Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, February 23 , 2017
It is emerging that former President John Dramani Mahama outlawed the buying of state properties, including houses and cars, by his appointees when he was in power, yet he turned around to put in a request to be allowed to keep his official residence.
He specifically ordered his appointees not to attempt to buy any state property; and the directive reminding government officials of the order was signed by then Chief of Staff Julius Debrah on April 14, 2015.
The letter, addressed to all ministers of state, regional ministers and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) with copies to the secretaries to both the former president and the vice president, all chief directors, regional coordinating directors as well as all heads of departments and agencies, indicated that the president was following up on his 2014 State of the Nation address when he promised to stop the sale of state property.
“In the 2014 State of the Nation address delivered in parliament on 25th February, 2014, H.E. the President directed that the schemes on the purchase of houses and saloon cars by government officials at the end of their tenure should be stopped,” the letter said, adding, “Implementation of the directive took immediate effect.
“This letter is formally to inform all Ministries, Departments and Agencies about the enforcement of the directive and to advise them to cease sending applications to this office.”
The system where government officials are allowed to buy state property at ridiculous rates is fast becoming unpopular among some Ghanaians, with many pushing for the law to be scrapped totally.
President Mahama appeared to have gone contrary to his own directive when he put in a request to keep his No. 3 Prestige Link, Cantonments, Accra, residence reserved for sitting vice presidents, as part of his retirement package.
It is suggested that Mr. Mahama wanted the residence as part of his retirement package the moment he stepped into that facility as then vice president; and that’s why he ordered the construction of a new one to house the current and future vice presidents at a whopping cost of $14 million.
After public pressure had reached a crescendo, the former president, who lost miserably to the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo during last year’s crucial election, said he was no longer interested in keeping the property.
According to sources, there were about 17 luxurious Toyota Avalon saloon cars, Land Cruisers and BMW were in the residence, but after the ex-president had packed out, only one Avalon was said to have been left for the new government as contained in the handing over notes.
During the transition, it emerged that former President Mahama was demanding five saloon cars and five four-wheel drive vehicles as part of the end-of-service package, but it was unclear if the unaccounted-for Toyota Avalons were part of the demand.
A statement from ex-President Mahama’s office had maintained that he found it important to move out of the building to avoid ‘marring’ the spirit of cooperation between the two sides of the Transition Team, but even after coming public to say he had changed his mind, it took him almost a month to pack out.
The former president’s request to keep the bungalow appeared contrary even to the approved recommendations by the Prof. Dora Francisca Edu-Buandoh Committee on Emoluments and Conditions of Service for Article 71 office holders.
The committee reportedly did not recommend a house for him but rather agreed on 40 percent of his salary in lieu of accommodation.
Apparently, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, after realizing that there was no legal basis to appropriate the house, allegedly used its majority in parliament to secretly amend the Prof. Edu-Buandoh Committee’s report to include housing settlement for outgoing President Mahama.
However, even after the amendment, the immediate-past NDC government did not say that then President Mahama’s abode should be given to him.
Recently, it emerged that the Mahama-led administration auctioned many luxurious state vehicles to its appointees at ridiculous prices before leaving office.
For instance, a two-year-old Toyota Camry was reportedly valued at GH¢4,000 and all these happened after December 7 last year when the NDC had lost miserably in the crucial general election.
The bombshell was dropped by former presidential staffer, Sam Nettey George - who is currently the NDC MP for Ningo Prampram - when he said that 271 out of 641 vehicles were auctioned to the staffers at the presidency, confirming the earlier reports that some of the state vehicles were missing.
Cars For Boys
Mr Sam George told Citi FM in Accra that “Now, of this 370, there is a disparity of between 370 and 641. This is because 271 saloon cars were purchased by staffers who had put in a request to purchase their vehicles which were two years and above.”
Mr. George admitted that the NDC government sold the vehicles after the December 7, 2016 general elections, saying, “You cannot sell the vehicles to the people before the elections. You will only sell after the elections are done and dusted and you know that people are leaving office.
“I can bet you in 2012 very few vehicles were sold between the Mills/Mahama switching into the Mahama administration because it was basically the same party.”