John Agyekum Kufuor The relationship between former President John Agyekum Kufuor and his successor, President John Evans Atta Mills has suffered another jolt as the Castle withdraws the remaining three cars left earlier by the State for the use of the former President.
By this development, the former President has been completely stripped of all cars constitutionally bequeathed him by the State as a former President.
Towards this end, the Director of State Protocol has been directed to fire a correspondence to the Office of the former President withdrawing the Ford Expedition cross-country cars he had requested permission to use in retirement.
A portion of the correspondence reads: “I have been instructed by the competent authorities to withdraw the request of the under-listed cars with chassis numbers…….”
The vehicles are three Ford Expedition cars purchased under the Kufuor administration.
Interestingly, the correspondence was addressed to a non-existent Executive Secretary, Office of the Former President.
While withdrawing the cars on the assumption that they would be used by President Mills, DAILY GUIDE has learnt that new fleet of cars has been delivered to the presidency including a new Ford Expedition which the President used to attend a funeral held at the State House two weeks ago.
Last week, DAILY GUIDE reported that a certain ex-bodyguard of former President Jerry John Rawlings created a scene at the Achimota Motorway Shell fuel station where he was embroiled in an abrasive altercation with a driver of one of the vehicles in Kufuor's possession, insisting that the driver must return the car to the Castle.
This withdrawal is coming at the heels of a similar action which saw the withdrawal of three BMW saloon cars by the National Security apparatus, which action the State outfit claimed was to ostensibly enhance its operations.
Two of the BMWs taken away from former President Kufuor have been sighted in a house belonging to a leading figure in the current administration at Adjiringano, Accra.
Political observers found the discovery very inappropriate, considering the circumstances under which the vehicles were 'snatched' from the former President and the fact that the National Security apparatus claimed they were required to join the presidential fleet at the Castle.
The location of the vehicles, DAILY GUIDE has learnt, suggests that they were now serving the needs of the overbearing political figure whose word nobody dares challenge in the government.
DAILY GUIDE can bet its last cedi that contrary to what Ghanaians were fed with, the vehicles are performing entirely different roles.
The BMWs took centre-stage in the usually fractious Ghanaian political environment when the National Security Coordinator, Lt. Col. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey (rtd) stated that the vehicles did not belong to former President Kufuor and were supposed to be part of the security details of the incumbent President.
Joining him was Victor Smith, Head of Protocol of President John Evans Atta Mills who stated that the vehicles were needed to support the President in the performance of his functions as Head of State.
The State, he said, could not afford to purchase replacements for the BMWs which he said were equipped with special security features such as armour plates to serve the presidency.
He went further to explain that equally comfortable vehicles, Chryslers, were temporarily going to replace the BMWs until fitting replacements were agreed upon.
Unexpectedly however, former President Kufuor let go of the vehicles as he asked the National Security apparatus to come for them at his residence.
To date, no replacements have been made for the BMWs.
Contrary to the impression created by Victor Smith that the government is unable to purchase vehicles for the efficient performance of the Presidency, the Castle is now spotting flashy Ford Discovery Cross Country vehicles.
This development belies the frugal footing President Mills seeks to follow in the running of the country.
It would be recalled that Kufuor, for the earlier part of his regime, used a Mercedes Benz donated to Ghana by the Libyan leader, Muamar Ghadafi, until it was 'swept away' in a bizarre accident at the Opeibea crossroad.
Meanwhile, media reports indicate that Castle staffers are using latest state-of-the-art limousines, mainly 2007 and 2008 sleek Peugeot 607, Benz and Chrysler saloon cars and other four-wheel vehicles that include Lincoln Navigators and Ford Expeditions: while the junior Castle staffers use the saloon cars, their senior colleagues drive the four-wheel vehicles.
Vehicles of previous government ministers have been given to NDC serial callers with daily allocation of fuel coupons, while some newly appointed ministers are cruising in fuel-guzzling Toyota Land Cruiser V8 four-wheel cars.
All the cars are said to have fresh DVLA registration numbers which have been recently chronicled in newspapers.
The Deputy Chief of Staff, Alex Segbefia has however told Citi FM that every single car being used by government functionaries are those inherited from the past Kufuor administration.“Criticisms that President John Mills has distributed expensive cars to small boys at the Castle must be discarded since those vehicles come as part of the package for whichever position an official is holding,” he added.
Some popular serial callers on radio are some of the faces of the party now using plush cars.
But Mr. Segbefia says the critics are getting it all wrong, adding that he shudders to think about how Ghanaians will react once government starts buying new vehicles for ministers and officials who are currently without cars.
Cars featured prominently in the early days of the incumbent administration as Castle operatives sought vehicles said to be in the custody of former public office holders.
The exercise drew mixed reactions from the Ghanaian public.
By A.R. Gomda