Sunday, 6th September, 2008 Today, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor is giving thanks to the people of Nkawie in the former Atwima-Nwabiegya constituency who gave him his start in politics. There will be time for Ghana to thank the President for his service to our country over many years but the debate about his legacy has already started.
Some say his greatest legacy is the National Health Insurance Scheme and they may be right.
Others think it is the historic increases in funding for education that has given so many young people a chance to go to school.
Many also think it will be either the many roads or the expansion in our freedoms. A sizeable number argue persuasively that it is the management of the macro-economy that made all these others possible.
While each of these arguments is reasonable, my choice is peace--- peace and stability. Dr Busia’s government was a good one but it did not last. President Limann’s third Republic had a constitution considered by many to be better than our current one but it did not last either.
President Kufuor is leaving all the achievements we tout because there has been peace and stability on his watch. Events over the last few months have started to cloud the President’s legacy. Indeed, the events of the last week in Tamale and Gushegu have brought home to all of us the fragility of our stability and the importance of peace to our political process.
To recap, a week ago, an NPP rally to welcome our running mate, Dr Bawumia was under way at the Jubilee Park in Tamale when some NDC members started throwing stones and firing shots in the air. This action by the NDC members led to violence, leading to destruction of property and deaths, with both NPP and NDC members being involved.
Since this outbreak of violence, a number of things have happened. First, the former President, His Excellency Jerry Rawlings, has convened a meeting of his former security capos to discuss how they can contribute to the restoration of the very peace and stability he and his party has been working to undermine since January. If the ex-capos wanted to contribute to stability, why did they not ask to meet the current security chief instead of the former President?
Second, the NDC has sent a fact-finding mission to the north to investigate the violence and this mission, as expected, has exonerated the NDC and its operatives from any blame in the disturbances. The NDC mission to the north was really a public-relations exercise, not a fact-finding mission. While they were spinning these events in a many that would make most spin-doctors proud, real living human beings were either dead or had been rendered homeless.
Third, the interior Minister, Dr Addo Kufuor, has visited the north and pledged to enforce law and order and to deal with those fanning the violence. I say “It is about time!” It is time for the nation’s security forces to protect peaceful citizens trying to take part in our political process, from lawless elements determined to destabilize our democracy.
Fourth, the media and the clergy have teamed up in an effusion of hand-wringing and appeals to both the NPP and the NDC to exercise restraint in a manner clearly calculated to give the impression that both parties are equally to blame. That is unfortunate. The appeals coming from the media and the clergy for peace and tolerance are commendable. However, they should have been prefaced with a forthright denunciation of the NDC for their role in fomenting the violence. Since the beginning of this election-year, one party has been calling for a clean and peaceful election while another has been fervently invoking the examples of Kenya and Zimbabwe. From former President Rawlings’ urging of NDC members “ not to turn the other cheek” to their opponents to Prof Mills campaign team statement following the registration violence that urged NDC members to resist whatever they considered inappropriate without regard to the law, the NDC has been encouraging violence, if not planning and or organizing it. Thus while in fairness, one cannot accuse the NDC leadership of planning the Tamale and Gushegu disturbances, they are accountable for it.
Let our media and religious leaders preface their call for patience and tolerance with a forthright condemnation of the intellectual authors of the violence that has engulfed the north in the last week—the NDC. Well-meaning calls for tolerance that ignore wanton acts of provocation by one side will be ignored.
Let our security agencies, as the Minister of Interior has pledged, enforce the law with firmness and fairness.
Let the public turn its back on the politics of violence. Nana Akufo-Addo was right when he asserted that no blood should be spilled by anybody or party in pursuit of victory in this election. Unfortunately, his call has been disregarded leading to our common tragedy.
Let the NDC accept their culpability in the events that triggered the violence and join the NPP in preaching peace and tolerance and all shall be well. Finally, even as we console the widows and the mothers of those who have needlessly perished in this election year, let us vow to put political violence behind us. It stains our nation’s honour before the world. We need accountability to preserve Kufuor’s greatest legacy—peace and stability. Let us have peace Let us move forward, together, to organize an election that will make us and the world proud.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy
(Chair, Communication Committee) 2008 Campaign