Feature Article of Thursday, 26 July 2007

Columnist: Boateng, Maame Boatemaa

Kufuor, NPP and the Ministerial Reshuffle

Ei! So the President listened partially to our pleas. That is commendable, even if in the same breath he has entrenched his position and reinforced his open support for Mr. Alan Kyeremanten. John Kufuor with all due respect is playing with sulphur. I will explain myself presently.

Under our fourth Republican constitution, it is absolutely the preserve of any president to appoint, disappoint and/or experiment with weird ideas as far as ministerial appointments are concerned if he so chooses. Of course the only safeguards that serve as markers include the need to be gender sensitive and also maintain regional balance among other issues in fulfillment of our quest for national cohesion and fairness. What our constitution did not mention or envisage is a reshuffle that is aimed at giving one person an advantage in a competition within a major party like the NPP. Whichever way one looks at it, this is clearly what John Kufuor has done.

In my first ever article to various media houses (and I have noted those who published and those who did not), I mentioned the likes of Abraham Osei-Aidoo who has been elevated to the position of Parliamentary Affairs minister, a good thing by all accounts. I also mentioned that the activists of our great party must be seen to reap the loyalty dividend, for which reason I suspect Kufuor's kitchen cabinet impressed upon him the need to 'throw in' a few regional chairmen of the NPP in order to appear to have heeded my call. But don't be deceived: my President, John Agyekum Diawuo Kufuor is as shrewd as he is cunning in his moves as a politician. A master stroke to kill of criticisms by all accounts, it has turned out to be his deftest stroke yet. He has invited the NPP to pitch camp against himself.

Let me adduce some specifics to justify this rigid and emphatic viewpoint. Perhaps, as part of his move to show gender sensitivity in his reshuffle, Kufuor has brought in Ms Esther Obeng Dapaah to handle the Lands, Forestry and Mines portfolio. This is one appointment that immediately got my hormones racing through time and it soon became clear why I was suffering such an intense level of dissonance. I remember vividly that in 1992, the NPP women's wing was headed by the fiery Theresa Amerley Tagoe. As erratic as some deem her to be, she paid her dues when she used her school (Agence D'or) for party work and mobilization, at a time when people were scared of showing any support for the NPP. Theresa Tagoe was also serving in the first administration of Kufuor and was poised to rise further until she led the Ga caucus including the likes of Godfred Akonai to confront Kufuor about the marginalization of Ga people in his government. That was the end of her rise. I have raised this point for two main reasons; firstly Theresa Tagoe has served as a deputy minister in the Lands Ministry and therefore accumulated lots of experience. Would it not have been better to send her there to head the ministry as was the case with Hon Osei-Adjei? Or is it because her cousin is the contestant most likely to win the NPP nomination despite your machinations?
The other reason similar in effect to the slap in the face of the women’s caucus is the treatment being meted out to Esther Ofori. Is it because she supported Akufo-Addo in 1998? Esther Ofori’s is a rather sad case. Like Cecelia Dapaah who lost her job at Cocoa Marketing Board because of her open support for the NPP in 1992, Esther Ofori suffered a ‘triple loss’ when she was kicked out of then Social Security Bank by the NDC who conducted their pogrom with such alacrity. When she managed to find a job at M-NET, the long hand of the NDC chased her out of that joint. Not deterred, Esther went on to host a Frytol cooking programme on GTV. Of course who in Ghana doesn’t know that Konadu did not want to see her face on “her screens”, for which reason she was shown the road to “go work for your NPP”? We have not forgotten these people who are overqualified to hold any position including the presidency of this country, Mr. Kufuor. Every time I see Esther gladly MCing a programme for the NPP with such cheerfulness in her dyed red, blue and white hair, I realize the strength of character she possesses to have risen above your pettiness. God bless you Esther Ofori, you are an inspiration whether Kufuor likes it or not and we recognize your contribution to our great party. Your reward is just around the corner. Ignore him.

A certain Ambrose Dery was yanked away from his position as Deputy Attorney-General and made the substantive minister for the Upper West region, never mind that he was slated for outright dismissal until his kinsman, the archbishop made supplication not to God, but to Kufuor to keep his man in government. Contrary to what the esteemed bishop thought, Kufuor sent Dery to the Upper West mainly to do two main things: administer the region and develop it remarkably and secondly to nurse the Lawra Constituency in preparation for 2008 so as to ensure that Ben Kumbuor remains Rawlings’ lawyer and nothing else. From all accounts, Ambrose Dery was on the verge of achieving both mandates until this surprise “recall” to Accra only to be placed in an ambiguous position at the same Attorney-General’s department. Now how can Ambrose win that seat if he has been yanked back from his domain to be in Accra? Then again he is placed clearly under someone several years his junior at the bar. Monkeys don't play in sizes afterall in Kufuor's government.

Similarly, Boniface Gambila, hitherto regional minister for the Upper East has been cast into political oblivion for reasons I will show later. Boniface had been doing the same thing for his home region and nursing the Nabdam seat to checkmate Moses Asaga in the upcoming 2008 elections. When you take him out of regional proximity, your expected output is as good as zero for the dynamics of those two regions require constant base-touching with the constituencies for maximization of votes. Again, Mr. Kenwuud Nuworsu, regional chairman of the Volta region of the NPP is slated for the Manpower Ministry, a place where he would most certainly distinguish himself, having been part of the Board of the National Service Scheme. He will bring lots of experience to bear in his new appointment should the Appointments Committee of parliament give him a clean bill of health. Would this new position affect his output in the Volta region? Your guess is as good as mine.

Finally within this context, there is the interesting case of Nana Obiri-Boahen, Brong Ahafo regional chairman of the NPP. This is a man who can hold his own any day against the most ardent of opponents, political or legal and who has worked to ensure that the region he chairs may 'deliver' in 2008. Again he is yanked away, never mind that the NDC Wahalaians are “walahaing” him with threats of rejection at the vetting claiming rather foolishly that "he is a hothead". Who in Ghanaian politics is more hotheaded than Jerry Rawlings and Tony Aidoo? Yet they both occupied positions of trust in our beloved country.

I have mentioned the above to draw attention to one thing: Kufuor would only have the NPP win if it is led by Alan Kyeremanten. For the avoidance of doubt, the reverse of this also holds true: Kufuor does not want the NPP to win under any other person. How can you remove the above mentioned functionaries to the centre at a time when they should be preparing to inflict the most decisive defeat of the NDC in its short stay in opposition so far? As I stated in the first piece, this is a move clearly calculated to weaken Aliu Mahama and Akufo-Addo for it is known within party circles that these fine gentlemen support either of the two aspirants. How can you be that petty, so much so that you try to cleverly promote these good people when in reality you are cutting your nose to spite your face! Now that is Mac Manu's challenge, for we also know of the moves that have been done and are being done daily to weaken his hold on the party, notwithstanding the maturity he is displaying as National Chairman. Have you not virtually 'clipped' his wings if you take his “field commanders” away like that and thereby thrown his master plan into disarray? What kind of person are you at all?

We know your Kotoko credentials and you will be the first to admit that at any given time, when Kotoko plays with Corners, Hearts of Oak supporters would naturally support Corners. It is the same logic that informs members of the opposition for within their ranks, they also have their own favourites. In their worst case scenario, they would rather vote for the following in this order: Akufo-Addo, Osafo-Maafo and Aliu Mahama. They would not support Alan Kyerematen. You can send your BNI boys to check this information but I give you a free example. Call for Tony Aidoo’s statements on Radio Gold about Alan (whom he derided as Alan Cash) and you’ll see the picture clearly. Significantly within this context also, Mahama Ayariga’s statements on Joy JM's Newsfile of 21st July are as instructive as they are indicative. Mind you, these MPs talk to each other and just as some of them supported Kwesi Botchway against Mills, a large number of them would not mind supporting the above-mentioned leading aspirants of our great party mainly because they have worked with them since 1996 and know their capability, output and their general unvindictive attitude that is your defining characteristic. I dare say that it is this intimate knowledge that places Aliu in the third position on their scale of preference. Your uterine brother, Kwame Addo-Kufuor would have made another fine president according to the NPPs starkest opponents, save for the fact that he has one unfortunate setback: his surname is Kufuor. Alan, as you can easily decipher would not even appear on their trafficators, let alone their tail lights! Hear Ayariga "...I have been thinking through it and trying to discern the motive behind the arrangements and rearrangements that we see taking place in terms of the government machinery ... or is this reshuffle also for him, a strategic tool for gaining greater control of the NPP machinery in order to provide him with a strategic advantage as they move into their national congress to select a flagbearer?" Does that indicate anything, Mr. President? You must know that everybody is talking about the reshuffle and your motives for it has become so obvious that you are scheming and maneuvering to place the party at your beck and call: you shall surely fail in that respect.

When Ayariga mentions Ambrose Dery as an example in his rather interesting analysis, it is indicative of the public's perception of your move, bringing people to the centre to help you engineer an 'internal coup' against contestants who are miles ahead of your personal preference that as I indicated in my first piece, Kuuku Welson-Jones, Kyeremanten's nephew and an unknown quantity in the NPP, foolishly let out into the public domain. You see Mr. Kufuor, in 2005, we all rallied against you, not because we loathed you but because you were seeking to do something that was alien to the Danquah-Busia tradition and that is imposition. Everybody that has led the tradition into battle has contested on his own strength and merit; nobody from the founding fathers to your good self has won based on endorsement of a leader. Anytime that happens, the endorsed would lose. That is why Ntim lost and I can bet my remaining ovaries, that is why Kyerematen shall also lose. Note I did not use 'would', but 'shall', for the party is ready to maintain its time-tested traditions, without which we can no longer define ourselves as Danquah-Busiasts. We are not ready to 'undefine' or put differently, redefine ourselves as Danquah-Busiasts because a certain John Kufuor, arguably our most successful Danquah-Busia leader did what Oliver Cromwell did while men and women of substance kept mute for a mess of pottage. At least those of us who have neither benefited from your crumbs nor lost the fiery venom with which we hounded Jerry Rawlings to infamy would unleash same on you should you continue with these despicable and dishonourable moves. You have been served a second notice accordingly.

You have been denying, through your surrogates that you are not supporting Alan or any candidate for that matter and even sought to dust our eyes with the powders of untruth by feigning a warning to people not to use your name in their campaign? What in God's name were Dr. Richard Anane, Paul Afoko, and MCE Mohammed Amin Anta doing invoking your name at the forum for ex-TESCON members to support the aspirations of Alan in Kumasi two weeks ago? What is the meaning of this statement in the strategy paper delivered during the meeting: "utilize the president's tag where necessary"? You really take us for idiots, but we are not descended from Iddi Amin. You have also instructed Yaw Amankwa and Osei-Asibey to intimidate the DCEs in Ashanti to fall in line with Alan not so? I have bad news for you: we are so everywhere that there is nothing you do that we don't know. For reasons of national security I would keep certain things to my chest but be sure of our showdown at congress. Let me serve you notice however that we are waiting for the implementation of the 'Joe Cart initiative' under their infantile '91 blitz group' strategy. Indeed, to even concede in the document that "Alan is not so accessible by all" [lacks] internal recognition within the NPP, hence would be difficult to market even if he wins the primaries' shows the futility of the task you are forcing down the 'throat' of an unwilling party and public. It is so funny that you don't even see these ex-TESCON boys are only taking back their pound of flesh after you used them without any reward for the elections you have been fortunate enough to win. Take a good look at the picture taken at the event and you would be left in no doubt that more than half of the people posing with Kyeremanten, Dr. Anane and Amin Anta belong to other camps! Is this really the person you Mr. Kufuor expect to win the 2008 elections for the NPP?

You are so far behind if the answer to the above is a resounding yes because that would not erase the despicable impression being held by both the public and party against your darling boy. At the end of it all, without the NPP, you and your retirement would be as lonely as marooned Robinson Crusoe on a distant island but we shall not allow you to drag our party into political Hades if it means losing our very lives. You have been served a second notice accordingly.

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