahama cut sod on December 5, 2016 for phase two of the Kumasi Airport. My checks indicate that that sod cutting was needless and had no real foundation. Parliamentary approval for that particular loan facility had indeed been effected but there were conditions precedent that without that the agreement will not come into force”.
“At the time he cut the sod, the financing agreement had not been signed. These things were done in 2018. Akufo-Addo also cut sod for the same project. My checks indicate that the first sod cutting was for purely electoral purposes. It was completely baseless but he did cut the sod on December 5, 2016. The financing agreement was signed in 2018”.
“The Tema Motorway roundabout project also, Mahama cut sod somewhere in November 2016. He indicated at that time it was a World Bank project. At the time he was cutting the sod, there was nothing on the ground. Nothing in terms of budget or loan agreement”, Baako said.