Northern Development Authority (NDA) was established by the Northern Development Authority Act, 2017, Act 963 to “provide a framework for the accelerated economic and social development of the Northern Development Zone”. In a recent job advert placed on the Wednesday, October 2, 2019 edition of the Daily Graphic, it was said that “the NDA also serves as an agency for the implementation of the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP)”. IPEP is a government flagship programme. It should be noted that Section 35(1) of the NDA Act, 2017, Act 963 repealed the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority which was established under Act 805.
It is also worthy of note that Section 35 (2) of Act 963 provides that “despite the repeal of Act 805, the Regulations, bye-laws, notices, Orders, directions, appointments or any other act lawfully made or done under the repealed enactment and in force immediately before the commencement of this Act shall be considered to have been made or done under this Act and shall continue to have effect until revoked, cancelled or terminated” . It therefore stands to reason that, all persons previously appointed under SADA validly before Act 963 came into force had, and still have valid contracts of employment under NDA, and are indeed bona fide employees of the NDA until otherwise stated.
My information is that, almost all employees of the defunct SADA transitioned onto the “new” Authority without any hindrance with the exception for those whose contracts had ended and those who voluntarily left.
Section 9(b) of the Labour Act, 2003, Act 651, enjoins employers to inter alia “pay the agreed remuneration at the time and place agreed on in the contract of employment or collective bargaining agreement or by law or agreed between the employer and the worker”. However my information is that ever since the NDA took over from SADA, staff salaries have been erratic and highly inconsistent bringing a lot of hardship to staff. It must be stated that this is a problem that cuts across all staff (both senior and junior levels), perhaps and most probably with the exception of the Chief Executive Officer and his three Deputies. My interactions with a number of employees of the NDA indicate that in December 2018 no salaries were paid and staff had to contend with a “Dry” Christmas. The salary for December 2018, January 2019 and February 2019 were paid around early March 2019. Salary for May and June 2019 were said be have been paid around the middle of July 2019. Salaries for July, August and September 2019 are still outstanding. Remember that September was the beginning of the academic year. It is therefore every body’s guess how devasting this was to staff, who are also parents, since they had to contend with the payment of school fees and the buying of provisions for children in the SHS and tertiary levels. This phenomenon dates back to early 2018, I am told and it appears no solution is being sought for it.
Apart from the brief period from March 1957 to February 1966 when development was widely spread across the country by the Nkrumah’s CPP government, the northern half of the country has largely been neglected by past governments. The north faces enormous challenges, yet compared to other deprived regions in the world, it presents Ghana with immense opportunities to turn the savannah belt into Ghana’s bread and power house. it is recognised by all stakeholders that massive investment is needed in the north to keep the number of absolute poor in the region from increasing.
It is for this reason that the establishment of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) under the NDC government was a welcoming news. Apart from the Northern Scholarship Programme introduced by Dr Nkrumah, SADA was by far the most comprehensive programme targeting the overall development of Northern Ghana in our history. The NDA was established to take over the functions of SADA with a limited operational area.
It is therefore worrying that the human capital, a critical part of the Authority, should be treated in this manner. The Authority risk losing these technical personnel and therefore compromising the realisation of the object of the Authority. As a Member of Parliament from the area, I call on government to immediately step in to save the Authority. But most importantly I call on all sons and daughters from the five regions in the north to rise up and fight to save the NDA.
I would like to conclude by asking the following questions:
1. What are the main reasons for the erratic manner in which salaries are paid to NDA Staff? Is it an intentional ploy to get the old staff out so that some “favourites” can be employed? We need some answers from the CEO and the Board.
2. What is the senior management of NDA doing to resolve this matter? NDA must succeed and a motivated staff is key to this.