By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Monday, February 25, 2013
Former President John Agyekum Kufuor says he is committed to ensuring that he remains relevant to Ghana and Africa’s human development. He adds that he wants “to remain relevant to the development of the society, bring added quality to humanity." I agree with him and urge him to press on. One may, however, be quick to point to lapses in his own leadership style for the 8 years that he ruled Ghana; but having stepped out of the saddle to see things from a more disinterested perspective, he can dispassionately approach issues and offer ideas to society, which is why his decision to establish this Foundation is commendable. As I have insisted all along, nation-building is a collective effort which, unfortunately, we in this part of the world don’t recognize. That has been our bane because we’ve always sat on the fence or comfortably in armchairs to launch scathing criticisms against the Head of State for the obvious failings of his administration to solve problems. Some justify their criticisms and condemnation, saying that a fish always begin rotting from the head, invariably to mean that since the administration can’t solve problems, it must be because the leader is incompetent, corrupt, or just not the person with the requisite acumen to move the country forward. All our heads of state have been targets of verbal or physical attacks (e.g., the attempted assassination of the Great One, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in the 1962 Kulungugu bomb incident) just because of dissatisfaction at their leadership style or plain failure of the government to solve pertinent problems. Kufuor is no exception. I have taken him on for obvious reasons to condemn. No one needs any reminder on the inadequacies that characterized his administration, no matter what his good intentions were. Of course, it is only a naturally stupid person or someone with something seriously wrong with his head who will write him off as a total failure who didn’t do anything good for Ghana in all the 8 years that he ruled. But, as is characteristic of human beings, it is his shortfalls that will be raised to assess him. So, the obvious question is: If such a leader leaves office and establishes a Foundation to explore and offer ideas/guidance on leadership in Africa, as Kufuor has done, what good will come out of it? Kufuor himself seems to have a ready answer. Speaking in an interview with Joy News after the “J.A. Kufuor Foundation Lectures” on Friday, he expressed confidence that the support given his Foundation would be an impetus for greater achievements. “I’m so encouraged by the reception and I hope this is going to spur me and the Foundation on to further programmes that will be truly relevant to developing not only Ghana but help develop Africa,” he said. The J.A. Kufuor Foundation which was launched in September 2011 aims at advocating and promoting leadership and democratic governance in Africa. It aims at providing a platform for African states to build stable democracies while promoting the common good of their citizens. MY COMMENTS I have already supported this move by the ex-President to establish and run this Foundation and will continue to praise him for his foresight. It is gratifying to note that he is the only African leader to have forged such an institution, not only to immortalize himself as a former President but also to prove to the world that what other leaders elsewhere (especially the United States) can do in their post-office life to continue serving society can be replicated in Africa. Anybody who doesn’t see the value of this Foundation must be a truly reactionary and short-sighted person who deserves pity. The Foundation’s ideals and aspirations are clear, and from what has happened since the Foundation was launched and resources provided for it to begin functioning, it is clear that it will serve as a major source of inspiration in the pooling together of ideas from non-partisan sources with which to understand the leadership crisis facing us and how best to tackle it. My fear is that if this Foundation is not properly managed, it may turn out to be a forum for petty politicking, which will defeat its purposes. Clearly, Kufuor’s political ancestry will rub off on it, which may create the impression that the Foundation can be used for United Party politics or that it is an extension of the Danquah-Busia Institute. An impression that will water down the relevance of the Foundation to those not attracted by the Danquah-Busia reactionary political thinking. Undoubtedly, Danquah and Busia have a very strongly negative niche which is difficult to erase from the minds of those who have not hesitated to condemn those two forebears of the NPP for whatever they mean to their opponents. I haven’t really grown to admire anything about them, anyway. My reading of Ghanaian political history and evidence of their legacy haven’t well-disposed me toward their cause. So, if the Kufuor Foundation is not managed properly, it may easily be categorized as an instrument of the Danquah-Busia political family and shunned. That shouldn’t be its fate. Many will want to be assured that it won’t be limited to the narrow confines of the political family from which Kufuor has emerged as a leader or that the NPP followers won’t appropriate it for their partisan political purposes. Probably, Kufuor himself might have foreseen this danger, which was why he chose to play it safe by stating clearly that he has risen above party politics and is now a STATESMAN. He said so when he decided to participate in the inauguration of President Mahama in the teeth of his own party’s decision to boycott that event. Those in his party opposed to the move he made on the occasion may have their reasons just as he has his. And I hope this Foundation will truly serve that purpose of statesmanship and make him relevant as he wishes to be. His major step is a huge challenge to former President Rawlings whose rich experiences could serve better purposes than what he has used or failed to use them for all these years. This is not to draw any parallel between both in terms of leadership skills or accomplishments. It is just an attempt to highlight the relevance of the institutions that former leaders are expected to establish to perpetuate their legacy as such. A Rawlings Library, for instance, could be beneficial in many ways. The fire that gutted the Ridge residence did much harm to valuable legacy, which could have been saved had they been properly secured elsewhere. Of course, fire can occur anywhere, but there is always a foresight to rely on. I hope other African leaders will emulate Kufuor’s example so that society could benefit from their experiences. The resources to be made available in the depositories of such a Foundation will serve very useful purposes, even long after these former leaders have paid their dues to Nature. Some may be quick to dismiss this Foundation as a self-aggrandizing venture. Or that such former leaders stole too much when they were in office and didn’t solve their countries’ problems, meaning they should be written off as good riddance. Returning to the public sphere with such projects might, therefore, portray them as mere attention seekers. I disagree. In any case, their establishing Foundations to help us learn more about issues shouldn’t be negatively received. Probably, part of the loot has gone into establishing such a Foundation. How about that? Paying back time? I commend Kufuor again and wish the Foundation well. Anybody with contrary views can jump in. I shall return… • E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org • Join me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/mjkbokor to continue the conversation.