“For what is the best choice for each individual, is the highest it is possible for him to achieve” – Aristotle
SET ASIDE for the moment is all what you read about Mr. Kufuor last week in this column. It was just the beginning. The Americans will say: “You ain't seen nothing yet”. Focus instead on what will follow as I continue to travel down memory lane with you. After all, who am I, Angel Gabriel, the most senior messenger of God or …?
When Mr. Kufuor held the reins of power in 2000, I saw him as an unlucky man. Here was a man who inherited nothing but a shattered economy coupled with a brutalised and hopeless people who endured eleven years of stultifying and bloody revolutions, followed by another eight years of quasi military regime clothed in democratic dispensation. Under the supervision of Mr. Rawlings, who had introduced the Culture of Silence, life was hell for Ghanaians who cried to the High Heavens for salvation. Three former Heads of State, top military officers and hundreds of Ghanaians were extra judiciously murdered. In 2000, the18-year old guy who went to the polls to vote did not ever see any Head of State of Ghana but only a half caste man called JJ Rawlings. In fact, he did not experience the trauma Ghanaians went through under Rawlings and his two wish-to-be forgotten damned revolutions. To such a person, the 1983 famine which brought the country on her keels was a Kwaku Ananse story. They did not have the opportunity to wear the “Rawlings' chain”. That is why they cry like children when they are hungry.
If you, my cherished reader had found yourself in the position of Mr. Kufuor when he took over power, what would you have done in such a precarious situation? Play the blame game? Resign yourself to fate? Punish those who contributed to the mess while the job of salvaging the battered economy stayed put? Mr. Kufuor did not do any of these. He adopted the concept of prescience and it worked to perfection. Prescience is a word that defines vision, foresight and discernment. The man looked into his crystal ball and saw a people highly divided and peeved following years of naked brutality and bloodbath. Some people had lost everything during the two bloody revolutions and yet others walked about with incurable ailments and deformations as a result of the brutalities meted out to them by drugged and drunk soldiers of the revolutions. Properties had been seized under the Citizen Vetting Committee, headed by fearful and bearded Kwamena Ahwoi (Now clean shaved Professor Kwamena Ahwoi) never to return to their rightful owners no more. Rawlings released his wild commandoes on poor Ghanaians and men became women while women got lost at the market place. Some of these animals called commandoes might have been dead by now or too old to even inflate a balloon but sadly, they did great harm on the good people of Ghana. God has punished them for us. The revolution devoured many of them.
Mr. Kufuor knew that to carry all the people along in his journey to cure the nation for meaningful development to take place, broken hearts must be mended and wounds healed. So he quickly set up the National Reconciliation Commission. The revelation that was heard at the NRC was heart-raking, heart-breaking and mind-boggling. It showed the cruel side of man and man's heartlessness to his fellow men. When Rawlings was invited to appear before the commission, he refused until he was subpoenaed by the commission to appear. And when he appeared, he made a mess of himself, dancing around questions as if he was possessed by the devil. Kojo Tsikata, the mastermind of the gruesome murder of the three High Court Judges and the Army Major too refused to appear before the commission but when he was subpoenaed to appear, he became a laughing stock. He was haunted by the ghosts of the three High Court Judges and the Military Officer, not to talk of the many souls that he destroyed and persons who disappeared under his instructions. The two realised that the laws of Ghana were no respecters of persons, especially those whose hands were tainted with the innocent blood of poor souls. Ghanaians were expecting President Kufuor to take drastic measures against those whose names were mentioned for perpetrating heinous crimes against humanity after the commission submitted their report to him. Mr. Kufuor rather appealed to the consciences of the good people of this country to forgive and move forward as one people with one destiny. The man is not the vindictive type. The sad chapter was closed and Ghana is more united and stronger today.
It was Mr. Kufuor who redefined capitalism and socialism in Ghana. It is a common knowledge that the UP tradition is anchored on capitalism. That is why one of the slogans of the NPP, an offshoot of the UP, is “property owning democracy.” Mr. Kufuor surprised the bookmakers when he turned his attention on socialist ideologies. He embarked on poverty alleviation programmes which assuaged the sufferings of the masses. Mr. Rawlings and his heartless (P)NDC had introduced the cash and carry system of health delivery which saw people dying in their homes because they could not afford to pay for healthcare. During the 2000 electioneering campaign, candidate Kufuor had promised Ghanaians that if voted into power, he will scrap the cash and carry system of health delivery. He never told Ghanaians how he was going to replace the killer cash and carry.
The NDC took him on, saying it was all a political talk. The man kept his cards firmly on his chest. Immediately he came to power, Mr. Kufuor set up a team to look into the matter and in no time, the National Health Insurance Scheme was borne. The scheme saved and continues to save lives even though when the NDC came to power, they tried very hard to collapse the scheme. When the man held the reins of power, he had the report that many women who were pregnant in the rural areas died, including their still born babies because they could not get money to access healthcare. Mr. Kufuor and his team worked past exhaustion and human endurance to introduce the maternal care programme, the first of its type in Ghana. The programme saved the precious lives of thousands, if not millions of pregnant women and their still borne babies in Ghana.
Children dropped out of schools to follow their parents to the farms in the rural areas because parents could not feed them in the morning before they went to school. The 'small' school fees which parents had to pay to put their children to school became a burden for them. So, Kufuor introduced the School Feeding Programme and the Capitation Grant to solve the situation. He also made sure all schools were provided with free furniture for the children. Ghanaians have all too soon forgotten that children, particularly those in the rural areas used to carry their chairs and tables from home to school each and every day and carry them back when school closed. Permit me to take a break on this issue in order not to take the wind out of the sail of Mr. Kufuor, whose memoir is in the pipeline.
BY Eric Bawah