By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
The NPP’s Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is daring the devil in Ghanaian voters. He is, indeed, fast working himself into a frenzy at every turn as he ratchets up his political campaign efforts and has now reached the point of pushing his neck into the noose.
He has asked Ghanaians to hang him if he fails to deliver on his promises, particularly, the fee-free second cycle education, should the voters give him the mandate to rule Ghana (The Ghanaian Chronicle, Oct. 11, 2012).
Let’s hear him as he spoke in Kumasi over the weekend: “I should be taken to the cleaners if I renege on my avowed promise of actualising the free SHS concept.”
The gathering might have applauded him, but I consider that outrageous challenge as the height of desperation and foolhardiness. Akufo-Addo comes across at this stage as really desperate for a political office that he seems not to know full well.
This outrageous challenge speaks volumes. It leaves me in no doubt that Akufo-Addo has virtually reached the point of explosion. Why is it that out of all the Presidential candidates, he is the only one who comes across as too hungry for political power? More importantly, why is he pegging his own life on this quest?
I am appalled by the extent to which he is dragging contemporary Ghanaian politics, especially basing everything on a tenuous strand of national life—the Senior High School level. What I can gather from his fixation on this promise of free SHS education is that he doesn’t even know the real causes of Ghana’s endemic problems of under-development, let alone how to solve them. Of all the factors militating against the country’s progress, the standard of education at the Senior High School level is the most negligible.
But knowing very well the political capital residing in the stakeholders of that sector (in terms of the eligible young voter population of students and their parents complaining about high school costs), he is playing to the gallery and using this aspect as the trump-card for his political game.
Now, he has led himself to the point of self-sacrifice, which is unusual in a democratic dispensation of the sort that we are nurturing in Ghana. When a politician pus his life at stake for political office, he must be feared.
Does Akufo-Addo have advisers at all? Is he being guided by precedent to know how deep the Ghanaian political waters run? Or is he so blinded by his hankering after political power as not to know how to sell himself to the electorate in better ways than throwing this challenge to them?
He is on record for making other outrageous promises and posturing as a Messiah for Ghanaians. Among others, he is on record for declaring himself as neither corrupt nor corruptible; that he won’t preside over a government that would pay judgement debts; and that he would definitely rebuild Ghana if given the mandate.
Yet, he is known for saying that no President can solve Ghana’s problems in less than 10 years. His stance was recently corroborated by the NPP’s National Chairman, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey. Ironically, the two allowable terms of a President end at 8, meaning that any talk of 10 years is an overstretching of matters. Who, then, is Akufo-Addo fooling but himself?
Unfortunately for him, there seems to be a disconnect between him and the team that will assist him to make a government under him different from what Ghanaians already know. All the faces surrounding him are well-known discredited politicians whose property-grabbing instincts were on display in Kufuor’s era. The new ones with youthful exuberance aren’t any different. So, granted that Akufo-Addo isn’t corrupt and will not be, what is the guarantee that those in his government will be like him?
We recall the sharp contrast between the late ex-President Mills and his appointees whose self-acquisitiveness reduced to absurdity the Mills’ attribute of self-denial and uprightness. They are in the thick of the bribery and corruption scandals that have rocked the NDC administration all along. What will make Akufo-Addo different?
His promise of offering free SHS to Ghanaian school-goers has already drawn too much vitriol across-the-board and doesn’t warrant any further scrutiny beyond the depth of “populist nonsense” that some of us have consigned it to.
Yet, here he goes, pegging his life on that promise and daring Ghanaians to HANG him if he fails to make it good. How desperate can Akufo-Addo not be in his quest for the Presidency?
The other day, he was out, telling Ghanaians that he was seeking political power to SERVE them and not lord it over them as he claimed his political opponents were doing. Akufo-Addo to serve Ghanaians? What would have become of his tradition of arrogance (which is evidently clear even while he is not in office)?
My immediate reaction to this claim was to laugh him to scorn. Does Akufo-Addo really know the nature of the people he is desperately raising dust here and there to coax into voting him into office? I wish he would be politically savvy enough to know the Ghanaian in his or her natural and true element. Or that he would have the benefit of hindsight to recall the late Acheampong’s cry that “Ghanaians are difficult people.”
But he won’t because he is so fixated on grabbing political power that he will be more inclined toward throwing caution to the wind than being sobered by historical precedents. I pity him to the marrow.
If he thinks that he is seeking the highest office of the land just because he wants to serve Ghanaians, he should rethink his objective. Are Ghanaians worth serving, in any way?
Sadly, in his desperate rush to reach out to the electorate, Akufo-Addo won’t pause to consider anything else but his own avowed aim to promise anything at all and make his neck ready for the noose if only that will put him at a vantage point. He has a high price to pay for this foolhardiness.
I am tempted to wonder why he is so desperate for political power. Is it because he considers himself the SAVIOUR of Ghana? If he does, what makes him think so?
Having already been part of the Kufuor team that made the loudest noise while in opposition only to stand dumbfounded and paralyzed by the reality of governance when voted into office, Akufo-Addo should have learnt better lessons to stay clear of such a desperate path of politicking. But he hasn’t, which suggests that he is on a dare-devil mission whose consequences may be too dire for analysis at this stage.
He seems to be running a race on which the rest of his life span depends. At 69 years, he seems to be swimming against the current. His main wish might be to force time onto a hook to prevent his political sun from setting all too soon. But he can’t; hence, his overly desperate moves to drive himself at top speed to the slaughter house.
I consider his outrageous challenge as a mere bluff because there is no indication that Ghanaians will take him on. Indeed, no law exists that any President who fails to fulfill his electioneering campaign promises should be hanged or dragged to the firing squad. So, why is he throwing this challenge, in the first place?
Take a good look at Jerry Rawlings’ case and you will agree with me on this score. When he shot his way into office on Thursday, December 31, 1981, his nerve-racking challenge to Ghanaians was: “I am prepared to face the firing squad if Ghanaians don’t like what I have come to do for them for the second time!”
He ruled for nearly 20 years. In the end, could he do for Ghanaians what he had promised? Did Ghanaians take him to the firing squad? Doubtless, he got away with that challenge, turning it into a political weapon with which to continuously taunt and torment Ghanaians even while out of office.
He is still strutting the political scene, emboldened by Ghanaians’ timidity and docility. Now, he is preparing to shoulder the responsibility of pushing his wife’s political agenda through. Ghanaians are looking on in awe or dread, depending on which side of the coin one sees.
Akufo-Addo is doing same, taking a cue from Rawlings’ impudence and careless abandon, knowing very well that no one can do anything to him in the end.
To me, his desperate moves and utterances only lead me to one conclusion: such a character won’t get my vote because he doesn’t deserve it.