Government, NDC clash over state properties

General News of Monday, 6 February 2017



Frema Opare4Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare

The government and the country’s largest opposition, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have crossed swords over retrieval of state assets from appointees of the Mahama administration.

While the Chief of Staff issued a statement that announced the establishment of a taskforce to retrieve assets, including vehicles and landed properties, the NDC has challenged the government to publish state assets which the government deems missing.

The move, the party said, would enhance the credibility of the transition process, since, to the best of its knowledge, members of the immediate past administration had complied with the provisions of the Presidential Transition Act in so far as it related to the handing over of state assets.

“That said, if the NPP government has genuine reason to believe that any assets are outstanding and yet to be returned, let it provide evidence of same and use lawful means for their retrieval,” the NDC said in a statement issued by its General Secretary, Mr John Asiedu Nketiah.

While insisting that it was ready to cooperate with the government in any effort to reconcile national assets and secure them, the NDC warned that it would fiercely resist any attack on its officials and members.

“We will not tolerate any violation of the rights of our members under the guise of retrieving phantom state assets,” the statement said.

Task force

The NDC’s position followed the storming of the house of its National Organiser, Mr Kofi Adams, by a team of military men led by the Brong Ahafo Regional Youth Organiser of the NPP, Kwame Baffoe, to retrieve vehicles that Mr Baffoe insisted belonged to the state.

The National Security Minister, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, had reportedly apologised for the incident, while the Chief of Staff, Madam Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, last Friday issued a statement announcing the formation of a taskforce to retrieve state assets in the national interest.

The taskforce comprises the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA).

While urging “persons with state properties unlawfully in their hands to contact the task force and make arrangements to surrender such assets with immediate effect”, it also appealed to the public to provide information on state assets, including lands and vehicles, which were yet to be handed over to the government by individuals, contrary to the law.

Cover up?

But the statement issued by the NDC General Secretary said the government task force could only be “an implausible cover up for the state-sponsored thuggery and violation of the human rights of innocent Ghanaians over the last four weeks”.

“Let it be known to the government that the quest to justify the criminal activities of its party hoodlums who have gone about wreaking havoc on innocent citizens, destroying government properties, beating up hardworking civil and public servants and attempting to seize properties of former government officials and leading functionaries of the NDC can destabilise the peace and stability of our beloved country, Ghana,”. it said.

Following convention

The statement observed that conventionally, the ideal thing to do was that that proper inventory was taken of all government assets and any missing asset traced to any person keeping it.

“This is especially so, as each and every government asset, movable and immovable, as captured in the handing-over notes, was handed over to the NPP representatives on the Joint Transition Team. The gung-ho approach adopted by the NPP and President Akufo-Addo betrays their siege mentality, which is completely incompatible with democratic practice,” it said.

The NDC said if the government meant well and was willing to act in good faith, lawful procedure would have been used to secure any state asset deemed to be in the hands of unauthorised persons.

The statement said “The activities of these NPP hoodlums operating under the name ‘Invisible Forces’ with tacit approval from elements within the Ghana Armed Forces and the Ghana Police Service have gone on for several weeks without any noticeable effort by the government to take action against them.

“This state of affairs reveals a worrying breakdown of the chain of command of the nation’s security agencies and the running of a vigilante security system parallel to what is duly established by law. The attempt, therefore, by the Akufo-Addo government to issue a post-facto rationalisation of this disgraceful behaviour through the setting up of a supposed task force must be roundly condemned.”

Struggling Administrator-General

Ghana’s transition process from one party to another since 2001 has always been acrimonious. Party supporters, in a hurry to see the back of the losers, go as far as seizing public toilets.

Apart from the handing-over notes that the outgoing government is expected to submit to the successor, the Office of the Administrator-General is also mandated by law to collect data from all public offices on state/government vehicles and landed properties in preparation towards the transition of the Executive.

They include ministries, departments and agencies, regional co-ordinating councils RCCs), metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs).

This is in line with the Presidential (Transition) Act 2012, Act 845 and the office’s quest to compile data on state and government vehicles in order to ensure smooth transitions.

Section 9(1) of the Presidential Transition Act requires the Administrator General to prepare a natural register covering all national lands and any other land vested in the President by the Constitution.

However, the Administrator-General, Mr David Yaro, in October last year, complained about the lack of resources to execute his work.

Apart from the financial constraints, the Office of the Administrator-General had no advanced data capturing or updating system.