By Margaret Jackson
Political legacy is not a football match or a boxing contest. It is not a competitive thing that you pitch your hopes so much on or fight for it or crave for. In fact it is a distinguished reward that you earn for your devoted and selfless services, which is eventually accorded or bestowed on you when you least expect. When history smiles on you and you get the chance to serve your nation or people in any given capacity, you do the best to your ability and leave the rest to history. It is history that would eventually judge your conduct and determine whether you blew the chance or utilized the opportunity for the utmost benefit of your people or not.
Some people get so lucky that their sterling political legacies are determined or recognized before they leave this planet earth. Those people normally get the recognition and get duly rewarded before they pass away. Nelson Mandela, the first black South African President, happens to fall into this group of leaders or the few lucky ones who have gotten history to recognize their contributions whilst they are still alive. I don’t recall Mandela craving for or fighting to be rewarded, but history has smiled on this illustrious son of Africa, big time. Nelson Mandela, who was once regarded by the White Apartheid government of South Africa as a terrorist, has received more than 250 awards over the past four decades with the most notable one being the Nobel Peace Prize he received in 1993. Mandela, who was falsely convicted on sabotage charges and spent 27 years in prison, came out of prison, and adopted a policy of reconciliation and negotiation which eventually led to the transition to multi-racial democracy in South Africa.
There are others, who get disparaged, condemned and thrown into the history dustbin only for posterity to remember them, pick their names from the dustbin and smile on them when they are long gone. Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president, falls into this category of people.
If you remember the country’s political history, you will understand me perfectly well. When Nkrumah was overthrown in a violent coup d’état by a bunch of people who were just following their masters’ bidding, he was severely vilified, and many Ghanaians who were living testaments during that period saw the hate and anger that was spewed on Nkrumah. Even books with Nkrumah’s name were burnt to ashes. Statues and anything related to Nkrumah were utterly destroyed. Those in charge of the coup which qualifies as the darkest days in Ghana were bent on wiping out the name of one of Africa’s greatest sons and politicians and just make it a foot note.
But today Nkrumah stands taller and more dignified not in Ghana but globally, whilst the coup makers and their supporters look terrible. Many even consider those who overthrown Nkrumah as enemies of progress. Not long ago, the African Union (AU) commissioned its new headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As part of the activities, the Heads of States and Government from around the continent who attended the commissioning also had the distinguished privilege of witnessing the unveiling on the grounds of the AU headquarters, a statue of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. The statue was to honour Nkrumah for his role in Pan Africanism and also the founding of the Organization of African Unity, (the predecessor of the AU).
We have a former leader in our dear country that goes by the name John Agyekum Kufour who seems not to get it. He thinks political legacy is something that you fight or crave for. He perfectly fits the lizard that jumped from the high iroko tree to the ground and decided to praise himself if no one else comes forward to shower praises on him. Immediately Kufour was sworn into office he started to show traces of legacy obsession, by being me, me and me.
This man never ceases to amaze people by always pointing to the fact that he is the best leader that Ghana has ever produced. My simple logic in debunking this wild claim is that if Kufour is the best leader Ghana has ever produced, his terrible mismanagement of the country’s economy and his penchant for corrupt practices would not have sent his party, the NPP into opposition.
Ghanaians, I must say, know when something is good or not and have the tendency to reward people who have served the country selflessly and flawlessly. Therefore, if Kufour just cite a couple of things he did under his watch and conclude that he is the best that has ever happened to the country, then he is dead wrong.
I have said it somewhere that it was during Rawlings’ time when Ghana secured the funding for the construction of the Kasoa/Cape Coast Road and the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange. Unfortunately, Kufour came and met the money and executed those two projects. Even with the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange he deliberately changed the road specification to sound like his baby. But when the commissioning time was due for those two projects, Kufour and his NPP henchmen grabbed the spotlight by ignoring to invite Rawlings or the NDC to those ceremonies. I bet many people who credited those two projects to Kufour do not even know that it was Rawlings’ government that secured the funding for those two projects.
Let us just see what happened last month during the commissioning of the George Walker Bush Motorway (GWBM). Kufour was all over fighting two unnecessary wars. He was fighting Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom for daring to say that he played a major role to help Ghana to secure the funding from the US government and also President Mills’ government, for claiming that it executed the project. Everybody knows that it was the NDC that executed the GWBM project. Period! But wise President Mills transcended beyond partisan politics and invited Kufour who gleefully accepted and attended the commissioning ceremony of the GWBM. But many people were even horrified when Kufour who was in the convoy during the inspection process, opened his window and waved uncontrollably to people as if he was still the president of the land. One question that is beating the minds of many people is what is the obsession for? Why is Kufour so crazed about legacy?
It is very true that it was during Kufour’s time that Ghana hit its crude oil in major quantities. Nobody is fighting with him on that feat. But it is also true that since the days of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana has been searching for crude oil. Therefore it would not be out of place to state that Kufour just built on what other governments have done before him. But “Mr. Legacy Conscious” Kufour does not want anybody to share any glory on the crude oil issue. Not even President Mills, who did the commissioning of the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah MV21, which was installed on the Jubilee Oil Field on November 2010.
Ex-president Kufour was invited by the NDC government during the commissioning of the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah and you should have heard what he said when he was interviewed on radio and television after the programme. He stated categorically that he holds the sole credit for the crude oil find and that he would have metamorphosed to the ceremony grounds with or without invitation to demonstrate that he was the one who founded the crude oil for Ghana. I was never impressed by that statement and not many people were.
Just after Kufour left office, he was interviewed by the BBC and I was not enthused when this man highlighted on the things that he did and ended by saying that if he is not the best leader that ever ruled Ghana, then who is? Mr. Kufour, please let Ghanaians and history be the judges. For all you may know history would only judge you 50 years from now when most of us are long gone, so stop praising yourself at every turn of event.
Most Ghanaians have not forgotten how you rewarded yourself in office by creating the new highest honour, the "Grand Order of the Star and Eagle of Ghana" and justified it by saying you created it for the institution of the presidency. How horrible!
Since Kufour left office, he has lobbied several times to win the Mo Ibrahim award to prove to his critics that he is indeed the best manager Ghana has ever had. But in spite of his lobbying skills, the committee that looks at the individual performances of past leaders in terms of their economic management and governance among others, has repeatedly passed over Kufour, an indication that he does not qualify for the award. But Kufour does not get it and he is still soldering on in his pursuit of the award.
Somebody has to tell Kufour that you do not chase after legacy. It is rather the opposite. Your good works would let legacy chase after you and honour you even if you no longer exist. Therefore, he has to tone down. If he is indeed the best leader Ghana has ever had, history and for that matter Ghanaians would never forget him. He would be duly recognized and rewarded. He does not have to fight and trumpet his case. Like an examination, all Kufour had done was to rule Ghana for 8 years. He did certain things which I and others praise him for. Likewise he did other things that we condemn him for. But we are not the ultimate judges. History is!