07.01.2009 Feature Article


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Jesus said in Matthew 24:38 “As it was in the beginning, so shall it be in the end”. John Kuffour came to power in style, and he is leaving power in grand style. I am sure you have noticed the sudden humility in the voices of many rather arrogant NPP ministers and spokespersons.

You must have miscalculated if you did not expect John Kuffour to bow out in style. His party had lost an election, what did you expect? Time to be humble you would say. It was Kuffour's record that decided who the next leader was and it is his ministers who would definitely be audited. Certainly you must expect John Kuffour to do something grand to at least assuage and redeem some lost favours from the very discerning Ghanaian public who had decided his government was not good enough, hence the need for a change. Ghanaians are very sophisticated and I believe the blood of our founding fathers is still running in our veins. You cannot take the kindness and generosity of a Ghanaian voter for a weakness. We have the authority to give and take power. Isn't that sweet?

It was obvious Kuffour was going to be charitable and magnanimous in defeat and rejection. He had called on the hawks in his party to give the Electoral Commission the free hand to discharge its duties, the result of which, some say was the withdrawal of law suits filed against the EC by the outgoing New Patriotic Party. The president said all the nice things before the cameras, congratulated John Atta Mills and expressed a willingness to hand over smoothly, a very rare occurrence on the African continent and in spite of the bitter nature of the presidential contest , the entire caboodle of handing over to the opposition party has enriched Ghana's CV as a budding democracy.

I have never seen how an elephant dies but I surmise a dying elephant will do a lot of good and very bad things prior to its death. And so did the NPP government, whose party's symbol is the elephant. Kuffour gave an emotional and conciliatory message to parliament. He made overtures to the incoming government. I hope he did all of that in good faith though, because overtures will not prevent the NDC from giving justice to those who may have suffered injustice during Kuffour's tenure.

What was not obvious in John Kuffour's last days as president was his faux pas. You would expect people to mature but not the NPP. The NPP had committed so many mistakes, most of which had angered the voting population who decided they had had enough of the disrespect. The government reduced fuel prices when they realised their backs were against the wall, went on a begging spree from the Ghanaian voters - a minister went on her knees begging for votes, Kuffour himself hurriedly organised a press conference to beg for forgiveness. Forgiveness from what? The selective justice, corruption or what? They were quick to tell us how sorry they are for any transgressions, but all their begging fell on deaf ears.

Ridiculous as that was, they instructed the courts to release people put in jail for road traffic offences. It was amusing whilst it lasted. I am sure many people who voted against the government in the presidential election must have been saying - what do you morons take us for! You could reduce fuel prices and you waited till you were desperate for votes. hahahahahaha - Poor NPP, they never learn. The electorate wanted nothing but change from a rather disappointing administration.

John Kuffour is no doubt the King of faux pas. He is doing something beautiful today, and the next day he is desecrating it with unguarded comments or funny tricks. He has consistently erased some of his good works with bad deeds. He has described people who complain about poverty in Ghana as lazy. Can you imagine how insulting that is to the many men and women particularly in the public sector who are under paid, overtaxed and in most cases overworked? His government has contracted loans from your not usual place to seek loans – a London hair dresser's saloon, and his government had done just exactly the same things it accused the NDC government under Jerry Rawlings of doing. He had said corruption is as old as Adam, and there is not much one can do. His administration had been aloof about prosecuting corruption even in the face of mounting evidence of corruption against his ministers, a tag that will live with him forever.

The outgoing president made a very premature suggestion to parliament in his last address to the nation. Kuffour suggested that the current 4year two term of office a president can enjoy should be increased to perhaps a 2 five year term because 4 or 8years is not long enough to wrap up on the good vision and policies of an outgoing president.

Though it was good he did not try to change the constitution or hang on to power because he believed he still had so many good things to bequeath the country, the response to the suggestion came in thick and fast from political analysts to ordinary men and women. The verdict was decisive and unanimous. Not a good idea Mr. President. No, but thanks anyway. The idea is simply untenable. This attitude of heads of government feeling they are the only repository of best ideas and good governance should be discouraged as best as possible. If four or eight years is not enough, five or ten years would not be. And just as the president's suggestion was sinking in, he granted pardon to some prisoners including Ghana's most notorious political prisoner, Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, who was unjustly jailed in July 2008 for what the prosecution said was wilfully causing financial lost to the state and misappropriating public funds.

A large section of the legal community of Ghana believes Tsatsu should not have been jailed in the first place. According to Dr. Raymond Atuguba, a law lecturer, the government has illegitimately mobilised state power against one man and that a review of the case against Tsatsu reveals that the state had virtually turned the law upside down. In the words of Fui Tsikata, another legal luminary and brother of the incarcerated, or rather, now pardoned Tsatsu Tsikata – himself a legal stalwart, “the courts have been misused” in the case against his brother. The president of the Ghana Bar Association, Nii Osa Mills was forced to resign after he had said Tsatsu did not get a fair trial. A few justices of the Supreme Court have voluntarily resigned over judicial interference in their work from the executive branch of government and many lawyers are so appalled be the misappropriation of justice under Kuffour

A president could do so many things as long as it is within the law but welcoming as the news may be to Tsatsu's family and well wishers, they argue it was simply an act of vindictiveness and a pursuance of a personal vendetta by the government.

John Kuffour has done his bit in strengthening Ghana's democracy, but he certainly has done a lot in losing favour from the people including his own party members who accused him of causing the party's defeat.

I personally would remember him as the president who never punished corruption, It increased under his administration. He once said that he is not corrupt because people brought him money and bribes “waawaa”, but he turns them down. Is that what a serious president supposed to do with people who attempt to bribe him? I would let you be the Judge.

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