By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK
I was baffled to read on Ghanaweb yesterday that an online poll by Joy FM said “38.90% of Ghanaians believed Dr. Nduom was the country’s only hope in fighting corruption, with 20.71% trusting Nana Akufo-Addo, and 37.53% saying President John Dramani Mahama can do better on the matter of attacking corruption” (see “Nduom Beats Mahama, Akufo Addo in Corruption Poll”, Ghanaweb October 9, 2012). I was surprised because this comes at a time when NPP and Nana Akufo Addo himself have made corruption a big issue and have been on the offensive attacking President Mahama and NDC as corrupt. In fact, Akufo Addo is on record to have said that, he has never being accused of being corrupt and his campaign team has tagged the President with a number corruption allegations including an alleged corrupt deal to get his younger brother off the hook from a loan he secured from a state bank. It is the shocking or disappointing online poll results despite this avalanche of corruption attacks by Akufo Addo and his party that I want to discuss in this brief article.
I must point out that since the poll was just done online, it is unscientific and unrepresentative of the Ghanaian electorate because participants were only those who have access to the internet. It is therefore most likely to be urban biased. Notwithstanding these, the results must be giving Nana Akufo Addo and the NPP very serious worries because it appears he has serious trust issue to grapple with before December 7 2012.
Since the NDC confirmed the ‘caretaker’ President, Mr John Dramani Mahama as their Presidential candidate for the December 7 Elections, the NPP machinery went into attacking mood throwing all sorts of corruption allegations against him. Amongst them are: his role in the failed STX Housing Project, that he benefited from the deal that never saw the light of the day. He is alleged to have benefited from the purchase of the aircrafts from Brazil by inflating the prices and finally he is alleged to have ordered the sale of National Investment Bank to a South African Bank to ensure that his younger brother’s loan is written off. Oh!, the President is also alleged to have been involved in the dubious judgement debt payments and others that for the sake of time, I do not intend mention. In fact, Nana Akufo Addo is reported to have given a speech on corruption at KNUST and criticised the proposal to appoint a sole Commissioner on Judgement Debts and called for “our money to be returned”. He is also reported to have said that under his Presidency, there would be no corruption (see “I will piss on corrupt people, Akufo Addo declares”, Ghanaweb October 9, 2012)
In view of all these onslaught of attacks, how come the President scores better than Akufo Addo on fighting corruption? Are Akufo Addo and NPP getting their messages across effectively to the electorate in Ghana? If I were an NPP member or Nana Akufo Addo supporter, I would be worried that after nearly a month of aggressive campaign of allegations of corruption against our strongest competitor, he still beats our candidate by difference of 16.82%. Just a little over a fifth of those polled do trust Nana Akufo Addo on fighting corruption. This is the man who has been fighting injustice in Ghana for donkey years, yet he cannot be trusted to fight corruption, one of the most fiercest enemies in the fight against poverty in Ghana. What went wrong?
I am not a political scientist and therefore unable to postulate the exact reasons why Akufo Addo lacks trust and credibility with the electorate on fighting corruption. However, I may have some (unproven) reasons as to why this gap between the man and the electorate, the very people he needs their trust in order to rule over them.
In my view, a lot of allegations have been made against Nana Akufo Addo but none directly is on corruption. However, some of these allegations, yet to be proven are serious enough to cut a slur on his image. Reading from Ghanaweb since late 2008, I have become aware of at least the following:
Allegation that as a Foreign Minister under the Kufuor administration, about eighty diplomatic passports got missing in his office and people believe that the passports were provided to drug traffickers to ease their illegal activities. In fact, it is even claimed that one of the missing passports was given to his own cousin who was arrested and jailed in Brazil for drugs. It is also alleged that as Attorney General and Minister for Justice he failed to prosecute some women who were arrested at Kotoka International Airport for attempting to traffic drugs out of Ghana. Last but certainly not the least, he is alleged to have proposed a bill that would have allowed prison exchange between Ghana and other foreign countries for the sole purpose of ensuring that Ghanaians or NPP supporters who have been arrested and jailed in foreign lands on drug offences would be brought home to serve their sentences.
These are very serious and damaging allegations that a Presidential candidate should not ignore and keep silent over them. But that is what Nana Akufo Addo has done all these years that he has been the leader of the NPP. In fact, I once read on Ghanaweb that Gabby Otchere Darko, who is related to Akufo Addo claiming that Nana Akufo Addo did not partake in the sharing of state land and properties among NPP cronies during the Kufuor government because he felt it was wrong. Is that his proof of incorruptibility? If he is really serious about fighting corruption, what he should have done when he saw his colleagues wrongly allocate state properties to themselves and their cronies was to resign but not keep quiet and remain in government. That would have set him apart from the rest. Could he be tainted by his silence and association?
Until Nana Ado Dankwa Akufo Addo, responds directly to all these allegations, I can assure the NPP that there would be a cloud of doubt among the Ghanaian electorate on his credibility and ability to fight corruption. For those who rightly or wrongly believe that because Nana Akufo Addo has never been accused of corruption and therefore best placed to fight corruption, I can say to you that you are mistaken. All the above allegations are closely and directly linked to dishonesty and are indeed questions of corruption. Perhaps that is why only a fifth of those who took part in the poll trust Nana Akufo Addo on fighting corruption if he becomes President.
I am aware that this week has not been brilliant for Nana Addo, particularly when Kofi Wayo dropped a bomb shell that Kufuor had told him that Akufo Addo is dangerous. I am sure this is not the first time I have heard or read such baseless remark about Akufo Addo. I have read on Ghanaweb that a former pro NPP newspaper editor also once claimed that Akufo Addo is dangerous. Why on earth would people make such allegation against a man who has dedicated most, if not all his working life to fighting dictatorships, human rights abuses and injustice in Ghana? How widespread is this perception among Ghanaians or the NPP leadership as Kofi Wayo claims?
Akufo Addo talking about fighting corruption, saying corruption will not exist in your government in very eloquent English Language is not enough. At least the poll says so because majority of the electorate do not believe your rhetoric. You must face these allegations squarely and address them. You have nothing to lose but everything to gain from rather than continue to keep quiet over them. They will not go away and the earlier the better. A word to the wise is in the north. My personal view again, is that people are not being fair to Akuffo Addo. The question is why? Are some Ghanaians ungrateful to him for all what he has done for the country?
Could Nana Akufo Addo, perhaps become the best President Ghana may never have?
Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK