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Opinions of Sunday, 23 July 2006

Columnist: Kusi-Appiah, Akwasi

Govt Turns Over Kumasi Part One Land – Very Worrisome

Kumasi Chiefs on Vultures’ Land Sales Circus

Few days ago, Ghana new media reported that through a court of Law, Kumasi Part One Lands (KPOL) had been released to Manhyia. What are the implications? Your guess is as good as mine. Did the people of Kumasi or Ghana benefit from KPOL while under the management of the government of the republic of Ghana? Did the rent and other levies collected by Lands Commission/department on behalf of Ghana’s government trickle down to the people?

Could Manhyia or Kumasi chiefs do a better job than Ghana government by using the proceeds from rents etc of the KPOL to develop the city? Use the proceeds to provide facilities and equip the people of Kumasi to fend for themselves economically? Are our corrupt and greedy, multiple-women marrying chiefs be sincere to themselves and use the land resources to help the poor and vulnerable to be emancipated from poverty?

Folks, “Two Troubles; One God” – this is an inscription on my village trotro vehicle. May be the next time I see Agya Koo, I will pay him off to change the inscription to “OUR LAND; TWO DEVILS – CHIEFS AND NPP POLITICIANS”. This is the cause of my sadness. I am very upset about the events unfolding in the land management at Kumasi. Anybody could rise up any day to a chief only to auction off prime real estate, pocket the money and destroy the future of the indigenes of the towns. Delinquent and failed people in their private lives have used the royal line of inheritance to temporarily enrich themselves and squished the future of generations to come. These people build themselves the nicest home in Accra or other side of Kumasi and never return to that town again. You can point to Pankronuhene Boakye, Kwaprahene Adu Gyamfi, Ntaamuhene Kwaku Abum Appiah, and others. While the local schools and towns lacks basic amenities like public place of convenience, potable water, accommodation for teachers and others facilities, some these corrupt chiefs sell everything including gold and jewelry that had been in the town for centuries.

It is a sad comment, nothing but sad comment that I pass on Chiefs, Land and the People. It is very worrisome to think about the generations to come considering the way and manner our government and the greedy and self-centered chiefs have managed and continue to manage our resources. On the lighter side, it used to be that a bottle of Whiskey could get a European a whole township in Ghana with 200 slaves. The modern chiefs of 21st century will sell every conceivable resource, pocket the money, and marry 10 women. Squander the future of thousands of people who otherwise could have fed on the land or use the proceeds from the land sales to improve the local JSS or Hospital. The people could have used the land as collateral to seek loans to improve their business and farms or support their family.

Folks, I present to you the Kumasi and Ashanti Region chiefs of 21st century. It is heart-wrenching to know that the government of Ghana through a purported court ruling has turned over the KPOL back to wide-opened mouths of the chiefs of Kumasi without any system in place to protect the people of Kumasi from the financial abuses of these chiefs. This is must be a sad day for all those who know the implication of continuous takeover of government lands by the corrupt chiefs. OSU chiefs would take over their ocean front lands from the government pretty soon to auction them off to the best bidder.

Soon after the 2000 election, I warned the discerning people of Kumasi and environs about the plot hatched to take over several prime real estate the government of Ghana was holding on. I named among other pieces of lands;

? Ministry of Agriculture Seeds Experimental Land across from University of Winneba Campus in Abuakwa in Ashanti, adjacent to Yaa Asantewaa Secondary School.

? Kwadaso Agriculture College Laboratory and Practical Farming Lands at Agric- Nzemaa also in Kumasi.

? Kumasi Part One Land situated at Adum and Regional Offices areas

? Kumasi 4th Battalion Barrack at Bantama, adjacent Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.

? KNUST Lands

? Ministry of Agriculture Land at Fomasua behind KNUST on Accra –Kumasi road

I predicted that Kuffour and NPP will make Rawlings and his NDC look like saints and very competent government in managing the natural resources in the interest of the people. Oyiwa!…. NDC is definitely the better of the two evils or devils. NDC government was the only thing that stood in the way these chiefs from swallowing their people alive. Or should I say chew their bones and spit them out into eternal poverty and destitution.

My fellow Ghanaians, 23 days after swearing in of President Kuffour and his NPP government, the Ahenfie Rat otherwise called SK Boafo handed over the deeds of the Kumasi Abuakwa and Kwadaso Ministry of Education and Agriculture lands to crocodile-mouthed chiefs of Kumasi. Before S. K Boafo could be vetted by Parliament and become the substantial Ashanti Regional minister, these Kumasi chiefs had demarcated the lands and disposed off it. Both pieces of land were auctioned off and over $30 million were pocketed by the chiefs from this land sale fiesta. I will quote what I wrote elsewhere in 2001.

? Minister SK Boafo has been the minister and poster boy of selected few in this region, the chiefs and Manhyia, has used the old man to the detriment of the people of the region;

The first line of action upon appointment and assumption of office was to make sure that Ministry of Agriculture’s Crops Experimental land across from University College Campus at Abuakwa near Kumasi was released to chiefs who demarcated and auction the 10 mile square land within 30 days. This release of land was not based on a court order but willful negligence of commonsense, the needs and aspiration of these people to pacify and satisfy the greedy self-centered and corrupt chiefs who will claim the air the people (subjects-what ever that means) breathe belong to them. It was outrageously irresponsible for Kuffour government through the Ahenfie Labrador called SK Boafo to release the land to chiefs without protecting the interest of the poor and vulnerable people in the villages around the land. The question is that WHERE DID THE OVER THIRTY BILLION CEDIS ($30 Million) from the sale of this land GO?

If you think of the economic distress and outright poverty in this part of the Ashanti Region, you can kind of wonder about the intelligence or lack thereof of the regional minister. It is a sad commentary to note that Kuffour Government and the Ashanti Regional Minister did not put in place any structure or substance to direct some of this huge sum of money to improve the local elementary and middle schools, teachers accommodation to attract better teachers into the schools, children health, provide clean water to the people and anything you can think about. Interesting the same ministers and the president and their cronies will board a plane to USA to see a loan of $1 million USA. Wow.

Let us go back to the establishment of Wesley College near Suame in Kumasi. The designers and brain power behind the site selection made a windfall determination to use Wesco to support institutions, and to have the maximum benefit to the people, these people thought it wise to carve northwest part of the intersection to be a campus for now elementary and JSS schools. Behind Asanteman Secondary School and stretching up to Abrepo Junction are filled with schools that are cashing in on the Wesley College educational resources and human resource. In the nutshell, SK Boafo denied the children of Ashanti Region born or to born another opportunity to get better education by using the resources of University College of Winneba at Kumasi Abuakwa Campus. That could have been a prime real estate just for educational advancement of the people north west of Kumasi and Ashanti Region as a whole. But SK Boafo and President Kuffour decided that the greedy chiefs were more important than millions of people in the region.

Please take this home; in 2001 academic year, there were only 4 students out of over 800 at attending Yaa Asantewaa Secondary School (that share common borders with the land under consideration) that were from the indigenous home in the villages in the area. The rest of the pupil from this area were sentenced by the court of SK Boafo to sell roasted corn, fried corn meal, and dog chains at Kejetia for the rest of their life. What an indicting proposition?”

My people, there we go again! The chiefs are going to replay the same tricks that they pulled over the people in conspiracy with the NPP politicians to squander any conceivable resources from KPOL. It is interesting to note that one of the contestants of Bantama Stool to become Bantamahene few years ago is alleged to have used the sales of the Ghana 4th Battalion Barracks land as collateral to secure loans to contest the stool. With the fall of KPOL into the hands of the chiefs, and with NPP and Kuffour still in power, no doubt that the Bantama Barracks Lands will fall into the alligator’s mouth of Bantamahene and his cronies. No matter how you want to analyze it, the chiefs have awfully failed the people of Ashanti region and elsewhere.

ROLE OF GOVERNMENT

Any responsible government should have enforced the law of the land and the 1992 constitution making the chiefs accountable to their people. It has been reported that close to 100% of royalties paid to these chiefs end up in the pockets of chiefs, sub chiefs, and their cronies. In Brong Ahafo, one of the sub-chiefs is reported to have pocketed 20% of royalty and told the paramount chief that someone stole the money. How the check was cashed in the absence of the paramount chief was a mystery. Letting the people down and dropping the ball on the people at each turn by NPP government is no funnier. President Kuffour and S. K Boafo actively worked to release Abuakwa and Kwadaso land to the chiefs without making sure that the proceeds went to develop the towns and villages around. Ghana government in the forms of dubious politicians has caused more harm to the people than good. No way should these chiefs be allowed by any decent and serious government to commandeer community properties to wax their personal taste. Meanwhile there are laws on the books to protect the people from such injustice. The framers of 1992 constitution thought wise to defend and protect the people from their chiefs and subsequently had an article to that effect. When would the attorney general office stop the politically-motivated persecutions and prosecutions and turn the peoples’ resources into protecting the people?

ROLE OF THE MEDIA – PRINT OR OTHERWISE

This is another estate of our democracy that is over-valued, over-hyped, and over-appreciated. They too have failed the people in educating the population on social responsibilities and attacking social issues. Our private media are actually offshoots of the political parties that own them or act as mouthpieces for the editor’s political sponsors. Buying a newspaper in Ghana, you must ask the vendor specifically for a newspaper or political paper, depending on what you want to read. Our media has constituted themselves into shrines where stories are concocted, trade in insults, and blackmail anyone and every one. Our print media, especially the private, suffer from aiming the crosshairs at the politicians and people in politics while leaving the fabric of society to rot. While their performance as an educating tool is stingingly poor, a few investigative journalists have made great strides in advancing the quality of their work. A case in point is the investigation about the shady dealings at the Ghana Passport Office. The fact still remains that had any of the news print houses or radio stations picked up on the release of Kumasi Abuakwa Agric Ministry lands to the chief and the mysterious way the land was auctioned off within 30 days, as well as identify individuals involved and asked the correct questions, things will not be like what it is today.

It is a sad commentary! No where to go. You can not go to court. The corrupt judges will sit on the case until the plaintiff dies of natural death. The government is in cahoots with the valiant chiefs. The media is sleeping on the wheel or turned inward. Parliamentarians are as useless as the sun weathered grass lawn in front of the august house. Which way?



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