Feature Article of Monday, 14 January 2013
Columnist: Gyamerah, Michael
A Call on Ghana Government to Investigate Payment of GHc 1,237,721.00 and Prevent Future Payments to the “Association of VR Flooded Lands Compensation Claimants”
Chaired by Krachiwura Nana Mprah Besemuna III
By Professor Michael Gyamerah, Cypress , TX
This is a clarion call on the Government of Ghana to investigate as a matter of urgency payment of Ghanaian taxpayer’s money that was started in 2010 because the writer’s research has revealed the potential for a huge financial loss to the state of over GHc 15 million. The documents available to the writer (see Attachments I A & B, and II) point to a possible “shell” association referred to as “Association of VR Flooded Lands Compensation Claimants” chaired by Krachiwura Nana Mprah Besemuna III. The association was formed ostensibly to serve as a conduit to siphon 15% of over GHc 130 million, which is the “full and final settlement of compensation claims for lands compulsorily acquired and were flooded as a result of the construction of the Akosombo Hydro Electric Dam.”
This writer has researched the traditions of the Afram Plains documented by Kwabena Ameyaw, with special reference to the “Traditions of the Afram Plains Nos. 13 -21” published by the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon. The Government of Ghana (GoG) commissioned and funded the study of the traditions of the people who would be affected by the construction of the Akosombo dam.
Kwabena Ameyaw’s compiled research, which included the Pai Traditional area, shows that the public servants responsible for paying the compensation for the flooded lands failed to follow the traditions of some these people as the basis for the compensation payments. Apparently, the Land Valuation Division of the Lands Commission did not research the Pai Traditional area, and either inadvertently or through gross negligence aided and abetted the payment of large sums of Ghana ’s taxpayer’s money to the Association of VR Flooded Lands Compensation Claimants. The payment made to a “VL REIMBURSABLE FUND” under the control of the Association of VR Flooded Lands Compensation Claimants chaired by Krachiwura Nana Mprah Besemuna III (Attachments I A & B) constituted 15% of compensation money (Attachment II, 1 and 2) meant for fellow citizens of Ghana impoverished as a result of losing their land and property following the construction of the Akosombo dam.
The so-called Association of VR Flooded Lands Compensation Claimants had the following objective (Emphasis Mine):
“..establish a reimbursable fund which shall be used to facilitate and procure an early, expeditious and timely release and payment by GoG of the agreed tranches of compensation. The fund shall be paid into and kept in a bank account.”
The agenda of the “Claimants” is ostensibly to influence public officials to “facilitate and procure” (in their own words) payment of compensation monies after the Government of Ghana had paid the first two tranches in 2009 and early 2010. As clearly indicated in the attached pay voucher from the Lands Valuation Division of the Lands Commission (see Attachment II, 1 and 2), all subsequent compensation payments starting the with the third tranche will have 15% deducted by the Lands Valuation Division and paid to the “VL REIMBURSABLE FUND.” In fact, GHc 1,237,721.00 the 15% paid to the so-called Association of VR Flooded Lands Compensation Claimants chaired by Krachiwura Nana Mprah Besemuna III.
Question that need honest answers are:
(1) Since the GoG started paying the compensation in tranches (the first being made in 2009) before the so-called Association of VR Flooded Lands Compensation Claimants chaired by Krachiwura Nana Mprah Besemuna III was formed, what “facilat[ing]” is required for the GoG to pay debt it owes these impoverished communities?
(2) Has Ghana descended to the point where public servants have to be “facilitated” to pay compensation due to impoverished communities for a debt the GoG owes them?
(3) It is akin to “facilitating” (euphemism of paying bribes to) employees of an insurance company to induce them to pay out insurance claims due a policyholder, who has dutifully paid their premiums, after they have suffered a property loss.
This is classic reverse Robin Hood syndrome. Rather than the most powerful government and public servants catering for the needs of the impoverished people, they are rather taking away funds that could be used to reverse decades of their economic deprivation and untimely deaths due to poverty that resulted from the construction of the Akosombo dam.
The documents available to this writer clearly show that the direct result of these compensation payments claims spearheaded by Krachiwura has been increased tensions and litigation in the Pai Traditional area especially Pai and Otiso. In the case of Otiso, documents available to this writer (see Attachment III, 1- 4), show that the Lands Valuation Division of the Lands Commission failed to research the tradition of the town and through gross negligence aided and abetted the payment of over GHc 280,000.00 of Ghana’s taxpayer’s money to an Otiso chief who is not entitled to but falsely claimed that stool lands were his personal property. According to the traditions of Pai and Otiso (Ref: Kwabena Ameyaw’s “Tradition of Otiso” IAS Acc. no. AM 19, pp 3-4, “Apai Ahenkro (Wurubi) Tradition” IAS acc. no. AM/16 page 5), the two communities have NEVER been under the jurisdiction of Krachiwura. However, Krachiwura Nana Mprah Besemuna III has consistently interfered in the affairs of these two towns in recent years following the start of the payment of compensation for their flooded lands.
In the Otiso tradition, “Land right and usufruct were granted by the Otiso stool. The Land however is held communally under the chief as custodian who allots to individuals for farming. There is no permanent alienation of land; the ultimate title lay with the stool ancestors, and such allotment ultimately accountable to them” [Ref: IAS Acc. no. AM 19 – “Tradition of Otiso” page 7, by Kwabena Ameyaw, October 1964]. Thus for a chief of Otiso to falsely claim that the land belongs to him and for the premier institutions responsible for stool lands administration not to have known that they have been lied to is gross negligence and dereliction of duty by public servants. A further confirmation that Otiso has always been independent of the Krachiwura is presented by Kwabena Ameyaw as follows: Immediately the people of Otiso settled on their allotted district, they were assigned the ferrying of wayfarers across the Oti, by their feudal overlord King Odiawuo. The proceeds which were in cowries – the then currency were sent annually to the King at Abene. [Kwabena Ameyaw continued] It was in the time of Nana Kwasi Bosomtwe [the 10th of the Otiso dynasty] that the Germans arrived and administered Krachi area. The Volta [River] then became a natural territorial boundary between the British and Germans. Following the latter’s occupation and administration, the people of Otiso stopped the practice of accounting for the ferry tribute to the Omanhene of Kwahu as their feudal head.
The people of Pai have similarly been independent of Krachiwura as their tradition presented by Kwabena Ameyaw clearly shows. He wrote:
[T]he Omanhene of Kwahu, Nana Kwaku Akuamoa V otherwise Opusuo (1916 – 1926) presented him [Nana Yaw Anto of Pai] and the three principal chiefs of the indigenous Apai traditional area, an ‘Asipin’ chair each. This was symbolic of the recipient’s loyalty to the ‘Odiawuo stool’ and the ancient ties….[Not long after this as Kwabena Ameyaw pointed out]There was dispute between the states of Krachi and Apai. The former under Nana Kwasi Okugyi Dente of Krachikrom wished to annex the metropolitan Apai States. But this move was totally unacceptable and Nana Yaw Anto whose State was hitherto independent insisted on the preservation of the ancient and original Apai constitution.
The Krachihene at the time, according to the Pai Tradition presented by Kwabena Ameyaw, had to use the District Commissioner whom they had corrupted to have the Government withdraw recognition of Nana Yaw Anto. However, as Kwabena Ameyaw pointed out, “[b]ut the action of the Political Administrative Officer never settled the dispute completely. Disagreement still continued among the rivals.”
This is why it is rather interesting that when KrachiwuraNana Mprah Besemuna III appeared on the scene as a supposedly neutral arbiter following a dispute between two factions from Pai Traditional area (see Attachment IV, 1 and 2), in the payment of the first tranche of the compensation to the Pai Traditional area, you would expected him to have had a historical understanding and perspective of the area and act accordingly. But no, not only did Krachiwura Nana Mprah Besemuna III deduct GHc 1000.00 from the compensation money he received on behalf of the Pai Traditional area as his “Inconvenience” charge (see Appendix VI, 5 of 5), he secretly sided with one faction to cause confusion and anarchy in the Pai Traditional area (see Attachment VI, 1-5). This writer cannot help but wonder whether KrachiwuraNana Mprah Besemuna III was repeating what Nana Kwasi Okugyi Dente of Krachikrom tried to do by annexing the metropolitan Apai States during the reign of Nana Yaw Anto of Pai. His reportedly double dealing is clearly illustrated by having three members of the Pai Traditional area faction he sided with as members of the so-called Association of VR Flooded Lands Compensation Claimants.
Furthermore, documents made available to this writer show that 60% of the first tranche compensation payment (see Attachment VII, 1 and 2) was paid to the Surveyor as consultation fee although the attached spreadsheet shows that a 10% valuation fee based on the total compensation is to be paid to the Surveyor (see attachment VIII). The Surveyor’s fee alone based on the total compensation will amount to GHc 13,833,606.80 (that is over 138 billion old Ghana cedis). This writer questions an arrangement where 60% of a payment of the compensation or even 10% of the total compensation from GoG amounting to approximately GHc 13.8 million (138 billion Ghana old cedis) should be paid to any Surveyor. What is the rational for the GoG, represented by public servants, behind paying such a huge sum to any Surveyor? Was this artifice intentionally created to achieve an end for certain people? Is this fair to the communities which were adversely impacted by the construction of the Akosombo dam that has benefited the whole country?
It is hoped that professionals representing communities that have been economically impacted for decades, resulting in poverty and untimely deaths, as result of the construction of the Akosombo dam, did not take undue advantage of these peoples’ lack of sophistication. Significantly, this research reveals some disturbing facts, including Tdocuments showing signatures of one Nana Diawuo Bediako II purportedly, representing Pai Traditional area are completely different on the Lands Valuation Board Pay Voucher (see Attachment II, 1 of 2) and the letter from JSA Corporate & Legal Consult to the Executive Secretary of Lands Valuation Board (see Attachment VII, 1 of 2) stating that 60% of the first tranche compensation payment be made to the Surveyor. Was the integrity of these payments as a result compromised? Recently developments involving aggrieved persons bringing legal action against government due to questionable actions of public servants should be of concern to all Ghanaians with high ethics with regards to the GoG compensation payments. It should be obvious that compensation money paid to individuals who lied to the government despite protestations of people of the area affected will eventually end up causing the GoG financial loss when legal action is brought against it. Therefore, the good people of Ghana should demand an investigation of this self-appointed group, and the Lands Valuation Division of the Lands Commission to account for all taxpayer’s compensation paid on behalf of GoG to our fellow Ghanaians affected by the construction of the Akosombo dam.
About the Author: The Author’s interests are history of Ghana , economic history and political economy. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org