The Administrator of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) has finally spoken on the much discussed Performance Audit Report of the Secretariat that was leaked to the media by the Audit Service.
The contents of the leaked document that have been twisted by discussants to make certain people to look bad have exposed the Auditor General as being mischievous and sinister.
Yesterday, on Asempa FM’s flagship political programme, ‘Eko Sii Sen,’ Mr. Richard Boadu, the GETFund Administrator, deflated the lies and factual inaccuracies churned out by the Auditor General on the GETFund Audit Performance Report.
According to him, the GETFund Act does not bar the outfit from undertaking scholarship activities.
It is instructive to note that the GETFund Act made a provision under Subsection 2(2)(e) that allows the GETFund Secretariat to promote other educational activities.
Mr. Boadu, who took time to educate listeners on the activities of the GETFund Secretariat, made it clear that the Secretariat could not spend monies without approval from Parliament.
It came out during the interview that it was the GETFund Secretariat and the Minister of Education that asked the Auditor General to look into the disbursement of the scholarships.
”The minister first asked the Auditor General to audit some three universities and later included scholarships and other infrastructure,” he said.
He said: ”The Auditor General told us that it does not have the funds to carry out the exercise because the Ministry of Finance had not released funds so we doled out some GHC350,000 for the exercise.”
”Initially, the Auditor General wanted to run an audit on operations between 2012 and 2016 but we decided otherwise and extended it to 2018,” he said.
The Auditor General Performance Audit Report on GETFund Scholarship has created furore because certain individuals who are capable of financing their education had benefitted from GETFund to secure foreign scholarships.
Mr. Boadu explained that the Section (2)(2)(e) permitted the GETFund Secretariat to fund capacity building for state organizations.
”We just sponsored personnel from the Fire Service, Police Service and Judicial Service to build capacity in certain areas that are grey,” he said.
He explained that Members of Parliament could also write to the Secretariat for sponsorship, and made it clear that at no point had monies meant for gifted but needy persons been expended on capacity building.
According to Mr. Boadu, it was because of the decision to have better practices to inform the Secretariat that the Auditor General was engaged to run the audit.
In the narration of the GETFund Administrator, under the current management and board, foreign scholarships have been reduced drastically.
He explained that some first degree programmes that are considered for scholarships are cheaper outside Ghana.
Quoting figures, he revealed that local scholarships have been increased as against foreign scholarships, adding ”I am not against foreign scholarships because it affords networking that helps the country.”
The furore on the scholarships was created because even before the GETFund Secretariat would respond to queries that were supposed to have been communicated officially and privately, the Auditor General had leaked the queries in gross violation of ethics and procedure.
The GETFund Board of Trustees, through the secretariat, subsequently and comprehensively responded to all the queries to the Auditor General, as well as provided answers to questions posed by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) and all the “investigations” and “indictments” went quiet thereafter.
Suddenly, the same audit queries, without any reference to the robust defence the Board had put up, were circulating in the media once again.
The leak by the Auditor General has mischief and malice written all over it because of inaccuracies in the report.
Mr. Boadu revealed that the list of scholarship beneficiaries put out by the Auditor General did not come from the GETFund Secretariat.
”The 88 list was generated by the Auditor General from documents that were given to that outfit and the truth of the matter is approval was not given to some of the applicant,” he said.
He said: ”The Auditor General should have done due diligence in its work. Now the whole debate has been politicized with some equalization going on.”
”We never gave the Auditor General any list and the financials quoted by the Auditor General did not come from the GETFund Secretariat,” he said.
Sam Gariba’s Reaction
Former Director of the GETFund, Mr. Sam Gariba, said the conclusion by the Auditor-General that they have breached its mandate and “illegally” funded foreign scholarships is scandalous.
He denied any wrongdoing in the manner in which he administered scholarships during his time in office.
A performance audit conducted by the Auditor General on the GETFund found out that over 2,000 scholarships were awarded to undeserving people, including politicians.
The report found out that the GETFund largely circumvented processes to award the scholarships and failed to institute systems to scholarship monies were prudently used.
Mr. Gariba, who served between 2012 and 2016, said he only followed the existing procedure in awarding scholarships upon assumption of office.
“The request to make comment on the attached performance audit report by the auditor general did not come to me from the auditor general. It came to me from my successor to bring the audit to closure as standard practice. I did not invent anything; I saw and met a procedure and structure in the administration of the scholarship.
So I found it satisfied, picked it up and utilized in the administration of the scholarship. Indeed, that procedure was to award a scholarship to people who were studying outside the country.”
Mr. Gariba argued that claims in the report were scandalous, ridiculous and unfounded and cannot fathom why he will be surcharged for something he did with “due diligence.”
“The Auditor-General is not the law. The Auditor-General has gone and made some scandalous claims that I administered this thing without the Board’s permission, I had two boards in my time. One was chaired by Professor Mills, he is dead. He knew about everything through the board. How can the Auditor –General reach such a scandalous conclusion, what is their stake?
How do they know that we gave scholarships to the detriment of needy people? Just looking at a Member of Parliament, you just conclude that they are a millionaire and are not entitled to get funding from the GETFund. How can you reach such a conclusion? That is the kind of ridiculous conclusion the Auditor General wants me to reach,” he added.