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11.06.2007 General News

Assembly members fume at Sheikh I.C. Quaye

By Public Agenda
Assembly members fume at Sheikh I.C. Quaye

The Greater Accra Regional Minister, Sheikh I.C. Quaye as head of the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) has incurred the wrath of members of the General Assembly of the Ga East District.

Sheikh Quaye's crime is that he empowered the RCC to sidestep the assembly in the payment of ¢400 million for a piece of land meant for the development of the assembly's offices at the district capital, Abokobi.

The Public Agenda reports that at a General Meeting held last Thursday, fuming Assembly Members categorically demanded that the Regional Minister and the Regional Coordinating Director (RCD) be made to appear before the assembly at their next meeting to render an unqualified apology for disrespecting a resolution passed earlier this year by the General Assembly, the highest decision-making body.

In attendance for the first time was the Member of Parliament for Dome-Kwabenya and Minister for Communications, Prof. Mike Oquaye who summed up the concerns of the General Assembly by stating, "a minister has no basis setting aside a General Assembly's resolution. It cannot be right, it is contempt of the Assembly and if I were the minister who did that I will apologise." He added, "Even the President won't do it."

Prof. Oquaye also advised the RCC to keep to its roles and responsibilities assigned to it and demanded that the regional body appears at the next meeting to explain itself.

The paper said recently, Sheikh Quaye and the RCC without prior approval from the General Assembly directed the district administration to pay ¢400 million from the assembly's share of the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) to the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, which owns the Abokobi lands for the lease of the said land. The lease is expected to last for 99 years.

But the Assembly members are furious because in January this year, the General Assembly endorsed an earlier decision taken by the Executive Committee not to pay any money to the church for the reason that before the selection of Abokobi as the district capital, the Chief, Nii Samuel Adjetey Mohenu allegedly promised that, once his town was made the capital he would give free land for the siting of both office and residential accommodation for the assembly. The promise was made at a time when "there were alternatives at Social Welfare (Madina), Atomic and REDCO," all in the district.

When that session came to a close, the General Assembly constituted a nine-member committee, comprising the DCE, the District Coordinating Director, and the chairmen of the assembly's five Sub-Committees, the District Town and Country Planning Officer and the Land Valuation Officer to report the state of affairs to the RCC, for it to attempt re-negotiating with the Presbyterian Church. Before the district assembly became fully operational, the RCC had conducted the initial negotiations.

Subsequently, a valuation was carried out on the land and it was estimated at ¢1.3 billion but the church and the RCC agreed on the initial ¢400 million which the church demanded. Consequently, the Regional Minister, who chairs the RCC in consultation with the Regional Coordination Director and the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment (MLGRDE) directed the district administration headed by Mr. Kofi Allotey, District Chief Executive to make the payment.

But this has not gone down well with members of the General Assembly who are of the view that the matter should have been referred to them for approval before the payment was carried out. Hence, the need for an unqualified apology from the regional minister and the RCD.

In an apparent agreement with Prof. Oquaye, Hon Amadu Sorogho, MP for Abokobi Madina pointed out, "There is no rule that allows the regional body to dictate to the Assembly what should be done or not done at the district level. The RCC must restrict itself to its assigned duties under the Local Government Act (Act 462)."

He however, suggested that since the harm had already been done, members should allow the payment to stand and rather ask for the necessary documentations to be submitted to the Assembly for scrutiny.

When all was said and done, Mr. Allotey apologised on behalf of the district administration and himself but pointed out that perhaps, the General Assembly erred by referring its resolution passed at the emergency session to the RCC.

In an interview with newsmen, Nii Adjetey Mohenu rejected fresh suggestions that he had promised free land. "I have never promised free land. I am the Chief of Abokobi and I look after land but I don't own the land."

According to him, before Abokobi was chosen as the capital some people enquired from him whether there was land in Abokobi and he answered in the affirmative. He was quick to point out that there is a difference between land and free land, hence his response.

Source: Public Agenda