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Opinions of Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Columnist: Arthur, Jessica Maame Nyarko

Why the NPP must select Akufo-Addo

Why the NPP must select Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo - as their Presidential Candidate

Read the profile of “a President in waiting”

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was born March 29, 1944 and has been the Foreign Minister of Ghana since April 2003. He was the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice from 2001 to 2003.

Akufo-Addo was one of the founding members of the New Patriotic Party - the current ruling party of Ghana - in 1992, and was also the founder and first chairperson of the Ghana Committee on Human and People's Rights.

A recent newspaper article described him as a potential future President of Ghana.

The one contestant who is seen as the man to beat is Foreign Minister Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who put up a brave attempt to challenge his senior at the Bar, John Kufuor, to lead the New Patriotic Party in 1998. However, his party is known to be of Liberal Conservatives, who preferred to stick with their already marketed 1996 candidate, John Kufuor. Ironically, for Nana Akufo-Addo, the same tradition of seniority appears to be his trump card today, being the most marketed of the current aspirants.

According to Victor Newman, a highly regarded NPP strategist and Chief Patron of FONAA, “Nana Addo has not only served the party with distinction, he has the leadership qualities to win that big electoral challenge in two years time. He is the only ‘complete candidate’. You don’t have to like him. You just have to accept that he is the only one who can deliver, period”. Mr. Newman who has compared the Foreign Minister to Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown as the leader-in-waiting, says “the NPP needs to choose a winnable candidate; someone with vision, proven organizational skills, exceptional dynamism, towering political pedigree and unmatched international exposure, who can unite the party and who will easily be accepted by the rank and file of the party and the swing voters”.

Edward Akufo-Addo, his father who became Ghana’s third Chief Justice, was later the President of the Second Republic during the Progress Party government of Prime Minister, Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia, from 1969 to 1972. His father’s residence, Betty House, in Korle Wokon in downtown Accra, served as the headquarters of the country’s first political party - the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). Forty years later in1992, his family’s Ringway Hotel became the venue of the weekly press conferences for the NPP. That property was later bombed allegedly by an agent of state security under President Rawlings.

Early Education

What many people do not know is that Nana Akufo-Addo was born in Swalaba, in the backstreets of Accra. He had his primary education at the Government Boys School (Syto) and later Rowe Road School (now Kinbu). He also grew up in Nima where he is widely expected to move back in the coming months. Nana Addo was also a great sportsman. He played alongside Fiifi Atta Mills in the University soccer team at Legon, and also played for Real Republikans. He was later chosen by the legendary Ohene Djan, then Director of the Central Organization of Sports (COS), as administrative secretary of Real Republikans.

Marxism

A Marxist during his formative years as an Economics student at Legon in the 1960s and had many intellectual battles with his father, 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 such as Kweku Mensah (Abel Edusei, CEO of GNPA) and the late J.C Akosa (of Tip Toe Gardens fame), 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 came home panting for cover.

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 Foreign Minister has said and he has tremendous confidence in the ability of the Ghanaian.

Akufo-Addo returned to Ghana after practicing law for five years in France, and joined the national struggle against military dictatorship. In 1977, he was the first person to join General (Okatakyie) Akwasi Amankwa Afrifa to oppose Kutu Acheampong’s attempts to form a one-party state under the guise of UNIGOV. As General Secretary, of the broad-based People’s Movement for Freedom and Justice (PMFJ), he was instrumental in bringing about the downfall of Acheampong, and in 1979, in restoring multiparty democratic rule to Ghana. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Akufo-Addo used the courts to defend the Constitution, promote human rights, and civil liberties. During that time, he traveled Ghana, establishing what would become the local organs of the NPP. In 1992, when the newly founded party organized the First National Delegates Congress, Akufo-Addo provided the bulk of the funding. In the aftermath of the gargantuan electoral fraud of 1992, Akufo-Addo doubled as the team leader of the group that published the famous Stolen Verdict, whose arguments led to substantial reforms of the electoral system.

In 1996, during the first competitive parliamentary elections of the Fourth Republic, Nana Akufo-Addo won the Abuakwa seat against considerable odds. Seen as the man most feared by then President Rawlings, all resources were marshaled to help Nana Akufo-Addo’s cousin, the incumbent Owuraku Amofa, to prevail: anything to prevent this firebrand, intelligent, charismatic and eloquent lawyer and opposition politician from becoming a member of the legislature. The stop-Nana-Addo campaign failed and, since then, he has remained a thorn, perceived or real in the flesh of Rawlings.

He was also instrumental in initiating a series of reforms of the legal system and the Ministry of Justice, prominent amongst them being the establishment of the new Commercial Court and the Business Law Division of the Justice Ministry.

President Kufuor’s first major cabinet reshuffle in March 2003 took Nana Akufo-Addo to the Foreign Ministry. His eloquence, command of the French language, 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.

Ghana was elected by her peers ahead of influential countries in the sub-region like Nigeria and Burkina Faso to occupy the West African (non-permanent) seat on the UN Security Council for 2006 – 2007.

In 2004, she was elected as one of the pioneer members of the AU Peace and Security Council, a mandate that was renewed at the AU Summit in Khartoum in January 2006.

Again, during the recent composition of the new UN Human Rights Council, Ghana was elected with the highest number of votes (183 out of 191) of any country in any region of the world, and, further, she has also been elected one of the pioneer members of another new UN body, Peace-Building Commission, testifying, as anything can, to the great esteem in which Ghana is held in the Kufuor-Akufo-Addo foreign policy era.

Indeed, Nana Akufo-Addo was the Foreign Minister who was chosen by his colleagues of the AU Executive Council to chair the Ministerial Committee of 15 that fashioned the so-called “Ezulwini Consensus”, Africa’s common position on all aspects of the on-going UN reforms.

Moreover, it was he who negotiated for the AU Summit to be held in Accra in 2007, Ghana’s golden jubilee year, as part of the commemorations of Ghana’s 50 years as the first independent nation of the then colonial sub-Saharan Africa.

The great respect, which is currently accorded Ghana, has also yielded significant economic dividends for the nation, notably the G-8 inspired cancellation of our multi-lateral debts and the impending access to some US$ 500 million under the Bush Administration MCA facility for the modernization of the country’s agriculture. There are many who say that never since the early, heady days of independence has the flag of Ghana been so high.

According to Nana Akufo-Addo, “historically, currently and in the future, the NPP remains the most credible instrument for Ghana’s development. We have the opportunity and the destiny to dominate the democratic, social and economic development of this country for a generation and more importantly, use that opportunity to bring the real benefits of good governance to every citizen in this country. We need to hold on steadfastly to our enviable tradition of courage, conviction, endurance, patience and hard work that has kept us together and striving purposefully ahead all these years. It is therefore important that the party recognizes the paramount need for unity”.

He stresses, “The strength of the [Danquah-Busia] tradition is not something that just happened. This is a tradition that has known struggle since the UGCC days almost sixty years ago. From the movement and agitation to independence, through opposition to all forms and manner of oppressive rule till today, where the struggle now is mainly to erect fully pillars of accountable governance, the rule of law, respect for human rights, create jobs and grow skills of our people for them to take full economic advantage of the conducive environment we are building”.

Nana Akufo-Addo, the three-term MP, underscores the fact that John Agyekum Kufuor has so far been the most successful leader of the Danquah-Busia tradition. “Yes, we have had great leaders like J.B. Danquah, K.A. Busia, Victor Owusu, Paa Willie, Adu Boahen and others but it is President Kufuor who has led this party to two consecutive electoral victories and with increased margins. He remains, for us, the embodiment of the NPP’s political maturity”. He sees a “wonderful and necessary opportunity” for the NPP to remain in power “for another thirty years” and he says it with ironic reference to his party’s three decades in opposition before 2001. His reason is simple: “we have heard the opposition. They have constantly proved that they have nothing to offer. It is obvious that the NPP project - the development of our society in freedom - is the only project in town. The prospect of a return of a Rawlings-controlled NDC - unfortunately the only viable opposition - does not appeal to the broad masses of our people and God willing, will not happen. But God will help those who help themselves and we have a heavenly duty not to fall asleep and allow this great nation’s destiny to be sidetracked once again”.

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 showings 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 when the race to lead the party opens. 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 further emphasized “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”.

Summary of Profile
Born: March 29, 1944

Married to Rebecca (neé Griffiths-Randolph) five children; eldest of four children of Adeline and Edward Akufo-Addo.

Former Chief Justice and President of Ghana, 1969 - 1972. Education: Lancing College, Sussex, England and the University of Ghana, Legon (B.Sc. Econs 1967). Profession: Lawyer, called to the English Bar (Middle Temple) in July 1971; called to the Ghanaian Bar in July 1975; associate counsel, Coudert Fréres (Brothers), major US law firm, at its Paris office in France (1971-75); junior member of the chambers of U.V. Campbell (1975-79); senior partner and co-founder in 1979 with Dr. Edmund Prempeh of prominent law firm, Akufo-Addo, Prempeh & Co.

Positions Held: General Secretary of the People’s Movement for Freedom and Justice (PMFJ) (1977-78); Vice President, Greater Accra Regional Branch of Ghana Bar Association (1989-91); President, Greater Accra Regional Branch of Ghana Bar Association (1991-96); Member, General Legal Council (1991-96); Member, Legal Committee of Ghana Bar Association (1991-96); Member, General Council of Ghana Bar Association (1991-96); founder and first Chairperson, Ghana Committee on Human and Peoples Rights; Member, National Council and National Executive Committee of New Patriotic Party (NPP) (1992 - ); 1992, 1996 and 2000 NPP parliamentary candidate for Abuakwa constituency; Chairperson, NPP Internal Affairs Committee (1996); Chairperson, NPP Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee (1996-2000); Secretary, NPP Political Committee (1992-96); Secretary, 1996 NPP Policy Advisory Committee; NPP Member of Parliament for Abuakwa constituency (1997-2001) (2001-2005); NPP Member of Parliament for Abuakwa South constituency (2005-2009); Chairperson, Parliament’s Standing Committee on Subsidiary Legislation (1997-2001); Ranking Minority Member on Parliament’s Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs (1997-2001); Minority Spokesperson on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs (1997-2001); Spokesperson of the Alliance for Change (AFC), broad based political pressure group (1995-96); Chairperson, DHL (Ghana) Ltd (1984-2001); Chairperson, Kinesic Communications Co. Ltd, publisher of the independent newspapers, “The Statesman” and “The Weekend Statesman” (1991-2001); Attorney General and Minister for Justice (2001-2003); Member, Judicial Council (2001-2003); Member, General Legal Council (2001-2003); Member, Board of Legal Education (2001-2003); Chairperson, legal Service Board (2001-2003); Member, Ghana Investors Advisory Council (2001-2003); Member, Ghana Aids Commission (2001-2003); Minister for Foreign Affairs April 2003 -) Honourary Fellow, Legon Hall, University of Ghana. Languages: Fluent in Twi, Ga, Hausa, English, French. Favorite Past-times: Reading (history, biography, novels); music (classical, jazz, highlife); sports (soccer, cricket, squash).

Culled From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Source: Jessica Maame Nyarko Arthur

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