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Celebrating John Agyekum Kufuor; the true African statesman

Wed, 5 Oct 2011 Source: Newton-Offei, Justice Abeeku

I was in Britain when NPP swept into office under the flagbearership of John Agyekum Kufuor, after two rounds of presidential voting. Before then, the NPP and its antecedents had been in the political wilderness for close to three decades. That election, as it had always been the case on our contemporary Ghanaian political terrain, never passed without the usual sporadic acts of intimidation and violence characteristic of such process in many African nations.

And like I said earlier, the then retreating government and its antecedents had also been in power, uninterruptedly, for close to 2-decades prior to the 2000 general elections. And as expected, they never went down without a fierce fight. But in the end, the will of the good people of Ghana who had then lived under the leadership of just one man for all those years, spoke. The pitch of the people’s voice was so strong at the time that, God certainly could not do otherwise but to yield to the decision of the people.

Kufuor was then sworn-in as the president and the record of his 8-year tenure is very much in the open for all to peruse. Talking about insults, vilification, false allegations, plain-faced malicious, he endured it all with exceptional humility even-though he has the resoluteness of a giant, hence his popular accolade of “a gentle giant”.

He is also the first civilian, under our first republican constitution, to win election, became a president and successfully served two terms in office without being overthrown through a military coup. The bold policy decision of opting for the HIPC programme was what gave Ghana the leverage to get up on its socio-economic knees, and started to deal with its external debt management as a true sovereign state.

This is the man who took over power, democratically, when the nation was economically bankrupt but was able to come up with novelties as MMT, NYEP, capitation grant, LEAP, free maternal care and so on.

Our police service that was literally on its kness, by way of operational vehicles, was given a potent sot in the arm, when then newly president made a quick dash to our brothers in Nigeria for assistance.

Now, in the developed nations, former presidents are complete institutions by themselves. Their legacies are well-preserved for generations yet unborn, to have a feel of what their fore-fathers did to make their nations better places than they met it centuries ago. This process is what is termed as “personal experience therapy” because it exposes the individual to real and visible experience.

However, in our case on the continent of Africa, we have not developed this culture of preserving national heritage. This has largely come about as a result of belligerence of post-colonial leaders who only ended up being worse than the so-called wicked imperialists they mobilized their people to fight against. These kind of leaders who become so dictatorial and saw themselves as thin-god’s with all the wisdom under the sun, ended up putting in-place systems of governance that made it absolutely impossible for change to be affected in the normal democratic way. One-party states then became the order of the da, corruption was rife, nepotism and cronyism blossomed.

And these types of leaders made the grounds fertile to effect change through un-orthodox means. The disenchanted people who succeeded in driving out such dictatorial leaders then went ahead, out of suffering and bitterness against these dictators, ended up doing what they could to get rid of whatever they (deposed leaders) also stood for.

But today on the African continent, there is an emergence of new kind of leadership that is clearly charting a fresh course in our governance. These leaders are giving clear meaning to what being a statesman, in the true sense of the word, even after life in office. And this is where the exploits of Dr.John Agyekum Diewuo Kufuor, the immediate past president of the republic of Ghana is clearly blazing the trail, as was explicitly enumerated by his spokes-person, Francis Agyekum,on 26th September,2011 edition of Multi-TV’s flagbearership political plat-form, ‘minority caucus’.

After his tenure of office as the president, Kufuor has been rather busier than when he was the first chief executive officer of our country. His leadership style and the way he governed the nation has made him a toast of the globe and he is therefore being invited to conferences and appointed to boards of many international organizations.

He has recently been given an award for cutting down the level of hunger during his 8-year tenure. With this award comes a money prize which he has decided to invest in putting up a foundation, which is going to be built at both Legon and KNUST to offer the plat-form for future leaders of our dear nation to be trained in governance.

Mr.Agyekum shed little light on the political journey of president Kufuor and how he became the city councilor of Kumasi at a very youthful age.Mr Agyekum was of the view that Kufuor was able to build his way to the presidency largely because of his level of knowledge accumulated over a long period of time of going through the political mill.

On the question of whether president Kufuor was able to put into place, a well-thought-out succession plan to make sure his party continued to have people with excellent leadership qualities to carry on with the mantle, Mr. Agyekum said “there are people he (Kufuor) has been with all these years and these people for whatever you say, were competent people and don’t lets us also forget that in all these things loyalty is also important because that is the only way you get things done. If you are a loyal person with competence, then of course you are killing two birds with one stone”.

Mr.Agyekum also shed light on how the intent of the foundation is very much non-partisan, hence the invitation of former president Rawlings to grace the occasion. He described how Kufuor and Rawlings “met at a reception somewhere and as soon as he(Kufuor) got in, president Rawlings was already there, they shook hands and he(Rawlings) said look, I’ve got the invitation and I will come. And true to his word, he (Rawlings) did come and everybody was happy”. “It was good that he came and I would want to believe that if it had been President Rawlings who was launching an even and had invited president Kufuor, he (Kufuor) would have been there”.

The sight of Rawlings at a function being organized by Kufuor was something that, hitherto, had been as rare as solar eclipse and the long thunderous applause and chanting of “jj, jj, jj,” said it all. And as usual, the attention-loving show-boy of our contemporary Ghanaian politics, the former president Rawlings, fittingly relished the moment to the max!!!

We thank president Kufuor for the dignity and honour he continues to bring to Ghana even after his term in office. May the almighty God continue to shower His blessings on Kufuor so that he can live a long and healthy life, to enable him continue promoting the image of Ghana on the global stage.

Justice Abeeku Newton-Offei

E-mail: justnoff@yahoo.com

Columnist: Newton-Offei, Justice Abeeku