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Opinions of Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

Nana Akufo-Addo’s Anti-Corruption Promise: Can We Trust Him?

I read with mixed feelings, Nana Addo’s promise not to work with corrupt elements of his own party. I am thrilled that he has corruption on his radar. At least he admits that there are corrupt members in the party. That is a great start. Without admitting that the NPP has a challenge, it cannot be solved. That is not what Kufour said when confronted with the nagging problem of corruption within the NPP. Kufour taunted us to come up with evidence or go to the police. I would urge Nana not to limit his non-compliance to corruption policy to the NPP. Instead, he should brashly extend it to the whole country. If Nana wants to be president of Ghana, he must broaden his horizon and start looking at issues nationally instead of the typical parochial approach. I am glad Nana has the choice to serve in a political system. Can he say the same of Chieftaincy? Invest in building a viable and robust political system and leave the politics of chieftaincy alone Nana!

Nana, you don’t have to wait to be president to fight corruption. This idea of being helpless while in opposition is not acceptable. There are so many things you can do to help nibble at corruption. Start your anti-corruption crusade from within the NPP. This is critical because political parties have become the clearing house for would be leaders. Therefore, running a clean political party, if there is anything like that, helps to put in place anti-corruption leaders. As the leader of the NPP, ask the party to review its practices and help tighten some of the rules, procedures and processes that will put a dent in corruption. For example, you can commission a study to see how the NPP $25,000 dollar fine/fee for wanting to run for the presidency is forcing politicians to continue to be corrupt. Is it limiting leaders who are not ready to compromise their principles? If as you asserted, politics is not about money, then why this $25,000 fee? How many politicians do you think can honestly live on their salary and save $25,000 to run for the presidency? Charity begins at home and every journey starts with a first step Nana. Go for it Nana!!

You see Nana, a man’s word, can be judged by his past. It’s called credibility! When you were attorney general Nana, you had ample opportunity to put criminals and drug dealers in jail. What did you do Nana? Your detractors are saying that you failed miserably to act. What happened to the women from Dzorwolu? Don’t you at least owe us some explanation? I am reminded too that you were part of Kufour’s regime. Never once did you use your soap box or high perch to go after the corrupt elements in your party that you’ve now admitted to. Is it true that the true test of leadership is not where you stand in comfort but how you act when the stakes are high? Think MP P.C.Appiah-Ofori of the NPP who got fed up with the corruption and refused to run again. I guess you would never gain the opportunity to represent the NPP if you speak up against the bald face corruption that took place under Kufour! What happened to the cars and houses that were caught up in the Ghana@50 tsunami? Will you look into that when you come to power?

Nana, you talked about the need to have competent management instead of the poor management that we are used to. There is no denial that poor management occurs under every government. So why have you been hesitant in calling out the lapses that occurred under Kufour? MP P.C. Appiah-Ofori spoke up against some of the corrupt practices in the NPP party and he is now a persona non-grata! What was your position Nana, when Anane the health minister and friend of Kufour was exposed? Nana, you know some of the corrupt figures in the NPP that you currently cavort with. Jake Obetsebi Lamptey is a cardinal example. He used his office to finance the education of his children overseas, sold government land dubiously to the Mormons and then tried to hijack a government house. If we are to take your promise seriously, you must weed out these crooks from your party and campaign before you even get into power. If you can’t fight corruption within the NPP, what makes you think you can fight it nationwide? I don’t see why you have to wait till you get into power. I bet Jake will be a minister in your government! We shall see!

Nana, you talk about getting a good blend of competent folks from home and abroad. I agree whole heartedly. What I am wondering is whether this will be done along partisan and tribal lines? Will you hire people to serve Ghana solely on competency or other considerations like how much they contributed to your campaign? I say all this because when Kufour your hero came to power, the embassy in the USA asked for volunteers to submit their resumes. Some of us did and were willing to help pro-bono. Alan Kyeremanteng was the ambassador then and I personally met with him. I wanted to help my country. Nothing came of this effort. Many were disappointed and don’t even want to hear of any such overtures now. I am not an NPP man but I want to help regardless of who is in power. With that sour taste in my mouth, why would I take your promise seriously? Note that I am not asking you for a job. All I want to do is help Ghana not any party. I am an independent with no party affiliation. How will you deal with the rabidly independent Ghanaians who refuse to sign on to any party or join the tribal boogaloo?

Nana, I again love your penchant for education. I am a great fan of education. I will encourage you to focus on pre-school and early childhood education. If we lose our talent at that level, they won’t even make it to the senior high school level. We must make it possible for all kids in Ghana to learn regardless of their family’s situation. I hope you will lead the effort to make education compulsory and certainly a right. I will frankly like Ghana to make healthcare and education a right. I believe a healthy educated person has no reason not to work and make him or herself useful to the community. I would rather have an educated unemployed person than an uneducated unemployable individual. Let’s focus on getting the kids right at the toddler stage instead of waiting till senior secondary. Here I disagree with you on focus but I am sure we can work it out.

If the people of Ghana are kind enough to give you the privilege to lead, I hope you don’t follow this unfortunate gaffe that you effused. Please don’t tell me that you are going to go back to the gains of Kufour. Yes, there are some things that Kufour did that can be built on. However, what about Mills? Has he done one thing that you can improve on? Your continuity must start from Mills and not necessarily Kufour. We have to stop this partisan proclivity of discontinuing the activities of the other party entirely even if its working. It sets us back and cost the taxpayer inordinately. This is the same attitude that the Progress Party took when the NLC, an arm of the Danquah-Busia tradition, handed over power. The PP refused to continue some of the great stuff Nkrumah started. A clear example is Nkrumah’s education agenda. Look where we’ve ended. We have to mature to a point where we find redeeming qualities in our opponents. Start where we are now not where we were!!

Lastly, I find this language about Ghanaians expecting the NPP to come and save them a bit troubling. Ghanaians must save themselves. Ghanaians are not helpless. This notion that Ghanaians are weak and that it will take the NPP to save them is ridiculous and disabling. Politicians should watch what language they use. We must create an enabling political culture instead of a dependent one. Ghanaians must be told that they are their own saviors. They can change their situation and destiny anytime. They don’t need any one political party or the other to save them. They have the power and must use it wisely and when need be. So can we trust your promise Nana? Can we?

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman ( Also known as the Double Edge Sword)
I don’t give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think it is hell—Harry Truman