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Opinions of Friday, 1 July 2011

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Kufuor Can Contest Mills in Court over Jubilee House

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

The decision by President John Evans Atta-Mills to summarily change the name of the Kufuor-constructed Golden Jubilee House to Flagstaff House is just another of the president’s series of deliberate acts of provocation aimed at getting the proverbial rise out of members and supporters of the now-opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), even while seeking to score cheap political points (See “Kufuor Angry Over Jubilee House Renaming” 6/27/11).
The $ 70 million-plus mansion, while it sits on the historical site of the erstwhile Flagstaff House which the late-former President Kwame Nkrumah commandeered into service as his presidential palace, bears absolutely no semblance to the building whose name President Mills has decided to impose on Jubilee House. And as pointed out earlier on, Ghana’s Flagstaff House, a colonial edifice, was not the only one of its kind in the former British Empire.
To be certain, the best known of the Flagstaff Houses dotted across the former British Empire, was one that had been built in the former British colony of Hong Kong, which had served as the official military residence of the British Colonial Administrator or Governor.
In Ghana, on the other hand, about the very time that Mr. Kwame Nkrumah commandeered it, the Flagstaff House had officially been earmarked as the residence of the Ghana Army’s Chief-of-Staff. Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, not excepting pure avarice, Mr. Nkrumah decided to take possession of the Flagstaff House on grounds that the building looked to be more fortified than his own official residence, located somewhere between the State House and Independence Square (See Maj.-Gen. Ocran’s personal account of the February 1966 coup; also, Okoampa-Ahoofe’s When Dancers Play Historians and Thinkers).
Naturally, in deciding to “revert” the name of Jubilee House to Flagstaff House, President Mills, very likely, perceived himself to be heroically fighting a proxy battle for Ghana’s first president, whose ideal fanatic the reportedly partially blind premier fancies himself, having even bragged about having served as a young-adult member of the senior wing of Mr. Nkrumah’s neo-Nazi Young Pioneers’ Movement.
In reality, for an official name change to be legally effected, the president ought to have tabled the issue as either part of a nationwide referendum or dispatched a bill to Parliament, urging the people’s duly elected representatives to deliberate on the matter and hand down their collective verdict.
In the absence of the preceding measure, what President Mills has just succeeded in doing is to cynically confuse Ghanaians about the great respect and significance which leaders in positions of public trust ought to concede our publicly funded national landmarks and monuments.
In sum, the president’s action amounts to a wanton display of abject disrespect for his predecessor, an act which does not speak decently about the behavior of our leadership to both the Ghanaian citizenry at large, and the diplomatic community in particular. Such patently infantile and fitful behavior could only succeed in making a complete laughing stock of our national temperament and identity. And it is for this reason why President Mills ought to be unreservedly condemned and be compelled to explain the motives and implications of his actions to Parliament, failure of which prompt response impeachment proceedings could then be initiated against Tarkwa-Atta.
For the long haul, it is imperative that rules are clearly laid down and a parliamentary committee on the naming of landmarks and monuments promptly established. There ought to also be established a Ghana Landmarks and Monuments Board, if one does not already exist, to execute decisions taken on the designation and re-designation of public landmarks and property.
Indeed, it is about time that seemingly alienated Ghanaian leaders like President John Evans Atta-Mills proved to the voters who elected them that they are in full charge of their cognitive faculties, and that they fully appreciate what it means to be regarded as a respectable and responsible leader.
In the meantime, if he so wishes, President John Agyekum-Kufuor could take up the quite annoying issue of the summary and rude renaming of one of the pet projects of his tenure and legacy with a legitimately constituted court of law. Very likely, the venue could be the Accra Fast-Track High Court.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and the author of twenty-two books, including “The Obama Serenades” (, 2011). E-mail: