NPP's Defeat-The Kufour factor. Part (I)

Mon, 20 Apr 2009 Source: Haruna, Mahama

When the NPP lost power, millions of Ghanaians were devastated. Tears flowed and hearts were broken. As regrettable as our defeat may be, we need to do a serious diagnosis of why the party lost.

Many party members and stakeholders have since January been giving their view as to why the NPP lost. The party leadership we have been told has set up a committee to look into this issue. Without pre-empting their work I would want to add my views for this painful defeat. I strongly believe ex-President J A Kufour contributed in no small way to the defeat of the NPP. While trying to find other peoples view on this topic, I stumbled on a feature written by Mustapha Hamid a former National Youth Organiser of NPP and former Spokesperson for Nana Akufo-Addo- the 2008 Presidential Candidate of the NPP on his website (www.mustaphamid.net/blog) and it is interesting reading. Under the title 'It is a question of Judgment' he outlined certain judgments former President J A Kufour made that were not in the best interest of the NPP. According to Mustapha Hamid one of the important qualities a person must possess in order to be President is judgement. He explained that a President must judge correctly most of the time if not all of the time, otherwise he or she destroys the aspirations and hopes of the people that he or she leads. He said that in the course of former President Kufour's tenure he was hit by certain controversies which in the future will be central to the verdict that the jurors give on his tenure as President. Mustapha Hamid outlined these judgements as follows:

Judgment Number 1

President Kufuor judged wrongly in allowing his son to buy that hotel. Yes, as a young enterprising Ghanaian, there was nothing wrong with him putting together a consortium of banks to buy a hotel. But this was no ordinary Ghanaian. He was and indeed still is the President’s son. And nobody is deceived that his relationship with the President did not play any part in him obtaining that facility from the banks. At the time that Chief Kufuor bought the hotel, there were a number of more enterprising NPP activists who were striding the stairways of banks looking for ridiculously lower amounts of money to start street corner businesses who did not get a hearing. As for the President’s public declaration that his son worked with PriceWaterHouseCoopers, the least said about it the better. Until the President said that I did not know that place of work is accepted as collateral for anything. It attracted for him and the NPP a lot of opprobrium. What impression did it leave in the minds of Ghanaians? “The President and his family are a cheating, looting lot”. It was bad judgment.

Judgment Number 2President Kufuor judged wrongly in not sacking Anane. Again let me state that Anane did not engage in corrupt practice. Indeed the courts said so. But whether or not we like it Ghanaians had come to the conclusion that somehow or the other Anane had used his office in ways that were unethical. And at a time when Ghana’s ranking on the World Corruption Index was low, President Kufuor needed one tough action to signal his commitment to fighting corruption. The Anane case was his opportunity to do so. He lost it and left a rather wrong impression on the minds of Ghanaians that he condoned or indeed supported corruption. Ghana’s ranking on the World Corruption Index further plummeted. His decision not to sack Anane was bad judgment.

Judgment Number 3

President Kufuor judged wrongly in buying two Presidential Jets in an election year. There is still a pervasive poverty mentality in Ghana. Not just the mentality, but indeed there is pervasive poverty. And in an election year when world oil prices had been unkind to our fragile economy and when a desperate opposition was capitalising on the situation to incite hatred against the government, it was simply bad judgment to order not one, but two Executive Jets.

Judgment Number 4

President Kufuor’s decision to confer an award, the nation’s highest award on himself was bad judgment. It is simply not done. All the time former presidents wait for their successors to come after them to give them awards for their services to the nation. Indeed no one ever marks his own script. But not President Kufuor. He determined that he had done well and proceeded to confer an award on himself. The majority of Ghanaians were appalled. It left only one impression on the minds of Ghanaians: President Kufuor is a self-serving, self-aggrandising President. It was bad judgment.

Judgment Number 5

President Kufuor’s decision to appoint his own advisor to determine his ex-gratia together with others known as article 71 office holders was bad judgment. The public simply saw it as a “scratch my back, I scratch your back” kind of deal. Was it surprising therefore that the product of that process outraged Ghanaians? It is simply not done. I am sure if some other person had chaired that committee other than Chinery Hesse but came out with the same result, the response from the public would have been different. It was bad judgment.

Judgment Number 6

When Kufuor was President of Ghana, he deserved all the protection that Ghana could muster. Indeed the constitution decrees that the President of the nation takes precedent over every other citizen. So the President bought an armoured-plated BMW car for his protection. This was not just good judgment, but it was absolutely necessary and crucial. But it was bad judgment to have gone home with the car. There can only be one President at a time. Today, that President is Atta Mills. It is only common- sensical that cars meant for the protection of a President are used for the protection of Atta Mills and Atta Mills only. Logically, the state security apparatus had to go after him to collect it for the President of Ghana. Period!

Judgment Number 7

President Kufuor’s decision not to wait for the new NDC administration to implement his ex-gratia and his decision to appropriate a government bungalow to himself which he has started using as his office is bad judgment. Then we are told that he wrote to the government asking to be allowed to use the facility as his office. But to have gone ahead to start using the office without waiting for the government’s response was bad judgment. Considering the fact that the Kufuor administration had attracted a lot of opprobrium for itself for selling government bungalows to its functionaries, it is bad enough that the President himself is seen to have appropriated one for himself. At least the former President could have found space in his wife’s Mother and Child Foundation office in the mean time or better still rented some temporary place. Perhaps President Mills could have later decided that the house should reimburse him with the cost of the rented office. It was bad judgment.

"The point I have been trying to make by these illustrations is that 'there is a way that seems right unto men, but the end thereof is bad'. In all these cases that I have illustrated, former President Kufuor did nothing wrong, at least in legal terms. But the fact that all these judgments attracted a lot of opprobrium shows how bad those decisions were, judgmentally. It is part of Presidential character to have good judgment. Unfortunately former President Kufuor did not have a lot of it". Mustapha Hamid concluded.

In the Part (II) of this feature, I will touch on other actions of Kufour that I believe contributed to the defeat of NPP, such as his role in the divisions within the NPP; his neglect of hardworking Youth of NPP; Appointments to his government; his frequent travels abroad; his lukewarm attitude towards the 2008 campaign and the Sale of Ga Lands. In the Part (III) I will discuss Kufour's Election Year or Last minute Government Policies and others.

By:Mahama Haruna.

Columnist: Haruna, Mahama