Tension is building up in North Tongu in the Volta after Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) under the Ghana Federation of Disability (GFD) accused the district assembly of sidelining them from fund management meetings.
According to the GFD President of North Tongu, Mr Sampson Atsu Ameho, this has gone on for the past four years (2017-2021).
Since 2017, the North Tongu District Assembly has stopped inviting the GFD branch in North Tongu District to fund management meetings for reasons best known to them, the North Tongu GFD President, Mr Ameho disclosed this to DAILY Analyst in an interview.
According to him, the situation was having a toll on his members.
However, what Mr Ameho could not fathom was why the North Tongu District would not apply a guideline proposed by the National Council for Persons with Disability under the Ghana Federation of Disability on those clothed with power to manage the District Assembly Common Fund for PWDs.
That proposal, he said, comprised a list of people entrusted with power to manage the DACF.
He said this list includes district representative, NCPD chairperson, Social Services Sub-Committee, District Director, Department of Social Welfare, and District GFD representative and Co-opted technical members that the committee considers necessary.
The GFD president of North Tongu asserted that somewhere in 2017, the GFD representative was sidelined and has since that time never been called to any fund management meeting tilldate.
“Unfortunately, the NCPD is not yet formed/existing in North Tongu. So, the DACF for North Tongu PWDs is being managed and monitored by only the departments in the district. From 2017 to 2021. And it was o only two occasions that items were bought and distributed to disabled persons. Only 131 members of the GFD have benefited so far.
“The procurement procedures for the items bought were not disclosed neither were the receipts made available,” he added.
Again, the North Tongu GFD president
indicated that any information provided to auditors on persons who had benefitted from the fund could be flawed because they do not know whether such people were disabled or not.
“We are an association and the law made by NCPD gives us maximum right to be represented on the fund management committee. If you have no evil intention, why do you sideline our representative so that we don’t know how you manage our funds?” Mr Ameho quizzed.
Considering the above and many other concerns, the membership of the persons with disabilities in the various communities within the district were bracing up against the leadership of the assembly for refusing to timely disburse the 3% DACF for members in the district.
Meanwhile reports gathered by DAILY Analyst indicate that the assembly was holding on unduly and thus refusing to disburse the funds to the intended beneficiaries.
These developments were particularly worrying in view of the fact that persons with disabilities for whose benefit the funds were released have submitted applications to the district fund management committees in line with the existing guidelines for the disbursement of the funds which was developed by all stakeholders and has been in operation since 2010.
In fact, the continuous delay in the disbursement of the persons with disabilities common fund was not only leading to frustrations and a further increase in poverty levels among PWDs in the North Tongu District, but also exposes the fund to abuse, misapplication and unnecessary borrowing by the assembly.
DAILY Analyst has stumbled on a number of documents in which the leadership of the North Tongu Ghana Federation of Disability Organisation has frowned against the slow pace in which the disbursement of the 3% District Assemblies Common Fund for Persons with Disabilities is being handled by the assembly of the North Tongu District Coordinating Director (DCD) and Social Welfare Officer (SWO).
The documents have indicted the Secretary of the North Tongu Ghana Federation of Disability Organisation, Mr John Amanatey Dusi, including Anthony Korve, Battorvi Brown Cooper who are allegedly in cahoots with the North Tongu District Assembly to manipulate the DACF for PWDs.
This development has informed the decision of the President of North Tongu District of Ghana Federation of Disability Organisation, Mr Sampson Atsu Ameho, to write series of letters to the assembly to find out the delay of the distribution of their items.
In one of the letters dated September 2020 addressed to the North Tongu District Chief Executive (DCE), Mr Richard Collins Arku, and copied to the North Tongu District Coordinating Director, Mr Ameho, it states that since 2017 to 2021, the North Tongu District Assembly bought items for persons with disabilities for only two times.
According to the letter, which was signed by the Secretary of the North Tongu District of Ghana Federation of Disability Organisation Mr John Amanatey Dusi, a total of 131 benefited out of about 800 membership.
The letter asserted that the District Fund Management Committee had sidelined the North Tongu District of GFD Representative on the committee since 2017.
The letter demanded the assembly to render audited accounts of the Common Fund that goes to the persons with disability in the district.
The letter demanded the assembly also provided financial statements covering January to April 2021.
The letter stated that assembly also failed to collect GH¢2,179.00 Cedis from two members who defrauded the group by collecting that money for an election which never happened.
The letter pointed out that these two members and others were supported by the district assembly to take up the position of GFD North Tongu, so that they could cover up any manipulation that has happened to the disabled Common Fund in North Tongu
The letter noted that the intended election meant for Saturday, June 12, 2021, should have been put on hold until the North Tongu District Assembly made available the audited accounts since 2017.
But, according to the president, the assembly has turned a deaf ear to their request even after a reminder notice was served on the assembly on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.
Later in an interview, Mr Ameho disclosed that he overheard that the election that he called off would come Saturday, June 11, 2021, with the influence of the Secretary of the North Tongu District Assembly of Ghana Federation of Disability, Mr John Dusi Amanatey, and Social Welfare Officer (SWO) of the assembly.
What was annoying, according to Mr Ameho, was that the assembly had refused to respond to the letter and instead gone ahead to release funds to the executives to organise the election for which he announced on Mafi- Adidome Dela FM local radio on Friday June 11, 2021 that it had been put on hold.
“We are appealing to investigative journalists, civil society organisations, ministry of gender and children and social protection, the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament to launch a thorough investigation into this concern and ensure any amount of money missing from our account was returned.
However, when the paper reached Mr Dusi for his reaction, he stated that almost majority of the members of the association did not agree with Mr Ameho writing a letter to the assembly to demand for the audited accounts of the funds, saying that the guidelines of the GFD didn’t allow them to do so.
Although he signed the earlier letter dated September 15, 2020, being written by Mr Ameho to demand accountability on the assembly’s usage of the funds, Mr Dusi asserted that he was forced by Mr Ameho to sign this letter under duress.
According to him, he quickly wrote a corresponding letter to the assembly and indicated that he did not have any knowledge about the previous letter submitted to the assembly by Mr Ameho.
According to Mr Dusi, he was not aware that the assembly had responded to the letter by Mr Ameho, adding that he also did not hear that Mr Ameho had made an announcement on radio to the effect that the election had been put on hold.
He denied that he was interested in the position of the president.
“It is not true that this election is being held under my influence,” he stressed.
For his part, the District Chief Executive (DCE) for the area, Mr Richard Collins Arku, stated that the account was not the bonafide property of PWDs under the GFD.
According to the DCE, there were guidelines and procedures on how the fund should be regulated, and thus called on members of the association to be calm, while an amicable solution is found to the issue.