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25.08.2005 General News

Chieftaincy, land litigation impede devt - Minister

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Tamale, Aug. 25, GNA - At least 60,000 land litigation cases were recorded in the courts in 2002 alone, Mr Charles Bintin, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (LGRD) has stated. "This state of affairs is overburdening the judicial process and I wonder why such disputes cannot be handled at the local level without resorting to the law courts", he said in a speech read for him by the Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Abu-Bakar Saddique Boniface at a one-day workshop organised for chiefs at Tamale on Wednesday. The workshop, which was on the theme: "Involving traditional leaders in community-based development projects", was facilitated by Yankah and Associates, a communication consultancy.

The Community-based rural development project (CBRDP), like most other poverty-related and demand-driven programmes, requires that the beneficiaries buy-into the project and own it. The project among other things, seeks to involve traditional rulers in the provision of feeder roads, irrigation dams and boreholes for their communities.

Mr Bintin urged traditional authorities to streamline chieftaincy titles to ensure that only qualified persons were made chiefs. He said if the chieftaincy and land disputes were not resolved peacefully, Ghana would continue to spend huge sums of money to maintain peace instead of expending such funds on development.

Mr Bintin called for the establishment of a Royal College for Chiefs to train them in modern trends "of the rule of law and good governance".

He said before the establishment of the college, the sector Ministry would organise training courses at the various campuses of the Institute of Local Government Studies to upgrade the knowledge of chiefs.

The Minister announced that the government had given an approval for 50 per cent of government appointees to the District Assemblies to be women instead of the existing 30 per cent. He therefore urged chiefs to encourage more women to stand as candidates for the assemblies in 2006. Alhaji Boniface said the greatest challenge facing the region was poverty and urged the chiefs to take advantage of the Community-based rural development project to improve upon the living standards of their people.

He appealed to the chiefs to ensure that there was peace in their traditional areas, saying: "There can be no development without peace and unity of purpose".

He stressed the need for the people of the Northern Region to do away with conflicts and learn to tolerate one another adding: "Our cultural and political diversities can and should serve to enrich our lives rather than create apartheid conditions among us". Mr Brown Matthew Oppong, National Coordinator of the CBRDP said the workshop was to help build the capacity of the chiefs to enable them to identify the needs of their communities and prioritise them to ensure the success of the programmme.

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