Details from painstaking investigation by the Republic Newspaper has revealed that former President John AgyekumKufuor duly received a residential accommodation of his choice and office facility in accordance with provisions for Article 71 Holders contrary to statements made by his Spokesperson.
The facility, according to hard facts gathered by this paper, indicate the former President personally inspected the property at Cantonments which used to house former Chief of Staff MrMartey Newman.
The shocking revelation including a comprehensive chronology of demands at various stages in this report is a sharp contrast from what Mr Franks Agyekum his Spokesperson has made the Ghanaian public to believe.
His unfortunate comment suggesting the former President is yet to receive his accommodation has further fuelled anger against President John Mahama for requesting to stay in his official residence.
In his contribution to the furor over President Mahama’s demand, MrAgyekum claimed the official residential accommodation for former President Kufuor as part of his retirement package still remains outstanding eight years after he left office in January 2009. He also said he has since been operating from there and using his Airport West home as his official residence.
But that is false. It would be recalled that early 2009, during the controversy over a facility he initially proposed, the then late President Atta Mills called for a review of the retirement package for all Article 71 Holders.
Former President John AgyekumKufuor later insisted that he was entitled to the recommendations of the ChineryHesse Committee.
When he finally agreed to accept an office, some locations were offered to him which he rejected.
Facts gathered from key former government officials indicate finally a property at Cantonments was offered. This was a property where the former CoS (Mr. Newman) resided.
According to the source, former President Kufour inspected it himself and accepted it and demanded some renovations and government agreed to satisfy his request.
His representative finally presented the drawings. Government according to our briefing was shocked that the existing building which was penciled in as a frontal Reception and Conference Room will now come with a huge new storey building to be constructed … attached to the existing building.
It was very expensive and did not go down well with the Mills Administration but after much pressure it agreed to build it but pointed out that due to lack of funds it would take quite a while for the project to be completed.
When the information was communicated to former President Kufuor’s office he said he did not mind and would wait for its completion.
Within the period, President Kufuor according to the briefing this paper received requested for a temporary office while the Cantonments property was being built.
Government had no choice and a Safe House near the US Embassy was quickly renovated and furnished for him for that purpose. He used this until the permanent one was ready and moved in.
It is instructive to note that while the building under construction, the former President kept making variations which were costly
“He even requested a Jacuzzi. It was very stressful. But finally it was completed and he moved into it”.
The Republic newspaper is also reliably informed that enhanced furnishing and equipment had to be provided in addition to what was moved there from the temporary office.
After he got over his peeved ChineryHesse attitude, he said he wanted to stay in his house at Airport Residential Area. The former President who decided to stay in his own house, asked government to pay him the market value rent which would have been between $5,000 and $6,000.
But that was rejected by government because per the ChineryHesse report, if he wanted to stay in his own house he would be entitled to his rent allowance which was a percentage of his salary, which government paid.
Rawlings Home Fire Disaster/ Trassaco Proposal
Its public knowledge that, in February 2010, Fire razed down former President Jerry Rawlings house at Ridge Accra.
Government at that time made offers to relocate the family but the family declined it. Late Professor Mills directed that two Transacco Houses be purchased for the two former Presidents. This was done in consultation with both Rawlings and Kufuor through their representatives.
After the houses were ready (well furnished and securitized) the keys were presented to them. They both accepted them.
In October 2011, President Rawlings’ spokesperson came on air to indicate that the house was too extravagant for the former President’s taste so he would not accept it.
Almost immediately former President Kufour’s spokesperson Frank Agyekum also came on air and said that he would also not accept his because he had not been consulted.
That was a stab in the back especially when there were consultations and meetings prior to the release of keys to them.
But that was challenged and the spokesperson later apologized to Government representatives before interaction continued.
“At that meeting, Mr. Agyekum’s excuse was that once Ex P Rawlings said he would not accept his, former President Kufour said it would not look good if he accepted his. Indeed, Ex P Kufour (through his representative) had even indicated the kind of securitization they wanted installed at the villa” the source added.
It is also instructive to note that during President Mahama’s term, Mr John AgyekumKufour was offered a couple of buildings which he turned down. He refused to accept new Mercedes Benzes and V8 vehicles that had not been used. His representative inspected the vehicles but later said that they would not take delivery of it.
When he finally came around and said he would accept the vehicles he said he wanted brand new ones. When it was pointed out to him that the vehicles in question were unused (they were brought out for periodical servicing and re parked) he said when you place an item in a store’s showcase it loses its value. Government was subsequently compelled to order brand new Mercedes Benzes and V8 vehicles for him.
PROFESSOR EDU-BUANDOH EMOLUMENTS COMMITTEE
The salaries and allowances payable, and the facilities available, to the President, the Vice President, the Chairman and the other members of the Council of State; Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers, being expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund, shall be determined by Parliament on the recommendations of the committee referred to in clause (1) of this article.
The last Emoluments Committee was chaired by Professor Edu-Buandoh.
What this means is that the Executive (including AkuffoAddo) do not have the authority to determine the retirement benefits of Former President Mahama. That according to another official source would be unconstitutional.
The Emoluments Committee makes recommendations relating to the Executive and Parliament decides what should apply.
The EwuramaAddy Committee (whose report applied to 2009 to 2012 appointees) made certain recommendations including calculating ex gratia using a formula (into which inflation and GDP were factored).
Parliament accepted some of their recommendations and varied others. Parliament decided that the status quo should be maintained for the calculation ex gratia.
The EduBuandoh committee (whose report applies 2013 -2016 appointees) also made recommendations. It included 40% of salary for residence for the former President Mahama. It also included a formula for calculating ex gratia based on GDP and inflation.
Parliament rejected these. Parliament instead decided that the status quo should once again be maintained in calculating ex gratia.
Note that Parliament also decided that Mr John Mahama should be given a fully furnished residence instead of 40% salary for residence.
By conclusion according to the official, it is It is therefore former President John Mahama’s constitutional right to receive and dwell in a government property fully furnished and ‘befitting of the status of an ex president’.
The Executive of the new Government can therefore not determine this. By the 1992 Constitution, it is Parliament that decides it.
Parliament has made its decision. A letter to that effect was sent to the former Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah by the former Speaker of Parliament.
It is for the Parliamentarians to tell us whether there is a legitimate procedure by which a new Parliament can vary or rescind such a decision of the former Parliament.
It is therefore wrong for the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin to stand by a ‘fake statement’. He and his bosses would have been exposed to constitutional challenge.
Recommendations in the Article 71 Office Holders Emoluments Committee headed by Professor Dora Francisco EduBuandoh must be respected notwithstanding, these recommendations is sent to the Executive and the Executive makes the determination.
Meanwhile the office of the Former President John AgyekumKufuor seem to have reviewed its posture towards the Mahama accommodation saga.
His spokesperson Frank Agyekum whose earlier comments further stoked public anger against Mahama’s request has seemingly endorsed his decision to choose his then official bungalow as his retirement package.
According to Mr. Kufuor, any president leaving office should be allowed to choose where he wants to live. Frank Agyekum in an interview with Accra based 3Fm said his boss believes that former Presidents should have a say in where they would live after retirement.