Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has revealed that the Flagstaff House, Ghana’s seat of Government, may be renamed Jubilee House during the 60th independence anniversary celebration on March 6.
Delivering his maiden State of the Nation address last week, the president also hinted at moves to rename the Founder’s Day holiday.
He said the position of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to rename the Flagstaff House and Founder’s Day is outstanding.
"Mr. Speaker, there is one subject on my mind that I wish to put before the House for consideration. I believe, in this 60th year of our nation, that the time is ripe for us to establish consensus on some national issues. It is important for us to have a conversation on how we name things that are of national importance to us all. I speak of the seat of the Presidency and Founder’s’ Day.
"In my view, it is not right that, 60 years after independence, these matters are still at large. It does not inure to the dignity of the Ghanaian Republic that such matters have become subject to political football.
"I believe we have to settle these matters once and for all, and in due course, I propose we have a national conversation and dialogue to this effect which, hopefully, will end in legislation that will reflect the national consensus," he said.
Even before that name change is officially done, the Flagstaff House appears to have been changed to Jubilee House by the Akufo-Addo-led NPP government.
Recent correspondences personally signed by President Akufo-Addo indicated Jubilee House instead of Flagstaff House.
However, it has been reverted to Flagstaff House to allow the debate and national consensus before the official name change.
Elder statesman, KB Asante, has already endorsed the name Jubilee House since the edifice was built during the golden jubilee celebration of Ghana’s statehood.
There has always been a tussle between the current NPP government and the outgone National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration over what name should be used for the seat of government.
Initially called Flagstaff House when Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah re-developed the facility in the 1960s to serve as his official residence and office, the NPP government under President John Agyekum Kufuor, rebuilt the whole place into a top class edifice and changed the name to Golden Jubilee House as a monument for Ghana’s 50th independence anniversary.
Before being used by Ghana’s first president, the facility had been used as the residence of the Inspector General of the Gold Coast Constabulary in the colonial days.
However, immediately after the NDC won power in 2009, it reverted to Flagstaff House, sparking a heated political debate at the time, especially when John Mahama moved his office there from the Castle where his predecessors, Kufuor and Professor John Atta Mills had operated from before the latter died.
Names for some important facilities were equally changed. Immediate past Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) chief executive, Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije - now MP for Ablekuma South - led an operation to change the name Ohene Djan Sports Stadium to Accra Sports Stadium as well as other state facilities in Accra.
The NDC activists, then in opposition, condemned President Kufuor and his NPP government over what they claimed to be profligate construction (of the Jubilee House) which was funded by the Indian government with a very low interest on the loan.
Some NDC officials were even on record as saying that they were going to use the facility for a poultry farm - a comment that attracted condemnation from sections of the public.
President Mills did not use the Jubilee House and remained at the Osu Castle but when President John Mahama took over after the unfortunate passing of the law Professor, he (Mahama) moved into the edifice immediately following his controversial victory in the 2012 election.
The Mahama government started with correspondences on ‘Jubilee Flagstaff House’ letterheads, indicating they were merging the names.
However, when NDC General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia was asked about the development, he said cabinet never took any decision to merge the two names.
Mahama Ayariga, then Minister of Information, had to take responsibility for the gaffe and the name was soon reverted to Flagstaff House.
Throughout the campaign, then NPP candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, never referred to the seat of government as Flagstaff House.
In fact, he always said during the 2016 electioneering campaitn, “Everybody should come and ride on the back of the ‘elephant.’ The ‘elephant’ has entered the White House; let us get the ‘elephant’ in the Jubilee House – Ghana’s seat of government.”