P.V. Obeng The brouhaha that greeted former President John Agyekum Kufuor's decision to use a state property at Ridge in Accra as his office was politically orchestrated by persons close to the Mills government, DAILY GUIDE has gathered.
While the Ga-Dangme Youth Association was threatening to eject the former president from the property, Paul Victor Obeng, leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Transition Team, had rubbished the allegation by some ruling party officials that the property was not properly acquired.
In a quick response, P.V. Obeng, Head of the Government Transition Team, expressed amazement at the raging controversy, saying President John Evans Atta Mills was fully aware of the acquisition and had indeed given his blessing to the establishment of an office for the immediate past president.
His revelation therefore rubbished claims by Koku Anyidoho, Head of Communications at the Presidency, and Mahama Ayariga, Presidential Spokesperson, that the request was received barely a week ago.
Setting the records straight, Mr. Obeng told Asempa FM in Accra that Mr. Kufuor officially informed President Mills of his desire to use the office, adding that the President readily acquiesced to the request of his predecessor.
According to Mr. Obeng, he personally conveyed ex-President Kufuor's request to President Mills orally, and that government had all along been looking forward to the necessary documentations and other formalities.
Head of the Transition Team said he wondered where all the agitations, accusations and counter accusations had emanated from and noted that such unnecessary conducts only set the present government against the former regime.
He hinted that when he informed President Mills about it, the Number One citizen directed him to ask Mrs. Mary Chinery-Hesse, Mr Kufuor's former Chief Advisor, to officially write to the Presidency over the request, denying that government had been kept in the dark.
Pronouncements from some members of government, including Ayariga, Anyidoho and the Ga-Dangme Youth Association, an agitation and propaganda group set up prior to the 2008 elections, had sought to reprimand the former President for wrongfully acquiring the state bungalow, previously occupied by the late Madam Hawa Yakubu, when she was a minister of state.
Koku Anyidoho even castigated the former Chief of Staff, Kwadwo Mpiani, over what he described as conflicting information surrounding the acquisition of the said residence.
Prior to that decision, the Ga-Dangme Association had asked the former President to vacate the residence or they would embark on a demonstration to force him out.
Describing the acquisition as yet another attempt to pilfer what was rightfully theirs, Prince Derek Adjei, a turncoat DFP Youth Organiser and spokesperson of the association, said members would not allow one inch of Ga-Dangme land to be stolen by anyone under the guise of the government of Ghana.
He said by “the same principle President Kufuor returned the state vehicles, he should return the property to forestall any action by the group".
But the Convention People's Party (CPP) presidential candidate, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, said he was disappointed and saddened by the development.
According to him, the state was faced with far more important problems that needed more urgent attention than an office for a former president.
“What is even more disappointing about this is that some of this has happened before in 2001, so I thought we would have learnt our lessons, otherwise what we would be saying is that you did it to me and I am now doing it to you. In the end it's the ordinary people who suffer,” he said.
Until the air was cleared by P.V. Obeng, public debate over the acquisition particularly in the media, had largely been reduced to insults across the political divide.
Ex-President Kufuor had since late January 2009, been using the state property located at Ridge in Accra, as his office.
By Bennett Akuaku