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Kuffour Is A Visionionary Leader? Oh Pleasseeee   
 
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05-Sep-2011  
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Ex-President Kuffour
 
 
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Sometime last week during an address at the maiden Liberty lectures organized by the Danquah Institute, Ex-President Kuffour sought to imply that it was his visionary leadership during his presidency that has raised Ghana “on pedestal as the real beacon” in world affairs.

I seriously beg to differ. Of all the visionary leaders we have had so far who really sought to raise the image of Ghana, I don’t think Ex-President Kuffour is one of them. And of all his attributes, I don’t think “visionary” is one of them.

Why? Because visionary leaders have the ability to see what things could be in the future, rather than what things are. Through the attractive visions that they give, they are able to draw followers to themselves. They show transformational leadership that inspire and motivate their followers beyond their job description. They seek to bring change in their environment or community by improving on the current situation, whatever it may be. They tend to anticipate problems before they come and act accordingly and they mobilize their people to do big things for posterity.

This reminds me of a famous quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of the classic text “The Little Prince”. Saint-Exupéry offered a particularly relevant lesson for our current politics: "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." A visionary leader paints a picture of the sea so compelling that we cannot help but long for it. It is a political vision so extraordinary that even the effort of leaning toward its fulfillment is ennobling. A visionary leader imbues patriotism of nation in the citizenry. The bigger picture or the sea becomes more of a reality by the practices/ideologies/strengths developed by those steering the crafts to take advantage of it’s' vastness.

It's disheartening to hear NPP functionaries go on about the virtues of Kuffour and their "founding fathers" when their practices didn't match the theory they espoused especially for ordinary middle class, workers and peasants of Ghana. It is one thing to write and talk a good manifesto and it's another to actually be committed to make it work for everybody instead of the privileged. I don’t believe that the irony of the theme of the lectures dawned on the Ex-President. The theme was “Building a Society of Opportunities”. During the rule of NPP and the presidency Kuffour he promoted individual property owning mentality at the expense of the development of the nation. Instead of building the capacity for transformational change, you promoted the advantage of the powerful, arrogance, tribalism and inadequate patriotism. His government was more accountable to the most powerful or property owners in the community. It was more accountable to some people than to others; to the rich more than poor; to Akans more than Dagombas, Ewes, Nzemas, and Gas.

During his time, he created the atmosphere for some Ghanaians particularly, his followers to be so intent on gathering the tools and perfecting the plans for individual boats that his government lost sight of the immense sea. We were faced with the challenge of pursuing our individual short-term agendas at the expense of being cognizant of our long-term national interests, and, more importantly, you left us with limited ability to predict what our future challenges will be. In order words, you left us without a vision.

It looks like NPP has not found out why they came to power in 2000 and why they were kicked out in 2008. If they will ask the ordinary Ghanaians, they will find that Ghanaians DID NOT VOTE NPP TO POWER, instead, we VOTED RAWLINGS FROM POWER. We needed a change from the 19 years of only Rawlings power and the only way to achieve that was to allow the largest opposition party that happens to be the NPP to take over. In so doing, we wanted to see what the NPP can offer. The NPP is in opposition now because of what we saw and from the way things are going, they may remain there for a long time. As at now they don’t seem to have learnt any lesson.

During the 2008 elections, Akuffo Addo behaved like a ruler in a children story who was so impressed with his omnipotence that he could control the tides. Alas, when he set his throne on the beach at low tide and commanded the tide to cease, he was drowned by the incoming tide, and they are doing exactly that again. Why can’t they just read Dr. Arthur Kennedy’s book for a start and go to church or mosque as well. They need the humility espoused in the holy books. What we got from replacing Rawlings’ NDC with Kuffour’s NPP was the intensification of the class war, and the only paradigm shift that the NPP ruling class was interested in was one in which their dominance was unquestioned, codified by law and utterly unregulated by the "lower orders." President Kuffour spent 8 years in power.

Eight years of peace and tranquility and a constitutional rule with united people that was handed over to him. Kwame Nkrumah spent 9 years in power full of bomb throwing and constant assassination attempts on his life. But 50 years after independence and 42 years after his overthrow, the overwhelming infrastructure we have are the schools (from elementary, through secondary, polytechnic and Universities); real estates, health facilities including all the polyclinics built by him. He established University of Science and Technology as the Scientific Research Center for Africa. That is vision. The Tema harbor and the industrial areas in Tema and Accra remains the backbone of Ghana industries.

In the modern times of high oil prices, what would have become of Ghana if we did not have the Akosombo dam? Buy oil generators for all our electricity needs? At the time Nkrumah built the Tema Motor way, the NPP tradition called it prestigious and extravagant and unnecessary. When Kuffour built a bridge and interchange on it, he wanted everybody to sing his praises. It has taken the NDC government to bring VALCO back. Fifteen years after Nkrumah, we needed Rawlings to come and clean up the mess left by the Busia and Acheampong administrations. Just before Rawlings, I remember University students who left campus and their courses to go and do Walatu Walasa in Nigeria. Most of our teachers, engineers and professional left for Nigeria and Libya. Now almost all are happily back at home. We were queuing for everything including toilet rolls and military uniforms and engine oils were sold at Makola. It was Rawlings who started the rural electrification, rural water supply, initiated press freedom, enhance communication network with everybody now holding cell phones now and rehabilitated Kumasi roads and remade the Garden City.

It was the nurturing of democracy in the fourth Republic and the peaceful handing over of the administration by the Rawlings led NDC that gave Ghana the recognition she is enjoying in the world right now. As Justice Lee Adobe wrote some time ago, the United Kingdom (UK) think-tank, Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has attributed Ghana’s current strides in poverty reduction to the successful agricultural reforms embarked upon by the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) under the able leadership of former President J.J Rawlings.

It said, the personal commitment of Rawlings towards political and economic reforms, coupled with the dynamic leadership he provided were greatly responsible for the current success story of the country’s agricultural sector. The ODI made these observations in its report, “Ghana’s Sustained Agricultural Growth: putting underused resources to work” launched in Accra recently, stressing, “The period of active and profound reforms was remarkable: Rawlings’ vision of fundamental change to the governance of Ghana was in great measure achieved. What is more, detailed analysis of the politics suggests that the reforms were ultimately down to Rawlings’ personal vision and his determination to change the way things were done in Ghana. LEADERSHIP IN THIS CASE, IT SEEMS WAS OVERWHELMINGLY IMPORTANT.” It was this effort that was recognized by the World Food Award he received.

The citation of the award stated that that the Ghana’s agricultural sector has been growing five percent annually over the last 25 years, with the economic reforms embarked upon by the Rawlings-led governments from 1983 playing a pivotal role in transforming the agriculture sector. When Rawlings was recognized with the award, the NPP as usual degraded it but when Kuffour received the same award for the continuation of Rawlings programs, there were all praises. There is nothing wrong with continuing a useful program but one may ask who is the visionary leader? The one who started the program at the peril of his life or the one who continued the program? Most of the times, Rawlings closed his eyes to the temporary sufferings of Ghanaians to force through these programs for the collective prosperity of future generation. Those who had other ideas made him into a monster but are now secretly buying the fruits of his and the people’s labor.

The oil discovery being claimed by President Kuffour and the NPP is a result of many years of exploration led by the Tsatsu Tsikata. But what did we witness, the moment there was the prospect of discovering oil, President Kuffour sold 3.3 percent of the shares to himself and his friends.

What glory-hungry NPP politicians opted for are useless prestige projects. During the rule of NPP, Ghana through the HIPC got a debt relief of over four billion dollars to bring our external debt to around 2.2 billion. At the time President Kuffour left office we had incurred over five billion more. What did we use the money for? Built a prestigious presidential palace designed like the Ashanti Golden Stool, spent billions on 50th Anniversary of Independences, and buy gold medals for honoring himself and his cronies when there is still so much poverty in the country. It is no wonder, the Mo Ibrahim prize for achievement in African leadership that recognizes excellence in African leadership and provides a practical way in which leaders can build positive legacies on the continent when they have left national office has eluded him three consecutive years during the period he is qualified. Our energy sector was still focused on the Akosombo dam with its accompanied seasonal rationing depending on unpredictable seasonal rainfall.

What records does Ex-President Kuffour have to conclude that he had vision for Ghana? During his time, the country remained a producer of primary commodities with no programs to ensure we increased the earnings from exports. There was no serious industrial development because financial support from government and banks were diverted to buying and selling. We started importing goods from anywhere in the world selling was taking place. Cheap goods were imported from Dubai, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and Cocaine from Columbia at the expense of our industries. As Dr Boko wrote the other day, “Our universities and polytechnics continue to churn out graduates with no specialized training to galvanize the economy”. Our surveyors and engineers and other professionals have all joined lawyers and bankers as consultants who now exist to advise others instead of creating wealth.

Can you imagine that a Congolese company has announced (in June) that it would be launching a new Android tablet computer (VMK tablet)"designed in Congo" this month? I am talking about Congo that is mostly noted for civil wars and all the NPP did in Ghana was making our country the dumping ground for used and useless gadgets. Though we are making headway in our political development, we still have a lot of work to do on our economy which is still depended on the foreign donor community. Year after year, our budget cannot be balanced without financial input from outside. The African Development Bank (AfDB), which finances big investments in Africa, says that a shortage of roads, housing, water, sanitation and electricity reduces Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa’s output by about 40%. A visionary leader will have used all the millions of dollars spent on the 50th Anniversary and the medals awarded to himself and his cronies on much needed infrastructure.

All Mr. Kuffour’s signature projects were adopted from existing programs and did not need a visionary to do that. Ghana is not the first developing country or African country to adopt HIPC. The NHIS is built upon the Damong Health Scheme of the Catholic Church and the School Feeding Program is a program that has been used for the last two or more decades to target increase school enrollment and retention.

What I agree with President Kuffour is that he was a missionary. I don’t know if he spent four weeks continuous in the country. But not all missionary activities in Africa have helped Africa so in that sense it was a vision to the detriment of Africa. Let me give you one example of David Livingstone the great British missionary who named a lake in east Africa after Queen Victoria. He spent a number of years roaming around the countryside of Africa from Congo to Tanzania on his civilizing mission on behalf of the British government. The British after not hearing from him for sometime thought he was lost and sent another missionary called Stanley to go and look for him and found him in Uganda or somewhere there. When Livingstone returned to Britain, he reported in his book that Africans were cannibals. But he lived alone in Africa for all those many years and did not lack friends and the Africans DID NOT EAT HIM.

So Mr. Kuffour when you and your party want idols to emulate, you may have to think about some other people. Otumfuo Agyemang Prempeh fought against colonialism and slavery and as a result was exiled to the Seychelles Island. Tetteh Quarshie brought cocoa to Ghana and changed the trajectory of the country’s development and Ephraim Amu change the perception of Ghanaians in the eyes of the world. There are other great people mentioned earlier in this write-up but because they were opponents of your party, you may not want to accept them. You are pleading with Ghanaians to give the NPP another chance to come to power. Ghanaians are a very forgiven people and will seriously consider your request but for the mean time, can you and your party functionaries give back all the government lands you have dubiously allocated to yourselves. Otumfuo is not happy about that and he is not the type of leader you would want to antagonize. Whiles you are at it, you may have to advice Jake and the others to return all the furniture and other properties they took from government bungalows during the transitional period.

You should also advice Nana Akuffo Addo to engage in a more respectful and less antagonistic campaigning because if “President” Akuffo Addo’s government will be made up of Professor Ahoofe as the Director of Communication or Minister for Information; Ursula Owusu as in charge of Women Affairs; Gabby for Presidential Affairs with Bishop Obinnim and others supervising their pray camps, that will be scary indeed.

 
 
Source: Kwame Yeboah
 
 

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