Former President John Mahama
The Akufo-Addo government is not in agreement with a request by former President John Dramani Mahama that he should be allowed to keep his current residence located at No.3 Prestige Link, Cantonments, Accra.
The residence has been the official house for sitting vice presidents.
The rejection is contained in a report by the Transition Team, which was submitted to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Monday.
It detailed reasons why the new government should not accede to the immediate-past president’s request.
There is spontaneous outrage in the country over the decision by former President Mahama to appropriate the official residence as part of his end-of-service package.
A source has said that President Akufo-Addo is still having consultations on the request and that the new administration is likely to follow strictly the first-come-first-served principle.
As a result, the government is likely to provide accommodation for former President Kufuor and his vice, the late Aliu Mahama, who were denied their respective end-of-service accommodations by the Mills/Mahama administration.
The source said for purposes of equity, the government was going to provide accommodations for all the ex-presidents, with the same architectural designs.
The NPP Transition Team has said President Mahama’s own appointed committee, headed by Prof. Dora Francisca Edu-Buandoh of the University of Cape Coast, did not recommend a house for him but rather agreed on 40 percent of his salary in lieu of accommodation.
Yaw Osafo-Maafo, who is the Chairman of the NPP Transition Team, has quoted page 44 of the report, which suggests 40 percent of the ex-president’s monthly salary to be paid to him.
He claims that there is nothing in the said report that talks about acquisition of his current official accommodation.
The Edu-Buandoh Committee had Kwamena Ahwoi, a former Local Government Minister and Chairman of the University of Ghana Council, as a member who ruled out dishing out a house to resettle the former president.
Apparently, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, after realizing that there was no basis to appropriate the house, allegedly used its majority in parliament to secretly amend part of the Committee’s report to include housing for ex-President Mahama.
Even after the amendment, the NDC government did not say the president’s current abode should be given to him.
In 2009, the NDC administration reportedly motivated some young party activists, led by one Prince Derick Adjei – who called themselves Ga Dangbe Youth – and prevented ex-President Kufuor from having access to the facility at North Ridge, near Parliament House. They claimed the building was on Ga land and that Mr. Kufuor should go to his native Ashanti Region.
In spite of the provocative action, then National Security Coordinator Lt. Col. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey and then Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) boss, Yaw Donkor and other security capos, endorsed it and never allowed Mr Kufuor to use the facility to date.
Majority Leader Osei-Kyei-Mensah Bonsu stated categorically that the December 19, 2016 letter written by the outgone Chief of Staff Julius Debrah to the then incoming NPP government to ask it to endorse the decision to hand over the house to Mr. Mahama was premature because parliament had then not even met to affirm the retirement package of the now ex-president.
He also said that the NDC, under Presidents John Evans Atta Mills and John Mahama, never honoured its part of the agreement to resettle former President J.A. Kufuor, who was entitled to a house when he left office.
The Majority Leader said former Presidents Flt. Lt. J.J. Rawlings and Prof. Mills had all been settled by the state, but Mr. Kufuor was never given anything.
Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, a lawyer, appeared to explain on social media yesterday the status of ex-President Mahama’s request.
“The president, according to the law, as varied, is entitled to a house. What he is not entitled to is to choose which house. He can only request,” he posted on Facebook.
“It is up to the powers-that-be to decide. That decision must be right by law, by the people and decent. And I am confident the final decision will meet all three above,” he said.
The founder of African University College of Education, who once served as a minister under the first NDC regime, Kojo Yankah, has added his voice to the debate, pointing out that it is wrong for President Mahama to take the house.
“It is wrong for the ex-president to convert his official residence into a personal one. Even if parliament approved of it and the new president gave a nod, it is still wrong,” he posted on Facebook.
“When the late Obetsebi Lamptey (Jake) even paid for his official residence, it was considered bad enough. The precedence is dangerous and should not be allowed to stand,” he cautioned.
A man who claimed to be a staunch supporter of the previous NDC government said, “Mr. Mahama should move out. In 2008 we stood and fought on such principle to drive out the then NPP elements. I will not do or accept a U-turn to such a principle. In 2008 we drove the NPP out. We must stand for Ghana.”
Another indicated, “I don’t understand the mindset that enables our leaders to appropriate their official residence for their private use. Nor do I understand the mindset that allows the citizenry to acquiesce to the misappropriation. It is saddening, sickening, shocking and stinking.”
Another man said, “None of these noble men who served this nation in such capacity ever contemplated taking or buying such a property. I don’t understand why Mr. Mahama wants to take it at all cost. It’s not the best.”
By William Yaw Owusu