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Opinions of Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Columnist: Abdul-Rahim Naa Ninche

Dear Junior Jesus

Ruling a country like our beloved Ghana for close to two decades is no mean feat. Having ousted the government of General Akuffo in 1979, you rode on the fact that, the government officials were corrupt, the economy was being mismanaged and vowed to redeem the image of the army among many other reasons.

True to your words, your Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) only stayed in power for a quarter of a year because you believed you were done with the cleanup exercise you promised. This was followed by you handing over power to a democratically elected government led by Dr. Hilla Liman. You were hailed for this because it was not easy for one to relinquish power, especially a military person, after tasting it.

You surprised everyone when you took over power from Hilla Liman, a man you handed over power to. You came into office with the same message of jailing corrupt officials and that Hilla Liman was mismanaging the economy. You went on to serve as President of Ghana for eleven years before finally contesting in the first and second election of the fourth republic and winning.
Many have argued that your two terms as a democratically elected leader was an extension of your military regime because you hounded the opposition and journalists. The Criminal Libel Law you introduced was not totally abolished and was still in force.

When you handed over power on 7th January, 2001 to John Agyekum Kuffour, history was made because it was the first time in the fourth republic that power was being handed over from one party to another party. Prior to that, John Agyekum Kuffour openly congratulated you when he lost the 1996 general elections. He showed up at your inauguration wearing a huge smile in the midst of guests, Minister Louis Farrakhan and General Sani Abaacha. It sent a clear message across Africa that Ghana was maturing and embracing democracy at a fast pace.

You introduced the Value Added Tax (VAT) that was used to secure government revenue base and still serves as a source of revenue for subsequent governments. You established the University for Development Studies and used your Hunger Award Prize Money to buy books for the University's Library. You led a massive educational reform through the establishment of polytechnics across the country to ensure that students who were produced were equipped with the technical know how to solve the problems of the country.

In short, you did a lot to help solve the many problems of this country even though I opine that your contribution to this country is relatively too small based on the number of years you spent in office and the resources you had at your disposal.

Sir, sorry to bother you with history. I just had to remind you of how you became president and how you handed over power. It has been eighteen years since you handed over power and we have had four presidents ever since. All of them including the current president, Nana Akufo-Addo who has suddenly become your bosom friend, having done or are doing their best to contribute to the development of this nation. All of them, just like you, have flaws. So it surprises me when you speak ill of everyone as though you were a saint yourself.

You boomed at the gentle Jack, J.A Kuffour, anytime you had the opportunity and you still hound him ten years after he handed over power. You tormented John Evans Atta Mills because he failed to prosecute people you deemed corrupt. Even in his grave, you still drag his name into disrepute at the least opportunity.

As for John Dramani Mahama, I do not know if you see him in your dreams all the time. Barely a month passes by without you attacking him. I admit that Mahama messed up especially with how he managed issues relating to corruption. His reassignment of Elvis Afriyie Ankrah from the Sports Ministry to the Flagstaff House, now Jubilee House, even when it was clear he had acted wrongly during the 2014 World Cup sent a message across that he was not willing to fight corruption.

The lukewarm attitude of his government to prosecute Abuga Pele and all others implicated in the GYEEDA scandal did not do him any good. The bus branding scandal further cemented the thoughts that Mahama did not have the courage to fight corruption. For those who doubted this, his interview with the BBC where he struggled to answer whether or not he had been corrupt before, even though not evidential, gave more reasons to support the claim that he was either corrupt or not willing to fight corruption.

So when you speak about him and his government, it makes sense that you detest corruption. However, your recent outburst where you claimed you will prefer hell if you see Kuffuor or Mahama in heaven is worrying especially coming from you. Your actions over the years go to confirm a notion that you think you are the best president we have ever had or you were never corrupt yourself.

Sir, let me tell you what your friend, Paul Kagame, is doing in Rwanda. I call him your friend because he is a military man just like you. He led a rebel to take over power during the Rwandan genocide in 1994 just as you led a military junta to take over power from General Akuffo in 1979 and from Hilla Liman in 1981.

He has suppressed press freedom through the creation of the Media High Council which is a constitutional body set up with members appointed by the government who frequently write to newspapers requesting they apologize for things they wrote against the government and suspending them if they failed to comply, just as you also hounded journalists with your Criminal Libel Law.

He has been President for 18 years and still counting while you also ruled for almost 20 years. He has arrested many journalists just as you also did. I hope you now know why I refer to him as your friend.

However, Paul Kagame will forever be celebrated by Africans while the same might not be said for you. Paul Kagame has managed to transform Rwanda from a war-torn country, into a country that is admired by all including you, I presume. Kigali, Rwanda’s capital is one of the cleanest cities in Africa if not the cleanest. In Rwanda, you can register a business in less than two days. The Rwandan government has deliberately monopolized certain institutions and funded them in order to make sure that Rwanda benefits from them.

President Paul Kagame is applauded for stabilizing the economy of Rwanda, expanding by 45.6 per cent from $5.77 billion in 2010 to $8.4 billion in 2016, which led to the significant reduction in poverty. He has also invested heavily in the power sector while subsidizing power in order to help manufacturers produce more and also employ more people.

A reduction of power from $0.27 per kilowatt-hour to $0.11 for manufacturers has made this goal achievable. Rwanda has also witnessed significant change as installed capacity increased from 98.77MW in July 2011 to 210MW by July 26.

According to data from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning of Rwanda, “The Debt Sustainability Analysis carried out in December last year shows Rwanda’s debt service to export stood at 19.4 per cent, against debt service to export threshold of 25 per cent while the external debt to GDP ratio stood at 29.8 percent by end of 2016,”.

You can clearly tell that your 19 years is in no way close to the 18 years of Kagame. It is not how long you stayed in power but how visionary you are. You attack people who were president for less than ten years for the woes of this country but you refuse to ever take any blame after your almost 20 years of leadership.

Before i digress, kindly ask yourself what you have been doing as a former president aside your constant nagging. Sir, In case you are wondering what you can do as a former president, let me give you some few suggestions. You could organize an annual leadership training to help groom young leaders to hold on the principles you preach.

Your colleague former presidents in other countries are touring senior high schools and tertiary schools to give hope to the young ones. They are telling them the mistakes they made in their young lives while giving them hope that the future holds a lot for them.

Let me use this opportunity to remind you that you have to write a book about yourself as soon as possible at least that could be the most valuable thing you would do after you handed over power. It is embarrassing that you do not have even one book in your name. A book about you will live on even after your death. Posterity will read it and appreciate your contributions to Ghana while acknowledging your ideologies. A book from you will help us rather than your constant attacks.

As I end this letter to you, I wish to reiterate that you can never be taken away from history. A day will come when you will be laid beneath the ground and you won’t be around to defend yourself. When that day comes, the people who refused to advise you might join others to chastise you or better still remain silent. You are not a saint and you shall never be.

Before you get to hell or heaven, ponder over the word of Margaret MacMillan "We can learn from history, but we can also deceive ourselves when we selectively take evidence from the past to justify what we have already made up our minds to do."

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