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Opinions of Thursday, 24 November 2011

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

President Mills’ Leadership Caliber is Fourth-Class!

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

I don’t quite get the point that Deputy Information Minister Baba Jamal was trying to get across to the Ghanaian electorate, when he rather childishly and vacuously observed that whereas President John Evans Atta-Mills was awarded a first-class baccalaureate degree in law from the University of Ghana in 1967, in the same year, the presidential candidate of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) was awarded a third-class baccalaureate degree in economics (See “Mills’ First-Class Degree in Dispute” 11/5/11).

Maybe somebody ought to have pointed out the fact that the overwhelming majority of the foremost inventors and innovators in the twentieth century, as well as currently, either never attended any tertiary academies or were college dropouts – from Henry Ford, of Ford Motors legend, Bill gates to the recently deceased Steve Jobs, respectively, of Microsoft and Apple Computers fame.

What is also beyond dispute is the fact that his widely alleged first-class law degree from the University of Ghana did not prevent the then-Vice-President Mills from thoughtlessly giving away $ 20 million of the Ghanaian taxpayer’s money to an African-American welfare recipient woman from the State of Georgia, in the United States, in the infamous Juliet Cotton scandal. I have said time and again that for so criminally duping the land and people who afforded him the finest education that he could ever receive in any part of the world, the least recompense that Tarkwa-Atta ought to have been meted by our judicial system should have been at least ten years’ imprisonment with hard labor at Nsawam.

It thus came to those of us staunch believers in the country’s judicial system that the most criminally culpable vice-president in Ghana’s history would be so luridly rewarded with the highest office of the land. But that an equally criminally culpable President Jerry John Rawlings would adamantly back the man who committed the same crime for which the likes of Messrs. Acheampong and Akuffo were summarily executed, and to the ringing endorsement of a moiety of the Ghanaian electorate, is what has never quite ceased to boggle a conscientious mind like mine.

Well, now we are being told by a reliable Legon source in the person of Mr. Mike Ocquaye, Jr., that President Mills, after all, graduated in the top second-tier (or second-class upper) in law from the University of Ghana. Maybe somebody had better inform Akwatia-Baba that a second-class degree is still a second-class degree, be it upper or lower. And on the latter score, I know some SOB would be prompted to ask about my own undergraduate level of performance, and so let me quickly respond by saying that, indeed, Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., graduated Summa-cum-Laude, or First Class with Distinction, and was named a Ford Foundation Undergraduate Fellow (Scholar) and Phi Beta Kappa at the City College of the City University of New York. I, however, do not regret the fact that I had earlier on been summarily disqualified by the late Mr. Atiemo, headmaster of Prempeh College, from sitting for the “A”-Level examination, on the dubious grounds of having been absent from school with the West-Nile virus (or Encephalitis) for more than 180 days, as (supposedly) stipulated by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), even though I had also handily aced the “A”-Level mock exams given by my teachers at the same Otumfuo Osei Agyeman-Prempeh School.

I would privately register for the “A”-Level at Unicorn House and miserably flunk out, albeit productively end up teaching the most successful “O”-Level English, English Literature and History students in the annals of the Osu Presbyterian Secondary School (SENDO) between 1984 and 1985. As to how this examination-proven dumbo from PERSCO and Prempeh College could graduate one of the finest classes, and generations, of high school pupils remains a mystery which only “the African gods can unravel” (my profound apologies to Prof. Ola Rotimi).

You see, those of us who have fearlessly weathered the storm and executed the “coal-fire dance,” in Papua New Guinean parlance, fully appreciate the fact that his (allegedly) third-class Legon economics degree and all, nonetheless, Nana Akufo-Addo is unquestionably one of the foremost legal lights of his generation in Ghana. Of course, one can make a similar quite legitimate claim for Tarkwa-Atta on the academic and pedagogical side of the law. But that is about the extent of such comparison. Shoved into the practical legal arena to duke it out with the titans, a clearly gynecomastic Professor John Evans Atta-Mills waddles like a motherless and rudderless duckling.

*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 Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Ghanaian Politics Today” (, 2008). E-mail: ###