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Opinions of Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Columnist: Mustapha Abdul-Hamid

This is Akufo-Addo

Today, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is 72. That, in itself, must be a blessing. So I take advantage of it to let people know why perhaps God has brought him this far.

First of all, Akufo-Addo has an aversion for self-aggrandisement. Indeed, the only time that I heard Akufo-Addo talk about himself was in the speech he gave at Alisa Hotel in August 2007 to launch his bid for the NPP flag-bearer slot Ever since he has concentrated on talking about the NPP project.

Unfortunately, those of us responsible for communicating his values to the Ghanaian people have somehow been paralysed by his “philosophy of the collective.” The result is that Akufo-Addo is arguably the most misunderstood and most misrepresented politician of our time. Well, I take the opportunity of his birthday to trumpet him a bit. I take the liberty of his birthday to defy his aversion for praise. It is important that the Ghanaian people get to know him for who he truly is.

No pretence

If ever there is a politician who is true to himself, it is Akufo-Addo. Akufo-Addo is simply unable to pretend. He would have been a really poor student if he studied theatre arts. He cannot act. Even to pose for a picture is a problem for Akufo-Addo. His official photographer is always alert to capture him in the best moments that he can get. It will surprise people to read today, that most of the pictures that you see of Akufo-Addo were captured in natural moments, not poses. From his smiles to his handshakes; everything comes naturally. He cannot fake a smile. He cannot be deceitful. He is unable to be.

Religion

Akufo-Addo is a devout Christian. He will hardly skip a church service. Wherever he finds himself, he will attend church service. But he is not hypocritical about religion just because he has to win the hearts of Christians for political purposes. To use his own words, he does not “wear his religion on his sleeves.” When he said to a congregation in Kumasi recently, that “I am not an election year Christian,” he was speaking the truth. He does not worship God for the sake of humans. He worships God for the sake of God. And he is faithful to the tenets of Christianity.

People believe that politicians dabble in all sorts of things: from the occultic to the bizarre. Some politicians are what Prof. Edoh Torgah of the Universit of Cape coast (UCC ) calls, “Trachrislims.” To wit, they are Traditionalists, Christians and Muslims all at the same time. They say that you should do whatever you can do to obtain power. Not Akufo-Addo. He is scrupulously faithful to the tenets of his faith.

At a meeting with some party faithful in Tamale in 2014, where I served as his translator, they sought to convince him that he should dabble in practices contrary to his Christian faith. This is what he told them: “I will not bend my principles for political gain. And I want you to trust that if by the grace of God I become President, I will not abandon you because of some convenience. In the same way, that I am loyal to my faith, I shall be loyal to you if you help me win. The one who will abandon his principles in order to win power, can easily abandon you.” In the end, we all agreed that people should call whatever God they believe in to help us win but we should not compel others to do what they do not believe in.

Meeting

I remember in September 2008, he called a group of his inner core to a meeting in his house. When he called the meeting to order, he said that it was a one item agendum. He said he had called us to let us know he was not running for President in order for us (those sitting around the table) to enrich ourselves. Then he dropped a bombshell: “if there is anybody here who is in this because he wants to be rich, please can you stand up and leave?” There was dead silence.

After two minutes, he added that he was in it for the ordinary people and that we should get that in our heads. That was the day I vowed to work with my heart and soul for this man to be President. So when he says on platforms that those who want to be rich should not come into his government but go into the private sector, it is not political talk. He says that to us in private too. He means every word of it.

What is good is that Nana believes in destiny. After the 2012 election, when I was weeping, he said to me; “don’t cry Mustapha; it is in my star; I never get anything on a silver platter; I always have to fight for what I want; let us be patient.” I was touched. I stopped crying. Then I remembered that Allah states in the Qur’an that “He (Allah) is with the patient.”
Happy Birthday Nana!