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Opinions of Monday, 31 March 2008

Columnist: Asante Fordjour

The Woes of Nana Akufo-Addo

Late Edition: Comment and Analysis

A Review of “Alan The Great” And The Confession at Caesarea Philippi

COMMENTARY

The Year 2008 is an apostolic moment. So, we rededicate ourselves first and foremost to the Word- both the Old and the New Testament, not forgetting the Koran. In preaching the Gospel, we shall not only be fair and humble as a dove but also will be courageous and cunning as serpent in our evangelism. Now, long before the era of John the Baptist- the voice that cried on the wilderness and is regarded by Christians as the very crux of the Gospel, the law and the end times of the prophets, had prophets such as Isaiah; Hosea and Jeremiah prophesied the birth of the “Messiah”. But, it was the confession at Caesarea Philippi that his own disciples, according to St Mathew- whose writings, unlike the other synoptic writers- Luke and Mark, are said to be full of particularism, recognized this. Most religious scholars think that Mathew is fond of giving prominence to Jewish thoughts and customs that he at times fails to explain. Being a “Jew” writing to his folks, the author cited freely from the Old Testament Prophets and Psalms to validate his message?

Indeed, it is Mathew alone who, for example, speaks of Simon the Cananaean- meaning Simon who was a Canaanite. He also refers to the Syro-Phoenician woman as Canaanite woman, showing the woman was not a Jew. Some of the often cited controversies, according to most Scribes, were the quotations: “This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophets; out of Egypt have I called my son”- a heavenly call first made by Moses (Hosea 11: 1) to Israel’s disobedience. Here, Mathew is said to have used the opening very skilfully to illustrate how the Baby Jesus was saved from the hands of the Herod the Great- who on hearing the “Good News” from the three Wise Men from the East, sought to eliminate Little Jesus permanently.

Then is “A voice was heard in Ramah… (Mat. 2: 18),” which is said to have been crafted from Jeremiah (31: 15) to suggest or confirm Jesus’ declaration to his Disciples: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Notwithstanding these, Mathew did warn the Israelites of storing their treasures on earth; a tree and its fruits; the faith of the Centurion; false prophets; the parable of the talents; the workers in the vineyard and not least the seven woes that deal with the teachers of the law and the Pharisees- who stoned and killed the prophets sent to Jerusalem.

Besides these is the parable of “A Brother Who Sins against Brother”. Thus Jesus entreats us to “make every effort” to reconcile with him before casting him out. “Go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter’ may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses… tell it to the church, and if he declines to listen to the church, treat him as you would to a pagan or a tax collector,” writes Mathew.

To Mathew Christianity is the fulfilment of Judaism. From the Sermon on the Mount, Mathew points out by quoting Jesus’ declaration: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfil them” (Mt. 5: 17); that Judaism is being fulfilled at a higher level. So, can’t we justify that the Sermon on the Mount implies a deeper meaning than even the Law- the Ten Commands, known as the Decalogue and the other well established Jewish laws from the Pentateuch- the first five books in the Holy Bible?

True, contrary to the popular idea of a political Messiah, for the first time in his evangelism, no one other than Peter, who was to become the rock of the early Church, identified and conceived Jesus as their spiritual leader? Loglo (1984) for example, points out that, this was a step forward in the religious education of the disciples from this time forth as Jesus was able to talk more freely about his imminent fat?e- a subject which drew a protest from Peter and possibly, the rest of the disciples as Jesus now uses the term, “Son of man”, associating it with service and sacrifice instead of its original idea of power and glory? From here most of his teachings were given to disciples, with special appeals to the crowd to sacrifice in his service and taking up the cross- meaning self-denial and readiness to suffer for the Kingdom of God?

Thus, after six days of the Confession, Jesus took with him Peter, James and John- the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves where Jesus was transfigured- His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Moses and Elijah just appeared before them talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus: “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters- one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah?”

To their astonishment, while he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said: “This is my So?n, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him?” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them: “Get up, don’t be afraid,” he said. When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. And as they were coming down the mountain Jesus instructed his disciples: “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” they asked him. “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands?” Did the baffled disciples understand he was referring to the John the Baptist?

The Analysis

After years of political wrangling and arms-twisting in a bid to lead the New Patriotic Party and plausibly Ghana after President J.A. Kufuor, John Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen- the alleged “Presidential Darling Boy” and Ghana’s former Ambassador to the United States and the immediate-past Trade and Industry Minister and custodian of the Presidential Special Initiative (PSI), whose pre-congress campaign plan- was speculated to have had “financial and executive push”, that set tongues waging and jaws falling even at first crow at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana, Legon, subjected himself to the “generational theory” of the UP/NPP tradition on Sunday, 22 December 2007, leading to the “coronation” of Nana Addo.

With his “sweeping 738” votes, representing some 32.5% of the total 2285 valid votes cast, “Alan Cash”- who had hitherto been rated amateur in Ghanaian politics, crushed not only respected UP traditionalists but also launched a good chase at Nana Addo, who judging from his acclaimed and indeed unceasing three decades in active politics, had been undeniably, unfortunate with ravenous 1096 votes- representing 47.9% to lead NPP in the December polls.

Although Nana Addo’s “selection” had long and consistently been rumoured, forecast and indeed prophesised, conservatively analysed, The Alan, whom by reason of championing the “New School”, we “crown” “The Great” rather than his preferred “Alan Cash”- for breaking the customary ants’ column, has perhaps established in the annals of UP and for that matter the NPP tradition that irrespective of one’s long service, ministerial achievements or global exposure, political leadership, ought not to be crowned without sweat or on a silver platter.

Witnessing the just ended NPP Delegate Congress live from our local radio station as embedded reporters, in our Northern London bunker, a shuttling remark like this was heard from Alan: “By the rules and constitution of NPP… we should have gone to second round… But in order to preserve our remaining scarce resources, unity of our party and not to keep the delegates and ourselves another waiting and reprinting of… I concede to my senior brother Nana Addo…” Earlier on, Dr Anane- one of Alan’s campaign co-ordinators, had hinted that due process of democratic rules would be followed. Hamid and Co of Fonaa, while expressing satisfaction over the shocking one-touch debacle said: “I think Alan would do the right thing.”

With a margin of error or so, it could be argued that there had been nothing that ought to or needed not to be told or known that had not been heard, read or said before, during and after the run up to the NPP National Delegates’ Congress. The long search attracted a souring 18 Powerful Bidders. So, political commentators and observers were left with no other forecast than after-congress gnashing of teeth and lamentations, not forgetting devastating brimstones.

But the long-sleepless night and its related scuffles ended with the news that Nana Yaw Osafo Marfo (63 votes) (2.8%) had moved from his seat to embrace and congratulate Nana Addo for his “electoral feat”. Assuming our notes had been correctly taken, this gesture was followed suit by Apraku (19 votes) (0.8%); Dan Botwe (52 votes) (2.3%); Hackmann (28 votes) (1.2%); Kwabena Agyapaong (9 votes) (0.4%); Jake (20 votes) (1%); Mike Oquaye (20 votes) (1%), not overlooking the rest who naturally, have to follow the trail. So, the “Dawn Declaration” swung in favour of Nana Addo. Yet, it is fair to say that in reality Alan steered the future of the NPP. As to why the Congress, for example, starved stewards such as Vice President Aliu Mahama (146 votes) (6.3%); Addo Kufuor (22 votes9 (1%) and rewarded Alan with 738 votes- (32.5%) and Papa Ankomah (34 votes) (1.5%), remains indeed, the prerogative of the NPP research authorities. As historians, we yes, only document and predict.

The Struggle Under The Sycamore Tree

Like then Candidate J. A. Kufuor, Nana Addo, has indicated his genuine drive to be at peace with the Nananom, the Ghanaian and the world at large. This burning desire, we suspect, (is to pre-empt the pre-congress blame that he could be security threat to his party, country and troubled West Africa), had drove him among others, from Manshyia across Lome to Sekou’s Guinea. Nana’s shared political crusade and podium are well captured by the Ghanaian media.

Haunted perhaps by the outcome of the highly competitive “immediate-past convocation that tipped between “generational and obiara efata” theory, which unlike Candidate Kufuor’s triumphal breakthrough at Sunyani, that appeared not to have been backed by personal financial fortunes, Nana Addo, it appears, suffers from fragmented verdict. Thus, synoptically compared, Nana Addo, unlike Professor Mills and Dr(s) Nduom-Mahama, who wield overwhelming delegates’ support and endorsement, seems to have managed his way up the Sycamore Tree with a pressing push-and-heap from the flooding crowd, down-below the tree.

The fears are that he might not escape the “pardonable over-staffed advisers and bottle-necks” that arguably, maimed Kufuor’s regime at birth. The Peoples’ President is said to have rode to power with a “pool of investors”. His irrefutable defence could be that having refuge in the ideological trenches for decades, he had little option. As the saying goes to whom much is given, much is indeed expected. Yet, the freed Gold Coasters, as Dr Nkrumah once reminded, needed a change of attitude if the Ghanaian were to build an envious and prosperous nation they could call home. Earlier indications are that unlike Professor Mills and Dr(s) Nduom-Mahama, who might have a sizeable government and policy consultants if elected president, if things remain as they are today, might Nana not need a sword to effect any dramatic changes?

As the eras of Rawlings-Kufuors come to an “open-close”, historians are challenged with honest comparison of their stewardship which might in turn uncover not only their triumphs and tribulations but also, guide Ghana from repeated and avoidable errors that retard progress.

The Woes of NPP Political Kingdom

Party internal criticism is a hazardous venture to be embarked by few, yet, we may reconsider this scenario: You are the National Security Adviser to the Government of Ghana. Intelligence report reaching you is that a group of highly-motivated “enemy forces”: armed-robbers, drug and human traffickers, political, administrative and human rights violators, have infiltrated into the country. The enemy forces which are sparsely deployed operate clandestinely in our communities or built-up areas. It is the intention of their higher command to corrupt the taste and minds of the citizenry as well as the democratic ethics of the Republic. The forces, if successful might pollute not only our ecology: waters and seas but also our customs. In this dire moment, what would be your response/advice to the Ghanaian Officials?

Thus, with qualifiers such as “sparsely deployed; operating clandestinely in our communities… corrupting the minds and tastes of the citizenry”, which forces appear tactically correct in countering the insurgents: The air force or the police? Much as one is free to champion the feats of this regime, the President might concede how his lone palms could be weakened in veiling the omniscient face of the Holy Righteous God. Parading therefore, his stirring records, without a shred of his glaring woes and how best it could be healed, might not only be resentful to critics but also can be seen by converts as a the very foe to the legacy that Nana would like to inherit? The Scriptures had this to the Israelites: “Do not think you are the descendants of Father Abraham so you will automatically inherit the Kingdom of God...?”

Yes, the Ghanaian has enjoyed an unqualified freedom and self-confidence under President Kufuor, yet, Nana cannot evade the glaring perception or fact that equity, equal rights and justice, have to some extent, been economical and selective under NPP. The aphorism in our history remains that politics hardly rhyme with problems/conflicts resolution- it appears to be money, power and influence. And those who have it had always had their pardoned- amid popular discontent and pleas? We may be doubtful about this. Yet, how do we reconcile, for example, the escape to London of S/Sergeant Aloliga Akatapore to that of Mr Francis Poku?

V. The Compelling Advice

It is true; Ghana, unlike the United Kingdom had had few Robin Cooks and Claire Shorts. So, Nana might have also considered or thought that his greatest hurdles in his “New Ghana” pledge hinge not only on his drive to recapture his self-possession and virtues but also the premium he places on the choice of reputable disciples who can endure to the last crow, rather than the move to triumph over post-congress distresses in filling “old wine into old bottles”.



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