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Opinions of Sunday, 31 May 2015

Columnist: Ata, Kofi

Did Ex-President Kufuor Donate $60m to Akufo-Addo in 2008?

By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK May 29, 2015

Tuesday 26 May 2015, Mr Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, a columnist claimed in an article on Ghanaweb that ex-President Kufuor donated $60 million to Nana Akufo-Addo towards his 2008 presidential campaign. For the avoidance of any doubt, I quote from the relevant section of the article.

“Again, some argue that in 2008, Kufuor did not campaign for Akufo-Addo like Rawlings did for Mills, because Kufuor's preferred candidate lost the presidential primaries. Here too, these detractors were not aware that Akufo-Addo's Campaign Team strategically asked Kufuor to play a back role for the electorates to connect well with Akufo-Addo as a candidate. Most of these people were also not aware that Kufuor donated $60m to Akufo-Addo, and GHC30,000 to each NPP parliamentary candidate for their campaign activities. In fact, they were not also aware that, whilst most of the aspirants in the party's stronghold kept their campaign money because they envisaged a victory at all cost, those in the orphan constituencies also kept theirs because they envisaged defeat”, (see “Why is Nana Addo Silent on Prez Kufuor's Murder Allegation?”, Ghanaweb May 26, 2015).

Initially, I assumed that Katakyie made an error by typing $60m instead of $6m so I sought clarification from him through my comment. I posted the following among others in my comment. “Could you do Ex-President Kufuor and Ghanaians a big favour by clarifying whether Ex-President donated $60 million to the Nana Akufo-Addo 2008 campaign as well as whether he also donated GHc 30,000 to every NPP parliamentary candidate in 2008? Where is your source of these figures?”

Katakyie or someone using the name Katakyie replied as follows: “Kofi, what clarification do you need? Didn’t Akufo-Addo confess that Kufuor had assisted him financially and morally in all campaigns? Why didn’t he tell us how much money he received from Kufuor? Let him come and challenge me”.

As far as I am concerned the figures in the aforementioned article still remain allegations and not facts. Notwithstanding my view, the allegations are serious and damaging enough for every Ghanaian but particularly, the Electoral Commission to be interested in.

I have no idea how much Ghanaian presidents are paid annually, including their numerous allowances. However, I am certain that Ex-President Kufuor’s annual salary for the eight years of his presidency was less than $1 million. Let’s assume that for the eight years he earned $1 million per annum in salaries and allowances. That, he saved all that money so he had $8 million in his bank account as at January 7, 2009 (the day he left office).

The question is how could someone who earned and saved $8 million in eight years donate $60 million to Akufo-Addo’s presidential campaign funds? In addition, Katakyie claimed Ex-President Kufuor also donated a total of GHc6.9 million to the 230 parliamentary candidates. In 2008, the cedi was at parity with the US dollar and therefore Ex-President donated a total of $66.9 million. Of course, Ex-President Kufuor was a successful man prior to entering politics and becoming president but does it still make sense for someone who could not be described in 2008 as a multi-millionaire to donate $66.9 million to party campaign funds?

There are a number of questions arising from Katakyie’s allegations which Ex-President Kufuor, Nana Akufo-Addo and the then parliamentary candidates or NPP as a party can no longer keep silent over them. First, the amount involved, if true is worrying. How did Ex-President Kufuor come by this money? Was it from state coffers or from foreign loans contracted whilst in office? Was it graft from contracts given to companies or some other kick backs? Again, if the figures are true and the sources not explained by Ex-President Kufuor, then, either he was a magician or I am afraid, a thief. It saddens me to use such unpalatable word to describe someone I have much respect for but there is only word for spade and that is, spade.

By Ghana’s constitution all or most public office holders including the president and ministers are required to declare their assets. Did Ex-President Kufuor declare his assets whilst in office and how much did he declare as his worth in 2008? If he was worth about $100 million or less, would it have been prudent and reasonable to donate $66.9 million of his personal fortune to Nana Akufo-Addo and parliamentary candidates? Is Ex-President Kufuor Father Christmas?

The reason why the Electoral Commission (EC) should and must be interested in the amounts given by Katakyie is that by law political parties in Ghana are required to file their annual audited accounts with the Commission. Were these figures reported in NPP’s 2008/09 audited accounts to the EC? If not, why?

Ghana is relatively a poor country so her leaders including Ex-President Kufuor whilst in office travelled across the globe to solicit financial assistance for development projects. Yet, the then outgoing president was able to donate as much as $66.9 million towards campaign funds. How on earth do Ghanaians expect foreign donors to continue to be benevolent when their leaders engage such irresponsible and opulent expenditure?

According to yesterday’s Guardian, the total donations received by all the political parties in the UK during the May 7, General Elections amounted to £100 million ($150 million), the biggest ever. Yet, in poor Ghana, a president donated $$66.9 million to one political party and Ghana cannot even provide regular supply of electricity for her citizens and for development. Where are the nation’s priorities?

If Katakyie’s allegations are true, one wonders how much previous leaders amassed whilst in office and how much the present leaders are accumulating or stealing?

One side of me does not want to believe the figures but the other side would appreciate if Ex-President Kufuor and Nana Akufo-Addo could do themselves as well as Ghanaians a big favour and respond these serious and damaging allegations. They should confirm or deny the donations and the amounts involved. Simply put, did Ex-President Kufuor donate $60 million to Nana Akufo-Addo in 2008 and GHc6.9 million to 230 parliamentary candidates? The confirmation or denial will enable the public and other interested parties including donors to further probe the source/s of the donations. Otherwise, there would be doubt in some minds on the integrity of the Ex-President Kufour, bearing in mind the numerous but unproven allegations of corruption against him and his government.

Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK