The immediate past Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Nii Osah Mills, has said there is nothing wrong for government to provide residential facilities on state lands for former heads of state. According to him, the state owes it a responsibility to treat former leaders well. Mr. Osah Mills was commenting on a recent revelation that former President Jerry John Rawlings requested that some state lands be allocated to him for his foundation. Following the approval of the request, the former President requested additional acres of land saying the project demanded a lot of infrastructural development. Speaking on Eyewitness News on Tuesday, the former minister said, Mr. Rawlings has already been in occupation of the land, however, the letter to the Lands Commission requesting an extension was only to formalize his use of the space. “You can be in occupation of space, but it doesn’t mean that you are entitled to have it always, and the situation can change when your occupation is formalized, so we should all take it that this was a formalization of a situation,” Nii Osah Mills said. Asked whether it was noble to give state assets and lands to former and present national leaders as emoluments, Mr. Osah Mills said it was fair. “In my opinion, if you serve as a President of a country and you finish your work, it is only fair if the state looks after you well and looking after somebody well starts from ensuring that the person has an abode.” He added that, it was important for the state to provide an official residence for retiring heads of state, rather than make a monthly payment for private residences for the heads of state after leaving office. “If we build a simple house for a former head of state on a government plot, I see that as not such a drain on our purse, and that can be managed because we have four years to prepare for that and we can set a budget and do it,” Nii Osah Mills said. ‘Mahama in retirement homes controversy’ There has been a major controversy over the provision of a retirement home for former President John Mahama. Following his exit from office as President, John Mahama requested that he maintained his presidential residence as his retirement home. This was against the Prof Francisca Dora Edu-Buandoh committee report on Emoluments and conditions of service for Article 71 office holders which recommended that retiring presidents be given 40% of their salary as payment of rent for their private residence. Prior to approval of the report, former Presidents were entitled to an official retirement residence and office state to be provided by the state. A huge public outcry over Mahama’s request to keep the residence, resulted in his subsequent withdrawal of the request which he said was to avoid hurting the relationship between himself and current President, Nana Akufo-Addo.
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