Sammi Awuku, Director-General of the National Lottery Authority (NLA) has complained that a major setback to the Authority has been the veiled but strategic encouragement which illegal Lotto Operators across continue to enjoy from influential persons in society including high level media practitioners, traditional rulers and politicians across the country.
Mr. Awuku said very often which the leaders of such illicit gangs get busted and are to face prosecution, he, the NLA Boss, comes under a sudden intense pressure from all manner of influential persons who plead that the illegal operators should be pardoned and their crimes treated with a human-face.
“We want to appeal to you the media that sometimes when the offenders come to you [to plead on their behalf] please look at the bigger national interests. There are times when you would be receiving calls from some senior journalist friends who would say a friend has been caught as an offender and they are calling to plead for lenience.
“One is put in a fix to choose between friendship, relationships and the national interests; for the NLA, we have always chosen to be on the side of the national interest. It is not that you do not want to give a human face but if we want to give a human face to each and every decision that you want to take, there is no way we can meet our revenue targets”, Mr. Awuku noted in an address over the weekend during an Editors’ Forum to acquaint the media on the products, policies and operations of the NLA.
He categorically made known his frustrations about the situation and explained that any attempt to compromise on the level of compliance to standards and regulations is extremely detrimental to the progress of the NLA and should never be tolerated by anyone.
Mr. Awuku continued: “There are going to be some activities to drive out the illegals and we make no distinction between people supported by big boys or small boys in the political system or traditional authorities.
“And when you are doing something illegal, it is illegal. The WLA records that member bodies lost a colossal amount globally of 1.3 trillion dollars to illegal activities in the year 2022.
“It is clear that if we are able to do well as an Authority to check the wrongs in the system, it would do well to help address our main challenges. The challenges we face are fearsome but so are our strengths. We believe that with the combined efforts of the NLA and that of our media friends, our collaborators, third party clients, we should be able to clear the system and give the Ghanaian public a better service in our games”, Mr. Awuku noted.
The NLA Director-General also touched on some internal challenges and the panacea adopted: “Despite the successes that we have chalked, we have also encountered some challenges largely due to some of the treachery of some axis of evil in our system who ensure that there is revenue leakages. We are stamping our authority on some internal saboteurs.
“Recently we had the cause to inform the security apparatus to apprehend some staff engaged in illegal activities within our organization and sabotaging us from our IT front and within a year we had loss in excess of some 3 million cedis through such illegal activities.”