Proper Lands Mgt Needs Political Will – Stakeholders

Benedict Doh, GII Executive Director


Stakeholders at a policy dialogue on the formulation of guidelines for public land allocation have called for an unalloyed political will and rigorous and reliable leadership at all levels to achieve the proper land management in the country.

They argue that the process of acquiring land and land titles remains static, incapable of meeting the evolving demands and dynamism of modernity.

The stakeholders, who included Lands Commission officials, academic land management experts, civil society representatives, traditional leaders, and community leaders, noted that the processes had not been kept up to date with the country’s changing social-economic and environmental circumstances.

The programme was organized by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the Local Chapter of Transparency International, and is part of the GII’s ongoing Land and Corruption in Africa (LCA) project, which aims to improve livelihoods.

Local Government Practitioner Esther Osei Ofei Aboagye, said both state institutions and stakeholders, including traditional authorities and land users, must increase their capacity to adapt to and understand new dynamics.

She cited information and communication as key tools in combating corruption in public land allocation in the country.

“Adequate, timely, targeted information right down to the last person is needed,” she indicated and added, “Sometimes, information may get to a certain level and not penetrate to go down.”

“The use of various mechanisms, not only technology, but other mechanisms that will lean themselves, including partners, to get the information down,” Madam Ofei Aboagye stressed.

Dr. Stanislaus Yaw Adiaba, a consultant and lecturer at the University for Professional Studies Accra (UPSA), said an initial inventory of public lands is needed for managers and the public to be aware of the quality and quantity of public lands available at any given time.

Dr. Stanislaus Yaw Adiaba, a consultant and lecturer at the University for Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), stated that an initial inventory of public lands is required for managers and the public to have a sufficient knowledge of the quality and quantity of public lands available at any given time.

“I hear people say all Roman Ridge and Cantonment’s lands are gone. Let us have the facts,” he demanded.

He also advocated the creation of a corporate land policy to provide comprehensive guidelines and directions for public land management, such as addressing loopholes in the land allocation process.

“While this is ongoing, there should be a legislative instrument to complement the public land policy guidelines,” Dr. Adiaba added.

He suggested that the guidelines should provide a comprehensive requirement for an equitable, transparent and accountable system for public land allocation.

On the issue of transparency, the land economist suggested that a high-level multi-stakeholder body, including CSOs and anti-corruption agencies (both state and private), be included in formulating public land policy guidelines.

He explained that this was because the draft policy guidelines developed by the Lands Commission cannot meet the test of time.

“Public land policy guidelines should have clear statements on policy goals and objectives and a statement that public lands are held in trust for the people of Ghana,” he intimated.

Technical Director for Lands at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Maxwell Adu-Nsafoa, said the perception of misappropriation of state lands is one that Ghanaians are all too familiar with.

“In 2022, for instance, the nation was shocked to learn that state lands in Ho were rumoured to have been sold for a mere GH¢41.00 by the Lands Commission.

“It is imperative to note that there are clear laws and guidelines in place for the management of state lands, especially with the coming into effect of the Land Act 2020 (Act 1036),” he asserted.

Mr. Adu-Nsafoa stated that by strictly adhering to these laws and guidelines, many of these situations can be avoided.

“However, we must also acknowledge that the Lands Commission, like any human institution, is not immune to bad actors,” he argued.

Other participants advised the nation to look for what is best for the public interest and what can be done to motivate Ghanaians to go beyond individual parochial interests that cause conflict and misunderstanding to what might take the country ahead in accordance with sustainable development.

By Ernest Kofi Adu