Lands and Natural Resources Minister-designate, Samuel Abu Jinapor has received rapturous applause from lots of Ghanaians following his vetting by the Appointments Committee on Wednesday, February 24, 2021.
Mr. Samuel Abu Jinapor was grilled by the Committee on various issues regarding the sector he has been appointed to.
The Committee bombarded him with a barrage of questions bordering on alleged corruption acts he perpetrated, lands, mining, natural resources, his duties, goals, objectives and other related issues concerning his Ministry.
The Minister-designate, who before his appointment was the Deputy Chief of Staff, delivered accurate responses which have endeared him to many Ghanaians.
Lands & Natural Resources
On lands and natural resources, Mr. Abu Jinapor threw his weight behind the implementation of the new Lands Act (Act 1036).
Parliament passed the Land Bill last year to reform land administration in Ghana.
It is aimed at revising and consolidating the laws on land.
The sector Minister-designate strongly believed the Act will address all land entitlement issues and therefore pledged to work with it when approved by the Committee.
''Mr. Chairman, I want to submit that [the implementation] the effective implementation of this new Lands Act (Act 1036) will go a great way of improving the administration of land in our country...We will require to make sure that we publicize it. 1. We have to get the country to be aware of it, to know about the implications of the provisions of this Act. We must have a strategy and a policy to ensure that this Act is well implemented.
" . . literally all the funny difficult issues relating to land administration [seems to have been], this Act seems to have intervened in almost all of them'', he said.
He further said he will reduce the timeframe for the acquisition of land title emphasizing that the Act answers all land title challenges.
He further pledged commitment to protect the country's lands and natural resources, indicating "by all intents and purposes, the lands and natural resources of Ghana constitute the property of the Ghanaian people vested in their President to be held in trust for the benefit of the Ghanaian people and therefore Mr. Chairman, Article 268, in my view, then ensures that given that the lands and natural resources constitute the property of this country; Parliament becomes the accountable body for the utilization and management of the lands and natural resources of our country which is why the grant of a mineral right will require Parliamentary ratification''.
" . . my conceptual interpretation of it is that the natural resources belong to the Ghanaian people. It's their property. It's vested in their President to deal with or deal in for their benefit," he added.
He also took into cognizance the mining challenges in the country and assured Ghanaians he will apply the right solutions to resolve the challenges.
He was of a strong view that the government's Community Mining Scheme, a mining model introduced last year, is the surest way to nip illegal mining in the bud.
''We need to pursue this concept of community mining. I think it's very important. I've looked at the literature. I've taken a lot of briefings. I've examined the situation and I'm more than fully persuaded that the perfection...of community mining in our country will go a long way in dealing with the incidences of illegal small-scale mining.
''We have gotten to a point where we require a bi-partisan broad-based multi-sectoral effort in dealing with illegal small-scale mining. We need broad-based support for the national policy on illegal small-scale mining. So, what's the policy? The policy is that we build here in Ghana a sustainable viable regulated small-scale mining which has regard for the environment and do away with illegal small-scale mining which degrades the environment.''
A question on the exploitation of natural resources was also posed to him and in response, he made reference to the importance of salt development in Ghana.
The Minister-designate called for the establishment of a Salt Development Authority in Ghana.
''The full value chain of salt has to be established here in Ghana. Mr. Chairman, for instance, you cannot build an integrated aluminium industry without salt. You cannot build the integrated iron and steel industry in Ghana without salt. The petrochemical industry cannot actually thrive without salt. So, salt is extremely important'', he said.
He highlighted the mandate of the Salt Development Authority saying ''I think that it's gotten to a time where we probably should consider the establishment of a Salt Development Authority in Ghana whose mandate will be responsible for building the full value chain of salt in Ghana...I believe if we get this Authority in place where we can have a refinery for salt and a terminal for salt, it will help a great deal''.
Mr. Abu Jinapor tackled other matters relating to his Ministry.
Another knotty issue that cropped up was why the Ghana Boundary Commission has been placed under the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
Some Ghanaians are of the view that the Boundary Commission shares similar functions with the Immigration Service.
In response, Hon. Abu Jinapor highlighted the vast difference between the roles of the two organizations.
"...the Ghana Boundary Commission's mandate essentially is to determine, negotiate and/or delineate the boundaries as they relate to Ghana and its neighbouring countries. Where does the borders of Ghana begin; where do they end? That is essentially their work, both on land and on our seas. Now, they do so for purposes of  determining the landmarks of Ghana. So this is why it is under the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.  They do so also in the sea to determine the natural resources of our country''.
''I think that the placement of the Ghana Boundaries Commission under the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources is perfect. It's absolutely normal. There's nothing wrong because they're dealing with the lands of Ghana as well as the natural resources of Ghana in the sea," he strongly held.
He expounded on how different the Ghana Immigration Service and the Boundary Commission are, hence making it right for the Commission to be under the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry.
"I don't see any conflict at all. To my mind, I respectfully think the Ghana Boundaries Commission's mandate is exclusively for purposes of determining what are the borders of Ghana whereas the Ghana Immigration Service, their mandate is border security; protecting the borders of Ghana," he said.
One of the highlights of the nominee's vetting was when Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mubarak lightly expressed concern over the latter's desire to give comprehensive answers to every question.
This was after Hon Jinapor extensively quoted some Supreme Court rulings to back his point in answer to questions from the Member of Parliament for Odododiodio Constituency, Nii Lante Vanderpuye on some land issues.
The Odododiodio MP had sought to know why government has found it difficult to return lands to its allodial owners after it has been used for the purpose for which it was leased.
Muntaka, who is a member of the Appointments Committee observed that the nominee's penchant for elaborate answers instead of concise ones might result in a marathon vetting session.
“The way the nominee wants to elaborately answer questions, we may do 24 hours on him alone. So if he can reduce the answers, it will be good. If he answers the questions this way, we are likely to vet only him today.”
Hon Jinapor, in reply, stated that his elaborate responses on the matter is due to the delicate nature of the topic.
In all, the Lands and Natural Resources Minister-designate's vetting has elicited some interesting feedback from the general public regarding his performance.
His answers have received lots of positive comments as some Ghanaians, speaking to Peacefmonline, have vouched for him to be approved by the Committee.
They share a common idea that Mr. Abu Jinapor is the right person for the job.
They however expect him to honour his pledges when approved to be the sector Minister.