The name ‘Flagstaff House,’ Ghana’s seat of government, appears to have been changed to ‘Jubilee House’ by the Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.
Recent correspondences personally signed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo indicated ‘Jubilee House’ instead of ‘Flagstaff House.’
There has always been a tussle between the current NPP administration and the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) government over what name should actually 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 in commemoration of 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 to the place from the Osu Castle where his predecessors, the late President John Evans Atta Mills, Presidents John Agyekum Kufuor and Jerry John Rawlings had governed the country from.
Some other names put on important edifices were equally changed.
For instance, the 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 the names of other state facilities in Accra.
The NDC top figures, then in opposition, condemned President Kufuor and his NPP government for 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 poultry – 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 sudden demise of the law professor, he (Mahama) moved into the edifice immediately he controversially won the 2012 election.
The Mahama government started with correspondences on ‘Jubilee Flagstaff House’ letterheads, indicating that it was merging the names.
However, when NDC General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, was asked about the development, he said cabinet had not taken 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.’
During the 2016 electioneering campaign, he said “Everybody should come and ride on the back of the ‘Elephant’” (the NPP, as it uses the elephant as its symbol). “The ‘Elephant’ has entered the White House; let us get the ‘Elephant’ in the Jubilee House.”
By William Yaw Owusu