Former President John Mahama has withdrawn a request to keep his Cantonments residence as a retirement package following public controversy over his decision.
A letter sighted by Myjoyonline.com has the President’s signature confirming he is no longer interested in keeping the house at the No.3 Prestige Link at Cantonments in Accra.
Sources say the letter comes after the two leaders – Mahama and Akufo-Addo reached a mutual understanding that the former President will not be allowed to keep the Cantonments residence. There has a storm on social media against the request.
Those against the former President keeping the property say the House is a state property used by several previous Vice-Presidents and should therefore not be given to Mahama. They want the President to choose any other property but not the Cantonments residence.
Legal practitioner Yaw Oppong has also argued that by the Transition Law, the President ought to have packed out of the residence a day before the inauguration of the new President. He argued that the law does not allow the president to keep his official residence as part of a retirement package.
But others defending the President’s choice argued that the official residence of the President is in the Flagstaff House, the seat of government. His Cantonments residence could, therefore, not be properly regarded as his official residence, hence he is free to request for the facility.
In the letter withdrawing his interest, Mr. Mahama said, “I believe this controversy is absolutely not needed in these early days as your government settles into office.”
He has been living at the Cantonments residence for some eight years. He first occupied the House reserved for Vice-Presidents and continued to live there even after he became President.
Request or agreement?
A December 19, 2016 letter signed by the former Chief of Staff Julius Debrah had said John Mahama would like the incoming administration to give him the “No 3, Prestige Link, Cantonment together with the adjoining facilities as his official retirement home.”
Spokesperson of the NPP transition team Kojo Oppong Nkrumah had told Joy News there was no agreement with Mahama to keep the House.
He said last Monday the new government had received a request which it was considering. He said a decision will be communicated at the shortest possible time.
But in his letter withdrawing the request, Mr. Mahama said the impression created by the government that he had no agreement to keep the house was ‘erroneous’.
This is because the formal request was premised on an agreement reached with the Akufo-Addo government, he said.