The Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey, has expressed disappointment in ex-President Mahama for failing to vacate his residence as prescribed by law.
He said the former President’s conduct disrespects the Presidential Transition Act passed in October 2016
John Mahama was locked in a controversy with the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) government over where he should stay.
The Transition Act was expected to lay to permanent rest, a perennial confusion between an exiting government and the incoming administration.
The Act was to establish a “legal blue print” for handing over power. But several provisions in the Act have been disrespected, analysts say.
Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey referred to a provision, Section 10, which requires the President and Vice-President to vacate their official residence a day before handing over but Mr. Mahama did not.
The reason provided by a spokesperson is that Mahama clinched an agreement with the Akufo-Addo government to keep the property as part of his retirement package, which should include a house.
Government has denied any agreement, explaining that it was a request which it was yet to be considered.
But even what constitutes his official residence is also in dispute. Some in the National Democratic Congress say his official residence is in the Flagstaff House, the seat of government, and he does not have to vacate because he never occupied it.
Since he was sworn in on January 7, 2013, John Mahama has been living at the Cantonments residence he occupied while he was Vice-President. Three other Vice-Presidents had previously lived in that House.
Nonetheless, the IDEG Executive Director believes President Mahama has not set ‘a good example’ as far as the Act is concerned.
He, however, believes there are larger governance issues at stake around the Transition Act.
He expressed disappointment that as a people “we are not visionary and we are not thorough…we have a certain weakness in our capacity to think solutions in the long-term.”
Dr. Akwetey observed that the thinking around the implementation of the Act was “too shallow”. The governance expert is not the only voice to have condemned the manner of implementation of the Act.
The Act requires that a Speaker of Parliament should be sworn in 48 hours to the inauguration of the new President. But the new Speaker Rt. Hon Prof. Mike Ocquaye was sworn in on the dawn of the inauguration.
The handing-over notes of ministers should have been prepared and submitted to the Administrator-General a month to the elections.
But it was done days before Christmas while the Administrator-General also had cause to complain that his office was not properly resourced to do its work.
The accommodation saga is the third time in the Fourth Republic, another controversy over a departing president’s ex-gratia has been ignited.
Departing presidents have had some problems with the new government. President Rawlings had wanted to keep an entire enclave of about five houses at a high-end residential area, Ridge. He was given two by the John Kufuor government.
President Kufuor during his exit was expected to receive two Houses based upon the recommendations of the Chinery-Hesse Committee.
But public uproar over the recommendations emboldened the President Mills-led NDC government to deny him the package. He was even denied an office as recommended. Former President Kufour got an office in 2013 – nearly five years after leaving power.
He never got the house. Only recently, a parcel of land was earmarked to build him an official residence.
The rationale behind giving former Presidents a house as ex-gratia is being questioned. Some Ghanaians have wondered why a departing President should even be housed by the State.
They are convinced that an exiting President would have reached the stage of self-actualisation where material needs or desires would have ebbed.
But Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, believes housing former Presidents is best African practice. “When you go to the village, the best house is for the chief,” he has said.