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Opinions of Sunday, 5 October 2014

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Mr. Kufuor is right on Busia - Part 1

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

Garden City, New York

Oct. 2, 2014


Recently, former President John Agyekum-Kufuor came under a torrent of attacks when he aptly observed that had the private enterprise-oriented Busia-led Progress Party (PP) administration been allowed to carry out its policies to full-term, Ghana may well have become a global cynosure and/or model of economic development for the rest of the African continent (See "Kufuor: Busia Would've Made Ghana a 'Fantastic' Nation" 10/1/14).

One Volta Alliance propagandist promptly took the former Progress Party deputy minister to task by snortingly asserting that Mr. Agyekum-Kufuor had lied through his teeth. The quite notorious critic then proceeded to list a catalogue of what he considered to be the irredeemable faux-pas of Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia. As usual, the list was a predictable mixture of bunk and chicanery. About the only credit that this inveterate enemy of the members, supporters and sympathizers of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) would allow the erstwhile Progress Party government was the critical sector of rural development. But even on the latter score, the critic either deliberately or out of sheer ignorance failed to mention a single rural development project undertaken by Prime Minister Busia to buttress his claim.

And so one was left wondering whether the critic had not simply and indiscriminately assembled a hodgepodge of web-based anti-Busia bullet-pointed negatives and simply cut and pasted them to make it seem as if he had meticulously researched the same. What fascinated yours truly, though, was the critic's boorish carping of Dr. Busia for wisely and realistically demanding that university and tertiary academy students pay for the cost of their room and board. Well, even as New Yorkers are wont to say: There are absolutely no free lunches anywhere in the world.

The implication on the part of the critic was that, somehow, the Oxbridge-educated Prime Minister Busia had committed a heinous crime against Ghanaian humanity. Indeed, that Busia anticipated the imperative need to ease the burden of the humongous cost of higher education on the government, in order to financially strengthen the quality of primary and secondary education in the country, did not seem to have occurred to the invariably hip-shooting critic. 

Needless to say, today it is this foresighted Busia policy that has become the unquestionable norm in the flagship public academies of the country. But, of course, there is absolutely no need to credit this most innovative and foresighted of postcolonial Ghanaian leaders because by enforcing his Aliens' Compliance Order, Busia, somehow, had viciously prevented Ghanaians from becoming expatriate economic parasites on President Shehu Shagari's Nigeria.

Maybe it also needs to be better explained to these brazen political sophomores that the Aliens' Compliance Order was not Nigeria-specific or targeted; rather, it was enacted and implemented as a savvy means of tracking non-Ghanaian residents of the country a remarkable number of whose antisocial activities were making the country increasingly ungovernable and its general quality-of-life status patently unsavory. What is more, the policy sought to deliberately educate undocumented aliens on the need to regularize their residency and, where applicable, their citizenship status. 

That compliance with this law had been taken for granted by those who needed it the most, assuming they were well-intentioned and diligent members of Ghanaian society, attests more to the general laxity of many an African to the cultural norms and mores of the postcolonial modern nation-state, than any callously calculated act of mischief on the part of either Prime Minister Busia or the Progress Party.

If, indeed, the massive deportation of Ghanaians resident in Nigeria by the Shagari government was in direct retaliation of Prime Minister Busia's Aliens' Compliance Order, then, of course, the Nigerian version was the more invidiously arbitrary in both conception and execution. I also do not fathom that Mr. Shagari and his cohorts, and Nigeria at large, remarkably benefited from OPERATION GHANA MUST GO! And, by the way, I own at least a half dozen of those souvenir make-shift Nigerian-made suitcases; and I enjoy logging them around proudly as badges of honor from time to time....

And hell, no! I never went to Agege; neither do I fathom myself venturing thither anytime soon.

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