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27.02.2009 Regional News

Sale of Ga Lands; Bone of Contention Again

By Emmanuel Kpeglah - Ghanaian Chronicle

Debates yesterday ran hot when Hon. Irene Naa Torshi Addo (Mrs), Member for Tema West accused the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for pitching one ethnic group against the other in the way they were handling the Ga lands issues. She was commenting on the State of the Nation Address to thank President John Atta Mills for the address.

Her contribution was characterized by many points of order and information to correct aspects of her submission. “On most of their platforms, the NDC kept drumming on the issue of the sale of Ga lands to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) members, which has the tendency of raising tribal sentiments,” she said, adding that “I don't know why it was only Greater Accra because there are other regions where government took lands from the owners.” She argued that the issue of Ga lands pre-dated the reign of the NPP government because according to her other governments also dabbled in the Ga lands issue.

The Member for Tamale Central, Hon. Inusah Abdulai Fuseini rose to challenge Hon Naa Addo, to prove the position of the NDC that the Kufuor led NPP administration sold the Ga lands to their cronies.

He said, if she (Hon. Addo) cannot disprove that by providing evidence to the contrary, she (Hon Addo) must rest her submission. He said the matter was a very serious issue and it should not be stained with falsehood.

She counteracted by saying “I am a Ga and hail from the royal family and I want to say that the issue about sale of Ga lands predates the NPP regime,” Hon Addo reiterated.

According to Hon Enoch Teye Mensah, Member for Ningo-Prampram, who also rose on another point of order, he said the Member (Hon Addo) was misleading the House because the NPP government did not give the first option of sale of the lands to the Ga people as stated in article 20 clause 6 of the 1992 Constitution, and that was what the NDC wanted to correct.

Hon. Addo was also criticized by the Member for Anlo, Hon Humado Clement Kofi for not sticking to the address of the President, since the issue of Ga lands was not part of the address delivered by the President.

This prompted the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon Ambrose Dery to justify the stand of Hon. Naa Addo by quoting part of the President's address: “Last December the people of Ghana sat in judgment and ruled in favour of the NDC and our Agenda for a Better Ghana.” Hon Dery said Article 34 clause 2 of the 1992 Constitution has granted the Honourable Member the chance to speak freely about the address, adding that the NDC manifesto was clearly the Agenda for the Better Ghana which could form basis for the discussion.

Hon. Addo said it was wrong for the NPP government to be drawn into this case, because in 2006 it took a cabinet decision to return the unused Ga lands to their owners, adding that the NPP government inherited that problem from the NDC and tried to correct it.

The next person who caught the eye of the First Deputy Speaker, Hon Doe Edward Adjaho, who sat in for the Rt. Hon Speaker Bamford –Addo was the Member for Tamale South, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu who said a few months ago the NPP government touted the notion that Ghana's economy was very strong and resolute, which was not true according to the present state of the economy.

Referring to the First State of the Nation's address delivered by former President John Kufuor, he said a debt of ¢41 trillion which NPP was said to have inherited from the NDC government was described by the former President as colossal and burdensome.

He said when the ex President was interviewed moments after the State of the Nation Address, he said Ghanaians must not bother about the debt but the projects the monies were used for.

He rejected the position of former President Kufuor by arguing that it was the same reasons he gave in 2000 about the numerous roads and other projects the monies were used for.

Hon. Haruna said all Ghanaians, irrespective of their political affiliation must be united when it comes to issues relating to the economy of the country, because the present economic situation of the country imposed some fundamental difficulties and called on the NPP to join President Mills' administration to grow the economy.

The member for Bosomtwe, Hon. Simon Osei –Mensah registered his disappointment about the President's address since it did not touch on tourism, which according to him Ghana had in abundance.

According to him, when the tourism industry is structured well, poverty levels in the rural communities would be reduced, since most of the sites are located there.

Hon. Osei-Mensah said the President also failed to speak on the rail way sector which to him was very cardinal in the development of cocoa production, especially in transporting cocoa for shipment.

“The President never mentioned anything on aviation! Jesus Christ!” he exclaimed.

He said the promotion of non traditional crops like pineapple would depend on the aviation industry.

Hon. Akua Sena Dansua, Member for North Dayi, on her part said the address of the President epitomized his nature as a humble, gentle and reconciliatory leader who outlined pragmatic policies and programmes for the advancement of the course of women and children in the country. She said the President dealt with the ten critical concerns and the steps to address the 2000 Women Manifesto.

She said the President was very particular on health and sanitation issues so that people would not contract malaria before thinking about mosquito nets. She commended the NPP government for initiating and implementing the free antenatal care for pregnant mothers, but however, advised the citizenry not to take advantage of the initiative to bring more children that they can not cater for. She said government would work at the problem of school drop out among girls.