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Opinions of Friday, 30 January 2009

Columnist: Amonu, Kofi

Stop Blaming Kufuor: Akufo-Addo Dug His Own Grave

Many writers have stated their views on why Nana Akufo-Addo lost the presidential election to Attah-Mills, but few are gutsy enough to say the truth. Writers like Daniel K. Pryce and Gabby Okyere Darko have given other reasons for Nana’s defeat but they are unwilling to admit that he is an underachiever because that, in effect, is suggestive that Nana may never become president. I disagree with Mr. Daniel K. Pryce when he says “Blame President Kufuor For Akufo-Addo’s Political Demise” because Daniel failed to see that Kufour provided the shovel but Akufo-Addo willingly dug his own grave. Nana was a high-ranking minister in the NPP government for seven year so to find the key to his demise we have to look at Nana himself. After all, going into the run-off, he had 49.13 percent of the votes against 47.92 percent for Atta-Mills so what on earth did Kufour do between December 28 and January 7 to cause Nana’s defeat?

Akufo-Ado has all the attributes of a president except the most relevant one – political accomplishments. Nana was born into a family of politicians (his father and President of the Second Republic Edward Akufo-Addo; his uncle Dr. J. B. Danquah and his great uncle William Ofori-Attah, both of whom contributed in the fight for independence) so he grew up knowing the intrigues of Ghanaian politics. In fact, Nana was groomed to be a politician with promise to rise and become president one day. He attended Achimota College and later read economics at Legon. To me, that was enough because, all things considered, I’d prefer an economist to a lawyer to be the president of Ghana. However, due to the universal misconception that lawyers make good presidents, Nana went to Britain and came back as a lawyer, all in an effort to boost the chance realizing his goal.

True to his aspirations, Nana played a part in UNIGOV and KUMEPREKO demonstrations which further drew notice to him as a person who believes in human rights. His aim for participating in the demonstration made him look like a person who cares about others but that is far from the truth. (I will explain why I say so in another article) He also played a key role in forming the NPP which, in every way, is a resurgence of the old NLM party that he was born into. First, there was the NLM which became the UP, which became the PP, which became the NPP. So, things seemed to be lining up for Nana in his hunt for high office – the backing of a strong party, long involvement in politics and a recognizable name, hence the NPP slogan “Yenim no fri tete” (we have known Nana for a long time).

Naturally, Nana ran for the NPP presidential nomination in 2000. He lost to Kufour but once the NPP came to power Kufour made him Minister of Justice and Attorney General, and later, the Foreign Affairs Minister. That is where I say Kufour gave him a shovel without suggestingn what to do with it. With the shovel, Nana could have built a pedestal for himself, but in the stead he chose to dig himself a deep grave.

Nana did not see the ministerial jobs as an opportunity to top off his political resume with accomplishments. Instead, he treated them as if they were positions for him just to wait for his turn to be president. The first task that he assigned to himself was to crush former President Rawlings whose NDC might threaten to his childhood dream. He stripped Rawlings of the privileges of a former president and banned him from entering military establishments with the view of restricting his ability to overthrow the NPP government, but little did he know that he was strengthening the resolve of Rawlings and his millions of supporters. Rawlings has always been an attention seeker who draws strength from the man in the street so pushing him to the street only makes the pusher look bad.

Akufo-Addo did his ministerial job lackadaisically because he believed that it was only a matter of time for him to be president and that the 2008 election was only a ritual. He caused numerous political blunders some of which I wrote about in a previous article called “Quite Frankly, Akufo Addo Is Unfit To Be President…And Kufour Seems To Know” (Ghanaweb (2008-06-26). In that article, I predicted, and I quote myself, that “When the dust settles, Akufo will points a finger at Kufour as the cause of him losing the race but Kufour will entirely be in the right to say Hey, Nana, I sacked ministers who were performing better than you”.

The plain truth is that Kufour and Akufo-Addo were using each other for their political gains at the expense of the NPP. Kufour knew that Akufo-Addo was an incompetent minister who deserved to be sacked, but given that he appeared to be in line for the presidency and it kept the Akyem faction of the NPP pacified, it was okay with Kufour. Likewise, Akufo-Addo knew that Kufour was running a bad government, but as long as Kufour’s position assured him of Ashanti votes when his time came to run for president, he found it prudent not to challenge or criticize. The unfortunate outcome for Nana is that Kufuor swindled him. While pretending that they cared about the NPP and the nation, Kufour, from his first day in office, looked out for himself, his family and friends and when Nana needed his help during the campaign Kufour did not show much concern.

At a certain point, Akufo-Addo should have seen that Kufour was in politics for himself, and not for the NPP that Nana also depended on. The first sign was the renovation of Kufour’s private house supposedly donated by a nameless farmer, and the biggest was the hotel that Kufour’s son (and/or Kufour himself) acquired. Akufo-Addo should have shunned Kufour when he won the NPP presidential nomination, gave up his ministerial position and, for a long time, Kufour wouldn’t congratulate and endorse him for the presidency. Nana still stuck fast to Kufour because he had no personal accomplishments to campaign about. Throughout the campaign Nana never mentioned one accomplishment of his. Even when the voters has rejected the NPP in the parliamentary election and the run-off was between him and Mills, Nana could not tell the public what makes him a better candidate than his opponent. One would think Mr. Larry Gibson, the American election connoisseur that Nana employed, would have hinted him to hold up his accomplishment to the voting public but that did not happen. In fact, to this day we don’t know of what he did as a minister besides attending meetings. I strongly believe that had Nana mounted a podium and enumerated his ministerial performance before the run-offs, he would have gotten enough votes to win, but then, it was too late – he had dug his grave deeper than six feet.

I may be wrong, but I doubt it.

Kofi Amonu