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A Brief Period in the History of Time...

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 Source: Bottah, Eric Kwasi

Is there any Life after the Presidency?

All things being equal there should be life after presidency, but what kind of life should flow as a direct consequence from the attributes of a president, before, during and after office. A Ghanaian proverb says the one who climbs a good tree deserves a big push, if you abused your people whilst in power you shouldn?t expect them to accord you any courtesies, let alone a peace of mind to enjoy your ill-gotten wealth. In Ghana since there is no ex-president except Rawlings, and God willing Kufour too soon, this article should go for both of them.

Many a time we find people who entered office on meager means leaving office awash in wealth far in excess of what their estimated presidential salaries should warrant or predict. Others become very much afraid of their own shadows for the evils they visited on their people when they were firmly in power and hence would want to creep back into power directly or indirectly. Even far worse are those who entered office as coup makers and metamorphosed into civilian presidents through not-so-clean elections, woefully misrule their country, and became corrupt. They would explain their ill-gotten wealth as deeds and gifts bestowed on them by some shadowy friends. Of these, life after office is rude awakening as they, strictly speaking, lack transferable skills besides being career gun-totting soldiers and would want to perpetuate themselves by manipulating their chosen heirs from the back seat. Jerry John Rawlings of Ghana is a typical example. Any given day he is either giving ?boom? speeches (threats?) or inciting the gullible masses into street demonstrations to pressurize his successor to reverse some fiscal policies aimed at correcting the dire straits he captained the economy of the state after 20 years of brutal misrule. I put before you Mandela and Rawlings as a typical example of Africa?s ex-presidents. One suffered on behalf of his people, the other suffered the people. One broke the shackles of slavery in their own land, the other for many years locked down his fellow citizens behind curfews for many years. One enabled the entrepreneurial spirits of his people through free enterprise; the other seized local enterprise and sold it to Lebanese and other foreigners.

Life after office, seen through the prism of how one is received by his fellow citizens should be and would be very different for the two. As we are talking the Group Kufour is also amassing wealth left and right, exploiting all the technicalities in the law they can marshal to take the masses through the charade of gimmicks, which at best is very confounding. The more they explain their nouveau riches the more they look unconvincing. Somebody posited me this question: ?What is the truth?? And went on to explain ?you would know it when you see it. It has the trappings of transparency, the absence of undue influence peddling, and indisputable absence of the smell of conflict of interest?. ?Smell test?? I said. ?Yes the smell test?, he said. ?If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, then it is a duck?. He concluded with the self assured air of somebody who has seen it all, 1957 to 2005 and counting.

Fellow Ghanaians, we should never allow ourselves to be taken for a ride by blind loyalty. Like ex-President Reagan once said, he trusts whatever his friends or allies tell him but he also makes sure that he verifies whatever they tell him. Trust but verify is and should be the hallmark we hold each other, and more so our leaders. Blind loyalty is in itself not very smart. After all the so-called leaders are and should be our wards not the other way round.

I am going to be blunt and I hope I wake you up. JJ Rawlings is no angel, neither is Kufour by a wide margin. The poli-tricks of Odomfo Kumfo (Mercy Killer?) must stop before the whole house is brought down in a ball of fire and brimstone. I am mad like hell and rightly so for if the ship of state begins to sink it is not going to be a deferrer of persons, we are either all going to swim together or sink together. There wouldn?t be any winners and losers apart. It is a zero sum game. We all lose or win together. Nobody is a higher born than anybody so far as citizenship is concerned. No matter which tribe, party or family you belong to, you are Ghanaian. We are/were all created equal in the image of the Almighty God with certain inalienable rights, including the right to FAIR PLAY, FREEDOM AND JUSTICE. A rising tide should lift all boats together not the current situation where only people with certain familial CONNECTIONS are enjoying meteoric rise in affluence and wealth whilst the rest of us drift away in poverty.

The Hotel Kufour saga must not and should not be swept under the carpet. Chief Kufour can sermonize all he can but the simple truth is that the whole deal does not meet the SMELL TEST. I have said it and I stand corrected. The people of Ghana would want to err on the side of caution. Private or not the books should be wide opened to sunshine for the proverbial cure. The banks that lend the consortium the money to buy the hotel at NO-MONEY DOWN are public institutions. It stands to reason that if the hotel deal falls through and defaults on payments, it is the public that has their money vested in those banks that would be caught with empty bags. We trust Pres. Kufour he has no undue influence in the deal but we reserve the right to verify what he has said so far. The current situation where he appears to be busy preparing for his retirement ?entitlements?, proxy Chief John Addo Kufour, when the job he is entrusted and supposed to deliver, is at best work-in-progress, must be whipped back into line at the crack of the peoples voices.

Eric Kwasi Bottah, alias Oyokoba
Philadelphia, PA USA


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Columnist: Bottah, Eric Kwasi