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24.03.2009 Politics

Sale of gov`t bungalowsBONIFACE HITS BACK AT GOV`T… Says Duncan Williams & others also benefited

By Bismark Bebli - Ghanaian Chronicle

THE FORMER Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Alhaji Boniface Abubakar Saddique, has hit back at Dr. Don Arthur, the chairman of the government's transition team on executive assets, accusing him of whipping up sentiments against former government officials.

He said, contrary to the speculations that the former government sold the state assets to its cronies, it was only four Ministers in the old government that benefited from the sale, and hinted that some notable National Democratic Congress (NDC) functionaries were also beneficiaries.

According to him, apart from the fact that the policy of re-development of the capital city was initiated by the previous NDC government, there was nothing untoward done by the NPP to warrant the attacks on them by NDC government.

Though he was not prepared to mention names, documents in possession of this reporter show that a company called Mahama and Associates and Arch-Bishop Duncan Williams, a known NDC sympathizer among others, bought some of the state bungalows.

Documents in possession of The Chronicle shows that the Duncan Williams' bungalow cost GH¢ 165,000 and he has made part payment of GH¢16,500, leaving a balance of GH¢148,500. The bungalow, with house number C38, is located at Cantonments, in Accra. .

Alhaji Boniface Saddique said the NPP government did nothing wrong, and the only difference was that during the NDC regime, the properties were sold to companies while it was the reverse under the NPP, with only few companies benefiting.

Speaking to this paper in an interview following the revelations made by Dr. Don Arthur last week, the Minister, who was the former legislator for Salaga constituency in the Northern Region, called the bluff of the NDC.

Dismissing the allegations that he perhaps benefited personally from the sale of the properties, he explained that the revenue accrued were used in re-developing the city.

He said, “I personally did not buy any of the public properties. I wish I have the money to buy one. In any case, the revenue generated through the sales was used to re-develop the Metropolis. We never made the sales on political bases.”

He said the Kufuor administration only continued with the policies and programmes initiated by the National Democratic Congress and could not fathom why the NPP is being painted as if they have done something strange.

According to him, when the ex-government officials met with the transitional team of the government, the latter tried to implicate them over the sale of the affordable houses. He alleged that the government's transitional team tried to influence Directors at the various Ministries to implicate them over the sales of the affordable houses, but that did not work.

Boniface Saddique said since that attempt failed, the NDC government, through Dr. Don. Arthur was keen in getting at them again. “At the transitional meeting, we told them about everything and that all what we did was above board and was in line with the NDC policy in 1996 to sell the state properties to re-build the capital city. It is therefore wrong to create the impression that we sold the properties to NPP cronies.”

According to him, the latest move by Dr. Don. Arthur to jump ahead of the President's own view on the matter was an attempt to paint former Ministers 'black'.

“The perception by Dr. Don Arthur against us is unfortunate”, he said.

The former Minister of Works and Housing said he was embarrassed by the comments suggesting that he single handedly gave out the properties to sympathizers of the NPP.

The only motive, Alhaji Boniface Saddique deduced from the utterances of Dr. Arthur was to divert the public's attention from the initial hiccups suffered by the NDC government.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ras Boateng, the Chief executive officer of the National Health Insurance scheme has denied that he purchased one of the bungalows as announced by Dr. Don Arthur. According to him, he does not own any property in Accra.