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Opinions of Saturday, 23 March 2013

Columnist: Kyei-Mensah-Osei, Kofi

“Jubilee Flagstaff House”: A Needlessly Incongruous Hubbub!!!

There are over 15 types of locally brewed beverages in Ghana never mind the various types of lager and liquors. Ghanaian citizens sample all of them on daily basis for a variety of reasons. The principal reason though is very clear: If the current harsh “dums) dums)” conditions wouldn’t anaesthetise them against the pain and perilous economic conditions John Mahama’s administration is inflicting on them, then the locally brewed liquors would. Could Ghanaians have indeed really “voted” for these amateur triallists? The President admits to the economy being in the doldrums. In fact, he described our economy as being down to “bare bones” barely 3 months after “winning” the disputed general elections December 2012. The President though conveniently avoided answering the obvious question: Who ate the meat and left the bones?

Though the NDC is notoriously known to shift gears from the sublime to the ridiculous, yet their performance in the early days of this administration has been horrendously below par! That John Mahama’s foetal presidency is bedevilled with much indecision is undisputed but the administration’s flip-flopping and blatant disregard for the bread and butter issues is alarmingly unnerving! It appears the President and his hangers-on were so preoccupied with “winning” the Presidency at all cost that they put no thought into the nitty-gritty of governance. The President had better remembered what Abraham Lincoln once said. The 16th President of the United States of America once said; “In the end, it’s not the years in your life – it’s the life in your years” that matters. What I mean is that, it is not enough being a President at the now christened “Jubilee Flagstaff House.” Rather, posterity would judge John Mahama by the type of Presidency he brought to the seat of government. Currently though, there is so much wailing and gnashing of teeth under John Mahama’s watch and the President better set out to address the myriad of problems confronting the ordinary Ghanaian.

The problems appear to be multiplying with the speed of light and yet the President appears to stand aloof! Ghanaians haven’t forgotten the President’s promise to eliminate the “dum s) dum s)” back in November 2012 during the Presidential debate but here we are in 2013; the country is even now experiencing an unprecedented nationwide black outs with no solution in sight! Rather than tackle the problems currently on his table; the Flagstaff House appears to be churning out a series of comic reliefs to the chagrin of the average Ghanaian! President Mahama’s ministerial reshuffle recently is a typical example. It is interesting how the President reshuffled his team of Regional Ministers barely 3 weeks after the Parliamentary Vetting Committee has vetted the latter. The vetted Regional Ministers’ arses had barely warmed their seats before they were moved. As if that wasn’t enough, the President and his Minister of Information contrived to change the name of the Flagstaff House to “Jubilee Flagstaff House” and quickly backtracked in 3 days to the consternation of the Ghanaian! Such needlessly incongruous hubbub! “Jubilee Flagstaff House” was simply a mouthful and a tongue twister! One wonders what thought actually went into the name change. But who knows: perhaps the President and his team just wanted to give Ghanaians something to smile about just to cover their ineptitude in the face of mounting crisis in all sectors of the country’s economy. Thank God the decision (or is it the indecision?) was reversed. The Americans have the “The White House” as the seat of government. Great Britain has “10 Downing Street”. Our cousins in Nigeria have “The Aso Rock” and Ghana would have had “The Jubilee Flagstaff House”!

Former President Kuffour put up the edifice and named it “The Jubilee House” to commemorate the country’s attainment of 50 years as an independent state. However, the NDC under the late President Mills for reasons known to them re-named it the “The Flagstaff House” in line with the building used by the British colonialist’s military attaché then. Dr Nkrumah and subsequent military leaders all used the old Flagstaff House at some point. I must admit though that I found it extremely intriguing when the new edifice was re-named as such. One would have thought that under our current democratic dispensation and with the country having attained 50 years of independence, The Jubilee House would have sufficed to reflect our democratic credentials and would have given us a complete break from our colonial past as well as our past military misadventures. However, the Late President Mills’ spiteful self took the better of his judgement. Quite ironically, President Mahama who was then Vice President when President Mills made the first name change also decided to rename the edifice “Jubilee Flagstaff House”. What was even interesting in the whole saga was the Information Minister’s subsequent hubristic explanation. Mahama Ayariga was so confident in explaining that the President renamed the building “Jubilee Flagstaff House” taking cognisance of the name President Kuffour originally gave to the structure as well as the one the late President Mills also gave to it. Characteristic of the NDC’s ineptitude and lack of expertise, Mahama Ayariga was on the airwaves 3 days later to say that he was wrong after all and that his painstaking explanation regarding the name change had not actually come from the President! That episode sharply brought back to memory Koku Anyidoho’s “The President is angry. Heads must roll and heads will roll” fiasco!

The President quickly beat the retreat after realising that Ghanaians were not in any mood for any dry jokes in the face of incessant hardship facing them. Why the President decided to embark on this unnecessary re-christening of the edifice in the face of the myriad of problems confronting the nation is quite baffling! To me, the “Jubilee Flagstaff House” was just a needlessly incongruous hubbub. The denial issued was just a façade to mask the disgrace such thoughtless decision brought to President Mahama. Mahama Ayariga could not have come out as confidently as he did if the directive had not come from the Presidency! The President only backtracked and leaned on Mahama Ayariga to take the flack sensing utter humiliation. The powers that be had better taken cognisance of the fact that Ghanaians could not afford another quagmire of indecision from the President! Be that as it may, the President better put his shoulders to the wheel and stop pussyfooting around the bread and butter issues affecting the ordinary Ghanaian. To re-christen or not to re-christen the Jubilee House, aka “Flagstaff House” to “Jubilee Flagstaff House” is the least of the worries of the ordinary Ghanaian right now. There are more pertinent issues at the doorsteps of the President; principal among them is the “dums) dums)”. Mr President, let’s see you do some serious work; Sir!

Kofi Kyei-Mensah-Osei