DCE Denies Nepotism
2007-07-20 19:08:44This article has been read 783 times.Hon. Solomon Salia Mwengu, District Chief Executive (DCE) for Sissala East in the Upper West Region has explained the circumstances under which his son got involved in the execution of a School Feeding Programme (SFP) project in the district.
The DCE has been accused of awarding to his own son, Simon Salia, a contract worth about GH¢4.000 (or ¢40 million) for the construction of a kitchen and storeroom to be used by the SFP in a village called Pieng.
The DCE’s accusers say while the other projects awarded to separate contractors have been completed and handed over, Simon was having problems completing his work.
Though he admitted that Simon was executing the contract for the construction of the SFP kitchen and storeroom, he registered his innocence saying, "my son has no contract documents, but he got to be working on the contract won by one Jacob Ayamga."
He explained that Mr. Ayamga, a known contractor in the district won the contract and sublet it to Simon because he is a professional mason and stressed that he, as the DCE did not play any role in the entire process, which involved two grown-ups.
He said the project hit a snag and so no money has been paid to the two until the defects are rectified. According to him, the consultant to the project whose name he gave as Andrews had detected that the wrong kind of bricks had been used at the part of the kitchen where the fire would be set and duly instructed Jacob and Simon to see to its correction.
Reacting to a separate allegation that he has sold another contract to a gentleman in Gwollu for ¢40m, the DCE retorted, "That is unfortunate," stressing, "there is no contract that is up to 40 million that I know has been given in my district."
He said it is not possible for anybody, including him to circumvent tender processes in favour of anyone because there is a District Tender Committee (DTC) in place.
"People apply for the contracts after an advert has been placed. Now, these are processed and brought through for the tender committee to sit on, and at this time all contractors should have applied."
Further, he explained that the contractors are supposed to be present before their tender documents are opened for scrutiny.
After that if the contract sum exceeds the threshold given to the DTC, the process is referred to the District Tender Review Board (DTRB).
He said like many other districts, some assembly members and other influential people make attempts to manipulate tender processes but they are often resisted.
He said it has almost become a tradition for either a member of the executive body or an assemblyman to try anytime there is a contract to influence the process by pressurizing members of the DTC.
When pressed to say whether he has ever yielded to any of such scheming, the DCE replied, "Not with me!"
Touching on other challenges he faces as a DCE, Hon. Salia disclosed that some citizens of the district presume that the District Assemblies’ Common Fund (DACF) is a large pool of money that is supposed to meet all their demands.
But because the fund turns out to be inadequate in meeting the long list of projects in the district, this raises suspicion with some even suggesting that the DCE has spent the money.
The internally generated fund, which consists of levies, property rates and other local taxes, is also nothing to write home about, he noted.
"So you are not in the position to come up and take a project, which you, looking at your resources as an assembly can do."
Then again, there have been some successes. Enrollment and retention have significantly improved, of course, through the Capitation Grant and the SFP. He added that there is also healthy competition among teachers as all of them are seeking to upgrade themselves from certificate "A" to diploma holders.
On the decentralisation of powers and functions, as well as, fiscal decentralisation, the DCE voted in favour of a system that ensures absolute decentralisation of all aspects of public administration. He said authorities would be more accountable at the district level if they were allowed to make all the decisions at the local level.
Sharing his views on whether DCEs should be appointed or elected, Hon. Salia preferred to be neutral on the debate.
He however advanced explanations for either side of the debate. He said if a DCE were elected, he would be convinced that the majority of the people in the district have him at heart, hence his election.
On the other hand, if it is left to the assembly members to confirm one’s appointment, a process that can easily be influenced even within that group, a DCE won’t stick out his neck to speak against any of them.
"But then, we cannot be sure that if DCEs are elected they can be loyal to the ruling government," he said explaining that there can be serious opposition for the central government provided the elected DCEs fall on the other side of the political divide.
"If you are nominated and the people say yes, you have an allegiance to your party and your party has an allegiance to the nation."