Thursday, 15 January 2009

Weep not for yourself, Nana, wail for the party

Article by Gordon A. Adjei
First published in the Daily Graphic of Tuesday January 13, 2009

To have a good enemy, choose a friend. He knows where to strike.
Diane de Poitiers, (Mistress of Henry II of France 1499 – 1566)

By this time it should be obvious that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has managed, once again, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

It has literally, on a silver platter, surrendered the power it won in 2000 with much sweat and sacrifice. Millions of ordinary people are devastated; victims of an emotional fraud actuated by their leaders. But nothing can staunch the bleeding hearts. Nothing will heal the millions of broken hearts that are still engulfed in grief. Grieving, not for the loss of a dear one, but for the abrupt, totally needless end of a dream.

As regrettable as these recent developments may be, what is worse would be the failure to learn the lessons thereof. Just like as in 1979 when these same bloated egos engaged in a power struggle that eventually let down their supporters, so have they repeated the dose; only this time it is clear that one man carries the can. Delegates who in 1998 elected John Agyekum Kufuor (Jack) flag bearer of the NPP, over and above other more selfless leaders, must be cursing themselves; except of course, for those who jumped on the gravy train.

If Jack intended to keep his pledge to Nana Akufo Addo, he had a very funny way of going about it. Only a few months after being sworn in 2001, the president brought down Alan Kyerematen from his high ambassadorial perch in the United States to supplant Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku as Minister of Trade and Industry in 2002. The rumour then which later turned out to be true, was that Alan had been brought down to understudy and succeed the president when he finally bows out.

That Alan had full presidential endorsement in the primaries was never in doubt; what was shocking was how far the President could scheme to topple a man he claimed to have known as a friend for 45 years. First they originated this cocaine smear, a chant that was later picked up and packaged by the NDC, then some ministers deemed unsympathetic were either reshuffled or booted out; worse was to follow with the outright dismissal of abut 12 district chief executives (DCE’s) for no apparent reason.

The primaries with its sheer flamboyance and absurd number of candidates outdoing one another in lavish spending sprees, attracted public disdain; only the party bigwigs wouldn’t listen. After the contest was settled, Alan, alleging mistreatment of his supporters and conveniently disregarding the actual ill-treatment of party supporters by his mentor, resigned only to return after “consultations”. For a party of intellectuals this was one smart way of attracting public support to win an election.

From then on what we witnessed was the President’s amazing apathy in prosecuting the party’s campaign long after Nana had been elected and the tensions resolved. Contrast this with Jerry Rawlings’s full-throttle involvement in the NDC’s campaign, despite the insistence of some party folks that he stay put. If anyone needed any more evidence of Jack’s aloofness, it was supplied by his 70th birthday “chilling” in the full glare of invited TV cameras, at a time the NPP was receiving massive public bashing for several perceived sins, including opulence.

Before this planned public gaffe there were many others that did not seem calculated, but which may just have been. Calling Ghanaians lazy for complaining , jailing Tsatsu Tsikata, introducing the talk tax, bringing out an awards list that included Atta Mills, but which was conspicuous for its initial exclusion of Nana Akufo-Addo, refusing to reduce petrol prices at a time prices on the would market were dropping, the controversial national awards among many, many others.

Additionally, there seemed to have been a conscious effort to overload public sector appointments with people from one particular grouping. Any cursory look at the nature of public appointments confirms this; and while this was going on, those not perceived to be among the President’s favored list were sacked without rhyme or reason. I cannot for the life of me understand why a decent guy like J. B. Aidoo was sacked as Western Regional Minister, when the chap was so industrious, so honest and innovational, promoting novelties like the farmers housing scheme.

Why Christine Churcher was for instance fired, and at a time she was chairing an international conference? Couldn’t her removal, if it was that necessary, be delayed. Why was a prominent Ga icon such as Peter Ala Adjetey removed as Speaker, when the man brought such dignity to the House that even the Minority sponsored him for the position? Any wonder the man led his people in dragging the government to court? Civil society must develop the valour to hold government more accountable for its actions, especially during, and not after, its tenure, lest we all suffer the consequences.

As the results show one region alone, no matter how populous, cannot supply the requisite votes of a party to win political power. It takes collective nationwide effort. It takes a systematic attempt to share the national cake in an even-handed manner; people in every region must be made to belong.

A sympathetic press may paper over the cracks, but if those cracks remain untended they are bound to lead to disintegration. Where some people feel excluded and demeaned it is obvious they will rebel the only way with their votes.

In my opinion, Jack has been a fairly good President but he could have been great. From his second term, a picture seemed to emerge that our President had redefined the notion of family and friends. Allegations that cronies and clansmen were helping themselves to huge chunks of the gravy train were consistent. We kept mum, mainly because evidence is a scarce commodity; and also because this is not exactly an unknown practice here. After all, even in the United States, Halliburtion enjoys a lion’s share of Iraqi contracts, thanks to Dick Cheney and Rumsfield.

But there were two exceptions here; one had to do with the scale of pillaging, an example being the alleged multi-million dollar deal at GPHA; the second was what appeared to be a calculated effort to bang the door on those not seen to belong to the circle. The refrain in many offices was, “wei nso ofi he?” to wit, this one too, where is he coming from? What shouldn’t be done nor condoned is a purposeful effort to promote a policy of exclusion. That is preaching all-inclusiveness while practicing something else.

There were also others such as Boadi Mensah of Obuasi, Kweku Korankye of Asante Akyem South, Yaw Barimah, Dan Botwe and others who got similar treatment albeit in a more subtle manner, because they were seen as disloyal. Does anybody know Safo Adu’s condition at a time his party was in power? Obviously the President’s enormous powers were wielded capriciously, too much so.

Sometimes the President’s actions were not only inexplicable, frankly they looked irrational. Why would a president who throughout his term snubbed the previous presidential plane on the excuse that the purchase was shrouded in dubiousness, turn round to order not one but two presidential jets only a few months shy of his exit; when on top of this, the planes would be delivered years after he had left office? Again, why was the President in such haste to build the Jubilee House, occupy it ‘small’ for a month or two before leaving the place again? I guess boys and toys would forever be buddies.

Even more seriously, why would a government that is about to leave office in December go to source a $1 billion loan form Goldman Sachs, ostensibly for road projects, and lay it before Parliament in August, when the $750 million Eurobond was not exhausted? Is that money intact? All these decisions were implemented in the final year of a “successful presidency” by a President who told the whole world that people had been tempting him “waa waa”.

At a time the nation and the party needed the President was it prudent to go gamboling round the world, receiving accolades from places as diverse as Germany and Liberia?

And, by the way, why is Jack more excited by accolades form foreigners rather than the views of his own people? Why would our beloved president who felt he had done a lot for Ghanaians feel compelled to award himself the highest honor of the land? These are the kinds of questions you would expect form those falling all over themselves to thank the President for a job well done.

In truth, the Jack factor wasn’t the only reason the NPP lost. Much as I hesitate to state this, Nana, your people displayed unusual cockiness for a party engaged in a game of numbers. Many would testify that they operated a closed-door policy that seemed to regard anyone who was not initially part of your primaries as an upstart. They spurned all genuine efforts of support. One person told me he disliked “fair-weather friends”.

I’m informed that initially, even Christine Churcher, Dr. Amoako-Tuffour and others had their offers of support rebuffed. Whatever grounds they had for their conceit, whether we had won or not, you would agree this is a most silly attitude in the game of politics, which on all occasions embraces even turncoats.

The final reason for our defeat, without mincing words, Nana, was not your character; it was your posturing. Serving the nation in frontline politics is commendable; but it doesn’t automatically confer presidential ascension on you. I know you didn’t mean it that way but it came across that way. Also, remember you were battling a man like Atta Mills, who is every inch your intellectual and social equal; reciting your credentials at every turn did not gain you plaudits; rather it fed into the perception of your so called arrogance.

Contrast your posturing with that of Egya Atta, who kept invoking the grace of God at every opportunity and pleading with people for the chance to serve them. Yours and that of your people didn’t sound like pleading. Until the run-off it sounded like we the people had no choice but vote for a party that claimed to have all the intellectuals. That explains why the begging tone after the first round looked ridiculous. Of course, it doesn’t bear repeating that measures we took after the run-off were knee-jerk reactions, more pitiful than hopeful.

Speaking of intellectuals, the truth is that they make lousy politicians. Politics is about common sense not intellectualism (the two are poles apart); it is not about who has what degrees, it is about street smartness; not highfalutin policies such as macroeconomics. That explains why Jerry Rawlings and Sheik I. C. Quaye would continue to be popular well into their old age. Because God so loves the masses He made so many of them; thus the man who knows how to connect with the masses is the man of influence. And that connection is not taught in any university; it is simply instinctive.

Again, speaking of God, it may not look so obvious, but God does indeed rule in the affairs of men. In July, I had a text message from a total stranger from the Volta Region, of all places, who told me of a vision he had had, that God said for you to win you should form a team of 70 prayer warriors, seven in each region. If I had wanted to see you with this message could I have succeeded? I doubt. Nonetheless, I would urge upon you a steadfast dependence on God, if you do wish to attain your vision.

While Atta Mills was soliciting massive prayer support how much and how intensively did you seek it? Remember, some people may depend on the devil and his ways, but not you. You shouldn’t pursue poser at any price. Show your utter dependence on Him and He will have no choice but to favour your endeavours. With God all things are possible.

Gordon Adjei is a known NPP activist who has appeared on TV a number of times to defend the NPP government's policies and programs. His article and that of a former deputy finance minister Dr. Geysika Agambilla (will be published here later) form the basis of the dailyEXPRESS's Friday January 16, 2009 frontpage.

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