Chasing The Elephant Into The Bush: Full text of ex-president Kufuor’s reaction
Below is the full text of ex-president Kufuor's reaction to the book authored by Dr Arthur Kennedy entitled "Chasing the Elephant Into the Bush: The Politics of Complacency.
Dear Arthur Kennedy,
First of all, I wish to congratulate you on the publication of your book of the above title, an autographed copy of which you kindly sent to me.
I commend you on your endeavour as it will hopefully encourage more members of our party, to set down in writing the happenings of our time to make for critical evaluation and guidance for posterity.
I however disagree with your treatment of certain issues and events which I believe ARE A RESULT OF YOUR NOT HAVING AN IN-DEPTH KNOWLEDGE OF THEM OR YOU DID NOT CONTACT THE PERSONS INVOLVED FOR THEIR VIEWS.
This piece is to correct some of such misconceptions in so far as I am directly involved. Some I will deal with in more detail, others, not so much so.
On page 148 under the heading: President Kufuor Pledges “No Vote”, you make it appear as if (i) I had declared that no voting will take place in Tain and that I had not been able to effect that decision because “no concrete subsequent steps were taken”, or, (ii) that the decision for the NPP not to contest the Tain elections was mine (iii) that I did not go to Tain because of security reasons.
ON ALL OF THESE COUNTS YOU GOT THEM VERY WRONG INDEED. AT THE END OF THE PIECE, YOU LEAVE SOME QUESTIONS UNANSWERED WHICH PRESUPPOSES THAT YOU WERE NOT SURE ABOUT WHAT YOU WROTE.
But that should have been the more reason for you to seek answers from the appropriate quarters so you would have put a closure to any lingering doubts on the matters raised.
I deem this to be very important, especially, because you are dealing with matters of a political nature which invoke a lot of passion. QUESTIONS THAT ARE NOT ANSWERED CONCLUSIVELY, BASED ON EMPIRICAL DATA, COULD BE TANTAMOUNT TO OPENING UP A CAN OF WORMS.
*(i.) (a) The impression that I sought to call off or cancel the elections in Tain IS UNFOUNDED AND STRANGE INDEED. As you must undoubtedly be aware, Article 45c of the Constitution empowers the Electoral Commission to “conduct and supervise all public elections and referenda” in the country.
*(b) Article 46 states categorically that: “Except as provided in the Constitution or in any other law not inconsistent with this Constitution, in the performance of its functions, the Electoral Commission, shall not be subjected to the directions or control of any person or authority”.
It therefore comes to me as a great surprise that anybody could suggest that I could call or cancel an election, when all through my tenure as President, I had advocated strict adherence to the constitution.
(*ii.) IT WAS NOT MY DECISION THAT THE NPP SHOULD NOT CONTEST THE TAIN ELECTIONS. THAT DECISION WAS TAKEN BY THE CANDIDATE AND THE CAMPAIGN TEAM IN ACCRA WHILE I WAS IN WENCHI, WAITING TO MOVE ON TO TAIN.
On the day before the Tain election, I had proceeded to Wenchi to canvas for votes for the candidate in the constituency.
After I had arrived, the candidate and the campaign team joined me at the residence of the late Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia, Prime Minister in the Second Republic, TO INFORM ME THAT THEY HAD ISSUED A WRIT IN THE HIGH COURT IN ACCRA TO RESTRAIN THE ELECTORAL COMMISSIONER FROM HOLDING THE ELECTIONS.
It was their expectation that the court would rule on the matter that very afternoon. ON THIS BASIS THEREFORE, THE NPP WOULD NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE TAIN ELECTION.
I WAS SURPRISED AT THIS NEWS AS I HAD NO PRIOR KNOWLEDGE OF IT AND WAS HEARING IT FOR THE FIRST TIME THEN. I HAD BELIEVED THAT WE SHOULD HAVE GIVEN TAIN A FIGHTING CHANCE AND THAT WAS WHY I HAD TRAVELED ALL THE WAY TO WENCHI, READY TO MOVE INTO TAIN.
After some discussion, it was obvious the decision would not be changed. There was no need anymore for me to go to Tain and so I turned back to return to Accra.
I THEN TOLD NANA ADDO OF MY INTENTION TO ISSUE A STATEMENT ASKING ALL GHANAIANS TO ABIDE BY THE RESULTS THAT WOULD BE ANNOUNCED BY THE EC, WHICH I DID ON MY RETURN TO ACCRA.
*(iii) IT IS THEREFORE NEVER TRUE THAT MY DECISION NOT TO GO TO TAIN WAS BECAUSE OF SECURITY REASONS.
In fact, It was while we were driving from Wenchi to Kumasi en route to Accra, that I heard for the first time on the vehicle's radio that I had refused to enter Tain because of security reasons.
IT WAS A WICKED LIE BY WHOEVER PUT IT OUT AND I WAS HIGHLY DISAPPOINTED ON HEARING IT.
I now wish to touch briefly on other issues: on page three (3) you list a number of things which you believe cost us the elections.
While I have different opinions on some of them, I wish to comment on those that deal with the building of the Golden Jubilee House and the decision to purchase two aircraft for the military.
First, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT THE DECISION TO BUILD THE GOLDEN JUBILEE HOUSE WAS TAKEN IN THE ELECTION YEAR OF 2008. I had appealed through the then Indian High Commissioner to his government in 2003 to assist my government to build a presidency. The response came in 2006 with a liberal offer of a concessionary loan of $30m, half of which was a grant.
It was a virtual gift repayable over 25 years with interest of 1.75%. Construction was to be completed in 2007.
That this project was a felt need of the nation was amplified by the fact that since independence in 1957, virtually, none of the successive heads of state/government had been able to make a residence of the slave castle at Osu.
The country's fleet of planes, including the ones used by the presidency, had aged. Three of them had reached the end of their air worthiness. They were bound to go for their last retrofitting in South Africa, after which they could last for just another three years up until 2011.
The advice by the Air Force was to purchase new ones as soon as possible if the country was not to be caught off guard in as far as its air power was concerned.
The other option was to acquire used ones as had been the practice in the past. We opted for the former.
NOW, IT TAKES 72 MONTHS FROM THE TIME A NEW AIRCRAFT IS ORDERED TO WHEN IT IS DELIVERED. IT THEREFORE MEANT THAT IF GHANA DID NOT PLACE AN ORDER BY 2007, IT WOULD NOT HAVE ANY AIRCRAFT BY 2011.
It was on this basis that those aircraft were ordered. Many offers were made by reputable aircraft manufacturing companies but Dassault Aviation of France proved to be more competitive, in terms of pricing and delivery time. It is worthy of note that President Sarkosky had lent us some useful support in the negotiation.
GHANA HAS SO FAR MADE A DEPOSIT PAYMENT OF ABOUT $1M ON THE FALCON JET, WITH THE ENTIRE BALANCE COVERED BY A CREDIT ARRANGEMENT FROM THE SOCIETE-GENERAL OF FRANCE OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS.
IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT MANY OF OUR OWN PEOPLE HAD BOUGHT INTO THE OPPOSITION PROPAGANDA ABOUT THE APPROPRIATENESS OF THESE PROJECTS AND HAD LET IT AFFECT THEIR THINKING. THEY COULD THEREFORE NOT DEFEND THEM AS VIGOROUSLY AS THEY SHOULD HAVE.
Also it is worth noting that our Presidential Candidate, then Foreign Minister and Cabinet member had supported the purchase arrangements.
Uncharitable remarks on these vital projects were made by some people who should have known better, BUT WHO FOR WHATEVER REASONS, SEEMED TO PREFER TO LOSE SIGHT OF THE MANY PRO-POOR INTERVENTIONS THE GOVERNMENT HAD MADE AND CONTINUED TO MAKE EVEN IN ITS LAST DAYS IN OFFICE.
I have put these issues down in writing to help the public and future generations to reach a better understanding of the issues you have raised which seek to reinforce wrongful impression of some of the things I did while in office.
I hope when appropriate you will find a way of incorporating this in the re-run of your book, should there be one.
Signed: Frank Agyekum
For: HE John Agyekum Kufuor
Former President, Republic of Ghana