General News of Friday, 15 December 2017
The Minister of Information and Presidential Spokesperson, Mr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, has assured the Office of former President John Dramani Mahama that the government is currently following all due processes to ensure that all the entitlements of the former leader are paid.
He was reacting to concerns raised by the Office of former President John Dramani Mahama that it had not seen any evidence of efforts being made by the government or arrangements to provide his retirement home.
The Spokesperson for former President Mahama, Ms Bawa Mogtari, is reported to have said that the government has not made any effort to engage his outfit on re-housing him or paying his entitlements after the government refused to grant his request to keep his official home as his retirement home.
Mr Abdul-Hamid said contrary to that perception, Mr Mahama’s retirement home, the payment of his ex gratia, salaries and all his entitlement were of topmost priority to the government.
“We mean no malice or ill will. If the process seems delayed, it is just because we have to follow due processes and we assure Mr Mahama’s office that with its support, we will expedite the processes,” he said.
Mr Abdul-Hamid said although the government was mandated to pay his monthly salaries and that of his current office staff, it would require an official communication from his outfit detailing the number of persons, among other information, to activate the process or to deliver.
“The process is already ongoing and we are not saying the payment is premised on just that official communication,” he said.
Mr Abdul-Hamid added that to accelerate the activation of the payment process, it would be ideal for Mr Mahama’s office to write to the government through the Chief of Staff.
“To show how the government prioritises issues of former President Mahama, the Chief of Staff has designated an officer in her outfit who is solely responsible for issues concerning former President Mahama and his office. If they have been able to write to the government to claim money for his travels, then in the same way when other entitlements seemed to have delayed, they should have written to the government through the Chief of Staff to accelerate the activation of the payment process.
Concerns in good faith
Meanwhile, he said, concerns raised by Mr Mahama’s office that the government should have taken steps to engage them on his accommodation and other entitlements after refusing to grant his request to keep his official residence as his retirement home were valid.
“We take the concerns raised by his spokesperson, Ms Bawa Mogtari, in the media as one born out of a genuine desire to see that we treat each other courteously, and so we do not receive this concern with malice or ill will. I’m going to get the officer in charge to write to his office,” he said.
Mr Abdul-Hamid said the government was also determined to deliver its constitutional obligation of providing a retirement home for the former President.
He stated that the government had no option but to refuse Mr Mahama’s request to keep his official residence as his retirement home as it was against the Presidential Transition Act which mandated all Presidents and ministers to vacate their official residences after handing over power.
He pleaded with him and his office to bear with the government as they worked around the clock to do due diligence in respect of that obligation.
Using the situation of former President John Agyekum Kufuor as an example, Mr Abdul-Hamid said he had still not received his retirement home but was still being paid rent allowances and that it was obvious that getting retirement homes for former Presidents was a difficult task.
He was, however, quick to add that although the new administration had to deal with the retirement homes of two past Presidents, a situation which made it more challenging, the government would ensure that all would be done with time.
Mr Abdul-Hamid said contrary to the perception that the current administration had not accorded the needed respect to former President Mahama, the government had treated him with all the dignity, courtesy and respect he deserved.
“The President has stated that perhaps he is luckiest of all Presidents because he has the counsel of three former Presidents, and that recognition shows his respect for him,” he stated and added that “the meeting with all the three former Presidents to seek their counsel on various issues of governance demonstrates the government’s recognition for them.”