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Opinions Wed, 17 Mar 2010

John Kufuor: A Failed Politician

JOHN KUFUOR: A FAILED POLITICIAN

Even though President Kufuor's 8years presidency was filled with turbulence , the verdict on his tenure has been more definite. It's official John Kufour left office as a failed politician. What else?

Kufour was a huge failure. He was unable to resist the trappings of power and did very little if not worse to erode the perception that, all politicians are corrupt, easily manipulated and consistently ineffective. In the end Kufour was the terrible chief executive who did not only bring disgrace to himself but to the office of President.

Now and again, we read and hear several tributes extolling the virtues of the former president. I have even lost counts of the number of awards and honorary degrees that he has won. Were such degrees a criteria for being a great politician, Kufuor would have been the greatest politician ever in this country.

Well thank goodness it isn't.

Kufuor wasn't a bad leader. But he just wasn't good enough to be held up as an example for others to follow. He had every opportunity to set himself apart and provide excellent leadership. But he squandered it all and ended up an average leader, with a weak legacy if any at all.

For eight years, Kufour ruled this country like an elected monarch. He told Ghanaians to tighten their belts because of dire economic conditions. Yet he went around splurging “using the tax payers money to renovate his private property, traveling like a lazy tourist, making his friends and cronies richer, not caring a hoot about the millions of Ghanaians who live in abject poverty every day.

Truth be told, Mr Kufuor did better as a businessman than as a politician. Why did I say this?

He shamelessly served in a military regime that dissolved the legislative assembly of which he was a member.

Disregard all his flimsy excuses that the late Victor Owusu encouraged him to join the PNDC to forestall Ewe hegemony. He hanged in there until he was shamefully chased out of his office by the PNDC cadres.

It is this same Kufuor who submitted at a strategic movement for freedom and justice (MFJ) meeting slated to organize mass demonstration against the PNDC this "I did not go into politics to become a martyr: I went into politics to make money to take care of my family and friends" Indeed! What a self fulfilling prophesy!

With all these albatross dangling around his neck, he managed to wrestled the NPP nomination from Professor Adu Boahen in 1995 and questionably defeated Akuffo in 1998. I believe these questionable political exploits gave him false sense of invincibility.

Honestly speaking, Kufuor had the greatest opportunity to unite these country when he took over as president, but what did we see? He established National Reconciliation Commission to reconcile and unite a divided country but in the end it was seen as an instrument of vengeance.

He presided over the most corrupt administration in the history of Ghana politics because he himself is corrupt to the core. His sons and daughters have been in business for decades but only found wealth after he became president.

How did his ordinary accountant son became a business mogul overnight and purchased a US$ 5Million hotel under inexplicable circumstances?

John Kufour promised positive change and zero tolerance of corruption yet under his 8 years reign, Ghanaians never experience real change. There was 99% tolerance of corruption.

He sold practically everything that belongs to the state to his cronies in the name of property owing democracy. After all, since he came to power we saw midgets became kings with an insatiable taste for foreign goods. While the honest individual with contentment for local goods are mocked for their pawparism.

He was a leader of a governing concept that promised equitable distribution of resources yet rewarded society’s elite and party patrons with pillages while the majority bore the winkles of social adversity.

Where was universal social justice under President Kufuor when one individual who caused economic losses to the Volta River Authority not only escaped the drugnet of criminal prosecution but was also put in charge of the Ghana @ Secretariat? And to add insult to injury and further deepen our sense of shame, we are being told that, some $78 million of the jubilee money cannot be accounted for.

Where was universal social justice under President Kufuor, when the nation's fast track courts pursued the opponent of Kufuor while they turned blind eye on the visible criminalities of Kufuor's men?

Where was universal social justice under President Kufuor, when Justice Henrietta Abban denied Tsatsu Tsikata his constitutional right to counsel of his choice?

Again, where was universal social justice under president Kufuor when Tsatsu Tsikata was condemned by resort to retroactive criminal legislation? Was it just judicial cravenness, executive perfidy or unnecessary interference of due process?

Where was accountability under President Kufuor, when he used the mistakes of his predecessor to rationalize the failures of his scandalous regime?

If Mr Kufuor made no mistakes, then he is a stone. But the fact that his administration is remembered more for the bad than for good should hurt.

Honestly speaking, Kufour had his good days. He successfully strengthened the menace called Rawlings under his 8 years rule.

He had all the opportunities to deal with Mr Rawlings if he was dangerous as he made us believe but for 8 years Rawlings preened and pranced while Kufuor gawked and awed. Thanks to Kufuor's shenanigans.

Jerry Rawlings was never proven to be a criminal yet Mr Kufuor harassed him for political gain. Taking away his VIP privileges and other gimmicks never fool some of us.

There was not a single instance were Kufuor's government placed in front of Ghanaians any credible evidence that Rawlings was hatching any coup plans yet Kufuor and his men hoodwinked Ghanaians with all kinds of unfounded coup scares. The result, Rawlings is stronger. Well done Kufuor!

Mr Kufuor has a strong aversion for coup d'tat's yet on his first official visit outside Ghana as a President, he celebrated coup d'tat in Togo. He remains a 'walking contradiction', a man caught in his own ambiguities.

In his last two years of his scandalous regime, the nation's debt portfolio rose to $7.1 billion, yet Mr Kufuor imposed high taxes on the citizenry, borrowed in the name of the state and spent the money like a mad president.

The philosophy at the time was that; "take as much as you can and live well, and to hell with the rest’"

When he was confronted with the reality of corruption in his administration, he said corruption was as old as Adam. As if he didn't know before he promised zero tolerance of corruption. He is a complete epitome of a corrupt politician.

Mr Kufuor was a major disappointment to most people. Many will agree that, he set the precedence for instability in this country. We were just lucky to escaped another military intervention under his rule.

In his second term of office as presidents, drug trafficking got so bad that, his close pal and former law maker was arrested in the U.S for drug trafficking. I hear the disgraced drug baron was instrumental in his re-election in 2004.

Under President Kufuor, Ghanaians were confronted with nepotism, plutocracy, tapeism, ethnocentriscm, arrogance, unbridled corruption, duplicity, waste, bad governance, colourful lies, politics of entitlement, shameless looting of national coffers and sickening disregard for the welfare of the people yet he did not find it necessary to resign.

Just as the verdict became clearer that he has failed as a politician, he covertly worked himself into frenzy to get Alan Kyeremanten nominated as the NPP flagbearer in their 2007 conference. This reckless move seriously did more damage to his credibility in his own party and underscores his renown notoriety as a palpable opportunists.

Again President Kufuor judged wrongly in allowing his chief adviser to determined his retirement package. It is completely inappropriate and unacceptable for a president to form a committee of his friends to make recommendations on what he should take away into retirement. But President Kufuor is a stubborn cat.

The fact that Mr Kufuor is a greedy and selfish politician is beyond doubt. But I never imagined that, he could take his gluttonous self indulgence to such lows. Let no one be deceived that Kufuor had no hand in Chinery Hese recommendation and how they were purportedly approved by parliament. I looked at the package and I am ashamed that Kufuor was ever my president.

For diehard Kufuor supporters, initiatives such as national health insurance, school feeding programme and the capitation grant are just a few things that he can be remembered for. But those gains were eroded when he shamelessly decided to reward himself by spending our millions to buy a medallion to reward himself. There is good reason to mull over Kufuors’s actions. As a president more than anyone else at the time, he had the best chance to bring change and progress into this country. If we set aside his early achievements, he didn’t really do anything other than further his own selfish interest. In addition, if Kufuor had any shame he would apologize to the good people of Ghana for that matter for dragging their name into disrepute.

In my estimation, Mr Kufuor failed as a politician. When he was presented with the opportunity to choose between corruption and cronyism on one hand and principle and morality on the other hand, he surprisingly settled for the former.

That is not a mark of a great politician and as such, he was not that great.

Don't get me wrong though, Kufuor was a fine chief executive, just okay but not so good enough to be held up as example for others to follow.

Emmanuel Dela Coffie

The Writer is student Journalist. He welcome your comments via emmanuelcoffie488@yahoo.com

Columnist: Coffie, Emmanuel Dela