Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu
The National Commission on Culture (NCC) has suspended the Upper East Acting Regional Director of the Centre for National Culture (CNC), Elizabeth Talata Adongo, for alleged administrative breaches and receipt of unearned salaries of GH¢364,914.
She is also alleged to have undertaken an unapproved recruitment of 38 employees for the CNC, as partly reported by external auditors of the Upper East Office of the Ghana Audit Service, her suspension indicated.
A report by The Fourth Estate stated that Elizabeth Talata Adongo was caught in the web of GH¢364,914.23 unearned salaries for 38 persons she offered ill-fated appointments to.
The 38 staff, mainly cultural officers, cultural assistants and clerical officers, drivers, cleaners and security officers, were said to have been recruited by the embattled CNC boss in 2021 and posted to the department’s offices across the Upper East Region.
Even though the sacked CNC workers began work in November 2021 and January 2022, Madam Talata Adongo allegedly backdated their appointment records to April 1, 2021, making the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department to pay accumulated salaries of GH¢364,914.23 to them covering months they had not worked.
Interestingly, Talata Adongo did not retain the fund in CNC’s coffers or return it to the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department, the report indicated.
The NCC, which has begun investigation into her activities, slapped her with the suspension after her cover was blown by a team of auditors from the Ghana Audit Service.
“While you are suspended, you must not carry out any of your work duties in any shape or form. You must not visit the office (Centre) or its district offices without authorisation from the Commission,” her suspension letter partly read.
“If the investigation team (CIT) finds the grounds for disciplinary action, the Commission shall invite you to a meeting to provide your response before the final decision is taken as stipulated by the Labour Act and the Collective Agreement of the Centre for National Culture,” the letter, dated August 3, 2022, noted.
The Executive Director of the Commission, Janet Edna Nyame, has also suspended the Regional Accountant of the CNC, Komla Emmanuel Feli, for his role in the administrative breaches and receipt of unearned salaries of GH¢364,914.
Both the acting regional director and the accountant were also ordered to hand over to the Acting Deputy Regional Director, Catherine Abass, and Robert Apodi respectively, while embarking on their suspensions.
Before proceeding on her suspension, Elizabeth Talata Adongo was directed to “delete with immediate effect names [of the 38 persons] found to have been placed on the payroll without financial clearance.”
The auditors accused her of undertaking recruitment of the 38 people for the CNC without financial clearance.
The deposed workers said each person was made to pay GH¢1,000 by Elizabeth Talata Adongo, having promised them a permanent job which has now turned into a circus-like snafu.
“The fact is that we were just told verbally to go home,” David Yidana, who was employed as a cultural assistant in the Nabdam District, reportedly stated.
“We were given appointment letters. And if you were telling us to go home, you should at least also give us sack letters,” he intimated further.
“Before I was given my appointment letter, I paid Gh¢1,000.00 to the director. And when our accumulated salaries of eight months came, she took the salaries away from us. We were too afraid to say no. We were afraid we might lose our jobs,” Yidana stressed.
Madam Talata again reportedly demanded a further GH¢2,000 from each of the deposed workers after the auditors’ ominous departure.
“When she realised that the matter was getting worse, she told us to pay GH¢2,000.00 each so that she would use it to bribe the auditors. I told her personally that I didn’t have that money. She insulted me that I was an ungrateful person. I told her I was not an ungrateful person,” recounted Cynthia Salifu.
Cynthia, who was engaged as an estate officer in Bolgatanga through the ill-fated recruitment, explained that “the new employees paid the accumulated salaries back to the director on the accountant’s table. But I paid mine back through the accountant’s personal Absa Bank account on December 13, 2021. I paid GH¢9,524.”
The dismissed employees have pleaded for reinstatement, noting that they have been traumatised by the unexpected termination of their appointments.
Agnes Dery, a mother of three, said it would be too harsh to lose her job and the GH¢1,000.00 she paid for her recruitment as a weaver in the Nabdam District, The Fourth Estate reported.
Azumah Nsoh, one of the newly recruited CNC cleaners in Bolgatanga, said the situation was becoming hopeless for him.
BY Ernest Kofi Adu