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24.03.2009 Politics

Furore over ex- President`s officeJAK BOOTED OUT… As government rejects his request

By Bismark Bebli - Ghanaian Chronicle

INTELLIGENCE SIGNALS picked by The Chronicle from the corridors of the National Security and the government indicate that former President John Agyekum Kufour's request to use a state facility as his office would not be granted. A formal written note would soon be dispatched to him, stating the government's inability to give him the facility.

This paper can authoritatively report that though President John Evans Atta Mills believes that his predecessor should be allocated an office facility, the one that is currently being used by the former President is out of the bargain. According to sources close to National Security, President Kufuor had wanted to 'twist the arms' of the government to his advantage, in a bid to have unfettered access to the facility in question.

The Chronicle's inquiries have revealed that the house, which has been converted to a office facility, is labelled in Security terms as a 'Safe House', and allowing it to go just because of political pressures from the main opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), would create security concerns

“Certainly, the former President deserves an office to transact his daily business routine, but certainly not the use of the 'Safe house'. The government would not bow to any external pressures, but would definitely locate a place for Mr. Kufuor,” this paper was hinted by the security source.

During this paper's checks, following the brouhaha over the office facility, some elements within National Security and in government, have stated that the greed of the former President made him to ignore the security implications of his action, and went ahead to allocate that facility to himself.

This paper has also been informed that during the regime of the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, a similar edifice was built at Akosombo to be used for transacting government business, but due to the distance from the Nation's administrative capital, the current one was built, which is the one taken over by the former President, and therefore expressed misgivings about Mr. Kufuor's decision to use it for an office facility.

A highly placed source at the National Security simply told this paper that “We would not grant him his request. The facility is for the state to transact government business, which Mr. Kufuor knows. The answer to the request I can say confidently is no. Period!”

Whilst President Mills is yet to give an approval or otherwise to the request of the former President, sections of NPP members within the Ga-Dangme state and women from Kumasi among other leading members of the NPP by their recent actions, have sought to draw different interpretations to the saga.

Before the dust on the matter could settle down, Mr. PV. Obeng, the chairman of the government's transition team hinted that he was told by agents of Mr. Kufuor for his use of the Ridge house facility of which he verbally communicated to the President.

In his discourse with the media, Mr. Obeng noted that he has communicated the message to the President, who directed that it should be put into writing.

The President's spokesperson, Hon. Mahama Ayariga, however, came out to indicate that his boss never approved it. According to him, the President has not officially endorsed the controversial issue. In the statement, Hon. Mahama Ayariga expressed misgivings over how some individuals and sections of the media were treating the issue as against the realities on the ground.

He said the President believed that there should be proper arrangement to ensure that the former President gets an office and admitted that Mr. P.V. Obeng, the chairman for the government's transitional team had interaction with the members of Mr. Kufuor's team verbally. “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.”

Mr. Ayariga was also not pleased with allegations that he was part of the President's team and instead accused Mr. Frank Agyekum, the Ex-President's spokesperson of giving inconsistent reports.

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 the case.

Hon. Mahama Ayariga revealed that the current government had no business in embarrassing Mr. Kufuor, stressing that the government would not orchestrate anything to embarrass the 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.