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Opinions of Thursday, 25 August 2005

Columnist: Asenso-Boakye, Francis

Nana Akufo-Addo -- A President in the Making

I read with a great deal of enthusiasm the open letter written by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Ghana's erudite Foreign Minister and the Member of Parliament for Abuakwa in response to an apparent call on him to declare his presidential ambitions. In a typical Dr. J B Dankwa style (of writing letters) Nana Addo, not only demonstrated his political maturity and astuteness, but he also clearly articulated the need for all patriots of the Dankwa-Busia Tradition - the mother of our great party the New Patriotic Party (NPP) - to rally behind the Kufuor administration as they go through trying times. Trying times because (as they have always done) the Kufuor administration has made a policy decision on petroleum price increases in spite of its political consequences. Much as this increase in fuel prices have a corresponding effect on prices of other commodities, it is still the most reasonable decision under the circumstance to ensure a sustained economic growth and development. Today, oil price hikes (a record high) is adversely affecting almost every nation even economic giants such as the USA. That is why President George Bush recently called on the "Saudi Chief" to increase oil production so the oil price could go down. In fact, oil price hike is a global problem, and what is happening in Ghana is not an exception.

Unfortunately however, the opposition NDC has succeeded in making political capital out of this external effect on our economy. They have resorted to demonstrations and press conferences falsely castigating the government without offering any policy alternatives. The essence of opposition in democratic governance is not to arbitrarily reject anything the ruling government does, but to offer constructive criticisms and policy alternatives - something the NDC have failed to do so far. I remember very well when the NPP were in opposition, they used to present their policy alternatives such as alternative budget statements. It is only in this way that Ghanaians can decipher which party has the best policy solutions to our social and economic problems. Instead, the NDC have resorted to what I will call arbitral rejection of anything that Government does. They have opposed every government policy or initiative such as national health insurance, national reconciliation and the ?national representation voting bill?

Indeed, the NDC have been able to successfully prepare the minds of some Ghanaians that the government is not performing, and this I believe is what Nana Addo wants the patriots of our great tradition to address. Nana Addo's admonition to party patriots that we concentrate on building a kufuor legacy is perhaps the smartest and the most selfless thing to do by someone widely seen as the natural successor to President Kufuor. Nana?s advice that all hands must be on deck so as to be able to successfully implement the NPP Project - the development of our society in freedom ? is selfless and patriotic.

I have followed the exploits of Nana Addo since 1992 when our great party was formed out of the Dankwa-Busia Club - a club of activists who believed in maximizing the potentials of individuals for the creation of wealth in freedom (property owning democracy.) Nana's commitment to this cause is total and unquestionable as he has actively championed this cause even in his college days. Nana argues that if Ghana had adopted the property owning democracy right from independence, Ghana will have been much better off compared to the likes of Malaysia and Singapore. In one of his speeches at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology when I was a student, Nana brilliantly stated that when it was not fashionable to state unpopular causes, the forefathers of our party openly advocated for liberal economic and political systems, and today they stand vindicated with the collapse of communist states and success of liberal democratic and economics states like the United States.

Nana has held a number of positions in the party ever since it was formed. As one of the finest legal brains of our party, and indeed our dear country, Nana has always put his legal expertise at the service of the party. In one of his famous legal representations for the party, Nana successfully used the court to get GBC to give political parties equal media coverage on its networks. His generous financial contributions to the party earned him the title the ?Ross Perot? of Ghana's politics by some section of the media. Nana commitment to Ghana?s development is outstanding. Although he grew up and studied in England, Nana returned to Ghana after his studies to contribute his quota to national development unlike many Ghanaians who stayed and enjoyed greener pastures. In the late 1970s he was a strong critic of Acheampong Union Government idea. In fact, he was a founding member and secretary to the People?s Movement for Freedom and Justice (MFJ) ? a lead organization that vehemently opposed the union government. In 1995, when the NDC government hurriedly changed Ghana's Consumption Tax System from the Sales Tax to a Value-Added Tax regime with an arbitrary rate of 15% - the highest in the sub-region at that time, Nana Addo led the Alliance For Change (AFC) together with the likes of Dr Nyaho Tamakloe, Dr Wereko-Brobbey, Victor Newman, Akoto Ampaw, Kwesi Pratt Jnr and Kweku Baako Jnr to effectively campaign for the abolishing of the VAT on until such time the then government could provide more education on the new tax system.

In 1998, he contested for the party?s presidential candidature and lost to J. A. Kufuor. As of now, Nana remains the only presidential aspirant of the party after J. A Kufuor, who after losing the presidential primaries actively campaigned for the party and its presidential candidate through out the campaign period. In the 2000 and 2004 elections, Nana was the lead speaker in all the national rallies and he always speak to the admiration of all and sundry. His fluency in Twi, Ga and the English language is always a plus for the party. Since 2001 he has been a very important cabinet minister of the Kufuor administration, having served as the Attorney General and Minster of Justice and now Ghana?s Foreign Minister. Since he left the Attorney General?s Department the government has not won a single case in its prosecution of corrupt former government officials. His stay at the Attorney General?s Department was quite eventful and the government could not have had a better person there at that time. As the Minister for Foreign Affairs Nana has been an articulate spokesperson for the country on international issues. He has led several delegations of African foreign ministers to the United Nations, the European Union and the United States.

As the year 2008 is fast approaching, many names are coming up as potential successor to the gentle giant, J.A. Kufuor. These names include, but not limited to, Paapa Owusu Ankomah, Dr. K.K. Apraku, Alan Kyeremateng, Alhaji Aliu Mahama. Supporters of these potential aspirants are in diverse ways campaigning seriously for them even though we have two more years for the presidential primaries as per the constitution of the party. Indeed, there are a lot of competent people in the party who can succeed president Kufuor, but I dare say none of these potential aspirants can match Nana?s credentials.

We have reached a stage in our democratic efforts where corruption remains a stumbling block to our nation development. We need a strong president who will have absolute control over his ministers and other appointees. His opponents argue he is arrogant, a position I strongly disagree. Nana is humbly, but very firm strong and self-confident. Even his political allies know very well they cannot do any corrupt practices under his watch as president. He commands tremendous respect not only from members of the NPP, but members of other parties and the media as well. Nana is one of the few lawyers with economist brains and as such has good appreciation of the needs of our dear nation. He remains one of the few ministers in Kufuor administration who have managed to escape the hostile media attention and coverage. He has so far discharged his duties as a cabinet minister to the admiration of the President. In fact, Nana is a President in the Making.



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