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24.03.2009 Politics

Boniface cries foul

By Daily Guide
Boniface cries foul

Boniface Abubakar Saddique Alhaji Boniface Abubakar Saddique, the immediate past Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, has spilled the beans over government lands about which an impression is being created that he sold to New Patriotic Party (NPP) personalities.

He expressed opprobrium about what he considers a witch-hunting exercise mounted by Dr. Don Arthur, Chairman of the Government Transition Team and the source of the mendacious allegations.

Contrary to what has already been tendentiously put out in the public domain, the truth is that Ghanaians from various persuasions followed the approved procedures to acquire the property in question, the former Minister explained.

The asset or property-selling exercise itself, he said, commenced as a National Democratic Congress (NDC) policy from 1999 and in line with NPP policy of not discontinuing with things the party deems good, it went ahead with it.

Some prominent political personalities with direct links to the NDC when it was then in power and when the NPP assumed power acquired the assets.

Such persons registered companies under which they acquired the property, Alhaji Boniface disclosed to debunk Dr. Arthur's claims.

Preferring to keep such names under wraps, the former Minister's body language suggested that there are persons in government today who acquired such assets too.

The Second Phase of the Redevelopment Project, as the exercise is referred to in the books, started in 2003 and ended in 2008, and saw international organizations and foreign missions among others acquiring the assets.

He pointed at the World Bank, Saudi Embassy, German Embassy and the Chinese as some of the beneficiary bodies.

Local organizations like SSNIT, CEPS, GETfund, VALCO and other individuals also availed themselves of the opportunity.

While the assets were acquired through the tender system managed by a committee, there were instances in which they were disposed of gratis, the Minister indicated.

The Ga Traditional Council and the La Traditional Council were typical examples of bodies which received the gratis treatment.

He expressed surprise that Dr. Arthur would create the impression that the assets were given out based on party affiliations, adding, “how could that have happened in a civilized society such as ours?”

The idea behind the Redevelopment Exercise, he said, was to maximize land use, adding that under the NPP administration, an advertisement preceded the sale which was done through the tender system.

He went on that the Redevelopment Committee was made up of representation from the Lands Commission, Town and Country Planning Department, Ministry of Works and Housing and a consultant.

Successful applicants were given offer letters from the committee, a procedure which was followed by acceptance letters, he said.

An accounts was opened for the Redevelopment Exercise and this was managed by the Lands Commission, Alhaji Boniface said, explaining further that he cannot even tell how much the accounts contains.

The income generated through the exercise was used in undertaking a number of projects across the nation's capital, some of which he said include the 7-storey building behind ex-President Rawlings' residence, the ministerial enclave near the British High Commission, accommodation for the Judicial Service among others.

Alhaji Saddique wondered why some directors in the sector ministry were being compelled by Dr. Arthur to alter some details about the affordable housing scheme.

Although these top civil servants did not oblige him the favour, he still went ahead to attempt tarnishing the reputation of the former government, Alhaji Saddique stated.

He posed a rhetoric question to end his interview with DAILY GUIDE: “Why did Dr. Arthur concentrate his beef on the allocation between 2001 and 2008 and not those preceding this period?”

By A.R. Gomda