Jamasi (Ash), April.30, GNA - The chiefs and people of Jamasi in the Afigya-Sekyere district of Ashanti have disassociated themselves from the call by a so-called "Pressure Group" at Jamasi which petitioned the President to restrain the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) from selling the Jamasi Cocoa Station, including the facilities of the Konongo-Mampong Diocese of the Catholic Church.
They have also in no uncertain terms condemned the group for their activities, which had dragged the name and image of the town in the mud.
Addressing a press conference jointly organised by the Konongo-Mampong Diocese of the Catholic Church, the Afigya-Sekyere District Assembly and the chiefs and people of Jamasi in reaction to the group's action on Thursday, the chiefs gave the history behind the leasing of the land to the COCOBOD.
They said in 1954-1955, the late Nana Adu Gyamfi Brobbey 111, the chief of Jamasi in consultation with his sub-chiefs, leased the land to COCOBOD for a period of 99 years.
They said the board developed the land into a cocoa station and that at the height of its operations, the station employed about 300 workers, but after some years, the board started laying off some of its workers as activities slowed down at the station.
The chiefs said the unused offices and rooms started deteriorating and so the cocoa board decided to release some of the offices to the community to be put to good use as it had done elsewhere in the country.
They said when the newly created Konongo-Mampong Catholic Diocese applied to the Cocoa Board in 1998-1999 to release some of the unused offices to be used as a nucleus of a hospital, several meetings were held between the COCOBOD, the Catholic Church and the District Assembly on the issue.
The chiefs said at the recent meeting, Mr J. Sarfo-Kantanka, Deputy Chief Executive of COCOBOD in charge of Finance and Administration, clearly explained that the Board had never thought of selling the station.
The chiefs said all issues on the station were explained at the said meeting and therefore find it surprising that the group came out with that petition full of lies.
They added that the people of Jamasi were alive to their civic responsibilities and will not allow a few self-seeking and irresponsible people to tarnish their image.
The chiefs challenged the petitioners to come out with the names of 50 people out of the possible 5,000 voters at Jamasi who have threatened to boycott the December elections.
At the same press conference, the people of Jamasi passed votes of no confidence in their three assembly members who formed part of the pressure group that petitioned the President. The assembly members are Madam Serwaah Agyemang, Agyemang Prempeh Marfo and Anim Alhassan.
They said, they will follow up with the necessary constitutional requirements to remove the assembly members from the assembly. A statement read on behalf of the chiefs and people of Jamasi and signed by Messrs M.A. Boateng, Jones Yeboah and C.K. Duah, made it categorically clear that the people of Jamasi had never given any so called pressure group the mandate to negotiate on any issue on their behalf as far as the Cocoa Board land and facilities were concerned. They said Jamasi had been deprived for far too long of the provision of quality and accessible health facility and was therefore ridiculous to think that, as conscious as are of their health needs, they will reject an offer of a specialist hospital to be provided by the Catholic Church.
The people expressed their appreciation to the Chief of Staff, the District Chief Executive and the government for the massive renovation of the Adu Gyamfi Secondary School, the Salvation Army School and the Tabre Nkwanta Experimental School.
They apologised to the Chief of Staff for the harm the "faceless" pressure group had done to his reputation and assured him of their unflinching support as a distinguished son of Jamasi. They assured President Kufuor that the people of Jamasi will vote massively for the NPP as they had always done to return the party to power in the December polls.
The Most Reverend Joseph Osei-Bonsu, Bishop of Konongo-Mampong said, there was no question of COCOBOD selling the station to the Diocese and that the petitioners claim that the station will be resold to some eight prominent citizens of Jamasi was misguided and baseless. He said the petitioners seemed to be under the impression that the facilities at the Monastery at Jamasi had no purpose and that the Monastery now called the Divine Providence Centre was the pastoral and social centre for the entire diocese and not for the Catholic Church at Jamasi.
Bishop Osei-Bonsu said the petitioners seemed to assume that the diocese was merely interested in acquiring land and depriving the people of Jamasi of their farming land.
The issue, he said was not that the diocese needed land for a hospital since it had a lot of land at Jamasi but that the diocese would like to make use of the buildings at the cocoa station for a hospital, since it would be a better incentive to the church's development partners to transform the station into a hospital.
Bishop Osei-Bonsu said the Catholic Church believed that the preaching of the gospel must go hand in hand with the improvement of the material and living conditions of those being evangelised.
Mr Ben Abankwa, the Afigya-Sekyere District Chief Executive said the diocese in their negotiations never mentioned the acquisition of the cocoa land but rather the buildings of the COCOBOD at the cocoa station. He said the establishment of the hospital apart from offering employment to the youth would also enhance the health status of the district as well as its image and check the deteriorating structures at the station.
Mr Abankwa said these were the motivating factors, which informed his decision to attach covering letters to the diocese's applications and the subsequent reminders to the COCOBOD to release the structures to the church.
The DCE said the assembly members were using diversionary tactics to divert public attention from their shortcomings and said for instance, that upon an appeal by Tigareso unit committee at Jamasi, he released 30 bags of cement to Madam Serwaah Agyemang, the assemblywoman for Jamasi Central and chairman of the Jamasi Town Council on October 3, 2003.
Mr Abankwa emphasised the need for the people of Jamasi to recall the loss of the Saint Joseph Training College to Bechem, the loss of Saint Hubert Seminary to Kumasi and the loss of the Saint Patrick Hospital to Maase in Offinso and said it was the future of Jamasi which was at stake and not the selfish interest of a few self seeking individuals.