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Opinions of Monday, 3 March 2008

Columnist: Appiah-Yeboah, Kwame

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Eight Years of Kuffour's Presidency

President Kuffour’s eight years as the Chief Executive Office (CEO) of Ghana is coming to an end: sadly for some, not too soon for others, and totally oblivious to many others. Unless Kuffour performs some political gymnastics (which I doubt he can do given his advanced age) and extend his term of office a few more years, he is done. At times like this, people are wont to perform post-mortems of how history will view the presidency of John Agyekum Kuffour aka Gentle Giant. I want to perform a brief synopsis of what I call ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’ of Kuffour’s presidency. After eight years in charge, there will definitely be good and bad times. History will judge Kuffour by how much the good outweighed the bad. This article is divided into a three part series: Part I will be on The Good, Part II on The Bad, and Part III on The Real Ugly.

“The Good”

The democratic dispensation fashioned in 1992 continues to gain traction. After so many years under different military, paramilitary and pseudo military dictators, Ghana can look toward the future with hope. When Kuffour leaves office, Ghana would have enjoyed 16 years of continuous, uninterrupted democratic rule. This is an achievement anywhere, but exceptional in Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa. The system is not perfect, but Rome was not built in a day. Good job President Kuffour, good job President Rawlings, kudos to the people of Ghana. Ghana needs to continue on this path of democratic rule. All arms bearing organizations including Abongo (boys in green), Koti (Ghana Police), Odumgya (fire service), Customs Officers, AMA City Guards, Tankass, Land Guards, Ahenfie Police, Armed Robbers, please stop hallucinating about interrupting the peace and stability Ghana is enjoying. The same goes for all uniform wearing organizations including Bank Tellers, Apprentice Seamstresses, Apprentice Hairdressers, 31st DWM (where are they), JSS and SSS school kids, etc, please stay in your rat holes far away from the seat of government.

Rule of law, due process, and freedom of the press are all privileges enjoyed by all Ghanaians under Kuffour. Gone are the days when justice was only for the rich and powerful. There is work to be done in the area of property rights, but Individual rights and personal privileges have all been strengthened during the Kuffour administration. An example will suffice: When a motorist crossed former president Rawlings’s convoy on the Accra-Tema motorway, the driver did not live to tell his side of the story. Presidential ‘instant justice’ was meted to the poor driver. In a similar incident involving Kuffour, the case is meandering its way through the judicial system. On the whole, Kuffour’s democratic credentials are impeccable. His commitment to the rule of law is manifested in the serious efforts made to equip Ghana police with cars and communication equipments. This enhanced their mobility and policing ability. It is gratifying to note that armed robbery reduced to a trickle in the cities, although the average policeman still looks lean, mean and hungry while the average politician looks fat, round or rotund.

Kuffour took the bold and unpopular decision to enroll Ghana in the HIPIC program. This was followed by some initial hardships but the reduction in external debts and debt servicing was worth the initial hiccups. The savings are being used to finance development projects all over the country. This was complemented by Ghana qualifying and receiving almost $600 million dollars from the U.S. government under the MCA program. Cocoa production is at its highest. Inflation has been brought under control and the cedi has stopped depreciating like a runaway train. For once both Makola women and Osu Highstreet boutique owners are willing to accept the cedi. Macro economic stability is no longer a golden fleece for Ghana. On a sad note, Ghanaians abroad (burgers) who felt and acted like cedi millionaires anytime they visited Ghana have been brought down to earth with the re-denomination of the cedi. One no longer needs a polythene bag to carry the boatloads of worthless old cedi notes.

Numerous development projects have been initiated under Kuffour’s administration. Some of these projects had been on the drawing board since Kwame Nkrumah’s time and are only seeing light under Kuffour and his NPP government. The Bui hydroelectric dam project, Tetteh Quarshie interchange, Accra-Cape Coast highway project, Tema Motorway extension, Accra-Kumasi highway project, to mention just a few. During Kuffour’s reign, two new stadia were built in Tamale and Sekondi.

Under Kuffour, Ghana qualified and participated in the World Cup for the first time. The Black Stars did very well by surviving a tough group comprising Italy, Czech Republic, USA and Ghana. Ghana also successfully hosted the African Cup of Nation tournament in Jan/Feb 2008. The tournament has been described as one of the best CAN tournaments ever, if not the best.

On the personal front, Kuffour was AU Chairman for a year where he unsuccessfully tried to broker a peace deal between the Kenyan government and the main opposition leaders. His efforts however, paved the way for Kofi Annan and his team’s mediation efforts that have a chance of success. Kuffour hosted world leaders in Ghana during his term, including G.W. Bush-president of the United States. Kuffour addressed the UN general assembly several times.
Looking at the above, one is tempted to conclude that Kuffour has been good for Ghana. Before falling victim to the fallacy of hasty conclusions, we have to review the goofs committed by Kuffour. After all, Dr. President Field Marshall Idi Amin Dada instituted development projects in his Uganda. Mobutu Sese Sekou and his golf ball sized prostate had several prominent edifices across Zaire. It is the misdeeds by these gentlemen that led to their characterization as really bad leaders. Parts II and III of this series will look at the goofs committed by President Kuffour

Kwame Appiah-Yeboah USA
About the author Kwame is a Ghanaian patriot who is not licensed in any field. The only license he holds is to drive in the 48 states of the United States and a license to drive people crazy.


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