It's an insult to northerners! – NDC on Oppong Nkrumah's 'they didn’t ask for Akosombo-like dams' comment

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has described as an "insult" to the people of northern Ghana, a comment by Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah that the beneficiary communities of the One Village-One Dam project did not ask for Akosombo-like dams but demanded exactly what is being put up for them, which the NDC has described as "dugouts" and "ponds"...


The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has described as an "insult" to the people of northern Ghana, a comment by Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah that the beneficiary communities of the One Village-One Dam project did not ask for Akosombo-like dams but demanded exactly what is being put up for them, which the NDC has described as "dugouts" and "ponds".

In response to the minister's response to the party's earlier statement on the matter, the NDC said in a statement that Mr Oppong Nkrumah's comment belittles the intelligence of northerners, too.

Mr Oppong Nkrumah had said in his response to the NDC’s first statement that: “With reference to the model of the dams being constructed, it must be noted that the beneficiary communities, in requesting for the dams, did not request an Akosombo-like type of dam. The model and specification of dams requested for under this programme are the exact type known to the people in the beneficiary communities”.

In the NDC’s latest statement in response to the above comment, it said: "On the matter of specification of the so-called dams that are being constructed by the Akufo-Addo government, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah claims that the people in various communities requested for the model and specification of the shoddily-constructed trojan gifts that have been presented as dams to the people of northern Ghana".

"What an insult!" the NDC said, adding: "To further impugn the intelligence of the people, the claim is made that the people in these communities did not request for 'an Akosombo-like type of dam'.

"Which average farmer up north does not know what an irrigation dam looks like?" the NDC asked in the statement signed by its National Communication Officer Mr Sammy Gyamfi.

The party said: "Apart from the Akufo-Addo government which stands alone in their conception of irrigation dams, every expert in agriculture and rural development knows that a small-scale irrigation dam has certain unique features, including a channel for inflow and outflow of water for farming purposes.

"This view has been corroborated by various experts, including the renowned former pro-Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies, Prof. David Millar, who has described the 1V1D policy as a failure.

"Obviously, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah and his government are living in a delusional world of their own, far removed from reality.

"If we may ask, which well-constructed dam loses its strength and gets washed away by rain after a few months of completion? Your guess is as good as ours", the NDC noted.

Read the NDC's second statement on the 1V1D below:

RE: 99% OF 1V1D PROJECTS WITHOUT INCIDENT, STOP THE PROPAGANDA

The National Democratic Congress has become aware of an official government statement authored under the above caption and signed by Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah in reaction to our statement entitled: “AKUFO-ADDO’S DECEPTIVE ONE VILLAGE, ONE DAM INITIATIVE – A CASE OF CAUSING FINANCIAL LOSS TO THE STATE”.

We find it rather unfortunate, that the Information Minister, who is entrusted with the responsibility of explaining government policies in a truthful manner, will throw honesty to the dogs, and seek to parry legitimate public concerns over a failing government policy in such a flippant manner. However, in his indecent haste to defend the indefensible, Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has further reinforced the deceitful nature of the Akufo-Addo government.

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?

1. Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah claims that the 1V1D in its current messy state is “a solution to the irrigation challenges of the northern regions”, and that the previous NDC administration offered no credible responses to the people’s request for dams.

What Kojo Oppong Nkrumah fails to appreciate is that the people of northern Ghana and the Ghanaian people for that matter know what a small-scale irrigation dam looks like when they see one.

If we may ask, what is a dam? Simply put, a dam is a barrier that stops or restricts the flow of water to provide water for activities such as irrigation, human consumption, industrial use, aquaculture and navigability.

Even if we consider the above literal meaning of a dam, what this Akufo-Addo government has attempted in parts of northern Ghana which they call dams, are anything but dams.

What Kojo Oppong Nkrumah is inviting us to celebrate is that, when a government goes to dig a pond, and in the raining season, water is collected into those ponds, that government can claim to have constructed a dam, and therefore deserves plaudits. At best, these can be described as dugouts or excavated ponds. And yet, these are the exact nature of the dams that Kojo Oppong Nkrumah trumpets as an achievement.

Contrary to this celebration of mediocrity by the Akufo-Addo government, the previous NDC administration under President Mahama constructed and rehabilitated several small-scale irrigation dams across the country. For instance, under the Ghana Social Opportunities Project (GSOP), over 86 small-scale irrigation dams were constructed and rehabilitated across the country in 2016 alone. Also, the Mahama Administration constructed real irrigation dams in places such as Zakpalsi and Sakpe in the Mion Constituency, the Tamne Dam in the Garu District which is expected to create 5000 jobs and irrigate about 3,250 hectares of land, just to mention a few. These were well-designed and constructed dams by the Mahama administration, worthy of small-scale irrigation dams that can be used for dry season farming.

Additionally, the Mahama-led administration refurbished irrigation schemes such as the Tono, Vea and the Kpong left and right bank, developed about 3,625 hectares of irrigated land, rehabilitated irrigated areas of 8,044 hectares and introduced the centre pivot irrigation system.

Also, in 2015, the then cabinet approved a new policy to allow private sector firms to manage public funded irrigation schemes, which policy essentially opened up the irrigation space. To further introduce more dynamism, the Water User Association LI 2033 was passed by Parliament to help regulate the irrigation sub-sector.

These few facts demonstrate the superior record of the NDC government under President Mahama, as compared to the faltering “dams” of Akufo-Addo which are themselves thirsty for water.

2. Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah claims that three hundred (300) dams are currently under construction under the 1V1D initiative, out of which four (4) dams, representing 1.3% have recorded challenges. This, according to him provides a basis for his claim that 99% of the projects are proceeding without incident.

First of all, the claim that 300 “dams” are under construction is not borne out by the facts. We challenge the government to publish the list of the said 300 “dams” and their locations.

However, assuming without admitting that 300 dams are currently under construction, that will still fall short of the 570 Dams that the Vice-President, Dr Bawumia promised in 2018. In any case, the promise was to construct a dam in all the over 6,000 villages in the three (3) regions of the north. Hence if till date, all government can boast of are just 300 excavated pond/dugout projects, then that in itself is a self-indicting admission of abysmal performance on the part of the Akufo-Addo government.

Also, the claim by the information minister that only four (4) of the supposed dams have so far recorded challenges is false, as the evidence on the ground speaks of several widespread cases of poorly constructed dams across the three (3) regions of the north.

In the Bolgatanga Municipality, for instance, a supposed 1V1D dam located in a community called Bolga Soe had its banks washed away by a two-hour rain on 25th April 2019. In the Bolgatanga East District, the Dacheo 1V1D dugout was washed away after a few hours of rain, prompting the chief of that Community, Naba Akliga to describe the supposed Dam in his community as a “football park” and to express regret over his decision to release land for such a shoddy project.

In Kajelo, a village close to Navrongo, which was referred to by the Information Minister himself, the entire banks of the 1V1D dugout got washed away on 25th April 2019, whilst several villages in the Bongo district such as Ayopea, Kulingu and Feo have empty and thirsty dugouts which are not serving any meaningful irrigation purpose.

This poor quality and haphazardly executed projects cannot be said to serve any usefulness, as confirmed by media houses such as A1 radio in Bolga, Joy News and of course, the open vote of no confidence by opinion leaders in some of these communities.

3. On the matter of specification of the so-called dams that are being constructed by the Akufo-Addo government, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah claims that the people in various communities requested for the model and specification of the shoddily-constructed trojan gifts that have been presented as dams to the people of northern Ghana. What an insult! To further impugn the intelligence of the people, the claim is made that the people in these communities did not request for “an Akosombo-like type of dam”. Which average farmer up north does not know what an irrigation dam looks like?

Apart from the Akufo-Addo government which stands alone in their conception of irrigation dams, every expert in agriculture and rural development knows that a small-scale irrigation dam has certain unique features, including a channel for inflow and outflow of water for farming purposes. This view has been corroborated by various experts, including the renowned former pro-Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies, Prof. David Millar who has described the 1V1D policy as a failure.

Obviously, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah and his government are living in a delusional world of their own, far removed from reality.

If we may ask, which well-constructed dam loses its strength and gets washed away by rain after a few months of completion? Your guess is as good as ours.

4. On the fact that the 1V1D is a complete financial loss to the state, the NDC remains fortified in our view. Indeed, this view is not just coming from the NDC. It is a view supported by the evidence on the ground and shared by the Chiefs and people of northern Ghana who are the supposed beneficiaries of the poorly-constructed dams under the 1V1D initiative of the Akufo-Addo government.

Apart from the fact that many of the contractors who are constructing these supposed dams lack the requisite certification from the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority, the small size, shallow depth and the weak embankment walls around these supposed dams reinforce the lack of value for money in the ongoing 1V1D projects. The projects are simply shoddy and a waste of the Public Purse.

Conclusion

The NDC reiterates its stance that the One Village, One Dam initiative of the Akufo-Addo government in its current form is deceptive, does not solve the problem of the dry season and all-round farming in northern Ghana, and above-all a huge financial loss to the state.

Indeed, the much-vaunted 1D1V programme of the Akufo-Addo government remains a deceptive vote-getting mantra, and its wishy-washy, half-hearted implementation only goes to confirm this fact.

Therefore, for this government to maintain its stonewalling stubbornness on the abysmal manner in which it is implementing its supposed flagship projects, is unfortunate, to say the least.

Instead of wasting our scarce resources on unproductive dugouts and excavated ponds, we urge the Akufo-Addo government to halt the ongoing fraud and channel those resources into constructing real small-scale irrigation dams, like what JICA is delivering across the country, that can promote dry season farming and serve useful agricultural purposes.

The government should swallow its pride and listen to voices of reason.

Signed.

SAMMY GYAMFI

(National Communication Officer, NDC)



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