Accra, Dec. 7, GNA - Mr Dominic Aduna Bingab Nitiwul, the Minister of Defence, has lashed out at the previous government for the wanton sale of military lands that has deprived the military space to develop physical infrastructure.
He said in the last two years, government officials under the National Democratic Congress administration sold over 300 acres of military lands to themselves with some officials of the Lands Commission colluding in that process.
Mr Nitiwul pointed accusing fingers at the Former President John Dramani Mahama of being a beneficiary of those lands and advised to him to vacate the military land in his own interest, saying, ‘‘I want to advise the Former President to leave that place because it’s very shameful, it’s not good for him’’.
‘‘The way the Ghana Armed Forces lands were handled I was not happy about it, and top politicians who are supposed to protect and cover the armed forces, sold the lands to themselves and are living there and I think that it’s a shame they did that.
‘‘Now they have squeezed the Armed Forces at the Burma Camp and I think that, if I had my will, I would have gone after those people but we’re in a democracy so I can’t do that,’’ he noted.
Mr Nitiwul, who is also the Member of Parliament for Bimbila in the Northern Region, expressed these sentiments at the Meet-the-Press Series, organised by the Ministry of Defence in Accra, on Thursday.
He said the Armed Forces had a lot of facilities including the armoury that needed to be kept in safer places, therefore it was the duty of the government to acquire lands for the military, but it was disheartening that people who were entrusted with political power did not seek the interest of the nation.
‘‘The sale of military lands is happening in Tamale, Takoradi and other places and the Lands Commission is colluding to do that, so everybody who is encroaching on Armed Forces lands must leave because it is not in your interest.
‘‘We are in a democracy so soldiers cannot beat people up and demolish houses so the best we can do is to protect their assets, ‘he emphasised.
Commenting on efforts government was putting in place to accommodate the military personnel in spite of the ongoing encroachment and wanton sale of military lands, Mr Nitiwul said, a three-pronged programme had been set in motion to address the problem.
He mentioned the ‘‘Barrack Regeneration Project’’ which the President, Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo, cut the sod in June this year for commencement of work, adding that, the project was progressing steadily.
Mr Nitiwul said: ‘‘It will ease the accommodation deficit in the military because currently there is over 6,000 housing deficit for the military and if we add those in deplorable conditions, which we have earmarked for rehabilitation, then there are nearly 10,000 housing deficit’’.
The Minister said government had secured funds to continue the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) housing units for the military, which work stalled in 2008.
In addition, he said, government intended to provide the Armed Forces with 20,000 housing units through the Ministry of Works and Housing under the GHȼ30 million Chinese grant.
‘‘As part of the infrastructural development in the Ministry, work is progressing steadily on the Military Hospital in Afari, near Kumasi. The project is about 80 per cent complete and is expected to be completed in the first half of next year’’.
He gave the assurance that government would continue to retool the military and provide them with the necessary training so that they would be ready at all times to defend the sovereignty of the nation.