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Opinions of Saturday, 16 July 2011

Columnist: Abubakar, Shuk

Kufour’s mythology and the lies fed to Ghanaians

During Kufour's presidency, Ghana went from a nation fighting off corruption and drug dealing to a nation of drug peddling politicians and marked a take-off to free for all corruption.


As things stand today, Ghana under president Mills in just over three years is on successful course towards zero tolerance to drug dealing; also, the war against corruption, waste and mismanagement could be won by the end of president Mills first term. In contrast, just four years ago, President Kufour had capitulated to extreme pressure from several drug dealing politicians in his government to make it easy for narcotic drugs to pass through our airports and harbours with ease and without credible checks.
It had been reported that during Kufour’s time as our president, to complain about Corruption or drug peddling is a crime.
In fact, the only foreign policy Ghana ever had under ex-president Kufour and headed by Akufo Addo who was the then foreign minister was to hand over Ghanaian Diplomatic Passports to all sorts of characters to aid them in drug peddling. The only prosecutions under Kufour’s presidency again with Akufo Addo as the Attorney General and minister of Justice were the politically motivated prosecution of opponents, whilst NPP supporting drug dealers enjoyed the unshakable protection of then Attorney General, Akufo Addo.
Kufour was deeply mired in corruption with some leading members in his cabinet and party openly involved in the narcotic drug trade. Kufour’s government represented the personification of cronyism, typifying all that is wrong with the NPP administration.
Kufour’s Hall of Shame
There was the ‘Hotel Kufour’ corruption scandal involving Kufour’s Son;
The international scandal of 62 kilograms of heroin bust in USA that led to the arrest of Eric Amoateng then a NPP MP - when the USA anti-drug authorities arrested the NPP MP, Kufour’s government dispatched their emissary Akufo Addo then the foreign minister to USA the next day to get him release by claiming diplomatic immunity for the former Member of Parliament;
Then we had the cronyism of Kufour’s Ministers either stealing government property or housing their brother and extended families in official government properties at the expense of the state. We all know how Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, now the National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party was caught with his pants down stealing state bungalow under the directive of his mentor ex-President Kufuor;
We have the misconduct involving Alhaji Moctar Musah Bamba, former MP and former Deputy Minister for Presidential Affairs who co-floated a company called ‘Emirates Investments Limited’ that used Presidential letterheads to guarantee private loans. Bamba was never prosecuted for this. Unsurprisingly, Bamba is now the National Organizer of NPP and a member of Akufo Addo’s election team
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) found ex-Minister and adulterer Richard Anane liable for perjury, abuse of office and conflict of interest in his relationship with one Alexandra O'Brien, an American. I am aware he was cleared over ‘technicality in the CHRAJ investigation’ and not over the substance of the allegation. Kufuor shamelessly refused to withdrawn this adulterer’s ministerial nomination when the scandal was disclosed at the Parliamentary vetting committee, the only right thing any responsible upright leader would. This clearly proved the NPP as a government was only interested in selective prosecution of NDC functionaries.
These corruptions and rampant cronyisms are tips of the iceberg under Kufour and his NPP ruling class who were completely divorced both from reality, and the history of how one of Ghana’s greatest president steps in to save the country from the brink uncontrolled corruption, drug dealing and mismanagement under ex-president Hilla Limann three decades ago.
The mythology of Kufour was propagated by the NPP to deceive Ghanaians in a feeble attempt to make their party look good. In fact the NPP misinformation machine have entirely forgotten the real history of how ex-president Rawlings with the support of ordinary Ghanaian citizens, Students and youth activist mobilised to save Ghana from itself. The entire NPP political establishment is instead hypnotised by the false history woven around its most over-hyped president of all time: John Agyekum Kufour. Because of this hypnotism, the NPP political establishment has barely even begun to notice the massive corruption and mismanagements presided over by the NPP under Kufour.
Kufour's supposed 2011 World Food Prize Award has propels the now widespread myopic belief that, his corrupt government led a drastic reduction of hunger and poverty in Ghana. At the same time, idolatry of Kufour's supposed political wonders propels NPP extremists to ignore all other factual considerations.
In anything close to a sane world, these reasonable suspicions of corruption and a drug conviction of a Member of Parliament from the NPP close to Kufour and Akufo Addo would have made Kufour one of the most despised leaders of all time. But we do not live in a sane world, and the idolatry of Kufour is one of the principle reasons why. This is why I will like to review some of the principle lies involved with Kufour's record, focusing specifically on drug dealing, corruption and economic mismanagement. What follows is but a brief rundown.

Drug peddling Under Kufour – the evidence from Wikileaks
Specifically, a declassified US state department cables from the whistle-blowing group, Wikileaks reports of how UK's anti-drugs fight in Ghana under Kufour and his NPP government was 'beset by corruption'. In a report by the UK Guardian newspaper, US diplomats claim corruption in Ghana under Kufour has ruined costly UK-funded anti-drugs smuggling operation. The report stated that “A British operation to stem the flow of cocaine through Ghana during the NPP regime has been beset by corruption, with local drug police sabotaging expensive scanning equipment and tipping off smugglers to avoid detection, leaked US embassy cables reveal.”
The Wikileaks cables also “reveals a deep crisis in the bilateral operation against wholesale drug trafficking into the UK through an airport which has become one of the main transit hubs for South American drug cartels after the authorities successfully blocked routes from the Caribbean.” All under the pretend ‘watchful’ eyes of ex-president Kufour and his NPP government.
According to the cables, Ghanaian narcotics control board (Nacob) officers under the NPP government working with British officials:
• Actively helped traffickers, even calling the criminals on their mobile phones to tell them when to travel to avoid detection.
• Sabotaged sensitive drug scanners provided to the Ghanaian government.
• Channeled passengers including pastors and bank managers and their wives, into the security-exempt VVIP lounge despite suspicions they were trafficking drugs.
Smuggling has become so blatant under the NPP that on one flight , two traffickers vomited drugs they had swallowed and subsequently died, while parcels of cocaine were found taped under the seats of a KLM plane even before boarding.
US Embassy contacts in the Ghana police service and in then president Kufour's office "have said they know the identities of the major barons, but "the government of Kufour does not have the political will to go after [them]", a December 2007 cable said.
In fact drug smuggling during the NPP administration under Kufour was so rampant that, a UK official overseeing anti-drug operation in Ghana (operation Westbridge) had observed Nacob agents at the airport directing passengers away from flights receiving extra scrutiny. A cable from the US embassy in Accra revealed in August 2008 that, “On one occasion, [the official] returned unexpectedly to the airport at 4am to screen a flight. An arrested trafficker told the UK official that the trafficker had been told that Westbridge was not operating that night. A test by Westbridge officials of the mobile phone sim card of a trafficker found the phone numbers of senior Nacob officials."
In many ways, president Mills could not be more different from Drug baron Kufour and his NPP government; the US cable had nothing but praise for president Mills and his NDC government. In one of the cables, a Roland O'Hagan, the British head of Operation Westbridge, told the US embassy: "President Mills had expressed interest in acquiring itemisers [portable screening devices] for the presidential suite at the airport in order to screen his entourage for drugs before boarding any departing flight."
Here we have a president, the most powerful man in the country, and yet, so honest, so humble, so dedicated and so committed to fighting drug dealing that, he is ready to subject the presidential suite to drug inspection. Don’t we all wish Kufour is half the Man Mills is? Don’t we all wish Kufour had shown half the dedication and determination to fighting the menace of drug dealing that president Mills is currently showing?

The idea that Kufour presided over a uniquely booming economy is false
First, Kufour's record on the economy was not just exaggerated by his boosters; it's almost exactly the opposite of what they claim. It was a fairly ordinary growth by the most common measurements of economic growth, looking good only in comparison with the government of Acheampong and Afrifa. But once you start looking beneath the surface even the tiniest bit, the truth begins to unravel and the picture turns very dark indeed.
In terms of the most basic measure of economic growth - increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). If we look at Kufour’s last three years as president (this is the time when Kufour should have ‘settled in’ after 5 year honeymoon period), and compare them with president Mills’ three years as a ‘rocky’ president, Kufour comes in dead bottom. Using data from IMF, and the World bank, Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product increased from about 20.4 billion dollars to about 28.5 billion dollars during Kufour’s last three years (an increase of $8.1 billion dollars), compare with president Mills’ first three years and despite the difficulties of sorting the mess left by Kufour, Ghana’s GDP increased from 28.5 billion dollars in 2008 to the current IMF forecast of 37.5 billion dollars in 2011 an increase of $9 billion dollars.
Again when we look at a different measure of economic growth – increase in GDP Purchasing Power Parity (GDP PPP). From the recent data on Ghana’s economic indicators by IMF and World Bank during the same period, Kufour again comes in dead bottom. Under Kufour Ghana’s GDP PPP (US$bn) increase from 45.3 to 55.0 (an increase of 9.7), compare with Mills, the GDP PPP (US$bn) increase from 55.0 left by Kufour to 62.0 in 2010 and is forecast by IMF to reach 71.2 by the end of 2011 (an increase of 16.2). Again, when we look at the rate of inflation in Ghana during the same period, Kufour again comes in dead bottom. Under Kufour, the rate of inflation in Ghana, increase from 10.2% in 2006 to a mind blowing 16.5 %, compare with Mills’ records, the rate of inflation decrease from 16.5% in 2008 left by Kufour to 10.7% in 2010 and is forecast by the IMF to decrease to 8.7% by the end of 2011.

The idea that Kufour brought prosperity is true only for drug dealers, his children and those at the top, not for average Ghanaian workers
If you examine incomes disparity of real ordinary workers in Ghana under Kufour, you will discover that, Kufour’s eight years marked a real take-off for inequality, while average salary for Teachers, Doctors and other civil servant stagnated. The only income growth under Kufour is to drug barons, his family and his ministers. We have all watch with frustration how Kufour’s Sons became billions within 6 months of his presidency. One of his Sons leeched the country with suspicious business deals, such as the multibillion dollar ghost deal to supply electrical meters to VRA. Thanks to his father’s position, the young Kufour is a billion now. The other Son is now infamous for acquiring a billion dollar hotel under suspicious circumstance all with the support of their so called ‘gentle president’.
The sad thing about how Kufour’s Son acquired funding for the ‘Hotel Kufour’ was that, the fraudulently misappropriate funding used to financed the hotel’s acquisition was originally meant to be used as credit facilities to farmers in Africa by the Africa Development Bank. Thanks to their president father abusing his oath of office, these children once upon a time struggling to survive like most Ghanaians are now enjoying a luxurious lifestyle most ordinary Ghanaians can only dream of. Quite ironic that a man who used his position to divert credit facilities designed for poor struggling farmers in Ghana and Africa is now a winner of 2011 World Food Award. I personally will not be surprise if the awarding panel includes someone kufour and his government lobbied for to gain appointment there.
Summing Up
Kufour was a disaster for the Ghanaian economy.

Surveying all these lies in a single panorama, it should be clear that neither Kufour's economic record nor his political ones should provide any case at all for embracing the NPP or Akufo Addo. Quite the opposite: They clearly point to failure on both counts. What's more, the only reason his mythology is possible at all is because he won a 2011 World Food Award.

One thing about Kufour is true, however: He never trust the leadership ability of Akufo Addo to agree to play a significant role in last election or the next one. Perhaps Kufour is Ghana’s last and best hope. Perhaps he can show us what a lame, incompetent and myopic president Akufo Addo will be thus far most Ghanaians cannot.

Writer
Shuk Abubakar
(Student of Educational Planning)
Institute of Education
s.abubakar@ioe.ac.uk