By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
October 1, 2010 The NPP’s Akufo-Addo has suffered another humiliation at a durbar of chiefs and people. This time, it has happened in Akropong-Akwapim on the occasion of the Odwira festival. From the news reports, it appears that Akufo-Addo might have shot himself in the foot as the cause of his humiliation—arriving late at the durbar, yet seeking to breach protocol and exchange pleasantries with dignitaries, long after the function had taken off. We are told that in desperation, he asked the Police thrice whether the people did not want him to greet them; then, he returned to his seat, unfulfilled. The light did not shine on him.
Being the second time that his attempts to use such traditional festival occasions to draw attention to himself (and the political party he leads) has ended in a fiasco, I am tempted to think that Akufo-Addo is not playing his political cards properly. Even if there is a calculated attempt by the government to dim his light and prevent him from turning traditional durbar grounds into an avenue for raising high the NPP’s flag, one can’t fail to see that there is something basically wrong with the manner in which Akufo-Addo is carrying on and seeking attention through such events. Will he not learn to hasten slowly?
To me, he seems to be too desperate to catch the eye of the public. If this is how he wants to do his campaigns, I am afraid that he will hit more snags than what has happened so far. Does he not know that the incumbent government will not sit down for him to snatch such occasions from it to do politics for the benefit of the NPP? Let’s cut the long story short to say that Akufo-Addo seems to be more interested in making public appearances than telling Ghanaians what his specific agenda for solving the country’s problems are. Turning himself into “a show-boy” is not the way forward. That’s where his problem lies.
Ghanaians may be complaining about the performance of President Mills’ government within the period but it doesn’t mean that they will go for Akufo-Addo if what I have seen so far is anything to go by. There are many questions for Akufo-Addo to worry about. At issue is that daunting question on what exactly he can do to prove that he has the antidote to the problems that others haven’t been able to solve so far. It goes beyond a mere hot-air blowing craze. Many people that I have spoken to are asking this question: What will Akufo-Addo bring to Ghana politics that we wouldn’t already have seen or experienced? They contend that so far, he hasn’t given us anything concrete for us to see the difference between a government to be led by him and all those that have already ruled the country and stuck to policies that couldn’t free the people from grinding poverty and paralyzing privations.
Regardless of how his light is being dimmed at traditional festival grounds, here are some of the issues that don’t endear Akufo-Addo to the hearts of those who will not wish him as Ghana’s President.
• The very factors that detracted from his chances at the 2008 polls are still prevalent. Some touch on his morality while others relate to his problem-solving capabilities (with hindsight from his performance in the Kufuor government as Minister of Justice and Attorney-General and as Minister of Foreign Affairs). These doubts raise larger issues that will haunt him when the electioneering campaign gathers momentum.
• Akufo-Addo was part of Kufuor’s bandwagon of “property-owning democrats.” At the end of Kufuor’s eight years in office, we all saw the evidence of the extent to which the property-grabbing craziness could take them. From looting funds through dubious business dealings and outright fraudulent schemes to expropriating public property (lands, bungalows, and movable property), they gave us clear glimpses into the raison d’être for their being in politics. From the mad rush to convert state-owned vehicles to personal ownership and the wanton dissipation of other state resources, we have not been left in any doubt about the NPP’s agenda.
• Then again, from the hounding of political opponents (especially those in the NDC) to the disgraceful manner in which Kufuor sought to lick his own political vomit by stopping the prosecution of some just before he left office, no one would doubt the vindictiveness that undergirds the NPP’s brand of politics. Akufo-Addo is part of this evil machinery.
• To say that Akufo-Addo will breathe any new lease of life into Ghana politics is a misstatement. Knowing him for what he is, I have no doubt in my mind that he already has outlined a clear politics of vendetta, and is secretly nursing high hopes of getting at his political opponents if he ever becomes the President of Ghana. Having been embarrassed following the impounding of his personal vehicle (and now at festival grounds), he is already charged for vindictiveness.
• He has not changed his rhetoric. Sweeping condemnation of the NDC government without suggesting any alternative plan of action to solve the country’s problems is his trump-card. He is behaving like a run-away horse and casting insinuations left and right. So far, he has hurled invective at the incumbent President (describing him as “Professor Do Little,” for instance) and given a clear indication that he is the same old arrogant and sanctimonious wind-bag.
• He has surrounded himself with the same worn-out faces and spent horses who are known for their part in the failures of the Kufuor government and his own Presidential ambitions in the 2008 elections. He appears to have become a victim of his own miscalculation. Using the same strategies, he shouldn’t expect anything different from what befell him at the 2008 polls. I want to remind him of Einstein's words: “The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.”
A government under Akufo-Addo will be a replica of the Kufuor one, which isn’t likely to give Ghana what it needs to take off in a new direction of hope and good tidings for the poor voters. As of now, the old stinking wine bottle is still with us. I have no conviction that Akufo-Addo can make the difference. From all indications, Akufo-Addo seems to be over-speeding, carrying himself as if he is already the President of Ghana. His public posture betrays his impatience to ascend to the Presidency. Considering circumstances and how he is handling issues, I think that by the time he realizes it, the wind would have gone out of his sail to prevent his political boat from sailing to the Osu Castle, let alone the Taj Mahal that Kufuor has given Ghana as a Presidential Palace. Will Akufo-Addo hasten slowly, then?