The total silence of the former President Mahama some 24hours since news broke of the diversion of part of $175M government loan facility for party activity leaves much to be worried about.
Report by Joy News have revealed that, under the guise of a health survey, the erstwhile Mahama led administration also conducted a research on the party’s chances of a re-election in 2016, out of the $175million loan, meant for projects under the Health Ministry.
Unlike previous instances, where the communication bureau of either former President Mahama, or the party itself, would swiftly respond to allegations against it, especially those that came from their opponent, same is yet to be seen on this recent accusation.
At the time of filing this report last, neither the Office of President Mahama, or the Leadership of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), had come out to debunk the allegation.
This paper monitored the usual medium (Facebook, Twitter) through which Mr Mahama normally responded to issues as these but found nothing in this regard, though there was an update on his campaign.
However, a former Deputy Health Minister, under whose watch the contract was signed, Mr Rojo Mettle-Nunoo issued a statement debunking the allegations, whilst providing his side of the story.
According to the contract signed between Ghana and NMS as reported, Mr Mettle Nunoo was the head of the Project Steering Committee.
In his statement yesterday, Rojo stated that as part of the overall execution of the contract, the main contractor, NMS, had responsibility for selecting a firm to conduct the operational health research.
“The selection and justification of the locations of these hospitals required that they were based on scientific medical data, access and prevalence of certain diseases. The proper procedures were followed through Cabinet and Parliament for the approval of the seven district hospital project to be undertaken by NMS.
“The aim of the project was to achieve access for all Ghanaians to healthcare at district level. To succeed in this broader goal, it was vital to carry out a detailed survey. This had to cover a wide range of searching questions, not just a review of ailments, populations and geography.
“It had to obtain a detailed understanding of factors affecting people’s access and attitudes to modern medicine. The survey was therefore a comprehensive assessment covering sociology, demography, geography, culture, employment, wealth, belief systems, traditional influences, confidence in authority, electricity supplies and media, attitudes to previous outreach programmes and aid and much more. This was one the largest medical surveys carried out ever in Africa.
“Thirty thousand households were interviewed all over the country and the results gave solid data, upon which to structure the correct healthcare into most needy areas. This information was expected to drive the best use of Ministry of Health resources by building the right establishments, of the right size, in the right place and giving the right capabilities.
“The survey drove project architecture of not just the buildings but also content and all the supporting systems. Part of delivering capability was the need to provide not just a fully equipped hospital but also to support the infrastructure during its nascent years.
Therefore the claim and or suggestion by Joy FM, that the operational health research in question was for political and electioneering purposes and that it was used to assess the chances of President Mahama in the 2016 elections, is baseless and misleading,” the release read.
That notwithstanding, the report by JoyNews indicated that the research for the political party, whose activities must be different from government, was a sub-contract under the said loan.
Report say the $175million facility was awarded to British infrastructure company NMS for the construction of seven district hospitals and an integrated IT system.
Conducted by a UK-based SCL Social, mother company of Cambridge Analytica, the researcher was paid an amount of six million dollars to undertake a nationwide survey to provide data for the proper planning of healthcare needs of Ghana.
The contract read in part that: “the work consist of two discrete political and public health elements. The political and public health elements. The political element is testing the attitudes and perceptions of the population towards contemporary issues faced in Ghana and public confidence in the capacity and competence of the current administration to implement appropriate timely solutions.
As well as the current level of satisfaction regarding the performance of the NDC at the district, regional and national level is also tested and the research incorporates how this may translate into future electoral success,” JoyNews quoted.
According to the report, an employee of Cambridge Analytica said in 2012, Ghana among countries such as Guyana and Kenya offered the firm election contracts.
Again, Job Rabkin, Head of Investigations at Channel 4 News, who broke the scandal that involved Cambridge Analytica and Facebook last year, told the investigator the role the data mining company played when it was hired by the Health Ministry, under John Mahama.
He said the government of Ghana paid for the whole project of gathering health data, adding that, the project also gathered very important information that could be used later for political purposes.
Cabinet approved the agreement on July 18 2018, which subsequently went through Parliament. Surprisingly, members of the Select Committee on Health held that they were not aware of the sub-contract to conduct research for the NDC.
Chairman of the Committee, Dr Kwabena Twum-Nuamah told JoyNews the deal would not have seen the light of day if it was brought to the notice of the House.
Mr Mettle-Nunoo lamented that their research report got to the presidency but did not get the needed attention.
“Sometimes people want to hear what they want to hear. I believe strongly that our message – our research data – was not accepted. It did not impact the strategy of the election and it was a disaster waiting to happen,” he told JoyNews.
Mr Kojo Hastings, the country director of NMS, told JoyNews that the political purposes of the research was done on his blindside.
Source: The Chronicle