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Opinions of Monday, 9 August 2010

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Kufuor Continues to Campaign for Atta-Mills and NDC

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

He is quite wise enough not to have taken the bait when recently during a continent-wide conference of African journalists at which he was the honored guest, former President John Agyekum-Kufuor refused to pass any judgment on the year-and-half-old Atta-Mills government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) (See “I Won’t Judge Mills – Kufuor” 7/13/10). “That exercise,” diplomatically opined the two-term president of Ghana, “is disruptive. It does not take the country anywhere. All it will succeed to do is to score cheap political points. Ghanaians, as a whole will be the judge after his term.”
In reality, such seemingly reticent statesmanship is a pedestrian presidential routine that is pro-forma in the United States, a country that Mr. Kufuor has visited more than almost any postcolonial Ghanaian ruler, with the possible exception of former President Jeremiah John Rawlings. For the latter, this is quite a paradoxical oddity to notch, being that Mr. Rawlings spent most of his “revolutionary years” as Ghana’s strongman incessantly and immitigably lambasting the United States for being an exploitive capitalist juggernaut of apocalyptically unprecedented proportions. For Mr. Kufuor, however, America is simply a natural fit, an ideal milieu, and one that calls for the kind of flamboyant and overtly profligate leadership that his tenure was quite notorious for, even if one also readily acknowledges the fact of his tenure having been arguably the most productive eight years in recent Ghanaian political history.
Still, there is absolutely nothing remarkably statesmanlike about the man in the way that one could readily and unreservedly describe Drs. Danquah and Busia as perhaps the greatest Ghanaian statesmen of the twentieth century. In hindsight, and in all likelihood, this reverential aspect of both men had quite a lot to do with the fact that they were also unarguably the finest scholars of their respective generations.
Indeed, really nothing remarkably statesmanlike about Mr. Kufuor who, having tasted power and found it to be pleasurably intoxicating, particularly the social and lighter aspect of it, has lately taken to both doggedly and dogmatically pushing for a 5-year presidential tenure and, unmistakably implicit in the foregoing, an automatic two-term presidency as a constitutional mandate. He has yet to say anything remarkable about legislative tenure, and so one can almost safely presume that the former deputy parliamentary minority leader in Ghana’s Third Republic has the same recipe, as it were, for our largely boondoggle of a National Assembly. On second thoughts, however, one is tempted to conclude that such “legislative” silence may likely have more to do with the smug and debonair personality of the man.
Such smugness has lately assumed a dire edge that may not augur well for the future development of Ghanaian politics, particularly his implicit and facile presumption that just about any government that gets voted into the seat of sovereign authority is just as good as the one that preceded it, irrespective of existing fundamental ideological differences and the peculiar method by which each ideological camp or political party sets about the sacred business of governance and policy implementation.
While, indeed, it is his unquestionable prerogative to either criticize or not criticize his successor who, by the way, has had occasion recently to seriously question the much-commended performance of the Kufuor administration (2000-2008), it is also worthwhile to observe, even if only in passing, that a day or two before his decision to defer judgment to posterity, President Kufuor was widely reported to have taken receipt of a two-bedroom government-owned bungalow located in the posh and high-end Cantoments section of Accra (See “Mills Gives Kufuor 2-Room House” 7/12/10). The latter is supposed to be part of a constitutional stipulation bordering on presidential gratuity – this part, we are told, enjoins that the Atta-Mills government provide space, as well as housing for the recently retired president who, by the way, owns one of the biggest and most impressive edifices in Ghana, and one that is conveniently located near the Kotoka International Airport, the only one of its kind in the country.
You see, what I am driving at is the fact that wanton political exploitation appears to be the defining essence of Ghana’s Fourth-Republican constitution. This may well have emboldened those 12 leading members of the ruling National Democratic Congress to have their palms literally and shamelessly “greased” by the South Korean construction firm called STX in a legitimate contractual agreement on housing with the Atta-Mills government that would have caused Ghana’s bilking to the humongous tune of $ 6 billion over a 5-year period.
And, to be certain, nobody can blame the Koreans for deftly attempting to take advantage of a people who have exhibited all the clinical symptoms of the abjectly self-alienated and self-hating, petty-minded and plain obtuse! And now we have Mr. Albert Abongo, Ghana’s former minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing defending such “palm-greasing” as a fortuitous act of classic diplomatic protocol. Walahi!

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and the author of 21 books, including “African Politics Today” (Atumpan Publications/, 2008). E-mail: