John Agyekum Kufuor The National Security Coordinator, Lt. Col. Gbevlo-Lartey (rtd) and the Director of Research at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' External Intelligence Bureau, as well as the Director of BNI, Yaw Donkor, last Monday stormed the controversial “Kufuor Office” at Ridge in Accra.
The purpose of the unscheduled midday visit was not disclosed but all who saw the three top intelligence officers zooming into the yard of the newly refurbished office were stunned, heightening the tension and vexation about the one-time home of the late Madam Hawa Yakubu.
At the time of the visit, neither the former President nor any of his top officials were in the office. Ex-President Kufuor is currently in Switzerland on official assignment.
The visit came against the backdrop of an often abrasive exchange between the Osu Castle Presidency and the Office of the Former President over which of them is being sincere in the contentious issue.
The two offices had been locked up in a running disagreement over whether former President John Agyekum Kufuor has the consent of his successor, President John Evans Atta Mills to use the facility in retirement.
Matters came to a head when the former President's spokesperson, Frank Agyekum's explanation involving the use of the word 'acquisition', was interpreted as implying that his boss had purchased the public property.
The subject provided fodder for political mudslinging and name-calling in the past fortnight or so, since it found space on the media chart.
Mr Agyekum had since clarified that the house was never purchased by President Kufuor, wondering why there was a hullabaloo about the use of the facility.
Frank told DAILY GUIDE yesterday that the government was out to embarrass the former President.
He wondered how a letter sent on February 6, 2009 was only brought to the attention of the President just last week.
The February 6 letter, he said, was sent to the Secretary to the President, Bebako-Mensah, who later claimed he could not locate it and therefore the former President's office should send another copy which request they acquiesced to.
A politically-motivated Ga/Dangme grouping quickly waded into the controversy, threatening brimstone and fire, and claiming that the building was part of the “Ga land and state bungalows for Gas”.
In the latest bout of controversy over the building, leader of the Government Transition Team, P.V. Obeng, explained that former President Kufuor had the approval of President Mills to use the building, but this had been harshly rubbished by the Presidency.
According to the Presidency, in a statement signed by Mahama Ayariga, former President Kufuor was even using the facility before seeking the consent of the President.
Continuing, the statement explained that P.V. Obeng held a discussion with some members of the out-gone New Patriotic Party (NPP) government team during which an informal intimation was made about the former President's intention to use the facility as an office.
“Mr. P.V. Obeng in fact promised to discuss the matter with the President and get them a confirmation and also expressed optimism that it was an achievable arrangement,” the statement explained.
When P.V. Obeng mentioned the issue to President Mills, the statement went on, the latter asked that the request be put in writing, but “President Mills accepted in principle the need to make arrangements for the ex-President to have access to an office facility”.
The Presidency maintained that the former President's team did not honour two invitations extended to it over the issue.
A prominent feature of the statement was that the formal request for the use of the office accommodation in question, though dated 5th February 2009, was delivered 11th March 2009.
Former President Kufuor, according to the statement, was already in occupation of the facility even before what the Presidency described as “informal and subsequent formal request to use the facility”.
The President's Press Secretary turned the guns on DAILY GUIDE towards the end of the statement, describing the paper's edition of March 16th 2009 on the subject under review as “deliberately misleading and malicious”.
The Presidency is particularly peeved that the report had it that “some persons close to President Mills have politically orchestrated a controversy surrounding ex-President Kufuor's use of the office facility because President Mills has given his blessing to the use of the facility”.
The visit to the facility by the three leading national security capos suggests that the temperature generated by the controversy is far from over.
Observers have expressed worry that the Presidency might prefer the muscle-flexing approach and deny former President Kufuor the use of the facility with the promise of the provision of an alternative.
It is most likely that former President Kufuor would eventually say “I have had enough of the saber-rattling and so thank you” to close the chapter on the choppy subject.
When the three BMW cars became contentious, it would be recalled that former President Kufuor acted similarly when he let go his possession of the vehicles to draw the curtains down on the political game.
By A.R. Gomda