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Opinions of Thursday, 16 July 2015

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Kufuor Did The Right Thing, So Shut Up!

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
July 12, 2015

I have read a gist of the one-man Apau commission Report pertaining to the alleged releasing of some $2.64 million compensatory award to a British family that acquired a lease on some 1,800 acres of land for industrial development in the Aveyime-Battor locality of the Volta Region but was rudely pushed off the land and prevented from developing the same by the Acheampong-led junta of the National Redemption Council (NRC), later renamed the Supreme Military Council (SMC-I) - (See "Kufuor Cited In $2.6 Million Land Compensation" / 7/8/15).

The date given for the land acquisition is 1973, while the peremptory acquisition of the same by the Acheampong junta is given as 1976. The British lessee constituted a firm called Battor Agricultural Industries Limited (BAIL). But it is not clear what value of investment capital BAIL put into the land prior to the government takeover. It is quite plausible to presume that the SMC-I takeover was in the heady days of the Operation Feed Yourself (OFY) program. Whatever the quiddities of the BAIL narrative may be, what is significant to bear in mind here is that having had their legitimately leased land unceremoniously taken from them by the Acheampong regime, the aggrieved BAIL investors decided to take the globally accepted route by appealing to the expropriator for compensation but to no avail.

It is quite certain that had the Government of Ghana done the right thing, by promptly compensating the BAIL investors for the peremptory and summary destruction of their business, we would not be talking about President John Agyekum-Kufuor's all-too-legitimate and savvy decision to release the compensatory sum of $2.64 million to the Carmichael family. What we ought to be discussing presently is the rationale behind successive Ghanaian governments for refusing to compensate the Carmichael family. We must also quickly point out that for most of the period under discussion, it was Chairman Jerry John Rawlings who held the reins of governance, first as Chairman of the transitional Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), then the so-called Provisional National defense Council (PNDC) and, lastly, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which still rules the proverbial roost.

Along the foregoing political trajectory, we have had the shortlived Limann-led government of the People's National Party (PNP) and then, very recently, the two-term Kufuor-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). What is quaint in all this is the inexcusably preposterous argument that in deciding to compensate the Carmichael family for the loss of their business investment, President Kufuor ought to have extended the same gesture to the indigenous owners of the land in question. This trend of argument is preposterous because President Kufuor could not have authorized any payments to the owners of the Aveyime-Battor landed property without any formal legal representations to President Kufuor to the same effect, by the original owners of the land.

We must also point out that the foremost figures of the longest-ruling governments over the past thirty-odd years have been descendants of the Volta Region and, in fact, bona fide indigenes of the Anlo-Ewe enclave which includes the Aveyime-Battor traditional area. Even more significant ought to be observed the fact that it was the British High Commission in Ghana, acting on behalf of the Carmichael family, that succeeded in getting Mr. Kufuor to fairly compensate its citizens for their investment losses through no fault of their own, but the peremptory and summary abrogation of their lease by the Government of Ghana.

Granted, the timing of the release of the compensatory sum to the aggrieved Carmichael family reeks of the ineluctably curious; but it also admirably demonstrates the fact that our leaders are darn capable of cutting through bureaucratic red-tape to make our government work at full-throttle. That it had to take our former British colonial masters to open our eyes to such progressive and expeditious ways of doing things, is all the more to be pitied. And yes, by the way, I am also revoltingly uncomfortable with this apparently rancid exhibition of inferiority complex on the part of my dear good, old Uncle Kofi Diawuo Agyekum-Kufuor. But then, why is nobody also talking about the $176 million airplane-purchasing heist involving then-Vice-President John Dramani Mahama? Come on, give me a break!