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Opinions of Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Columnist: Ata, Kofi

Has Nana Akufo-Addo given up 2016?

“Nana Akufo-Addo is currently in England and has been seen week in and week out at public functions, including attending events in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France during his stay out of Ghana. He is also using his period out of Ghana to work on a book he is proposing to launch in 2015”. This quote was contained in a statement issued by the office of Nana Akufo-Addo in response to false speculation that he had undergone heart surgery in London (see, “Nana Addo: I have not undergone heart surgery”, Ghanaweb, November 25, 2013). It is the second part of the above quote that may be of interest to both his supporters and opponents alike and it is the same that I wish to analyse in this brief article.

Since the Supreme Court (SC) verdict on the presidential petition on August 29, 2013, the immediate political future of Nana Akufo-Addo has become something of an enigma and almost an albatross hanging over the main opposition party, NPP. The party is divided into two camps of those who want Nana Akufo-Addo to contest the 2016 presidential election as candidate of the party for the third consecutive time and those who believe that, he had had his time, age is not his side and therefore time for a new face on the ballot paper. Those who support a third attempt are led by the current National Executive, particularly, the Chairman and General Secretary who openly pledged their support for a third attempt soon after the SC verdict.

The conundrum over whether Nana Akufo-Addo will contest for the presidency in 2016 has not been helped by part of the statement he issued in acceptance of the SC verdict within minutes of the ruling. “I am sure by now many people are wondering what I envisage for my political future. I intend to take some time out and get some rest, reflect and then announce whatever decision I come to”, (see, “I am taking time out from politics: Akufo-Addo”, Ghanaweb August 29, 2013). The failure by Nana Akufo-Addo to announce his political future or his retirement from frontline politics has fuelled speculation about his intentions since then.

When the Al-Hajj newspaper carried the headline, “Akufo-Addo Abandons Third Term Bid” on October 22, 2013, his nephew, Mr Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko poured cold water on it and indicated in a rejoinder that, Nana Akufo-Addo has not abandoned his ambition to become president of Ghana (see, “Re: Akufo-Addo abandons third term”, Ghanaweb, October 28, 2013). On the contrary, Gabby created the impression in his rejoinder that Nana Akufo-Addo is willing, prepared and ready to answer the call of the NPP faithful for the third time to lead them to the promised land. Gabby may be right if what is reported to have been posted by Nana Akufo-Addo on his Facebook wall is accurate (see, “Mahama’s government lacks focus: Ghanaians crying for NPP”, Ghanaweb November 26, 2013). This is not the language of a politician who is ready to hang his boots soon. Reading in between lines, the post is meant to keep him in the limelight and to remind Ghanaians that he is around and still relevant.

His stay in London was meant to be his rest, reflection and decision time. Though it appears from yesterday’s statement that he is been consulting his supporters in Europe and the US, his party and Ghanaians are yet to hear from him what his final decision is, regarding active politics in general but specifically, seeking his party’s flagbearship for the 2016 presidential election. I have no doubt he could easily win the NPP primaries if he decides to contest.

What caught my eye and made me suspect that perhaps, Nana Akufo-Addo has decided to bow out of active politics was the sentence, “he is also using his period out of Ghana to work on a book he is proposing to launch in 2015”. My suspicion is based on the fact that the book he is working on to be launched in 2015 could be his memoir. I say so because political memoirs are usually written after active politics or not when one is intending to seek contest a higher political office in the immediate future, though they are also written to further raise one’s profile at home and abroad and to raise funds for the future. On the other hand, if I am wrong and that Nana Akufo-Addo has no immediate plans to retire from active politics, but in fact, he plans to contest the 2016 presidency, then, could his impending book be a fund raising exercise for 2016 since he needs no marketing both at home and abroad?

If Nana Akufo-Addo will contest the 2016 presidential election, then his book launch in 2015 is ill-timed. Mid political career memoirs are not really fashionable unless as said, it is a prelude to something bigger. I do believe that a book by Nana Akufo-Addo will receive better patronage and could become an instant best seller if he is bowing out of frontline politics for good. However, if he will continue to be active in frontline Ghanaian politics and contest the presidency in 2016, then he should hold onto his memoir and wait till either after he wins the presidency and served his term/s or after a third failure. Whichever will be the case, a post Akufo-Addo presidency memoir or post third attempt failure will sell like hot dog and provide him with sufficient income for a comfortable retirement and for his generations to come, though the temptation to make quick and fast money from one now is strong, it does not make economic sense if he is not retiring.

Whatever the situation is, that is, whether Nana Akufo is retiring from frontline politics or not, launching a book or his memoir in 2015 will be eagerly expected in Ghana and beyond for a number reasons. There are very few memoirs by Ghanaian politicians. Part of the reasons could be the fact that most political leaders, including military ones do not live long and either die in exile or in poverty. We are still waiting for Ex-Presidents Rawlings and Kufuor to publish their memoirs. President Attah Mills, Vice-Presidents Arkaah and Aliu Mahama are no more and missed the opportunity to pen down their memoirs before their demise. I am not sure if the late Dr Hilla Liman wrote his memoir whilst alive.

Though President Mahama has a book to his name that was written before he ascended onto the throne, it is not a political memoir. Again, Mahama was not considered a political heavyweight until he became Vice-President, whilst Nana Akufo-Addo’s book, whether a final political memoir or mid career exposure will be first in contemporary Ghanaian politics for very good reasons. Nana Akufo-Addo’s political career is rich in history, grounded in a political dynasty, vibrant in political agitation and activism and chequered in controversy of disappointments and successes, which are exciting. Nonetheless, the question about Nana Akufo-Addo’s political future still remains unanswered. What does the revelation about an impending Akufo-Addo book launch tells us is a billion dollar question anxiously waiting to be answered?