Letter To The President

President John Dramani Mahama was a very good friend of mine. Yes, I say he was, because we have not seen each other for over a decade so I don’t know whether, to him, we are still friends, and good ones for that matter.

As a good friend, I always wish him well to succeed in his duty as President of our dear country. For this reason, the best way to bring out any observation of weakness or a shortfall in his administration should have been what we used to call “two-man talk”.

I should have gone to tell him what I find wrong or what suggestions I have for him to improve on his work. I sent him a private e-mail previously through one e-mail address he once used but I never had any response.

And knowing how our protocol system works and the kind of iron curtains around him in the form of the numerous aides, some ‘special’ and others ‘ordinary’, some of whom fearing for the safety of their positions, would, therefore, not allow some of us to get close to the President. The only choice left to me, therefore, is to speak to my friend through this column.

So Mr President, I hope, as always, that you would have some few minutes to read this letter, and act upon its contents. For today, I have four issues which I would plead with you to give an urgent attention. I can assure you I have a dozen more, but I will write to you again some other day.

The first one is the killing on Monday, January 6, 2014, of Adjei Akpor, aged 22, by the police at Adenta. Immediately after his killing, which was related to the recent demolition of properties at Adenta, the Greater Accra Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police Christian Tettey Yohonu, and two of his lieutenants, in separate interviews with the media, concluded that Adjei Akpor was a land guard who had attempted to attack the police.

In an article in the Daily Graphic of Saturday, January 11, 2014, I challenged the Ghana Police Service to prove that Akpor was a land guard and also whether it was lawful for the police to shoot and kill the young man even if he were a land guard. The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and his officers have not deemed it fit to respond.

Mr President, I am appealing to you to call the IGP and his lieutenants to order to tell Ghanaians whether the killing of Akpor was lawful and if not, what have the IGP and his service done for the family of the deceased and what action he has taken against his men, including Mr Yohonu.

Mr President, I trust that you will take an immediate action on this issue, because with this letter, I’m also serving notice to the IGP that I will follow this case until the right thing is done. The Ghana Police Service and its personnel are not above the laws of Ghana. If need be, I will go to court to seek justice for Akpor and his orphaned children.

My second issue, Mr President, is about the Tema Development Corporation (TDC) and its demolition of houses last week, leaving over 150 home owners homeless. The Local Government Act 1993 (Act 462) entrusts district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies with a responsibility of planning and enforcing the physical development of their areas.

Under the law, district planning authorities shall initiate and prepare district development plans and settlement structure plans. This, thus, entrusts assemblies with a very important role of development control.

The TDC, set up in 1952, was charged with the development of the then Tema township, created by the then Nkrumah Government. Since 1988, every space in the country falls under one district, municipal or metropolitan assembly, which has the responsibility to develop its assembly area. With the creation of the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA), the TDC, therefore, naturally should have ceased to be the one to develop Tema. It appears almost everybody has overlooked the fact that TDC, which in a significant way is usurping some powers of the TMA, does not deserve to exist at all after Act 462 of 1993.

Mr President, as if designed to mock you and your government, one of the state institutions Ghanaians have entrusted in your care, the TDC, callously demolishes over 150 homes, sending their owners and their families into the open, only for another state institution, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), also under your care, to provide tents for them. What irony, Mr President!

Unfortunately, your Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Inusah Fuseni, seems confused about the whole issue, and has made a not-well-thought-of statement justifying the demolition. Listen to him: “If you build your house and someone walks in and occupies a room in your house, does that fellow become the owner of that room?”

If my memory serves me right, I think Mr Fuseni is a lawyer. I am not, but I know that in law, if you allow someone to occupy your property for a certain length of time, they could become legal occupants of that property.

One would have thought that as a minister of lands, his first anger should have been directed to the officials of the land administration and management institutions who went to sleep when the so-called encroachers encroached on the TDC lands.

Again, as a country facing a housing deficit of over one million, the minister could have adopted a common sense approach where already built houses could be spared any demolition while the rest of the land is protected. But rather, while women have been taking their bath in the open since their homes were demolished, a minister of state, who is supposed to protect our lands, rather blames encroachers and praises his officials whose dereliction of duty has caused a national calamity.

Surprisingly, whereas women and children are sleeping and taking their bath also in the open without any dignity, I am yet to hear a word from the Minister of Women and Children, Nana Oye Lithur.

I’m surprised about the sudden muteness of Nana Oye Lithur, who only a few years before her ministerial appointment, would grab every little opportunity and jump on roof tops to show the whole world that she cared about the well-being of women? Was she just looking for bread and butter?

Mr President, I will leave this issue here for now as I await your action. My fourth and final issue to you today, Sir, is the almighty GYEEDA (Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency) and the prosecution of Abuga Pele. Congratulations, Sir, for showing your teeth at corruption. But Sir, with all due respect, was Abuga Pele the only one indicted in the report of the investigative committee?

Arguments going round and also allegedly made by Mr Pele is that he did not have the authority to sign the quantum of amounts which left the national coffers via GYEEDA. Why are you not questioning the previous and present ministers of youth, and also finance who have the final responsibility of approving and paying the amounts?

Mr President, as I leave you and await your response to these issues which demand very quick action. May I whisper that all the credentials Nana Oye Lithur claimed to have about women empowerment have evaporated with her replacing of a woman on the National Media Commission with a man.  Nana Oye, so was all your daily noises about women empowerment only about ‘noko fiooo keke’?

The author is a journalist and political scientist. He is the Head of the Department of Media and Communication Studies, Pentecost University College, Accra. – [email protected]