Many debates have already taken place on the Atta Mills Presidential Library over bottles of sobolo and pito but the debates still rage on about the state of the beautiful edifice that stands opposite the Cape Coast Castle.
Somewhere on the 15th of March, 2016, after handshakes of gratitude between the University and the Office of the President, a letter from the Office of the President signed by the then Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah to the University of Cape Coast and copied to the Ministry of Education stated in clear terms what the library was to be used for, who manages the facility and with which funds and then whether the facility is a private facility or a facility that belongs to the state.
The letter unequivocally states the purpose for the construction of the library: a facility to befit the personality and stature of the deserving statesman. This facility the letter explains is to bring researchers from the Universities to the ordinary Ghanaian and others from the diaspora.
The University of Cape Coast was by this letter informed to host the library as one of its institutional libraries.
The state, according to the letter, was going to hand over a well-furnished facility to the University and also facilitate the setting up of an Endowment Fund that will enable the University to raise, the “Atta Mills Research Chair in Peace and Governance” and support the running of the library.
The University of Cape Coast was, therefore, going to be responsible for the day-to-day running of the library, including providing human resource, business, research and consultancy plans for activities in the library, maintaining the facility and commemorating the memory of the former president.
Furtherance to these, the University is expected to hold the title deed to the project as part of its institutional libraries while the Central Regional Engineer of the Architectural and Engineering Services Limited (AESL) was detailed to furnish the University with the Title Deed.
But we know that title deeds could only be granted by the Lands Commission and not an entity like AESL (Emphasis mine).
In the agreement between the University and the government, the Presidency captures its hopes and aspirations the facility in the following:
-that the facility hosts research scholars in residence and organizes scholarly conferences and lectures;
- that the facility holds outreach programs for the benefit of school children and the communities in the area;
- that the facility holds commemorative events such as activities linked to the anniversary observances of historical events and commemoration of the lives of President John Evans Atta Mills and other prominent people;
- that the facility holds relevant consultancies and activities; and
- that the facility commemorates the memory of the late president.
In all these arrangements, the letter states emphatically that the Government of Ghana will continue to support this project. However, the University is encouraged to identify other private partners and agencies, both local and international, to support the activities of the library to promote research in its focused area.
Well, the letter ended when the chief of Staff who wrote the letter on behalf of the Presidency categorically asked the University of Cape Coast not to hesitate to contact the office of the President for further discussions on the Presidential library. Has the University done so?
Investigations conducted indicate that the facility has technically not been handed over to the University of Cape Coast.
The University as of now has got only two of its security guards manning the facility. The University explains that the keys to the facility have not been given them.
The issues here are mind-boggling!
The facility needs to be put to use. It has already been built. The necessary things ought to be done to salvage it. We cannot afford to let the facility go waste.
-The author, Richard Kwadwo Nyarko, is the Central Region Correspondent for Joy News