Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to make this Statement titled “Let us Rescue Achimota School - A National Asset” on the floor of the House.
Mr. Speaker, one most disturbing
news in Ghana today is what some Ghanaians are doing to a vital national
heritage - Achimota School. Following the publication on page three of the Daily Graphic of Friday, 29th January, 2010, I visited the school out of a national concern. May I point it out clearly that I am not an old Achimotan but a proud Presecan. But if any serious Ghanaian sits unconcerned when Achimota School is bleeding, then God, indeed, help us all.
Achimota School was the baby of the great Governor Guggisberg. At a time when cocoa had revolutionalized the Gold Coast economy, we were twice blessed to have a Governor whose pre-occupation was development. In those days, most Governors were liberal arts graduates. The difference was that Guggisberg was a surveyor by training and profession. He personally surveyed and mapped out Korle-Bu Hospital and Achimota School lands.
Mr. Speaker, the school land was bought for four thousand British pounds (£4,000) from the Owoo Family. I saw a photo copy of that colonial receipt dated 29th June, 1922 when I visited the school, prior to writing this Statement.
Mr. Speaker, the white man laboured to leave a significant monument. Should we destroy it? No school is as endowed as Achimota School. Mfantsipim, Adisadel, Presec, Wesley Girls, Aburi, Holy Child, et cetera, started as the efforts of the Church. Achimota School was put up once and for all as a monumental government school. From its bowels, the University of Ghana was born. Its Golf course, hospital, zoo, swimming pool complex, et cetera make it unique. If this generation will not work to add to it, let us not spoil it.
We have learnt that the Accra Metropolitan Authority (AMA) has asked for the closure of the school as the sewerage system has collapsed. The problem has been caused by encroachers
who are building with speed on that part of the school called “The Folly” where the entire sewerage system has been channelled since the time of Guggisberg. People are building unlawfully on the main channels, causing the system to collapse. Any serious Ghanaian who cares to visit will see broken main lines, gushing human excreta and liquid waste plus foul stench which engulf the hemisphere. The school poultry farm has collapsed as a result.
In the late 1980s, the Board of the school made the tragic mistake of attempting to sell portions of the school land to certain individuals. The Board had no legal right to sell Achimota School lands which are by law vested in the Head of State of the Republic of Ghana, the President. People were asked to go for a refund of their monies when this illegal act became public. Some stood on the payments and without documents of ownership and approved plans, began to build with indecent haste.
The Owoo Family also stepped in and started selling the land they had already sold. Other land contractors and macho people waded in. The resultant chaos is too indecent to recount.
Later, another set of encroachers expanded the assault to “The Folly” area on the southern side of the compound. The encroachment on the school land has no respect for the usage. Hence a disco was built which the school had to demolish. The pilfering, drug usage, drunkenness, refuse dumping and sand winning activities which have put the life of young school children at risk, should be condemned by all well-meaning Ghanaians.
These acts of indiscipline are similar to the causes of the fires and road accidents all over our dear nation. They should stop.
The white man looked at Harrow and Eton, first class schools in the United Kingdom and gave us Achimota School. Do we not want good things in this nation? Governor Guggisberg had a reason for acquiring the vast land. Why do we destroy someone's vision? Why do we not add to it by building a model IT institute for Ghanaian JHS and SHS children, et cetera?
Mr. Speaker, the development in “The Folly” is an act of lawlessness, the kind of lawlessness that will destroy this country if we do not discipline ourselves. This is principally because no one has got a registered document on any portion of the land there. Achimota School lands are by law vested in the Head of State of Ghana. No President since independence has divested an inch of the lands.
Indeed, article 257 (i) of the 1992 Constitution has vested all such public lands including Achimota School lands in the President of the Republic of Ghana. Any purported attempt by any person, body or authority other than the President of Ghana, to alienate any portion whatsoever of Achimota School lands is bogus, void, illegal and of no effect. We call on the President to save Achimota School lands.
No building permit - not one has been approved by the appropriate authorities. The Accra Metropolitan Assembly confirmed this even as far as 2005 (see The Heritage of March 11, 2005 and other newspaper publications). The Owoo Family, which many people rely on as grantors, have come out clearly that they have not divested any lands in “The Folly” (Daily Graphic, August 27, 2009).
The question is: Should we sit back as