PRESIDENT JOHN Evans Atta Mills has waded into the raging controversy surrounding the acquisition of an office facility by the former President, Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor.
According to the President, he has not officially endorsed the acquisition of the controversial office facility by the former President, as is being wrongly speculated by sections of the public and the media.
In a statement signed by the Presidential Spokesperson, Hon. Mahama Ayariga, he expressed misgivings over how some individuals and sections of the media were twisting facts, as against the realities on the ground.
According to Mahama Ayariga, the President believed that there should be proper arrangement to ensure that the out-gone President gets an office. He however, admitted that Mr. PV. Obeng, the chairman of the government's transitional team had some verbal interaction with members of Mr. Kufuor's team about the contentious office facility.
In a statement under the caption, “Statement on the controversy surrounding the use of an office facility by ex-President Kufuor at Ridge,” the spokesperson denied that the President has given an approval to the request, stating emphatically that President Mills accepted in principle the need to make arrangements for the ex-President to have access to an office facility, but has not yet approved anything to that effect.
“The Government of Ghana has not formally communicated to the office of Ex-President Kufuor consent for the continued use of the facility as his office accommodation,” the statement said.
Mr. Ayariga was also not pleased with allegations that he was part of the President's team to create controversy. He said that blame should be laid on the door steps of Mr. Frank Agyekum, Ex-President's spokesperson for giving inconsistent statements.
He explained further that the furore that greeted ex-President Kufour's decision to use the facility at Ridge, where the late Hon Hawa Ogede Yakubu used to reside, as his office accommodation even before he left office, was not orchestrated by any person close to President Mills' government, but rather by ex-President Kufour's spokesperson, Mr. Frank Agyekum, who presented to the public several conflicting versions of how ex-President Kufour acquired the office facility.
“He first asserted that they purchased the building and he subsequently said no payment was made, and finally claimed it was given to them by President Mills. The issue was not made any easier to comprehend by the fact that ex-President Kufuor had in fact started using the facility even before the informal and the subsequent formal request to the Government of Ghana to use it.”
Hon. Mahama Ayariga revealed that the current government had no business in embarrassing Mr. Kufuor, stressing that the government will not orchestrate anything to embarrass any ex-President for any reason, as is being bandied around by some sections of the media.
He categorically hinted that contrary to various interpretations, all signals picked by the government pointed to the fact that the former President was using the office prior to his request for approval, and urged the media to be circumspect in their reportage as far as the facts were concerned.
“It is not in doubt that ex-President Kufour was already in occupation of the facility even before the informal and subsequent formal request to use the facility. Also, the Government of Ghana has not formally communicated to the office of Ex-President Kufuor any consent to the continued use of the facility as his office accommodation.”
“In the light of the above facts, the Government finds it deliberately misleading and malicious, the recent media reports that persons close to the Mills government have politically orchestrated a controversy surrounding ex-President Kufour's use of the office facility because President Mills has given his blessing to the use of the facility,” Mr. Ayariga said.
The President's spokesperson stated that when the entourage of the former President had verbal discussions with Mr. PV Obeng, in scheduled meetings on two occasions which were not attended by the ex-President' s team of officials.
Delving into how the information was received by President Mills, Mahama Ayariga had this to say, “Mr. Paul Victor Obeng did have some conversation with members of the out-gone New Patriotic Party (NPP) government's transition team during which there was an informal intimation that the ex-President would like to use the said facility as his office accommodation.”
“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.
When P.V Obeng mentioned the request by Ex-President Kufuor to President Mills, the latter asked Mr. P.V Obeng to tell ex-President Kufour to put it in writing. President Mills accepted in principle the need to make arrangements for the ex-President to have access to an office facility,” he said.
Subsequently, he contended that Mr. P.V Obeng invited Ex-President Kufour's team to two meetings aimed at advancing discussions regarding their request to use the facility as an office for the Ex-President, but they failed to turn up at all the two meetings.
He stated that on 11th March 2009, the Office of the President received a formal request for the use of the facility from the Office of Ex President Kufour. This request was dated 5th February 2009.
According to him, in order to avoid further controversy, the President accepted the need to make arrangements to enable the ex-President have access to an office facility, therefore authorized P.V Obeng to carry through a process that would ensure that the right things were done, but there was no granting or giving an approval as reported.
“To avoid controversies such as the one we are involved in now, the President requested that everything should be formal and evidenced in writing. He did not communicate approval of the use of any specific building by the ex-President.
In any case, the members of ex-President Kufour's team failed to attend all the two meetings scheduled to discuss the request with Mr. P. V. Obeng,' he intoned.
Describing attributions to him as unfortunate and mischievous since he never made public statement on the matter, except Mr. Koku Anyidoho, the head of Communications who gave vivid account of the sequence of events.