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Opinions of Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Columnist: Asenso-Boakye, Francis

RE: The Man Akufo-Addo

I write in response to an article by one Mr.Yirenkyi Apaw which was posted on ghanaweb.com on Wednesday, October 24, 2007. I initially wanted to ignore it, but realized as a true party man, I’ve a duty to defend and protect our party from any cynic and divisive actions from our detractors.

Mr. Apaw claims to be a party elder but has gone ahead and written very disparaging remarks about a man widely perceived as the embodiment of the Danquah-Busia Tradition. It’s clear from Mr. Apaw article that he has a bone to pick with Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, NPP Presidential Aspirant and as such has sought to destroy him.

It’s not true that Nana Addo started his presidential bid “just after losing to then Presidential Candidate J. A. Kufour”. On the contrary, he’s one of the aspirants who started their campaigns rather late. In fact, he spent more days outside the country as Foreign Minister, and that is why many thought he’s not doing enough for his own campaign. His focus, since he the party came to power, was to contribute his quota to ensure that the Kufuor administration was successful. He’s always argued that the next NPP leader can only win the 2008 elections on the record of President Kufuor.

To use his own words: “The most effective foundation for a successful tilt at the presidency by an NPP candidate in 2008 will be the good performance of the Kufuor government between now and then, lf the government delivers on its promise of improving the social and economic conditions of the mass of our people, which it can, the work of the candidate would be considerably lightened”. As the government’s first Attorney General, he personally wrote the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law and the National Reconciliation Bill, two of the government’s landmark initiates that will stay with Ghanaians for years.

He also masterminded Ghana’s Legal System Reforms that resulted in the establishment of Fast Track Courts in the country. Mr. Apaw’s assertion that that President Kufuor moved Nana Addo from the Ministry of Justice to the Foreign Ministry because of his “misjudgments of issues” is a blatant lie which must be treated with contempt. He still remains the best Attorney General in the NPP government, and one of the best since independence. His tenure as Attorney General was quite eventful and the government could not have had a better person there.

He became Foreign Minister at a time President Kufuor needed a true democrat and diplomat to articulate Ghana’s democratic and market economy credentials to the world. He executed this job with dexterity, and as a result, Ghana’s image assumed prominence in the international community. The very successful AU Summit in Accra, Ghana’s elevation as President of UN Security Council in August, 2006, the peace accord in Liberia, Guinea Bissau and Ivory Coast are some of his achievements in the Foreign Ministry. As President of the UN Security Council, He chaired the council’s deliberations and read the UN resolutions on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.

Mr. Apaw said “Akufo Addo has spent huge sums of money on his campaign. This includes assisting some National Officers and some aspiring MPs all in the hope of winning more friends to his side”. Of course he will spend huge sum of money since he’s embarking on a countrywide campaign tour; that is normal with all the aspirants, irrespective of which political party none belongs to. However, if Nana had sponsored party officials in their elections, this race would be a smooth sailing for him. He’s often been accused of disbanding his support base in the party after the 1998 NPP Presidential Primaries. But Nana has always argued that his actions and inactions, in that regard, were necessary to ensure a healthy internal unity and harmony.

Again, it’s not true he wants to be president by hook or crook. By contesting in this election, he’s only exercising his democratic right guaranteed by our party’s constitution. Nana is a true democrat and understands that it’s only true competitive selection process that one can get the best from the lot. So, it’s therefore not true that Nana Addo is fighting his opponents in this race. Just recently, he visited Alhaji Aliu Mahama to celebrate the Ramadan with him. Mr Apaw failed to articulate in his article why Nana Addo’s eventual nomination will, as he puts it, “cause injury to the party”.

As part of his campaign message, Nana has extolled his contribution to the party as its first National Organizer. He’s been compelled to say so, because he’s in a contest and as such has to articulate his credential to the delegates. As a foot soldier he toured most towns and villages in the country propagating the message of development in freedom to the good people of Ghana. Last year when he paid a courtesy call on the regent of Dagbon (son of the late Yaa Na), Nana said that was his twentieth visit to Dagbon.

This demonstrates how elaborate his service to the party is. This notwithstanding, he does not claim he did all the work, as Mr. Apaw falsely claims. NPP is a mass party, and the collective contribution of its members makes the party thick. It’s worth noting, however, that some party members have made some significant contribution to our collective cause. Recently, Hon. Hackman Owusu Agyemang was quoted as saying that he’s the single largest contributor to the NPP. He had to say this because he’s in a contest!!

Interestingly, Mr. Apaw halfheartedly admits that “No one can dispute Nana Addo’s contribution to the NPP; by all intents and purposes he is a huge asset to the NPP. And every political party will love to have Nana Addo in his party”. So why is Mr. Apaw flip-flopping on an issue that even a day-old baby can figure it out? The Akans say: se wotan okoduo a, na wayi n’amirika!!!!!!!!!!!.

Mr. Apaw exhibited a great deal of pettiness and myopia in his article when he likened Nana Addo’s popularity to that of Super O.D. Maame Dokono and other comedians. These comedians, he mentioned are indeed popular, and they are because of what they do best – entertainment. Nana Addo is popular not because of entertainment, but because of what he does – politics.

It’s instructive to note, however, that name recognition is very important in any elections. Even in America, politicians like Ron Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger had made their name in entertainment and that greatly helped in their elections. Nana Addo remains the most popular Ghanaian politician after President Kufuor and his successor Mr. Rawlings. You don’t have to like him to accept this fact! He has always been the lead speaker in all of the party’s national rallies and he’s always a delight to listen to. In1998, at the Sunyani, the then J. A. Kufuor used his widely known name as the raison d'être for his re-election. For me, Nana Addo universal popularity should be the defining line between him and the other aspirants, bearing in mind the individual capabilities.

To say that a former Foreign Minister does not have the credentials to be president is to say that an ex-football star does not have the credentials to be coach; based on an irrational premise! If there’s a particular ministry that President Kufuor is very much interested in, that must be the Foreign Ministry. Readers will recall that at age 30, President Kufuor became the Deputy Foreign Minister, and until he was chosen as that party’s flagbearer, he had served as its spokesman on Foreign Affairs, since 1979. This acknowledges the fact that President Kufour will not appoint anybody at all to that position.

Recently, at the Arts Center in Accra addressing a highly packed party executives, Nana Addo jokingly said (in an apparent response to some other aspirants who argue that the party should elect a youthful candidate) that if you want to “evaluate” how youthful a man is, you consult the women. This humorous statement was received with applause from the delegates. Nana Addo has a good sense of humor, and if this is what Mr. Apaw wants to misconstrue as though Nana Addo said he likes women, then I tell him – the cat is out of the bag. Nana’s shaggy dog analogy was clear and as such the delegates will not get the wrong end of the stick.

Mr. Apaw’s article sought not only to create unnecessary disaffection for Nana Addo, but also damage our prospective presidential candidate, who will eventually assume the presidency. It takes the Good Lord to be president; but not Mr. Apaw, the self-acclaimed party elder!!!!!!!

Let’s pray for a smooth campaign season and successful primaries, “ahead of the big game”



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