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Opinions of Monday, 3 December 2007

Columnist: Arthur, Jessica Maame Nyarko

The simple small man stands tall among them all…

A lot has been written or said about the New Patriotic Party’s impending Congress in December at which their presidential candidate would be chosen. A lot of merits and demerits have been written about the candidates, but after it has all been said and done, I do not see any argument which defeats the fact that Nana Akufo-Addo stands tall among them all.

My reason comes from the simple facts that of all the candidates, he is the one who stands at the very centre of the NPP ideology, which sometimes shifts to the right or left depending on the individual leading it. He is a centrist because he ironically started his youthful life as a Marxist during his formative years as an Economics student at Legon in the 1960s and had many intellectual battles with his dad, a pillar of the UP. But his father was to have the last laugh in February 1966 as his son was chased out of campus barefooted with socialist friends to his house for refuge after the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah. The old man is said to have just sat in his chair on the verandah laughing as his first born was chased home by the soldiers.

The ideological transformation started shortly afterwards when the young Akufo-Addo returned to Europe to continue with his studies and work. And the synergy of his conservatism, liberalism and his short flirtation with socialism is obvious in his long-enduring popular appeal. The substance of this popular appeal is aptly encapsulated in his vision of “Indigenous Capitalism” as the way forward for Ghana’s future. Ghanaians must adopt a “can do will do” attitude towards economic growth, the former Foreign Minister has said and he has tremendous confidence in the ability of the Ghanaian. He is therefore a firm believer in the economic ideals of the party in so far as it aims to release the entrepreneurship skills of the private sector while at the same time realising the social consciousness of the party.

He has the proven track record of one who has defended democracy the most and who it seems to me to be the one understands it most. In the 1980s and 1990s, Nana Akufo-Addo used the law courts to defend the Constitution, promote human rights and civil liberties with celebrated cases such as Tuffuor vs. Attorney-General, NPP vs. GBC, etc. Once the veteran nationalist Atakora Gyimah founded the Danquah-Busia Memorial Club in Kumasi, Nana Akufo-Addo became Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Club. It was around this time that his links with the grassroots were further consolidated as he travelled the length and breadth of the country to establish branches of the club, which were to be eventually transformed into local organs of the NPP after the ban on party politics, was lifted prior to the elections of 1992.

In March this year in London, when the President addressed the 1st NPP International Conference, HE JA Kufuor, President of Ghana in talking about his successor as leader of the NPP said in his Russell Square speech “We should go for a candidate with good experience, especially with government.” [We must elect] “a leader who’s mature and with track records. We are not going to experiment. We must vote for a thoroughbred of the [Danquah-Busia-Dombo] tradition who has not forgotten his roots. We are not a party of convenience. We are not a party of opportunism” Flanked by NPP Chairman Macmanu and the then Foreign Minister Nana Akufo-Addo, the President said, “The nation will expect your party to provide a worthy successor to Kufuor. We must not make a mistake with the succession [repeated]. We must not [repeated for emphasis]. We must not be emotional. We must have a sense of balance. Let us balance our emotions with commonsense. Let us go in for someone who can hold us together.” Later on that evening at a dinner dance, the President repeated his very weighty words when he said, “Above all, the aspirant should be [one] who can hold the party together. The successor should be the type that the rest of the country will accept. As populous as we are we’ll still need the floating voters.” The President’s message was very clear on marketability and popular appeal, a person who can inspire both loyal members and floating voters alike. Nana Akufo-Addo can inspire. As spokesperson for the Alliance for Change (AFC), he led the inspirational drive that got a record half a million people on the streets of Accra and Kumasi to demonstrate against the NDC’s economic policies. Emphasising on experience, the President said, “We are the party of quality. We’re the Rolls Royce of politics [in Ghana] the politics of performance and strength. You can’t associate Rolls Royce with inexperience”

It has been alleged though unfairly on the President that he supports Alan Kyeremanten, one of the contestants and a fine gentleman by all standards. The President might like him, after all he picked him up from the Young Executives and made him an ambassador and later a minister of state; but the President himself said in London “As for love and emotion the creator gave all of us. But let’s balance our emotions with commonsense.” The President has ruled Ghana with a commonsense approach of the [Danquah-Busia-Dombo] ideals and as for commonsense, boy, he has. Do you think a man who advises conscience against emotions will choose love and emotion over experience, marketability, maturity and track record? Granting that the President prefers Alan, which we believe is not the case anyway; it is a case of head and heart and the President advises strongly to go for the head.

Nana Akufo-Addo is a complete and accomplished politician and a statesman. His loyalty to the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition as exemplified in the President Kufuor’s administration can not be underestimated. He describes the Kufuor administration as “a transforming force”. The government has radically widened the frontiers of good governance, with greater press freedom, a more structural attack against corruption, unprecedented macro-economic stability and more investment in the social sector especially health and education - with the setting up of a national health insurance scheme and the implementation of free compulsory primary education and greater emphasis on human resource development. Yet, despite all the good showing of the government, an orchestrated propaganda that “there is no money in the pocket” has been mounted. To his eager supporters he says “I have not changed the view that I expressed at my vetting last year. 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. If 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. That then is where I want to put my energies for now -helping build a Kufuor legacy for 2008. It should be the aim for all of us”.

With the opposition concentrating on negative propaganda against the NPP, Nana Akufo-Addo’s campaign words of 1998 will strike a cord with the delegates on December 22nd. He told delegates at the time, “The youth of our country have no confidence in Ghana. It is a tragedy we need to correct because a country which has lost the confidence of its youth is a country without a future. I am certain that I will be able to assemble and harness the best talents within the party and nation at large, both at home and in the Diaspora to form a government of which we can all be proud. That government will not only deliver on the promise of economic prosperity and the consolidation of democracy but will also be sufficiently secured to be able to govern”.

He is a unifier as this is one of the qualities that our President laid in his Russell Square speech. Nana Akufo-Addo says on party unity “I for my part will do everything possible to promote our unity and will ensure that if indeed I am your choice today all my fellow aspirants will work hand-in-glove with me to realize the vision of the pioneers of our movement who fought to build a free, just and prosperous society in this corner of Africa. It is our party that has emerged to carry forward the goals of that tradition into the new millennium. Much as this generation is impatient with the failures and defeats of the past, it nevertheless recognizes the immense contribution that the pioneers and their successors by their sacrifices and martyrdom have made towards the development of democracy in our Republic. Their work shall not be in vain”.

If on December 22nd the NPP Congress vote Nana Akufo-Addo, which they will, they will be giving back to Ghana the most popular living Ghanaian politician of this era after Presidents Kufuor and Rawlings. A man whose eloquence, command of the English and French languages, and powerful negotiation skills made him a brilliant choice to implement President Kufuor’s diplomatic initiatives, the successes of which are self-evident. The image of the country has been considerably enhanced during his tenure as Foreign Minister. Effective involvements in Liberia and Guinea Bissau, and the leading role he is playing as a member of the International Working Group (IWG), whose work is helping to restore peace to troubled Cote d’Ivoire, attest to his excellent diplomatic skills which have raised aloft the diplomatic profile of Ghana.

Nana Akufo-Addo is a small man by stature, simple by all standards. But his courage, level headedness and resilience of purpose which his detractors interpret as arrogance is without comparison. Ghana needs his nature, his qualities and his maturity to move forward. The NPP will not make a mistake. We have never made a mistake in the past and we will not.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.