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Opinions Wed, 4 Sep 2013

Re: Akuffo-Addo advised to assume a statesman role

Re: Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo advised to assume a statesman role. By Cletus D. Kuunifaa

I read with dismay the article by Dr. Kwesi Jonah, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana and vehemently disagree with his piece of advice for the 2012 New Patriotic Party (NPP) Presidential Candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo. In the said piece written by the Senior Lecturer, he stated emphatically that “it will be a demotion of status for Nana Addo to stand for elections to be a Member of Parliament or to be selected as a minister of state since he has gone through those experiences already” according to the Saturday issue of Ghana news, August 31, 2013.

(http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=284306&comment=9628312#com)

I disagree with the Professor’s assertion and wish to stress for his understanding that politics must not only be viewed and be played as a game, but must also be viewed and be considered as a vehicle of rendering service to humanity. Viewed as a game, it should not matter how long a politician has served at a particular position. This game of politics must embrace all eligible players irrespective of age. What must be the driving factors of this game of politics should be experience, communicative skills, some level of academic pedigree, commitment to serve the people, patriotism and oratory skills, if you will. If we consider these factors as driving the game of politics, why the heck, should Nana Addo, should he be appointed as a minister of state or in any other capacity or should he want to run for elected position as a Member of Parliament be considered as a demotion? I find it difficult to reason with Dr. Jonah just as I feel this assertion does not make sense as far as politics is concerned. If Nana Addo decides to run and win as an MP for his constituency, it only speaks to the confidence that his constituents repose in him. Needless to belabor the experience and expertise he will offer for constructive criticisms to strengthen the watch dog role of the opposition in parliament in keeping the government on her toes. Every democracy needs a strong and viable opposition in parliament and Dr. Jonah, a political science lecturer should know this better. Mature democracies in the world are thriving well thanks to the contributions of their vibrant opposition parties.

Again, considering politics from the viewpoint as a vehicle of rendering service to humanity, why should individuals (politicians) relent in providing their experience and expertise, if these go a long way to improve society for the better?; wouldn’t they be patriotic in doing so?

To buttress my point, I wish to refer readers to the work and exploits of Former British Prime Minister (PM), Tony Blair, who after resignation as PM was appointed official Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Blair) He picked this position most graciously and has since worked tirelessly involving a foursome of nations and international and supranational entities in mediating the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Former PM Tony Blair has also engaged in teaching and advocacy work following the launch of his “Faith and Globalization Initiative” with Yale University, Durham University in the UK and the National University of Singapore in Asia to deliver postgraduate programs in partnership with the Foundation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Blair) The former British PM Tony Blair is an example of what politicians can do when they are no more in their previous positions.

Other examples abound in the United States, where former senators and congress men and women have assumed panelist positions expressing their view points on pertinent topical issues on top television network like NBC, CNN, and FOX, CBS, BBC and ABC news channels and on various radio stations. These former senators, governors, mayors, congress men and women who offer valuable expertise and provide viewpoints on poignant issues are a testament against the flawed reasoning of Dr. Kwesi Jonah. In the case of Nana Addo, he did not even get to the top most position as President and his situation could be compared to that of Senator John Mccain, a former US Presidential candidate who lost the 2008 US Presidential elections to President Barack Obama and he/him (John Mccain), now the current Senator of his State of Arizona.

Coming back home, history informs us that former President J.A Kuffour gave a shot at the Presidency a couple of times. Did he give up before he finally got elected? What about our beloved late former President J.E.A Mills?

I would rather urge Nana Addo to get involved in politics, if he so chooses to come back after his well-deserved break. Ghana needs the experience and expertise of such caliber of individuals to build and strengthen our democracy. Nana Addo knows this very well and President John Mahama got it long time by his “all-inclusive, all hands on deck Better Ghana Agenda.”

The fact that the electoral petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Ghana should not spell the end of Nana Addo’s political career. No! No, because democracy has held a place for human history for centuries and in our case (Ghana), we are yet building and nurturing a very nascent and fledgling democracy. What is wrong if Nana Addo decides to stand for elections to be a Member of Parliament or should he be selected as a Minister or in any other capacity as a Special Envoy for his country? He has been and will continue to be a valuable asset as far as Ghana’s democracy is concerned. What NPP has done with this case has tested our democracy and Ghana has scored and won. By the SC verdict, it shows our democratic institutions are working and we, Ghanaians are peace loving citizens.

I must state, however, that it is this type of attitude or assumption by Dr. Jonah that breeds pomposity amongst many a politician. The politician, and for that matter, a member of parliament (MP), a former Presidential candidate, a former Minister; must be seen as a citizen just like any of us. The fact that they assumed or were appointed or elected to those positions does not make them special individuals. In the eyes of the law, we are equal. As a matter of fact, their role, irrespective of which ever position they assume is to render service to the people. It is high time we disabused our minds of the notion that once elected or appointed to a public position and the tenure expires or in a very specific case of a failed presidential bid, then the candidate is condemned to a demotion of status, granted that the candidate still wants to offer his/her services to the nation.

Cletus D. Kuunifaa, Long Island University, LIU Post, New York. Can be contacted at dipnibe@yahoo.com or Follow him on twitter @ckuunifaa

Columnist: Kuunifaa, Cletus D