By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Of late, the NPP’s Akufo-Addo has had some exposure, visiting the US to interact with Obama, delivering the Openheimmer annual address just last week, and featuring on the BBC’s “Hard Talk” programme on Monday—all happening after his consecration at a non-denominational service at Essipong, near Takoradi, and the mini-rally in Accra two weeks ago by his party at the end of his so-called “listening to the people” tour in the country.
He must be holding his head high and thumping his chest as the people’s choice. Wishes are still far from becoming horses for beggars to ride.
Akufo-Addo is pulling his weight in several ways to suggest that he will be a capable leader if voted into office at the upcoming elections in December. He is looking for PATRIOTS who will shun money and team up with him to rule Ghana. Are there no PATRIOTS in the New PATRIOTIC Party (NPP)? Or is the “patriotic” element in the party’s calling only nominal?
His grandiloquent pronouncement last Saturday lends him to further scrutiny. This utterance grates very much on the ear, not because we didn’t expect him to make it but because it is a cheap shot. He was reported as saying at a breakfast meeting with the UK Chapter of the Young Executives Forum (YEF) of the NPP at Grosvenor House, London, that “he will only work with people who are committed to working to enrich the lives of Ghanaians and not people whose aim is to enrich themselves” (Myjoyonline, March 5, 2012).
His warning to the NPP? “My message to any of you or anybody for that matter who wishes to serve in an Akufo-Addo government is this: If you want to make money, then forget it. We don’t need you and we don’t want you.”
He went on to explain: “If you want to make money, I am all for making legitimate money. But if you want to make money, then, please, don’t come into politics. If you want to make money, then the private sector is your place. Stay there and keep away from politics.”
Who will buy this cheap shot? Mere political gimmicks, one might conclude. Ghanaian politics is all about making money, if Akufo-Addo cares to know. Otherwise, why will those (like him) already established in their chosen careers abandon those careers for politics, where they make it overnight? Who is an honest and patriotic Ghanaian politician with whom to work, anyway? We have none. Even the new entrants are already soiled. The old wine bottle into which they have been injected has already turned them sour and made them more poised to surpass the old crooks in all respects. Evidence from the conduct of the youths given authority in the Mills administration confirms beyond every shred of doubt that the crooked edges of our politicians can’t be smoothed with mere exhortations or empty threats of the kind that we hear often. Under the NPP’s so-called “property-owning democracy,” politics is the gateway to wealth. Can’t Akufo-Addo be honest enough to recall what happened under Kufuor? And even at the end of his rule, did we not see how the government functionaries looted state property? How about Kufuor’s own stage-managed End-of-Service Benefits package?
Is Akufo-Addo saying that all these people manipulated the system for personal gains because they didn’t (or still don’t) have any love for the country? Or that when given another chance to return to power they will do otherwise? He might be seeking ways to persuade those NPP followers listening to him that he could fight corruption better than others have done so far; but he raised more questions than any confirmation of his genuineness in addressing the canker. Akufo-Addo needn’t go far enough to know that the very crooks that he has vowed not to work with are already right in front of him, in the thick of his affairs. They are the managers of his campaign efforts and will be responsible for shaping his political agenda. Let me remind him of only two of those characters to alert him to the danger that he is already engulfed in. He will be wise to re-examine his situation before blurting out what will turn out to be his undoing.
Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, the National Chairman of the NPP, is no stranger to us. He has more to do to persuade some of us that he is clean. We trace his corrupt ways right from the very moment that he was elevated as Kufuor’s Minister of Presidential Affairs and all the deals that he entered into with faceless characters to undertake the Osu Castle rehabilitation project in 2001 without passing anything through the official channel—bidding for the contract, telling Ghanaians the exact cost, and many others. We got to know that the rehabilitation ran into well over one billion Cedis at that time! Then, turn round to question his integrity over the allocation of land in the Osu area to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons) and the stealthy manner in which he had the Church sponsor his daughter for further education in the United States, following up on a visit there himself at the expense of that church. The people of Osu raised hell but under the Kufuor government, they had no help to retrieve their land.
Then, settle on the surreptitious manner in which he sought to own a government bungalow even after he had been divested of his Ministerial appointment by Kufuor and had no justification to reside in the bungalow. The matter was taken up by Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa and is still pending before the Supreme Court. We hear the court will soon give its verdict on.
Such a character can’t pass whatever morality test Akufo-Addo may have in mind before making that pronouncement. He loves the self more than the country, and it’s all because politics provides the means to do so. Here is another instance of self-seeking at the expense of the general well-being. The NPP’s General Secretary, Kwadwo Owusu Affriyie (the so-called “Sir John”), has been fingered as one of those who benefited from Alfred Agbesi Woyome, the beneficiary of the fraudulent payment of 51 million Ghana Cedis as judgement debt. We hear that the 4-wheel vehicle being used by Owusu Afriyie was bought for him by Woyome. (And only God knows the extent to which Woyome’s corruption of the politicians endangered the national interests!). Certainly, that gift can’t be dismissed simply as an act of magnanimity. It was meant to corrupt him, and it has done so. Buying his conscience with such a gift makes him a tainted character who shouldn’t be where he is or who shouldn’t be expected to work with Akufo-Addo. But he definitely is engineering the campaign for Akufo-Addo and will be rewarded with a juicy appointment if he happens to win the Elections. May God forbid, though!
With such pronouncements, Akufo-Addo may be given us to know the direction in which he may want to move an NPP government under him; but we are not in the least persuaded that he has any better quality material to work with than those who are already known to us. And they are not angels. They are as polluted as the Odawna in Accra. Dredging them to cleanse them of the filth will take more than a generation of hardwork. Is that what Akufo-Addo will do to be able to get the good calibre of NPP functionaries to work with? I have very serious doubts. Where does Akufo-Addo place himself, anyway? With all the bashing of his own character—allegations of drug use, arrogance, immorality (minus the recent breast-fondling issue, which I refuse to accept because it might not have happened), incompetence as Minister of Justice and Attorney-General and Foreign Affairs (the failure to handle the Gambian slaughtering of 44 Ghanaians and the loss of diplomatic passports being kept in his office, among others)—how clean does he think he is to warrant that judgemental pronouncement from him? Was Akufo-Addo not forcibly deprived of the 4-wheel vehicle he was using on which no tax had been paid to the state? Did he see anything unpatriotic about that act?
If he can persuade his critics that he is above reproach when it comes to the very negative traits that he has raised, I will accept his pronouncement on its face value. Otherwise, he will remain in my estimation as a dreamer—an inveterate power-hungry individual egoist, not a patriot. He may be using that pronouncement to shore up support for himself, but I wonder what it will do to change anybody’s mind. Ghanaians already know how thickly embroiled in corruption their politicians are—and how easy it is for anybody entering politics to be tainted.
The opportunities for our politicians (neophytes or veterans) to become corrupt overnight are pervasive and alluring—too difficult to neglect. That is why none of these power-hungry elements setting themselves apart as saints will ever persuade me to root for them. Akufo-Addo may end up running a one-man show if he insists on working with clean politicians. There is none in our system. Let somebody prove me wrong with clear and concrete examples.
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