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Feature Article of Monday, 4 June 2012

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

Why Nana Akufo-Addo & The NPP Do Not Yet Deserve ....

.... To Come To Power Again

By Kofi Thompson

Now that Martin Amidu has raised the honest-stewardship-bar for Ghanaian politicians, in protecting the national interest at all material times, and being non-partisan in fighting corruption, we must not allow any group of politicians to ride to power, merely on the back of a tide of public disenchantment with a serving regime - without them showing and proving beyond all reasonable doubt, that indeed they do truly merit the people's mandate. Otherwise, why change?

Yes, there has been a great deal of disenchantment with President Mills' leadership style, and speculation that he is not in charge of his own regime.

Indeed, many are those who believe that some of the people around the president are arrogating powers to themselves that are ultra vires and unconstitutional.

As an example, one needs look no further, than the most recent example - the weasel words of Kokou Anyidoho's confession that President Mills had nothing to with the public 'dismissal' of the Ashanti regional director of the Electricity Company of Ghana.

That that serial-bungler is still at post, despite this being the umpteenth PR debacle he has been involved in, speaks volumes about Mills' leadership style.

And it settles that particular matter finally - so we can all say with a degree of confidence that President Mills is not really in charge of his own regime, in that sense. The people whose genius unfairly destroyed his hard-working regime's image in the eyes of ordinary Ghanaians, still cling to their cushy sinecures. Pity.

In the same vein, if anyone doubted the total unsuitability of a still un-reformed and unrepentant New Patriotic Party (NPP), being allowed to return to power again, they must look no further than the NPP's leading lights' responses to the various acts of omission and commission, committed by errant members of the Mills administration.

However much we may be disenchanted with Mills' NDC regime, it does not follow, a priori, that we are going to welcome a return of yet another NPP regime with open arms. Those knee-jerk musical-chairs-style regime-change days are gone for good - thank goodness.

There are many questions that those sections of the Ghanaian media, which are underpinned by ethical journalism, and take their watchdog role in Ghanaian society seriously, ought to be asking, and demanding answers to, from Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP.

Such close scrutiny will ensure that the corruption we saw during the Kufuor-era does not return with the advent of any new NPP regime led by Nana Akufo-Addo.

Ghana cannot afford another bout of - in the words of one of its sternest, independent-minded and patriotic critics I know - "the milking dry of Ghana, in yet another golden age of business, for that mostly-greedy, ruthless and selfish lot". (Ouch.)

What, for example, will Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP do, about the leading cause of high-level corruption in Ghana - the continual refusal of our political class, to accept that publicly publishing the assets of the president and those he appoints to his government, as well as their spouses - immediately before assuming office, and immediately after their tenure - is a convention that must quickly be established in our nation's politics, if the fight against high-level corruption is to succeed?

Clearly, the deafening silence from Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP on this matter, can only mean that they are accepting of the totally unacceptable status quo.

That, clearly, is not a very good sign, in an oil-rich Ghana - from a political party with a murky honest-stewardship past, and at the doorstep of which those inimical oil production agreements Ghana entered into, much to its detriment, can squarely be laid.

As I have always said, President Kufuor is the greediest, most dishonest and corrupt individual ever elected to rule Ghana, thus far, since the overthrow of President Nkrumah in February 1966.

(Incidentally, I am still waiting for Mr. Kufuor to sue me for regularly saying that about him - whereupon he will promptly realise that his brilliant friend Kweku Baako, is not the only journalist in Ghana, who possesses secret and highly sensitive documents, as well as digital forms of incontrovertible evidence, proving those damning assertions. But I digress.)

Amidst the public outrage about the sale of state lands to politicians and their cronies, under the so-called Accra Re-Development Plan, there has neither been a whimper of condemnation of that iniquitous self-serving policy initiative, nor an emphatic declaration of ending the immorality of what is merely a convenient legal-cloak designed to hide the redistribution of what belongs to all Ghanaians, to a well-connected, powerful and greedy few.

Alas, dear reader, clearly there is also nothing thus far, in their many campaign rally speeches and endless press conferences, to indicate that there will not be a repetition of the incidence of fraud and immorality, seen during the golden age of business for the perfidious Kufuor & Co.

The question then is, why has anyone not yet heard a direct assurance from either Nana Akufo-Addo or those silver-tongued dissemblers, known collectively as the "NPP Communications Team", that the outrageous Kufuor-era unspeakable frauds committed against Ghanaians, will not be repeated when they return to power? Just saying Woyomegate will not occur in an NPP regime, is not enough.

An egregious example of those aforementioned frauds, was the railroading through Parliament - under the present Minority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bosu's active leadership - of the sale and purchase agreement for the Volta Aluminium Company Limited (VALCO).

That purported sale of VALCO, was to a so-called International Aluminium Partners (IAP), a non-existent entity, said to be a joint-venture partnership between VALE of Brazil and Norske-Hydro of Norway - both of whom yet strenuously denied ever agreeing to purchase VALCO. And we are told vital

The question is, how do we know that such wheezes will not be repeated in an NPP regime, under Nana Akufo-Addo's leadership - a gentleman whose gargantuan family tree is crowned by a tribal Chieftain and branch members a zillion times more sophisticated than that of President Kufuor's? Heaven help us.

In all their many references to the activities of the powerful crooks, who lurk in the shadows in the corridors of power in the Mills administration, we are yet to hear what guarantees, if any, Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP are prepared to give Ghanaians that similar crimes, such as high-level insider-dealing and the exploitation of insider-information for private gain, will not occur in an NPP regime under Nana Akufo-Addo, too.

There has also been a great deal of noise about the so-called "social interventions" initiated by the Kufuor regime - most of which did not have a sustainable funding source. But they were launched nonetheless to court cheap popularity.

That is not the sort of 'achievement' likely to impress discerning minds today, is it? The curing of that crippling budgetary equivalent of a viral illness, by the Mills regime, one ought to note, is nothing short of miraculous.

Yet, instead of acknowledging the hard work involved in resuscitating the national economy that Kufuor & Co. had brought to its knees, by the end of their regime's tenure, Dr. Bawumia - apparently the NPP's last-word in economics - has chosen to bury his head in the sand, and more or less implies, as he goes around the country in Nana Akufo-Addo's company, that nothing much has been done thus far, in the economic sphere, by the present government. Incredible.

Is that a sign of sincere and responsible leadership - something that Ghana desperately needs today in an age of austerity?

Given the obvious lack of a clear sustainable source of funding for Nana Akufo-Addo's free high school education policy, and the astonishing and brazen decision to fund "Zongo development" from the consolidated fund (imagine that - how reckless and irresponsible can you get, I ask, dear reader?), how are we to know that a developmental strategy, which is the economic equivalent of starting to build a house with only a fraction of its cost saved up - and hoping that the building will somehow be completed on a wing-and-a-prayer basis - will not also become a regular feature of a Nana Akufo-Addo administration?

What are we also to conclude then, when instead of calling for a reform of the outrageous, pigs-snouts-in-the-trough compensation packages paid to members of the boards of state-owned entities, for example, Nana Akufo-Addo merely signals that he will use that as a form of pork-barrel political leverage, to keep those delegates who elected him to be his party's candidate for the presidential election in check, and prevent them from rocking the boat (presumably before and after the December elections) - by reminding them that there are many posts and appointments to public-sector entity boards, within the gift of a serving president?

No sign there of any reform agenda too, alas, dear reader, is there? Well, if it is going to be business as usual there too, then why should we allow members of what many independent-minded and patriotic Ghanaians say was the most corrupt regime ever elected to rule Ghana, since independence, to be returned to power again after the December polls, I ask?

Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP need to do better than they have done so far, to convince those in Ghana who think and always take into account the words, deeds and misdeeds of politicians. To be credible, they must assure and convince such Ghanaians that they will carry out a root-and-branch reform, of a corrupt and cancerous system. And roll out a detailed plan for same. Nothing short will do.

That is the only way to proceed, if they want to win over the sceptical and discerning Ghanaians, whose independent-mindedness and sense of patriotism underpins their passionate love for Mother Ghana - the floating-voters whose crucial swing-votes now decide who becomes Ghana's president.

President Mills and Vice-President Mahama might have failed us as leaders - but that should not mean that Ghanaians must automatically hand power to the NPP, on a silver platter. That no longer makes sense in the oil-rich Ghana of today.

As things currently stand, virtually nothing Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP have said or done thus far, assures independent-minded patriots in our country, that the NPP is deserving of being returned to power again to rule Ghana.

The good people of Ghana must not be beguiled by the sugar-coated words they hear from them, during stops made in their localities, by the NPP's leaders' in their "restore hope" campaign trips across Ghana. A word to the wise...

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