Flagstaff renaming on Akufo-Addo’s birthday ‘pure coincidence’ – Eugene Arhin
Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin has allayed assertions that the renaming of the government seat from ‘Flagstaff House’ to ‘Jubilee House’ on the same day as President Akufo-Addo’s birthday was a calculated and planned move.
Ghanaians woke up Thursday morning to the notice from the presidency ordering for a change in name of the seat of government.
The order signed by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and dated March 29 directed that the seat of presidency be ‘named, known and referred to as Jubilee House’ in place of ‘Flagstaff House’; the name that has been used for the past 9 years.
The order stated among other reasons that “there is no record evidencing the renaming of the seat of the Presidency as Flagstaff House by His Excellency Professor John Evans Atta Mills”.
Speaking to Starr FM’s Francis Abban on Morning Starr, Thursday, Mr. Arhin explained that it was purely coincidental that the order was documented on the President’s birthday maintaining that it was in no way premeditated or has no extraordinary reason to it.
“It’s purely coincidental, there was no specific reason as to why it was done now at the end of the day he believes this was the time to do it and he’s done it so you can say it’s merely coincidental, it has nothing to do with the fact that the President of the republic is 74 years”, he noted.
The president’s order has since its announcement been met with mixed reactions, many questioning the rationale behind the President’s renaming of the edifice particularly after a second name change by the previous administration.
The seat, since its establishment in 2007 has been in contention as far as its name is concerned. Under then President John Agyekum Kufour-led government, it was named the Jubilee House. Subsequently under the leadership of the late Evans Atta Mills, the seat was renamed and called the ‘Flagstaff House’, a name that remained till today.
Giving the rationale behind the change in name however, Mr. Arhin among other things that it was necessitated by the fact that the name ‘Flagstaff House’ was prior to this, assigned to a separate building which served as the residence of persons in the colonial era.
The building he explained, was put up in that era to serve as a residence for one colonial military officer who was at the time commanding the West African Frontier Force with four British colonies which Ghana happened to be part of. This structure he further stated, served as a home for the Commander of Ghana’s Armed Forces after independence and subsequently as home for Ghana’s First President; Dr. Kwame Nkrumah before he was ousted in 1966.
According to Mr. Arhin, a new edifice needed to be constructed by the then-Kufour administration to serve as the seat of government after the first building; Flagstaff House was deserted when Heads of State began to use the Osu Christianborg castle as the state residence after Dr. Nkrumah’s overthrow.
“If you take a look at the name Flagstaff House, that building; Flagstaff House was the residence of the then colonial military officer who was commanding the West African Frontier force with four British colonies of Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Gambia. That particular residence; Flagstaff House was also the residence of the commander of Ghana’s armed forces immediately after independence. When Ghana became a republic in 1960, that residence became the residence of Kwame Nkrumah," he said.
“Immediately after his overthrow in 1966, almost all the Heads of State went to live at Osu Christiansborg castle which all of us know was a state fort. It was for this reason that then President Kufuor constructed the new seat of government in the year 2007 and named it jubilee house so it is for these two reasons; firstly that the building constructed by President Kufour was named as Jubilee House and subsequently the fact that it served as the residence of the colonial military officer at the end of the day points to the fact that we can’t impose upon ourselves a name given by our colonial masters and use that name as the seat of government” he added.