Feature Article of Sunday, 3 June 2012
Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka
: Bold Move by NDC
My fellow Ghanaians, please agree with me, that, regardless of your party affiliation, it is wrong for anyone occupying state property illegally, to be eventually sold that property. Why reward such bad behavior? What was the NPP thinking when it sold state property to Jake? How did someone, with such dubious character like Jake, become the party chairman of the NPP? What does it say about the party and its leadership? Is Jake the same person who sold prime government land to the Mormons in return for scholarships for his kids? The latter tells you a lot about Jake’s attitude towards government property doesn’t it? Who else shares Jake’s mindset about government property? I love it when the stakes are this high. Yet another vestige of Kufour’s corrupt regime! I totally agree with NDC’s decision not to return the house to Jake Obetsebi Lamptey. While NDC’s action may give semblance of disrespect for the Supreme Court’s decision, it does not even come close. My friends, this is not the same as Busia screaming “no court, no court”. Below, I explain why:
In a court of law, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. These NDC ministers took Jake to court because it was blatantly clear that Kufour’s government acted immorally and perhaps illegally in selling Jake the government owned bungalow. After all, Jake was illegally occupying the bungalow at the time of sale. He was not a minister of state at the time of sale. Therefore, the privilege of buying that house as a result of being the occupant does not apply. Forget about the asininity enveloping this immoral provision. Occupancy, in this context, assumes legitimacy of stay. It is clear, that, in going to court, the NDC ministers did not do their home work, and therefore, could not mount a credible case against Jake in court. As a result, the Kufour tainted Supreme Court, gleefully ruled in Jake’s favor. Yet, another crystal clear example of the moral decay in Ghana.
The case before the Supreme Court was about the ownership of the house. Given the facts presented, Jake owns the house. After all, the Kufour regime shamelessly sold the state owned house to Jake. I am yet to read any legitimate reason that warrants this sale. The current government has every right to reverse the sale of the house if it believes it is in the interest of the country. Reversing the sale does not tantamount to disobeying the Supreme Court or squealing “no court, no court”. The reversal of sale, and ownership claims, are two separate issues that must not be confused. I strongly believe it is in the interest of Ghana and well within the rights of government, to reverse the sale. With this act, the NDC is saying that no one within its ranks can also buy government property while they are in office. This is a courageous moral stand that must be backed by legislation. In the end, both Jake and Nii Lantey Vanderpuye cannot buy the house.
This sinister first option or refusal to buy occupancy provision, which allows crooks like Jake to rob Ghanaians blind, must be revoke immediately. How many people get to buy government property after they use it? Here is a group of people who claim to be free market and property owning champions but are always eager to steal from the people? And please don’t give me this bunkum about the house being a rundown property. Kufour did not sell his run down house when he became president, did he? Instead, he got the state and other private citizens to renovate it. Why should Ghana government, with a huge prison population, be selling its houses meant for government business? Maintain it!! Greedy crooks! Ghanaians must embrace a maintenance culture. The tendency to take state property at will or surreptitiously, must be stopped immediately. No politician should be able to arrogate to him or herself, any state property. All state properties must be promptly and timely returned to the state after legal use. Overusing state property must attract swift and stiff penalties, in addition to public humiliation.
To this end, Ghana needs a strong asset management program for the country. Every year, Ghanaians must be told what they own. In addition, they should be told what property of theirs have been sold and to whom. We must take inventory of all state properties. In addition, we must have clearly laid down procedures for using and returning state property. We should never have a situation where a greedy person like Jake, illegally occupy state property and then buys it under dubious circumstances. Illegal occupation should be automatic ground for disqualification from sale and future use of any government property. Indeed illegal occupation of government property should ban anyone from ever holding government jobs. The NPP is fast becoming a party that steals from the have-nots and passes it on to the haves. Terrible stewardship!! For a party that believes in property owning, why do they think it is ok to steal from the masses? The masses have every right to own property too.
Taking other people’s property cleverly is called stealing and being greedy. Does anyone remember Ghana@50? What happened to the houses that were built on Labadi lands? Why didn’t the government return the land to the La people? Instead, the NPP cleverly passed on these properties to party faithfuls. What a clever way to take state land huh? What happened to the luxury cars that were shipped in? I know what happened; they were sold to party cronies. Is this NPP’s idea of property owning capitalism? In what civilized country will a speaker of parliament bolt away with state furniture and carpet? Yet under NPP’s watch, this is exactly what happened.
While the scrutiny is on NPP, it must be bluntly stated that the stealing or misuse of state property goes on regardless of who is in power. It is more of a national problem than it is a partisan issue. The NPP is catching hell now because the case in question happened under its watch. We must all endeavor to, regardless of what party one belongs to; make sure, that, we get rid of these crooks. Government property is for the people. Those amongst us, fortunate enough to enjoy the privilege of using these properties, must learn not abuse the opportunity or try to take over the property. Go build your own house Jake! Or better yet, let the property owning party, NPP, build you one. Shame on you!
Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman (Also known as the double edge sword) I don’t give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think it is hell.