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Opinions of Friday, 3 July 2009

Columnist: Amoako-Attah, Alex

Kufour Must Be Stopped

The Ghanaweb story by the Chronicle on Sunday June 21, 09, titled: ‘Fireworks Set To Begin’, must give followers and supporters of the New Patriotic Party some worry. According to the Chronicle story, ex-President Kufour vehemently opposes the proposed expansion of the party’s Electoral College to give the party supporters, grassroots participation in the nomination of its candidates for parliament and the presidency. Furthermore, he is reported to be advocating the election of the party’s chairman by consensus; someone who will have the authority to select his/her own executives. To say the least these are, however, opposed by overwhelming majority of the party gurus who rightly view him with suspicion. Their suspicion of the ex-president is well placed. How can they forget the dubious role he played in the party’s last presidential primaries in 07?

This should be the time for sober reflection and self-evaluation and not acrimony, if we are to recapture the Castle in 2012. This should be the time for the party to close ranks and forge unity to counter the onslaught of the political machinations of the ruling National Democratic Congress. Failure to realize this will send us to the political doldrums for years to come. We should not delude ourselves, the NDC has every intention to disrupt, dismantle and destroy the NPP and it will do anything it can to entrench itself in perpetuity. The only threat in their quest for such a grand design is the New Patriotic Party.

It is therefore disheartening for the teeming supporters and members of the UP tradition around the globe to read that one man, Kufour, wants a strangle hold on the party even in retirement. After so many years in political wilderness, the NPP eventually had the chance to demonstrate to Ghanaians why this party should be given an unprecedented third term in office. Rather, Kufour oversaw a corrupt and arrogant administration that gave the perception that the NPP is a thieving party. When his officials were accused of malfeasance, Kufour, who promised the nation, zero tolerance for corruption, demanded evidence from the very people who gave him the mandate before he would act. Is it any wonder arrogance and impunity was tagged on the party for good effect by its detractors?

For a greater part of his two-term administration, armed robbery and the drug trade sky-rocketed yet Kufour will not lift a finger to stem the tide of the scourge of the drug trade and armed robbery and to salvage the image of Ghana . Ghanaians became prisoners in their own homes let alone to venture out late in the night. Armed robbers owned and roamed the streets even in the day time with impunity. I must admit that the drug trade was in full bloom before his administration took charge but the politician who campaigned on zero tolerance for corruption, should have made a difference. Kufour’s suffering of political paralysis against the drug trade coupled with Amoateng’s arrest and his subsequent imprisonment in the US, has erroneously tagged the UP tradition, as a drug party. The party that could boast of bold and noble men such as J. B.. Danquah, K. A. Busia, S. D. Dombo, Obitsebi Lamptey, B. A. Adama, S. G. Antoh, Yakubu Tali, the late Tolon Na, Kurankye Taylor, Jato Kaleo and many others, has been reduced to a "drug cartel" all under Kufour’s watch.

In an election year, he arrogantly ordered the procurement of two presidential jets while the nation was plunged in total darkness for months and ordinary water in Accra and its environs became a luxury. It is the same man who awarded himself a gold medal that cost the nation sixty six thousand pound Sterling in an election year. Such decisions and many others made the party very unpopular and this was of course, naturally exploited by the opposition and it gave birth to the querulous ‘I Care for you€ campaign embarked upon by then candidate Mills and his team. In an era that the wind of change, for whatever reasons were blowing over the globe, from Obama's historic campaign in America, Kufour failed to capitalize on the NPPs success story; failed to wow and energize the base and give them cause celebre to come out in the thousands to vote. The people never felt the fire in their belly to come out and vote in their own interests. Rather what they heard was the humiliating ring that they were lazy if for some reasons they found themselves out of luck, money and connections. How he failed to read the signs on the wall, that coming on the heels of high oil prices, a lot of the people, especially those on fixed income were going to feel the most of the economic contractions. How could he have forgotten that jobs are the last to pick up in any economic cycle and the 2007 high oil prices and the drought over the Volta lake was going to have delayed downward pull on jobs. By the time 2008 elections came around the suffering index in Ghana had reached very high, and the least one could say was to show empathy and understanding from your president, not an admonition of laziness. Who wouldn’t exploit such a political gift on a golden platter?

While the NPP was at a duel with the vicious NDC for the Castle/Jubilee House, the leader of the party, Kufour, was orbiting the earth for his own parochial interest honoring various awards bestowed on him in various capitals around the globe. Upon arrival in Accra , instead of leading the battle as a General, he chose to celebrate his birthday with invitation only to who is who, crème de la crème in Ghana . This is one of the reasons our party is tagged with elitism. Meanwhile, Rawlings was traveling the country whipping his party’s supporters into frenzy.

During the Party’s presidential primaries, Kufour who was supposed to be a father to all the Aspirants contesting the flag bearer position, chose to throw his immense political and financial weight behind Alan Kyeremateng.. This singular act, proved fatal to the aspiration of the Party from which it has never recovered. This ill-advised decision has, probably, caused an irreparable fragmentation within the party. Thanks to him, the Party now has Alan and Nana camps respectively. It is this reason and mainly the carving out of the ministerial cake that erroneously tagged NPP as an Akan party.

With the aforementioned reasons, why should the party allow him to dictate to the UP tradition, how best to elect its candidates or the structures to put in place? It should be crystal clear to all that this man is seeking his legacy and not the success of the Party. He wants to maintain his choke hold on the Party even in retirement. Hasn’t he caused enough heart-ache in the Party already? How long must we stay in the political wilderness due to his self-centeredness? He must be told that he is the cause of our defeat and suffering. And that we are not going to allow him to manipulate and dictate to us to suit his selfish and grandiose plans. He has served his time and must move on if he has nothing positive to offer the Party. This Party made him what he is today. Morality should not allow him to divide the Party; if he does, posterity will never forgive him.

He must be told that the Danquah/Busia tradition is not the bona fide property of anybody and it is not for sale. This tradition has no Founder and has no permanent leader and that the future of the Party belongs to the grassroots. This is the reason the Party’s Electoral College will be expanded. It must be explained to him that OMOV, One Man One Vote, the initiative of Chairman Kofi Boateng and his NPP-USA, is here to stay and that the status quo belongs to the past. The hawks and the hardliners should therefore rise up and take over the Party and tell him to leave the Party alone. Enough is enough.

ALEX AMOAKO-ATTAH NEW YORK

The author may be reached at alex_amoakoattah@yahoo.com