If any conversation has sharply divided us this year, it may not be about the E-Levy or escalating food and petroleum prices. It may not also be about the way forward in sorting our debt stock or whether an IMF Programme is a better option.
With costs of accessing credit moving up for businesses and against our national aspirations, the ongoing conversation about creating jobs fast enough to stabilise our society, the need for building consensus on every conceivable national issue becomes paramount in carrying everybody along.
That is why the Daily Statesman believes that the controversial Owoo Family compensation deal be put on hold before any private citizen heads for court and diverts attention when we need some focus to tackle pressing issues, including our collapsing bridges and roads that are developing gaping potholes.
More questions than answers
First, we have claims and allegations that the invisible Owoo got compensation under the Kwame Nkrumah administration. Second, we had the same family fighting decades later for another attention, though another Accra family is contending that the Owoo name and rights to the property do not add up.
Additionally, we have another family in Osu claiming to be the right claimants and alleging that the deal should have involved them.
That is aside of the claim that the name Owoo under the Ga or Osu family tree bears no connection to any land in Achimota.
Then we have, between the two leading political parties’, variations in the quantum of acres that ought to be compensated for, with other controversies over the kind of compensation and use of land by a previous and succeeding administration, etc. popping up daily.
Interestingly, both governments had agreed to a compensation and an interest and commitment to tweak the Achimota Forest to give it value in terms of ecology and touristic potential.
It appears that each day evokes more questions than answers in building consensus and moving the deal forward in line with a constitutional mandate that any President would normally exercise.
‘Dead men tell no tales’
What makes any attempt at building a consensus difficult is the allegation and rumour doing the rounds that the late Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission acquired portions of the land and which he willed to family members, including nephews.
Unfortunately, no one or institution has come out to produce and validate the said document; indeed, not an Owoo or ‘Sir John’ family or even former NDC or NPP ministers.
Also, intriguing is the fact that no family member of ‘Sir John’ or Owoo has stuck out his neck to restate interest and relaunch a third crusade for full compensation.
Special Prosecutor intervention
Reports therefore, that the Special Prosecutor has begun investigations into the matter is reassuring, given the surfeit of political slant infesting the conversation.
Under him, we may be rest assured that all the knots will be untied and we may have our rights to be informed and involved, respected by the relevant state actors.
The intervention is imperative because we will have professionalism, objectivity, fairness, and transparency. Better still, we have another opportunity to put the national interest above cliquish or goon pretensions.
That is important in ensuring consensus in an environment where suspicion among actors on our corridors of the Executive, Judiciary, and the Legislature is becoming heightened daily, instead of it narrowing for the collective benefit of ordinary citizens.
Additionally, that timely intervention is necessary in numbing the alleged sabre-rattling activities of civil society actors who may appear to the three arms of government as attempting to overplay their roles and, sometimes, acting ‘terrorist’ in their monitoring of national issues.