NPP's Defeat- The Kufour factor (III)

Sat, 25 Apr 2009 Source: Haruna, Mahama

I am going to be my irreverent self because as you may be aware, I, your irrepressible Haruna, have a strong weakness of frankness. I also have a thick skin for insults. As for strong language, I must admit that I only try as much as possible to be accurate and a little bit vivid. I do sincerely believe that rather than being gagged for my ideas, I will rather hang myself. I must confess here that sometimes I am possessed with fury. Many people have asked me if I have a personal score to settle with Kufour. The answer could be YES and those who might not understand should go and ask Kufour if the name Alhaji Mahama Salifu of Bole-Bamboi rings a bell. ( I will give the full details in my next feature).

The truth is that ever since the NPP lost power (or gave away power on a silver platter), any attempt to make a postmortem has been hushed down by the top hierarchy of the party, fearing that such postmortem will expose the weaknesses of the leadership of the party especially Kufour. Sometimes I shudder to broach this subject of postmortem because any attempt to do so may be misconstrued to mean mischief.

From this angle, I am sure I am going to provide easy fodder for people who may not understand me very well. At the end of this feature, I know some people will make up their minds to launch a vicious attack. To such people, I will be sorely disappointed if they misinterpret my intention and declare war on elementary truth. I want to assure these people before they continue embark on their attacks that I am broad-minded and spot-on on issues I have always raised. After all, why must we belong to NPP, a party that upholds internal democracy and also listens to critical voices and pens within? The Akans have an adage which says that when you see a bad thing in-between the thighs of your mother, it is not wrong for you to take it away with your "Moses’ Rod".

Some one even had the audacity to send me a mail asking if I have an inate hatred and disdain for Kufour by "writing all those trash". Another asked if is because I was trained as a Journalist by Gabby Asare Otchere Darko (my mentor) and because Mustapha Hamid is my brother. I just wondered if that person know Gabby very well because I do not think he is what such characters think of him. He tried to offer constructive criticisms and the ills of NPP through his newspaper but was labeled as a traitor, destroyer, an arrogant man and what have you. If Kufour had listened to him, the NPP would have still been in power. As for Hamid, yes he is a Northern brother but we are not related by blood. I am a Gonja and he is Mamprusi. I only admire him for his sacrifices and struggles for NPP in the dark days of opposition.

Sorry I am losing my patience but it is because after the Part (I) and (II) of this feature, some miscreants have called to abuse me. Anyway many others have called to congratulate me for my boldness and frankness. I just think unto us have come the season when NPP members should courageously and fearlessly set down in truth the affairs of the NPP and say it as it is, no matter whose toes are being stepped on. Those who think I am washing the party's dirty linen in public are not conversant with the tradition of the party. I think a strange and dangerous phenomenon that is creeping into NPP is attempts to gag concerned party members who would want to offer constructive criticisms as well as expose the ills of the party.

Some people have told me to spend my energy and brain writing about NDC. Yes I will do that in due course but for now I believe we have to put the NPP on a surgeon table for a post-mortem on why we lost. We should do that with good intensions anyway. It is the only way we will know where to start from in the re-building, reoorganisation and re-packaging of the party.

Excuse me for digressing a little but coming to the issue under discussion that is Kufour's Election Year or last minute policies of his government, I would want to start with how Kufour and his cronies handled the Micro Finance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) scheme. This was a programme crafted and designed by a hardworking son of this country. For reasons best known to Kufour this gentleman was left out after the programme was finalised. A veterinary doctor was brought to run the programme. While ordinary people were denied access to soft loans to expand their businesses some people were using the largesse of MASLOC to service Kufours cronies, devotees and bootlickers, a situation that brought so much disaffection at the grass roots.

 Kufour's sack of Francis Poku- a former National Security co-ordinator affected the party. This person was an insider within Kufuor's National Security outfit. What serious-minded, smart politician-President would have an open fracas with his National Security capo and, then, have another National Security insider take him on publicly on the eve of a major election. And this is the man some would have us recognize as a great politician!! As one writer puts it 'Mr Poku had a cunning way of getting information from the NDC side. He had spies everywhere. His sacking actually endangered the lives of his moles. Mr Poku had a way of keeping the security rank and file happy. Mr Poku had a way of pre-empting the NDC. He would have found an antidote for the so-called Volta Virus.

NPP lost the election because NPP lost control of the nation's security and the security of the elections. This was where Kufuor did the greatest damage to the party'.

Also whoever mooted the idea of a Presidential jet in an election year did a great dIsservive to the party. Personally, I do not think that was a necessity. It looked like Kufour had forgotten of the effects of the Gulf Stream saga on the NDC. The confusion that arose from numerous inconsistent and contradictory defences did not do any good to the NPP. With the price of crude oil then high with the concomittant hardship, it was simply insensitive if not callous on Kufours part to have bought two Presidential Jets. Some of Kufour's actions were not only inexplicable, frankly they looked irrational. I wonder why then opposition Presidential Candidate Proffessor John Evans Atta Mills was singled out for national honours and it took agitations from NPP members before their candidate Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo was added to the list. Will President George Bush have done same to Barack Obama before the US elections?

The Presidential Palace (Jubilee House) was the single most important monumental achivement of Kufour in his eight year rule. My problem however was why Kufour was in such a haste to complete it and occupy it ( which he did for a month) before leaving office. The NDC painted a picture of a President that did care about the masess but a select few- President, Vice-President, Ministers and other important government appointees.

Talking about Kufour's activities after the 2008 election went into a run-off, I was shocked to the marrow when Ghanaian media widely reported Kufour's 70th birthday celebration. It was done with pomp and pageantry on December 8, when the results of the of the first round of voting the day before it had not been declared. It meant Kufour was not interested in what became of the NPP at the polls. He could have posponed the birthday celebrations till the election was over or celebrate it in a low key way. As if this was not enough certain panic measures of Kufour created disaffection for the NPP nationwide as presented by a popular magazine. For instance Kufour waited till the NPP went into a second round of voting before announcing a long-demanded cut in fuel prices thus eliciting a hugely negative national response. Reducing fuel prices was so ridiculous! It simply annoyed many Ghanaians. The NDC went to the extent of demanding a Gh20 Cedis reduction (when the price was Gh40 Cedis) and promised Ghanaians they will do that if their party is voted into power.

To compound matters, Kufour announced that about 5,000 taxi drivers and other motorists who had been jailed nationwide fo failing to pay court fines arising from motor traffic offences were to be released and those who had already paid their fines would get refunds if they presented their receipts to the authorities. Not many taxi drivers and their extended families were impressed. The twist NDC gave to this situation was that, the NPP deliberately jailed the driversd. As a result many of the drivers. their families and well wishers were not impressed and showed this through voting.

Another damaging announcement was that, government had embarked on an exercvise to stop "pair trawling" by foreign fishing vessels in Ghana's territorial waters. Pair trawling involves the use of two fishing trawlers with a huge net hung between them that scoops every fish -big and small- into the net leaving very little behind for the local fishermen. For months before the December elections, local fishing communities had called on Kufuor to stop the pair trawling as it was hugely detrimental to the local fishing industry. At first Kufour's government claimed it did not have the wwherewithal to stop the practice, but when the second round of the Presidential voting was pending, it somehow found the resources- naval boats and helicopters (supposedly donated by the US government) to fight the pair trawlers.

Too late, said the people. The fishing communitie along the coast from Axim in the west to Keta in the east. They therefpore voted against the in protest at Kufours neglect of their concerns.

I am also yet to hear a rational explanation from Kufour for the announcement of salary increases a few hours before exiting office. If indeed he wanted the NPP to retain power, he should have done so two or three months earlier and not after his party had lost the election.

In conclusion, I wish to say that the post-mortem continues, and rightly so. I challenge any NPP member who is privy to the actions of any individual or groups contribution to the defeat of NPP should bring it into public domain. The NDC did same and came out stronger. If the NPP wants to win power again, it will have to scrutinize itself. The last time we lost power in 1972 it took 28 years to win back. Surely, the NPP would not want a repeat of this history. Watch out for a feature on "How Kufuor used Northern NPP Chairmen and dumped them"

By Mahama Haruna.

Columnist: Haruna, Mahama