Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has responded to former President Mahama’s recent comments on the National Digital Property Address System (NDPAS), describing him as a man who “parrots propaganda.”
It follows the former president’s assertion that the programme is not just a scam  but also has no value for the money consideration.
This is what provoked the usually calm vice president to lose his cool.
Speaking at a consultative forum for the development of a ‘marshal plan’ for agriculture in Ghana yesterday, Dr Bawumia took time off his speech to respond to each and every one of the claims, saying, “Propaganda did not help former President Mahama when he was in government and it is certainly not going to help him in opposition.”
He said the former president was only clueless about the whole NDPAS project.
Dr Bawumia said much as he and his government are ready to welcome constructive criticisms, he had cause to issue a caveat to that effect.
“Before you criticize, please take your time to make sure you know what you are talking about, otherwise you would be sadly exposed as being ignorant of simple facts as in this case,” he charged.
That, he said, was because “when I read his reasoning for such a description, it was evident to me that he has no clue about what he was talking about and was just engaged in parroting propaganda. I actually had a good laugh.”
The vice-chancellor, therefore, thought it wise to educate former President Mahama and others “who may think like him about Ghana’s landmark digital property addressing, which has been achieved in less than one year, something his government could not do in eight years!”
His only hope was for Mahama to accept criticism from him since he (Bawumia) has now had the privilege of occupying the office of vice president of the Republic, considering the fact that Mahama had last year questioned the ability of then-candidate Akufo-Addo and his running mate Bawumia to question and challenge him (Mahama) on his views because he (Mahama) said they (Akufo-Addo and Bawumia) were not qualified enough to do so when they had never been president or vice president’s before.
Dr Bawumia revealed that other companies bid as high as GH¢170 million for the project and that one of the most credible international companies that participated put in a bid for over GH¢38 million, insisting that “the NDPAS is, therefore, value for money.”
According to him, “Countries such as Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Mongolia are all implementing NDPASs similar to Ghana’s, and none has opted for a free Google or other existing free mapping app.
“In fact, from the prices quoted by the international main supplier of the digital address systems, all these countries have spent at least three times more than Ghana for their digital property address systems,” he related.
The vice president noted, “For former President Mahama to claim that Ghana’s NDPAS and the accompanying ‘GhanaPostGPS’ app is a 419 scam demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the system.”
Then came another remark, “We have been witnesses to eight years of his governance as vice president and president and we know what 419 scams look like: the National Digital Property Address System is not your 419 GH¢200 million SADA Guinea fowl and tree planting scam; it’s not your 419 Smarttys bus branding scam; it’s not your 419 $23 million runway at Kumasi Airport; it’s not your 419 GH¢952 million GYEEDA scam; it’s not the 419 $14 million mansion for the vice president; it’s not the 419 GH¢657m Woyome, Waterville and other judgement debt scams.
“We know a 419 scam when we see one and that unfortunately was the hallmark of the administration of former president Mahama. Ghanaians will find out more soon as people are held legally accountable. With the record that former president Mahama has in the area of governance, it is incredible that he would have the effrontery to talk about ‘419 scams.’”
He therefore averred that “we have spent $2.3 million on a NDPAS and I dare say it is money well spent for the benefit of all Ghanaians. It is not money finding itself into the pockets of a few cronies.”
“We did not spend it on Akonfem, bus branding, over-priced mansions and contracts, ghost roads, etc. We have spent it on something productive. As a result, Ghana has an excellent digital property addressing system, if former President Mahama would care to take some time and just read and learn about it. It was developed by Ghanaians and we should collectively take pride in their work and not try to pull them down.”
He revealed that the cost of the project as advertised was GH¢9.9m or $2.3 million (VAT inclusive) which is the total cost of the project, not just the app.
Dr Bawumia chided former President Mahama – who claimed that this could have been delivered for free – saying, “Please take note there is a cost of the public awareness campaign to aid in the public education and awareness creation for the national digital address system over the next 12 months,” citing the famous “Jack Where are you” billboards, internet and social media placements, as well as the adverts on radio, as example.
He said the cost included ‘infrastructure set-up’ – the costs of servers (production and redundancies), firewalls, operating system and database licences and what he called ‘third party licensing fees.’
At the launch of the programme, Dr Bawumia said, “Vokacom made it clear that the platform could run using any map provider such as ‘openstreet’ and Google. To present a seamless user experience, they opted to pay Google for the use of their map services. The Hon. Minister of Communication, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has made it clear that the government will not be paying any more money to any mapping solutions provider when the current term expires. We are in fact, working with Google, Microsoft, ESRI and openstreet to agree and go with one of these solutions providers.”
Dr Bawumia also talked about the cost of physically embossing 4,000 government and other public buildings, that of training for all staff of Ghana Post, as well as other stakeholders such as NCCE across the country and the fact that over 800 buildings had been embossed with their digital addresses and more than 500 persons had been trained across the country, with more embossment and training still ongoing.
He indicated that the cost of over 300 smart phone devices equipped with the offline version of the app are being deployed across the nation to staff of Ghana Post and other supporting agencies to assist citizens who do not have smart phones, aside testing across the nation to give assurance of the validity of the system and intellectual property of the developers. All were incorporated in the overall cost of the project.
The vice president could not but ask rhetorically, “How could anyone claim that this project could have come for free? Would the free givers have given us free public education, servers, firewalls, house embossments, training and smart devices all for free?”