I convey warm greetings from the people of the Volta Region and the 77 poor landowners of the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) who are being denied their due compensation by your Government.
Mr President, we are indeed excited about your ascension to the Presidency.
Pursuant to Article 257, "All public lands in Ghana shall be vested in the President on behalf of and in trust for, the people of Ghana". It is on this basis that you should be concerned about the current development, Your Excellency. I must admit that your Personal Assistant is a representation of your humility when I visited the Presidency this January.
Sir, even if you could not have the time to read the content of the petition addressed to you on the continuous delay of our land compensation payment, I am certain His Lordship Justice Jones Dotse who is the current Governing Council Chairman might have hinted you of our plight, hunger, deprivation and hopelessness. He may not forget to inform you that at least four people have already died and some hospitalized while looking for money to pay their bills.
Your constant reminder to Ghanaians to be Citizens, not Spectators got me listening to your inaugural speech once again. Oh, I just remembered how that speech got even the patriotic Ghanaian JHS and SHS graduates define plagiarism to the amusement of the PhD holders.
But Sir should we the 77 very poor UHAS landowners also feel to be citizens and not spectators? We rather are compelled to feel that we have committed a crime, a crime that we also own pieces of land.
What crime have we committed to own a piece of land some of which are from retirement packages? Are our properties not protected by Article 20 but today are dispossessed again by the same law?
What crime have we committed that, our lands needed to be expropriated since 2011 and had to struggle to compel Government to issue an Executive Instrument (E.I) in 2013?
What crime have we committed also that, the Lands Commission would have to drag and delay technical processes and compensation processing for 3 years?
What crime again have we committed that, after spending 3 years at the Lands Commission to process documents leading to offer and acceptance until December 2016, it had to take 5 months to request for the fund to pay us on 15th May 2017?
What worse crime have we committed that, after due processes and request for payment by the Lands Commission through the Lands and Natural Resources Minister to the Minister of Finance as at 15th May 2017, the release of funds is still an issue? Why?
It is very sad that people today at the Finance Ministry are behaving as if UHAS does not exist and even if exists, it is strange to be located on a land.
Isn’t it strange that, as at December 2017, the Finance Ministry will be requesting from an existing University why they needed 702 acres of land?
I really have my doubts whether the same question was asked by the same people at the Finance Ministry when public lands were shared like "KELEWELE" some few months or years ago in Ghana.
Are we denied what is due us because we do not belong to the political class? Maybe we are not road and sanitation contractors who will pay 10% and in addition, finance political campaigns in 2020. Maybe we are not powerful chiefs that can command political votes.
It is shameful that, in January 2018, Finance Ministry would need to send an official to UHAS to seek a personal opinion whereas detailed information was provided by the same institution earlier upon the request of Finance Ministry on the total use of the land. Is it that, some people still have the belief that, UHAS is nonexistent? This is a complete insult to us.
We hope the landowners of the new Public University in the Eastern Region are also being humiliated, disrespected, and frustrated just like us from the Volta region.
How can we be rendered poor, hopeless, hungry and frustrated by our fellow Ghanaians, the majority of which are Christians who never miss religious services on Sundays?
What is our crime Mr President, look at how landowners are rendered hopeless?
Today Financial institutions are at the heels of some landowners because they acquired loans to send their children to school, while children of the Rich, Politicians and powerful in society ride comfortably in a university-branded air-conditioned bus to and fro school. This is indeed a nation where inequality is publicly abhorred but actively celebrated and practised by the politicians and the powerful against the poor in society.
While I conclude Mr President, we the poor UHAS landowners of UHAS are looking up to your immediate intervention and payment. It seems to us that, some individuals at the Finance Ministry are bent on further delaying what is legally and constitutionally due us.
Sir, the application for release of funds for compensation payment had duly been forwarded to Finance Ministry as at May 2017. May you make us be Citizens and not Spectators. I thank you.
- Written by Kormlah Dzidzor. He can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org