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Opinions of Saturday, 4 August 2007

Columnist: Ansah, Albert Oppong

Akufo-Addo: A versatile leader or too confrontational?

Kwamena Ato, a political analyst believes the ruling New Patriotic Party's flagbearership race is down to two men: Nana Akufo-Addo, outgoing Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Vice-President Aliu Mahama.

But, of the two men, he believes Alhaji Aliu Mahama is the better man. He refers to Akufo-Addo as "confrontational” and a “a no-nonsense man,” who would have matched former President Jerry Rawlings" attacks on the NPP “with an equal and proportional force. And this would not have been in the national interest. When two elephants fight, the grass suffers.”

But, in a no-nonsense rebuttal, Qanawu Gabby, writing in today’s edition argues that “There is something about Akufo-Addo’s leadership credentials that his detractors choose to ignore: his versatility,” adding, “Sometimes leadership calls for [legitimate] forcefulness, sometimes for tactful negotiations.”

"I admire Akufo-Addo a lot. He’s a serious man. A man who has his head screwed on straight. But deep down, you and I know that Akufo-Addo is not the man we want at the helm of the affairs of this country. He’s not the man to 'heal’ this country - bring us together as one," Kwamena Ato categorically submits.

But, in the view of our regular columnist, Qanawu, the mark of an effective General is one who can device and customise his war strategy to counter any given enemy or war situation. He says Akufo-Addo and others like him fought the P/NDC with the most effective tools that they could employ for that epoch.

But Ato is unrepentant, in an article first produced in Thursday’s Accra Daily Mail and to be reproduced in tomorrow’s edition of The Statesman, "Akufo-Addo is extremely competent. But at this time in our history, he’s not the right man for the job." Qanawu, however, concedes that there are so many Ato Kwamenas out there who still see refuse to see Akufo-Addo as anything but patapaa, aggressive, and belligerent, despite the fact that in the last five years the outgoing Foreign Minister and Chairman of the Executive Council of the African Union has won overwhelming praise, both at home and abroad, as the consummate international diplomat.

Qanawu calls for a critical comparison and appreciation of the presidential aspirant’s uncompromising frontal action in taking the fight to the P/NDC regime prior to 2001 and the subsequent coming to the fore of his deft diplomacy, which Qanawu says can only lead to the conclusion that Akufo-Addo is a man possessing the requisite credentials of versatile leadership.

But, Kwamena Ato is not moved: "You will agree wholeheartedly with me that Akufo-Addo is no John Agyekum Kufuor." Aliu Mahama, on the other hand, "is [cast] in the mould of John Agyekum Kufuor," gentle.

"If not for anything," says the ADM columnist, "the Kufuor presidency has taught us that you need not be an orator to effectively govern. It has taught us that confrontation is not the most effective way to govern a country. What has kept us together as a country, to a large extent is Kufuor’s ‘gyae man monka’ attitude." Qanawu has his own twist: "The P/NDC regime could not be fought and defeated with a ‘gyae man won ye’ [leave them to be] attitude of pacifism. Effective leaders, Ato, must possess a number of seemingly contradictory qualities and skill sets."

Qanawu goes on to pose a question: "How can a man that we are constantly told is arrogant and elitist at the same time draw the critical mass of his support from the grassroots – the so-called ordinary man and woman?"

His other question is this: What is it about Akufo-Addo that after his deft diplomacy in helping to negotiate peace in Liberia and la Cote d’Ivoire, and in assisting President Kufuor to find a common ground between Mbeki and Gadhafi, he can still be seen as a war-monger?

But, Ato has his eye on the man considered as a "very nice man" by all those who have met him: "Aliu is a fine gentleman. He’s the man to reconcile this nation. There comes a time in a nation’s life, that the Almighty offers a people such leaders. And at this time in our history, Aliu is the right man!"

He adds, "As for competence, I have no doubt that, like Akufo-Addo, Aliu is very competent. He’s been the finest Vice-President this nation has ever produced." Kwamena Ato advises delegates to the party’s National Congress in December thus: "Delegates should look beyond the party and focus more on Ghana, what would be in Ghana’s interest. And if they perform their work as patriotic as they should be as Ghanaian citizens, only one man will be seen as the best for the NPP and mother Ghana at this time– the man Aliu Mahama!" he advocates in his 3,451-word article.

Qanawu will not leave it there: "Current thinking on leadership generally acknowledges the need for qualities and skills that are seemingly in opposition – and, Ato, this is what Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has demonstrated from street marches to chairing crucial UN Security Council meetings all throughout his political career. He is by no means not alone in this – but, at least grant him that." Qanawu rounds up his point by saying, "Nana Addo and many like him kept the pressure on the NDC to defeat their will power, an annihilation strategy which in war is called ‘Enveloping the Enemy.’ Has the NPP forgotten so soon how the constant pressures from its leadership, through the courts, in the constituencies, in Parliament, in the mass media and on the streets, forced the NDC to concede in improving the integrity of the electoral system? In war you maintain the pressure and advance to give your opponent a reason to conclude negotiations."

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