Former President Jerry John Rawlings yesterday parried reports that he had acquired a government plot for GH¢10 per annum for 99 years.
Mr Rawlings appears not to be happy with media reports that he had been given 4.3 acres of land for a fee of GH¢10 every year, saying that no deal had been reached on the proposed land for his Foundation.
His anger stems from the attempts to indicate that Mr Rawlings is taking the land virtually free of charge.
Reports in the media showed letters exchanged between the former president and the Lands Commission, which stated that ex-President John Dramani Mahama in May 2016, directed the Commission to give Mr. Rawlings 4.368 acres of land situated along the Sekou Toure Street, Ridge Residential Area in Accra, at a leasehold of GH¢10 per annum for 99 years.
One of the letters from the Lands Commission said the request was granted pursuant to “recommendations in the report of the commission on presidential emoluments, with regards to emolument of former presidents.”
However, the former president said in a statement yesterday through his Communications Directorate that “No lease agreement was thus reached with the government.”
The letter allocating the land was signed by the Regional Lands Officer, J.E.K. Dadson on May 3, last year. It maintained that President Mahama had directed that the unnumbered plot covering 4.368 acres, be allocated to President Rawlings.
“This offer is made pursuant to the recommendations in the report of the Commission on Presidential Emoluments with regard to emoluments of former Presidents,” the letter had said, adding, “You will require to take a lease for 99 years with effect from May 1, 2016 at a peppercorn rent of GH¢10 per annum. The rent shall not be subject to revision throughout the entire duration of the lease,” the letter stated.
It indicated that the former president was supposed to communicate his acceptance or otherwise to the commission by July 31, 2016, which Mr. Rawlings duly accepted and sent a reply within three days,
Mr Rawlings, who expressed gratitude for the parcel of land, further asked for more land to enable him to expand a project for his Foundation.
“Due to the significant infrastructure demands that will come with the project and the fact that one intends to conform to the single and two-storey structures within the vicinity, I kindly request that additional lands as shown in blue in the attached document, be added to the allocation. This will allow for the creation of enough space not only for the Foundation’s structure, but adequate space for staff and visitors to the facility,” his acceptance letter indicated.
However, the final approval did not come until December 12, after the NDC had lost the election, when the Secretary to President Mahama, Ambassador Kwesi Quartey, reportedly wrote to the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources to act on President Rawlings’ allocated land.
Kobina Andoh Amoakwa, who is in-charge of President Rawlings’ Communication Directorate, said in the statement that the land was going to be used for the JJ Rawlings Foundation.
“Our attention has been drawn to information currently in the public domain of communication between the Lands Commission and His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings, former President of the Republic.”
“As per the content of the said communication, a plot was allocated to His Excellency Rawlings for the purpose of the establishment of the Rawlings Foundation,” he indicated.
But the statement from the office of Mr. Rawlings said his subsequent request received a delayed approval from government, hence there was no agreement yet on the matter.
“Upon receipt of the notification, His Excellency replied to the said directive and requested for adjoining lands to the said property also for the purposes of the Foundation, which he intends to dedicate to humanitarian, educational, population control, HIV/AIDS, health related projects, the preservation of nature and the promotion and preservation of cultural values.”
Mr Amoakwa said, “Unfortunately, the response dated May 9, 2016 received no reply till 12th December, 2016 when the Secretary to the President, Ambassador Kwesi Quartey, discovered the letter ‘misplaced among’ his papers and wrote to the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources to act upon it.”
This revelation comes at a time when immediate past President John Mahama has come under fire for seeking to convert his official residence into his retirement home.