Feature Article of 2012-08-23

The 60 Words that Forever Altered our Political Landscape

S. Kwaku Asare

“I am determined to fight corruption aggressively, and I can do so, because I am not corrupt, have never been corrupt, and will demand the same of my team. Accountability and transparency are the hallmarks of good governance. Ghana needs this, Ghana deserves this and I, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, pledge to deliver this to the good people of Ghana."

With those 60 words, uttered on August 21, 2012 at the IEA-organized evening encounter, Nana Addo has distinguished himself from most politicians and has set a standard that should be used to evaluate all Presidential candidates. Every observer of our politics and governance knows that corruption is the cancer that must be exorcised if our country is to make any progress. The attempts to reform education, health, agriculture, pensions, etc. will come to naught, unless corruption is eliminated, or at least brought under control. For instance, in the last 3 years alone, over GH?800 million have been paid to various people under the better judgment debt program while our elementary schools have been starved of teachers, chalk, desk and tables.

Nana Addo’s 60 word-statement is not just memorable; it is also bold, coming, as it were, from a Ghanaian politician who has been in politics for nearly four decades. My earliest memory of Nana Addo was seeing him in a green Peugeot 504 caravan at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, in the company of General Afrifa, G. W. Amartefio and others, campaigning against the UNIGOV concept mooted by General Kutu Acheampong. In the years subsequent to that event, most of the country’s politicians have been tainted with allegations of corruption of one form or the other, resulting in needless coups, commissions, confessions, adverse CHRAJ findings, prison terms, and presidential pardons. It is, indeed, the rare politician who can proclaim that he is not corrupt, in this corrupting environment, and have that claim accepted or not credibly challenged by his political opponents.

The evidence will also support his claim that he will hold his team to very high standards. Nana Addo may be the only Attorney General in our history to successfully prosecute ministers from his government and the previous government. His commitment to accountability and justice is further evidenced by his work on the Fast Track Courts, which stands as one the most innovative developments in our judicial system.

In uttering those 60 words, Nana Addo also issued a challenge to President Mahama to end his “thank you” tours and spell out his role in STX, the acquisition of the Embraer 190 Presidential jet, the lifting of the ban on Amajaro, the importation of counterfeit drugs from India, and the payment of judgment debts.

Kwame Nkrumah was defined by the famous words, “seek ye first the political kingdom and all else shall be added unto you.” Chairman Rawlings is defined by his famous “anomaa antua ogyina ho.” Nana Addo Dankwa’s famous words might very well have been uttered at this IEA event and will take the form of “I am determined to fight corruption aggressively, and I can do so, because I am not corrupt, have never been corrupt, and will demand the same of my team.” And because corruption remains the primary challenge facing the country, those 60 words uttered at the IEA forum may very well have won him the Presidency!