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General News
Naadu Joins Mills In Jubilee House 9/30/2009

After shunning the former President John Agyekum Kufuor-initiated Jubilee House amidst publicity blitz, President John Evans Atta Mills has had a change of mind, preparing to share the Presidential Palace with the First Lady Ernestina Naadu Mills.
Naadu Mills has all along been warming the bed alone at their private residence at the Regimanuel Estates at Spintex road in Accra except on weekends when the No1 Gentleman joins the wife.
No President had lived at the Castle with his wife before; not even Jerry John Rawlings who ran his show from the Castle could stay there with his wife.
By this decision, President Mills has eaten back his words and distanced himself from the campaign rhetoric of his handlers of transforming the over $100 million facility into a poultry farm or hospital, claiming it was not a priority to build an office for the President.
When the couple finally moves into the stoutly-built presidential palace, possibly before the end of the year, he would have ended the inconveniences of shuttling between his private residence at Spintex road, where his wife lives, and the Osu Castle, on weekends.
In what many political observers consider as an obsessive hatred for legacies of former President Kufuor, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, soon on assuming power, dismissed any intention of taking possession of the facility.
Even though he was seemingly enthralled by the edifice during a guided tour of the place by the then outgoing President Kufuor, President Mills made a sudden u-turn about the facility with his spokespersons taking turns to condemn it as unworthy of habitation.
The facility was initiated by then President Kufuor who discussed an Indian support for the dream with that country’s envoy in Accra.
When one day the envoy called to bid him farewell at the Castle he added that he had good news for the President. His home country had agreed to assist in the construction of a presidential palace befitting of a President at a cost of some $30 million with a 5-year-moratorium.
That was too good an offer to turn down especially having solicited for it. However along the line the cost increased because of modifications to the original design.
Now the skyline of the nation’s capital has a new entrant- the Jubilee House- whose architectural beauty and elegance cannot be overlooked.
President Mills’ unfolding reverse steps, appears to be informed by subtle diplomatic pressure brought to bear upon him by his Indian counterpart, having come to the aid of the country with a soft-term assistance with generous grant element.
The many media statements about the building including the handling of the Indian rice import, also part of a largesse from the Asian country, had presented Ghana in bad diplomatic light in the past few months.
The Mills Administration, it would be recalled, impugned corruption in the Indian rice import by the Kufuor government after the former president had sought the assistance for rice when a global food shortage loomed.
A number of former government officials in the Kufuor Administration were arrested and humiliated over the Indian rice.
DAILY GUIDE is informed reliably that during his visit to Ghana recently an Indian minister expressed dismay about the handling of his country’s assistance to Ghana which had been anything but with a sense of gratitude.
India and Ghana have enjoyed regimes of friendship from the days of Jawarhal Nehru and Kwame Nkrumah, two persons whose contributions towards the establishment of the Non-Alignment Movement are documented.
India and Ghana are former British colonies and the latter has benefited immensely from the largesse of the former in many areas such military and others.
The Castle has over the years been considered as unfit to house presidential couples, consideration which informed the eventual decision to seek Indian assistance to put up the edifice.
The late Kwame Nkrumah moved the seat of government to the Flagstaff House, a location which in pre-colonial times housed the General Officer Commanding the Gold Coast Forces.
The then Osu Christianborg Castle, one-time slave dungeon, functioned as seat of government only, and not shelter for successive heads of state after Kwame Nkrumah abandoned the place.
The late Gen I.K. Acheampong ran his government from Gondar Barracks and not the Castle.
The Castle, even before the then President Kufuor took possession of it, had to undergo a form of religious ritual to as it were exorcise the place of its bad history.
The location was noted for extra-judicial killings according to records which came up during the sittings of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC).
Even after that President Kufuor did not sleep at the place and his predecessor Jerry John Rawlings found the place as unfit for family life preferring to have his wife live at the Ridge residence, dubbed Boom Junction.
Neither did President Kufuor live there, also preferring to live in his private house at the Airport West Residential area, dubbed HIPC Junction.

By A.R. Gomda

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