CEO of Africa Integras, Andrea Pizziconi has described as false reports that her company had planned to privatise the University of Ghana if the university failed to meet its side of the bargain in a $64 million infrastructure expansion agreement.
Africa Integras entered into the agreement with the University of Ghana in 2014 which was signed by its former Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey to invest US$64 million in the construction of new students’ housing on the Legon campus.
The project was structured under a 25-year Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement.
It was also to construct a new dedicated facility for the College of Basic and Applied Sciences and the Institute of Technology and Applied Sciences, as well as a new facility for the College of Health Sciences.
Education Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, once suggested that the University of Ghana risked being privatised if it failed to meet its obligations in the agreement.
But on Citi TV’s Face to Face, Andrea Pizziconi insisted that Africa Integras had other means to enforce that contract that did not involve privatising the school.
“There is nothing in the contract that gives us any right to operate the university whatsoever. That is not what we do. There is no mechanism in the contract that allows us to enforce the contract.”
The CEO of Africa Integras said she still longed for the deal, which has been stalled, to be realised.
She said it was “completely tragic that those buildings are not even built. They are 65 percent complete.”
“I think about the 1,200 construction workers that lost their jobs and didn’t get Christmas bonuses when the project was suspended and I think about the thousands of young people who could have gone to UG but may or may not ever get a university education.”
According to Prof. Aryeetey, Africa Integras may have already spent $28 million on the project.
Following the exit of Prof. Aryeetey and the swearing-in the new Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro-Owusu, the university changed its stance on the deal and felt arrangement by Prof. Aryeetey did not offer value for money.
The success of the project hinged on the recruitment of more students, which Africa Integras felt was feasible.
Andrea Pizziconi said the project was expected to accommodate 19,000 students through the university was “only required the university to increase its enrollment by around 2,00 students to be viable.”
But despite university’s concerns over the recruitment, the Africa Integras CEO felt they were not valid.
“They never gave us a specific report or analysis. All they said was how could you think that we could have recruited those students… we did not think it was accurate that they could not recruit those 2,000 students.”
Prof. Aryeetey’s role
It was claimed that Prof. Aryeetey had received financial inducements to allow the project to proceed since it was deemed economically unreasonable and would cost the University more money.
Prof. Aryeetey, however, rubbished these claims, explaining that UG had gone through all the right procedures before signing the agreement with the company.
He insisted the processes leading up to the signing of the agreement with Integras were transparent, with all relevant stakeholders being kept informed of all developments.
“I can assure the public that nothing untoward took place. The processes that were followed were very transparent. It’s being suggested that there was something corrupt, but there’s no such thing. I was never offered any money by any of the persons we dealt with. I have never asked for anything nor have I taken money from anybody in relation to this or any other project. Any suggestions of wrongdoing will be completely misplaced,” he said back in 2017.
Vice National Chairman of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Chief Sofo Azorka, has assured Ghanaians former President John Dramani Mahama will restore allowance for trainee nurses and ensure unemployed nurses are posted to health facilities if he is returned to power at the 2020 polls.
He gave the assurance when he, together with some executives of the party, led scores of tertiary students from three institutions in a health walk through the main streets of the Navrongo Central Constituency at the weekend.
“When former President Mahama was in charge, anytime trainee nurses finished school, they were posted. This NPP government came and told them that they would do everything. They over-promised Ghanaians when we all knew they would under-deliver. The NPP came and told them lies that they would give them posting, they would give them allowance!
“Today, graduate nurses have sat in the house for 2 years and three months. They are fed up in the house. They don’t know where to go. They are crying for change. If they want change, Insha’Allah (if Allah wills) 2020 we’ll normalise things. We’ll give them posting. We’ll give them the allowance. Although the nurses are crying more for posting than allowance, we will give them posting and we’ll give them allowance,” the Vice National Chairman told Starr News on the sidelines of the event.
Party supporters wearing NDC-branded outfits and some students from the three tertiary institutions in the municipality— the University for Development Studies (UDS), the St. John Bosco College of Education and the Community Health Nurse’s Training College— carried placards during the walk. Vuvuzelas blared at full volume across the core of the constituency and women and men danced vigorously in public to some anti-NPP songs and pro-NDC tunes.
Some of the placards read: “Nana and Bawumia, which of the tracks do your children belong to? Gold or Green?”; “One District, One Factory. Where are our factories?”; “Mr. President, teachers are suffering.”; “Nana Addo, stop galamsey fraud in your government.”; “Galamsey fraud. Mr. President, why?”; “The cedi is running faster than Usain Bolt.”; “Bring JM back”; “Boot for Boot”; “2020, we go show Nana.” and “Change the Change.”.
Bawumia has Abandoned Core Duty, Chasing Drones— NDC Youth Wing
The street float, dubbed by some party devotees as a “boot-for-boot walk”, was focused at promoting unity within the party in the region.
It was also aimed at whipping up some enthusiasm among the youth ahead of the 2020 general elections, according to the NDC’s Upper East Regional Youth Organiser, Abraham Azumah Lambon.
Addressing students and party supporters at a mini rally held on the premises of the St. John Bosco College of Education, Lambon slammed Ghana’s Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, saying he had ditched his own main responsibility as the country’s number-two citizen and taken up the job of the Minister for Health.
“It was at the Central University College that Bawumia, during his lecture, said if the economic fundamentals are weak, the exchange rate would expose you. Today, the exchange rate is exposing them. At that time, a dollar to a cedi was 3.8. As we speak today, it’s 5.85 Ghana cedis to a dollar. That is the achievement of Bawumia government.
“Bawumia has left his core duty as an economic guru and he’s chasing drones. How can you leave your work as an economist and go and be doing the work of a health minister. When the Health Minister is supposed to negotiate on drones, we have seen a Vice President, who is Chairman of the Economic Management Team, negotiating on drones. This is a big shame. John Mahama built E-blocks for schools. They (the NPP) promised to establish 350 senior high schools. As we speak, none has been done in the region,” he said.
Akufo-Addo has Benefited from Vigilantism— Opare Addo
Speaking to journalists after he had addressed the rally, the NDC’s National Youth Organiser, George Opare Addo, slammed President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo over the “menace” of political party vigilantism in the country.
“It is time as young people we took our destinies into our own hands. Where the dishonest Akufo-Addo Government is taking the good people of this country to leaves much to be concerned. If you are a citizen of Ghana, you should be worried, especially with the menace of vigilantism.
“Akufo-Addo himself has benefited from vigilantism. Today, instead of the military being his 2IC or the military protecting him, it is two members of the Invincible Forces who stand directly behind our President. If you read the United States Department’s report and you are a Ghanaian, you should be sad. The American government has called out our President. It’s not a proper thing to do,” Opare Addo stated.
He added: “A president is elected to be an embodiment of the spirit of the people. Akufo-Addo is using vigilantism, his thugs, to chase out innocent Ghanaians, to unleash mayhem on innocent Ghanaians. If we don’t stand up and call out the President and seek from proper and good governance, our people will continue to suffer. Today, the business community is struggling. Today, fuel prices are unbearable.”
Old executives of the NDC’s Tertiary Education Institutions Network (TEIN) handed over to newly elected executives at the three tertiary institutions in the constituency after the health walk on Saturday. The Azorka-led team of national executives, accompanied by the Upper East regional executives and the Navrongo Constituency executives, graced the ceremonies.
Gold Coast Fund Management has said it is still in the process of making payments to its customers who have invested their monies with them.
The firm in a statement said: “Gold Coast Fund Management (GCFM) wishes to inform its cherished customers and the general public that it is observing the commitments made to deliver regular disbursements to its customers on a quarterly basis.
“In addition to the GHS60 million disbursed prior to March, we made disbursements last week and are on course to continue to meet the needs of more customers this coming week. Our priorities this month going forward are clear and should be noted by all: to clear arrears from 2018, money due to those whose requests for redemptions and interest were processed and approved; and payments due for emergencies and to pensioners. Payments will be made from the domicile branches throughout the country and not from our Head Office”.
The statement added: “We wish to emphasize the point that GCFM has made viable investments that are still running in the form of placements with other financial institutions, commercial paper held by a variety of private sector entities and contractors with valid government agency infrastructure projects. The value of these assets exceed the related liabilities. However, we must keep these investments running to be able to derive the values needed to meet the needs of our customers”.
“We must now forcefully make the point that some companies, individuals and institutions think that we will continue to suffer in silence and lose credibility with our customers. They are wrong. We have through a public notice given opportunity for those finding it difficult to meet their obligations to us to come and sit down and arrange periodic payments. We must meet the needs of our customers. Therefore, beginning this week, we are moving to a different level to collect money from the investments we have made. As our investments produce cash, we will continue to meet requests from customers.
Some customers have resorted to contacting directly the founder of GCFM, Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom with their frustrations. With all due respect, Dr. Nduom comes back to us the management to respond to them. We wish to give all customers equal treatment”.