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12.11.2008 Elections

Nana's 31 years of political leadership vrs 30 years total of Mills and others

By The Statesman

AT tonight's presidential debate on Governance and Security, NPP Presidential Candidate Nana Akufo-Addo will put his 31-year record of active frontline politics against the approximately 30 years combined prominent political experience of the other three aspiring to the presidency on December 7.

Nana Akufo-Addo has dedicated his adult life, since 1977, to fighting successfully for the civil rights, liberties and dignities of the people of Ghana.

Tonight at the second of the Institute of Economic Affairs-organised presidential debate in Tamale, he is expected to make the case that he is the best prepared of the four for the civil rights challenges of today, which include equal access to education, healthcare and jobs with a livable wage.

He will make the case that he is still very much on the frontline of that struggle today and the people of Ghana can again count on him to deliver.

Comparatively, the three other men seeking to occupy the Golden Jubilee House on January 7, 2009 have had little experience.

Until he was plucked from relative obscurity to be Jerry John Rawlings" shoo-in Vice President in 1997 before entering the serious political arena in 2000 as National Democratic Congress flagbearer, John Evans Atta Mills was head of the Internal Revenue Service.

Before that, he had been a lecturer and later acting head of IRS in 1993 before he was confirmed two years later.

Perhaps to buttress his boss's thin governance and political activism record, John Dramani Mahama, Prof Mills" running mate confessed on Joy FM a couple of days that he was not willing or ready to be Prof Mill's running mate but was pushed to accept. He declined the offer to explain.

Paa Kwesi Nduom, flagbearer of the Convention People's Party, was an Assembly man in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem constituency in the Central Region in the year 2000 before President J A Kufuor brought him onto the national political limelight as a cabinet minister in 2001.

Edward Nasigre Mahama, leader of the People's National Convention, came into some prominence around 1995, going on to become the late Hilla Limann's party's flagbearer later in the year.

The NPP flagbearer has a richer pedigree.

His adult life is a chronology of selfless political sacrifice for the national good. At the age of 33, Nana Akufo-Addo, as General Secretary of the Peoples Movement for Freedom and Justice (PMFJ), the all-embracing political entity formed by Okatakyie Akwasi Afrifa, was part of the leadership that campaigned for a No vote in the referendum on the ill-fated UNIGOV proposal of the Acheampong military junta.

He worked alongside such political heavyweights as William Ofori-Atta, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, Adu Boahen, Sam Okudzeto, Obed Asamoah, Godfrey Agama, K.S.P. Jantuah, Jones Ofori-Atta, Johnny Hanson and Nii Amaah Amartefio (Mr. No).

In 1979, he was the leading counsel in Tuffuor vrs Attorney-General, a landmark case which fully established the doctrine of separation of powers and the independence of the Judiciary, preventing President Hilla Limann from removing Chief Justice Apaloo unconstitutionally.

He also used the law courts to overturn some of the most arbitrary, yet ostensibly legally immune decisions of the AFRC regime.

Three such cases, one of habeas corpus and the others involving confiscated assets, were before the three murdered judges of June 30, 1982, Justices Cecilia Koranteng Addow, Poku Sarkodie and K. Agyapong.

During the era of the PNDC military dictatorship in the 1980s, Akufo-Addo was very prominent in the activities of the Ghana Bar Association, which courageously led the fight for the restoration of constitutional, democratic rule to the country.

When the veteran nationalist, Atakora Gyimah, founded the Danquah-Busia Memorial Club in Kumasi, Akufo-Addo became Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Club. Akufo-Addo traveled the length and breadth of Ghana to establish branches of the Club, in a grassroots style for which he is known.

This Club eventually transformed into local organs of the NPP after the ban on party politics was lifted, prior to the elections of 1992.

His nationwide popularity was further enhanced when, as the first National Organiser of the party and Campaign Manager of the first NPP flag bearer, Albert Adu Boahen, he traveled across the country preaching the NPP message of hope, freedom and development.

20 years ago, he was the founder and first Chairperson of the Ghana Committee on Human and Peoples Rights, which was set up during the PNDC military dictatorship to protect the civil liberties of Ghanaians.

In 1997, two years after leading the ground breaking "Kume Preko' demonstrations of the Alliance For Change, Nana Akufo-Addo fought off the NDC/EGLE Party rigging machine and intimidation to become Abuakwa Member of Parliament and Minority Spokesman on Legal & Constitutional Affairs.

In 2002, after drafting and championing the National Reconciliation Act (Act 611), which established the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), he guided the Commission as the first Attorney General and Minister of Justice (February 2001 to March 2003) in the Kufuor administration to push forward significantly the process of healing the wounds of victims of human rights abuses in Ghana.

Serving as President Kufuor's longest serving Minister for Foreign Affairs (April 2003 to July 2007) he led the effort to achieve some of the greatest diplomatic coups in Ghana's history, including being elected by her peers to occupy a non permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2006-2007, one of the 15 pioneer members of the AU Peace and Security Council (2004), elected with a record vote of 183/191 to the UN Human Rights Council, a pioneer member of the UN Peace-Building Commission elected to the AU Chairmanship.

Today's debate, under the theme Strengthening the Pillars of Ghana's Democracy, will be moderated by Joy FM's Israel Laryea and Prof Ivan Addae Mensah, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana. As pertained in the first debate in Accra, Nana Akufo-Addo will answer the first question, to be followed by Dr Nduom, Prof Mills and Dr Mahama.

 It will be aired live, from 5pm to 8pm, on GTV, GBC Radio, Joy FM and all other TV and Radion Networks nationwide, according to the organisers.