Feature Article of Friday, 2 March 2012
Columnist: Kyeremeh, Kofi
On the sidelines of the current ragging debate on corruption and judgment debts in Ghana, there is an exciting academic debate on electronic media about whether the NPP presidential candidate Nana Akufo Addo has the qualities of a transformational leader. Mr. Garby Okyere Darko started the conversation when he gave an expose of the man he has known for over thirty years and suggested that if given the chance to lead this nation, Nana Akufo Addo could well be a transformational leader.
In a sharp rebuttal a week after Ms. Margaret Johnson gave a litany of qualities of a transformational leader and said Nana Akufo Addo does not fit the criteria of the league of transformational leaders. Given the definition she listed on who qualifies as a transformational leader, Nana Addo certainly may not pass her litmus test. But when she tried to compare Lech Walesa with the Solidarity movement and seemed to suggest that Lech Walesa was a transformational leader but Nana Akufo Addo’s work within the Ghanaian democracy movement does not make him to a transformational leader, such bias comparison opened the door for anyone to wade into the debate.
You cannot credit the work of Mr. Lech Walesa in Poland within the Solidarity movement which brought the demise of communism in much of Eastern Europe but discount the work of Nana Akufo Addo and other democracy movement activists during the period of military rule in Ghana. In Poland, here was a man Lech Walesa who has lost his job at the Gdansk shipyard and like many Polish at the time believed communism was the source of their deplorable condition, which had to be dismantled. He was unemployed, had little education and with no hope for a better future and he acted in self-preservation.
I am not in any way trying to downplay the profound impact Mr. Walesa had on Polish politics within the Solidarity Movement. Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo was born into a privileged family, his father was one time the president of Ghana. He was educated in some of the elite boarding schools in England reserved for only the privileged kids in society. After graduation, he went on to work in a prestigious law firm in Paris, France. Here in the west, they will describe him as someone born with a silver spoon in his mouth. But like a family tradition, the Dankwah family has always offered themselves for public service and as champions for the course of human freedom and social justice. Even in the comfort of his Paris office, Nana Akufo Addo did not forget the course that made his great uncle Dr. J B Dankwa a martyr for democratic movement in Ghana. His uncle taught him that the greatest legacy he could honor his memory with was to restore personal and political freedoms for the citizens of this country. Nana Akufo Addo will answer the call and come down to Ghana to join a new political movement that was calling for the military to return to the barracks. People who took part in those demonstrations will tell you it was not a tea party as protesters faced a real and present danger against the military junta that was determined to hold on to power. Imagine telling the military to hand over power and return to the barracks and the reply you get back is hand over power to whom? Ghanaians have short memories and in the euphemism of the freedoms that we now enjoy today, we have failed to appreciate the contribution of heroes of our democratic revolution.
In 2011, the ace journalist Mr. Malik Kwaku Baako celebrated the birth of a newborn to his family. While contributory messages were pouring in to the family on their newborn, someone rather sarcastically wrote that it was known that Kwaku Baako was not supposed to have a child again. He was referring to the abuse he received at the hands of the military during those democracy demonstrations. What the writer failed to acknowledge was the fact that if indeed Mr. Kwaku Baako has this impairment, it was a reflection of the price that someone had to pay for the democracy that we enjoy now.
The writer wrote that being part of demonstrations to protest injustices does not make Akufo Addo an African leader “African leadership is not borne out of mere Twoo Boi”. Today, from Cairo to Tripoli, Africans are now waking up to the reality that there is power in taking to the street to demand change from dictators and tyrants instead of throwing bombs and creating anarchy. Ms. Margaret Johnson challenged Garby to “highlight the achievements of Nana Akufo Addo rather than his speeches because speeches alone do not make somebody transformational. That is sadly true, for some of us our admiration in the capabilities of Nana Akufo Addo is partially based on his political philosophy that he so eloquently outlines in his speeches. In the end we could all be disappointed for backing a political charlatan but such was the faith in speeches that drew many of us to Mr. JJ Rawlings in the first place. It was a believe in the qualities of his transformational leadership that will lead students leaders like Dr. Arthur Kennedy to convince students in the three universities to spend time in the bush to help cart locked up cocoa to the port in support of Mr. JJ Rawlings vision. The story of Mr. JJ Rawlings will not be complete until we all acknowledge that at some point in time, we were all hooked to his charisma and the vision that he projected through his speeches. Mr. John Agyekum Kuffour was one time in his cabinet. Like obedient children, we all followed him to the cliff but for his sudden capitulation to bring back democracy to Ghana, this nation would have tipped into anarchy and chaos.
When Mr. Rawlings got political power, he became oblivious of who his friends were from his enemies, power corrupts and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely indeed. Mr. Kyeremeh Gyan who was my college classmate and friend was a man who loved and worshiped Mr. JJ Rawlings like a saint. There was not a space in his dorm room that did not depict Rawlings pictures and paraphernalia He brought cadet to our school and thought us all manners of military drills and traditions. But he will live to pay a heavy price for joining a student demonstration to challenge injustices in society. His last breath on earth was spent at Teshie military range when he was strapped to a shooting pole with other framed students demonstrators; Godwin Mawuli Kofi Dra-Goka, Yaw Brefo Berko, Samuel Boamah Panyin, Samuel Charles Aforo and Richard Charles Koomson were gunned down like common criminals on the orders of Mr. JJ Rawlings. It is for the memory of the deaths of these people and many others whose graves are still unmarked that we cherish our democracy not the acolytes given to us by foreign media and governments.
Ms. Margaret Johnson used the brutal murder of 44 Ghanaians at the Gambia during the time Nana Akufo Addo was the foreign minister to indict his handle of foreign affairs ministry. He said “Nana Addo looked the other way until the NDC government came to power and pursued the matter leading to the compensation of $500,000.00 to the families of the affected victims”. Nana Addo as foreign minister brought attention to the world to the murder of 44 of our compatriots in Gambia. He succeeded to get the UN to empanel a commission to look into the murder of foreigners on Gambian soil, something President Yahya Jammeh vehemently opposed.
I recall the present Vice President then an opposition member of parliament leading a charge to condemn the appeasement policy of the NPP government. Hon John Mahama charged that if they were in government they would have cause the arrest of President Yahya Jammeh whenever he was accosted in Ghana or if possible declare war on Gambia. Now in government, the NDC government is not only winning and dinning with Yahya Jammeh, they are now touting the compensation that resulted from UN investigation something that was initiated at the behest of Nana Akufo Addo.
For those of us who still have faith in this man, we have read enough about him, heard enough about him to believe that given the chance to lead this nation, he will deliver on his promises to Ghanaians. We may all be disappointed with what he uses power for after he has been handed the keys to the Jubilee House. As Shakespeare once wrote “there is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face”, but we believe that he is not in this for money, his father left enough fortune for the family to never be in want. His great uncle Dr. JB Dankwa left him the political creed to honor this towering Ghanaian political philosopher and patriot with. It is a belief in an open political system to popular participation and trusting Ghanaians to choose the leaders they want. A government of the people, by the people and for the people. It is an open market economy that rewards hard work and innovation and is not restricted to a few privileged in society. It is a belief that empowering the citizens of this nation with the required tools will create enormous wealth for the nation. It is the political philosophy that will be followed by a fellow party member Mr. John Agyekum Kuffour to expand the Ghanaian economy never witnessed in the annals of our nation’s history.
When Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo was brazing guns and truncheons to restore justice and democracy in Ghana, we called him brave man and a courageous freedom fighter. Today his detractors are using the same adjectives to denigrate his name. Herein lies the answer for the contrast between Nana Akufo Addo and Polish Lech Walesa. When Mr. Lech Walesa offered himself for political office, a grateful nation looked past his personal limitations and offered him the chance to serve his nation. They did not call him a hot head, a wee smoker, a womanizer and unfit to govern. In fact the Pols looked beyond the fact that this man was a mere welder at Gdansk shipyard with little education. If we cannot honor Nana Akufo Addo for his contribution to democracy in Ghana, please don’t denigrate his name. Sometimes it amazes me to ponder how far people will go to destroy people for expediency. In 1970 when then Prime Minister Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia asked foreigners to leave retail and other sensitive sectors of the Ghanaian economy to indigenous nationals, his party was branded anti foreigners.
The political opponents of Dankwa- Busia tradition have used that policy to scare off the Zongo community from supporting the party. Forty two years after Dr. Abrefa Busia introduced this policy, all political parties have quietly implemented the policy without giving credit to the man. NDC and NPP governments since 2000 have sent task force to business districts in the nation’s commercial centers to shut down foreign owned retail businesses to make sure that “Maame Alata” does not take over the retail business in Ghana again . When Nana Akufo Addo talks about indigenous capitalism and providing free education to Senior Secondary Schools, he is borrowing a text from the political philosophy of Busia- Dankwa Dombo tradition. This party has always trusted in the ability of the Ghanaian to be the best in the world. With Nana Akufo Addo as president of Ghana, our best days are yet to come.
Mr. Kofi Kyeremeh - Maryland, [email protected]