By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Former President, John Agyekum Kufuor, has surfaced again, drawing needless attention to himself by making utterances that confirm my stance that he will be better off when silent. Doubtless, he has become one of those who become wise only after the fact. He has asked President Mills to beg foreign governments and institutions to help Ghana solve basic problems, including provision of potable water and sanitation. Then, at the weekend, he observed that as much as government is making efforts to ensure that students are comfortable on campus, it is equally important to address the needs of teachers. I consider his utterances as unbecoming and take him to task on that score.
Point Number One:
The news report headlined “Don’t be ashamed to beg for help—Kufuor tells govt” says it all. Kufuor has admonished the government to shed off its pride, if any, and call on the international community for help to solve the country’s ‘overwhelming’ sanitation challenges (MyJoyOnline, November 19, 2011).
Talking to Joy News’ Sammy Darko about his new international appointment as chairman of the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership, Kufuor said Ghana’s quest to see a healthy and developed society would be a mockery, if proper and pragmatic measures are not put in place to tackle the environmental problems head on.
Probably carried away by his new appointment, he must have overshot his mouth. This global institution is an alliance of governments, donors, civil society organizations and agencies working to improve water and sanitation across the world. But I wonder what Kufuor can do to benefit Ghana. He has been flying all over the place as a member of several organizations and initiatives since leaving office but his role hasn’t yielded a single dividend to support Ghana. His boast that the job he got only this week provides a good opportunity for him to facilitate donor support in the areas of water and sanitation in Ghana, particularly is vain. I don’t regard it as worth my bother.
Point Number Two:
Addressing a durbar of the chiefs and people of the Asebu traditional area at Asebu in the Abura–Asebu-Kwamansse (AAK) District in the Central Region to climax their annual Apayamkese festival, Kufuor called on the government to improve the lot of teachers. He said the country would not be able to meet its educational needs if the requisite requirements of teachers who are the bedrock of education are not adequately taken care of. What hypocrisy!
We all know what happened under his administration when the lot of teachers wasn’t any better than it has been under the Mills government. Indeed, all the various public sector workers (doctors, nurses, teachers, etc.) who have gone on strike to demand better conditions of service did not enjoy anything better under Kufuor. So, why is he turning round to behave as if he did better than what we are witnessing under the Mills-government?
So, what at all is Kufuor up to?
No doubt, he is wise now only after leaving office. While in power, he wasn’t. Indeed, I have not ceased to perceive him as one of the weaklings whose rise to the top did nothing but reveal the deep-seated leadership crisis that has been this country’s bane over the years. Malleable as he is, Kufuor didn’t impress me as the kind of leader who would galvanize the people to solve the country’s problems. And he didn’t. In several ways, he did or failed to do only what confirmed my poor opinion about him as a leader.
Many happenings under his watch confirmed clearly how weak and ineffective a leader he could be. Now out of office, he seems to have found his bearing to know what exactly the solutions to Ghana’s major problems are. To the extent that he could cheapen himself, he hasn’t ceased amazing many people, probably including some of his now disillusioned followers.
By all accounts, Kufuor is suggesting that begging the international community to solve basic problems of sanitation is a panacea to the country’s problems at this level. By his approach, then, Ghana’s status as a beggar state will be sustained and reinforced. He is not ashamed that with all the material/natural and human resources that Ghana has, it cannot use them to develop but has to turn to the “masters” for help.
He is unashamed that the country cannot develop because just like him, all its leaders lack foresight and the administrative acumen to galvanize the citizens to take decisive action to develop the country. Kufuor is unabashed that for the 8 years that he ruled the country, his administration couldn’t do anything concrete to redirect the country toward a better and more effectual path of development other than what he inherited (the warped and confused socialist or capitalist-oriented approach or just an amorphous system that has kept Ghana still underdeveloped despite the immense resources that it has, which others exploit for their own good.
In office, Kufuor demonstrated the highest form of self-acquisitiveness and opened the floodgates for all his praise-singers to do same, part of which has added to the hydra-headed problems still militating against efforts to develop the country.
It is not as if the problems for which he and the other anti-Mills politicians are making ugly noises all over the place were created by the Mills government or that they erupted only when Mills succeeded him.
Here is a litany of what we saw under Kufuor in the 8 years that he ruled (Thanks to Dr. Kwaku Danso of Ghana Leadership Forum):
• Kufuor’s government couldn’t complete ordinary water projects for which he took $603 million in grant and loans;
• Kufuor could not get the Tetteh-Quarshie Roundabout to McCarthy Hills Motorway extension completed;
• Kufuor could not get the Accra-Nsawam highway completed and left it a mess around the Achimota area;
• Kufuor could not get the $700 million loan electricity project to a level where we are even at 99.9%.
• Kufuor could not get Korle Bu, the 37 Military, and many Regional and District hospitals to be first class hospitals, despite collecting over $400 million ($32 billion x 2.5% using only half of that) in NHIS levies every year;
• Kufuor could not think of polishing up some of the old factories, such as the GIHOC Pharmaceutical at Achimota, a very large Real Estate office complex, to at least invest ,say $10 million and turn the place into a research institution that can produce drugs for Ghana!
• Dear reader, add your own!!!
Forget about the social intervention measures such as NHIS or the importation of Yutong buses that his government took up. Ghana can’t develop through such social interventionist measures, which only provided avenues for kickbacks that he was said to have monopolized.
Ghana needs more than this cosmetic approach to develop. Unfortunately, this same Kufuor couldn’t tackle the systemic problems that he inherited from the Rawlings administration to pave the way for national development. By the time he left office, he had created more, which he passed on to Atta Mills but is now standing at the periphery, making ugly utterances as if he has now identified the solutions to those systemic problems. And like the typical brainless Ghanaian politician, he is brazenly operating from the touchline, giving instructions, although when fielded, he flopped miserably.
I want to remind Kufuor that Ghana doesn’t need to beg anybody to develop or solve its problems of sanitation or potable water processing and distribution. It needs effective leaders to help harness its vast resources to develop. Kufuor had all the goodwill from Ghanaians to provide reliable and effectual leadership for that purpose but to a large extent, he failed to do so.
In power for 8 years, he saw no evil and heard no evil concerning his government and its inadequacies. It was a free-for-all situation at the expense of the country and the common good. Now, he sees begging as the way out and is deriding his successor for not swallowing his pride to go for it. Such is the HIPC mentality of the bundle of hypocrite called Kufuor!