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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wrong Moves Mr. President, Not the Presidential Palace

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By Eric Bottah (alias Oyokoba)

On November 4, the news that burned out Ministry of Foreign Affairs workers would be temporary housed at the Presidential Golden Jubilee House for two years whilst a new office structure is constructed for them near the airport – see Ghanaweb Nov 4, 2009 - left a very bad taste in my mouth. I just couldn’t believe it.

Firstly, I am not sure the authorities really thought through the decision process before they settled on the Golden Jubilee House – I would have preferred it was christened “The Black Star House”. The NDC’s penchant for and irreverence of all things stately is well documented but this would top the charts, if it is carried through. Yes we know it was built under the auspices of the Kufour regime, yes we know it was heavily funded by the Indian government as a gesture of goodwill and friendship, but that is Ghana, in all her grace and glory, rising majestically over the picturesque landscape and touching the blue sky.

Its signature tune and herald is: Ghana, freedom and justice, black Africa’s first child; we have arrived. The design itself is a signature of Ghana’s traditional chiefly stool. The embodiment of proud history, customs, traditions, spirit, great wealth, stature, prosperity, and power.

Now to think this golden edifice and beauty would be made available to civil servants, to tramp it down, touch it, use it, desecrate it, and break her virginity, before it is made available to the president of the republic to occupy, is to say the least indignation and an act designed to make the presidency the butt of joke all over the world. We know President Atta Mills is a very humble man, modest and not given to grandeur, but that is him, we cannot allow him to practically tar and scar the face of the office of the presidency before he leaves the scene. The country Ghana is bigger than anybody who sits at its pinnacle as the chief executive, I don’t give a damn if you prefer humble attire and surroundings; we cannot allow you to bring your own personality traits to tar the dignity of the nation.

We have not even talked about the compromise of the security of all future presidents, if the place is open up for all manner of people to walk in and out, a minister is not the same as a president, and to make the place available immediately to the Foreign Minister to use, before the president of the republic is to say the least downgrade the stature of the place. The presidency is not a ministry; it is more or less the embodiment of the spirit and majesty of the whole country. Come to think of it we know that in his heart of hearts, the current Foreign Minister, Mohamed Mumuni harbors presidential ambitions. Observers attention are drawn to the fact that he was the running mate for Atta Mills in the 2004 elections, and all things being equal he covets the position enjoyed by the present vice president John Mahama. Now to have this person, who has the cloud of embezzlement over his head to outmaneuver the current vice president, and go and sit first at the Presidential palace to ready himself for the 2016 elections, even more possible the 2012 elections should Atta Mills step down for health reasons, where he is bound to challenge John Mahama for the NDC mantle, is to say the least the most diabolical of all political plots. I do not think Atta Mills gave him the Jubilee House, he has taken it by force. There is something sinister about the whole MOF building burnt down. Inquiring minds would want to know why all the offices in the 10 storey building burnt down EXCEPT, of course, the office of the Foreign Minister, perched at the corner of the 6th Floor. What is the probability that every room and office in the whole building and around him would be burnt down, conveniently sparing only his corner office?

We know that leading up to the last general elections, the NDC showed their disdain and scorn towards the Jubilee House, going to the extent of saying that they may turn the place into a hospital or at worst a poultry house. We know that was silly and psycho talk then, but 10months in we have reasons to believe President Atta Mills has no interest in moving into the place, he has been dithering here and there, offering one lame excuse after the other to prolong his long drawn out relocation to the building. Many an astute political observer would say it is nothing short of shame and discomfort, given how he derided the NPP and Kufour for constructing that building whilst millions of Ghanaian school children needed textbooks and tables etc, as if during their previous 19years stint at power those problems did not exist, his last documented excuse was that certain security conditions and landscape has not been finished or completed, when the real fact is the place was ready for accommodation before even Kufour left the scene. This kind of political nonsense that lay waste to scarce resources must be put to rest. There is no shame in moving into the building because it does not belong to Kufour nor the NPP but Ghana, despite the fact that under your previous 19years all major state buildings like the Flag Staff House, Peduase Lodge, and State Hotels were left to deteriorate and falter into complete dilapidations.

Given all of the above we can say that whereas we cannot make the argument that the fire was a deliberate set arson, we are left wondering and scratching our heads as to what happened to the various ministries that were scrapped by the Mills administration? What happened to the buildings that were occupied by, for instance, the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs? How come we cannot make those buildings available to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the first thing that comes to Mills Administration focus is the yet to be occupied Presidential Golden Jubilee House? Herein we think the irreverent and rascal NDC is making good of their vow to violate the dignity of the Golden Jubilee House as they promised in the campaigns leading up to the 2008 elections.

Now given that India too has developmental needs to meet, but out of the goodness of their heart, they granted us the funds , supplemented by our own to construct this edifice, only to make nonsense of their goodwill, how in God’s name that we can go to them tomorrow, and we shall surely go, already we have started receiving donations in terms of computers and other appliances for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from China and others – it seems we can never do anything on our own, the whole country is run like a giant NGO – how in the world can we go to India again for any help? We would be spiting our nose to disgrace our faces, if president Mills and his illiterate and incompetent ministers (courtesy J.J. Rawlings and Spio Garbrah) refuse to yield to wisdom and carry this short sighted decision through.

Bottah, Eric

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