John Kufuor’s Centre of Excellence maybe Akufo Addo’s Nemesis- Akyena Brantuo Benjamin, October 4, 2011

I write to comment on the over ten million US dollars centre of excellence and leadership established by ex-president Kufour on the University of Ghana Campus on the 21st of September, 2011.

Saying it as it is

The John Agyekum Kufour (JAK) Centre of Excellence and Leadership must be known for what it is, an ideological school, akin to the erstwhile Kwame Nkrumah Ideological institute. Kufour‘s aim is to perpetuate the ideology of the UP/NPP tradition (from Busia-Asante lenses) and correct the fact that his Party comes from a tradition of coup plotters, terrorists, anti–development, ethnocentric and surrogates of imperial powers. ‘Does Ghana have founders or a founder?’ The Kufour-school will answer that question.

Putting it into context

But why is there a need for JAK Foundation to promote NPP ideology, if there is already in existence the Danquah Institute? Alternatively, what is the JAK foundation meant to achieve for which the Danquah Institute cannot achieve or be restructured to realize?

The establishment of Danquah Institute by Akuffo Addo and the JAK foundation by Kufour only points to the internal Asante – Akyem battle for supremacy in the Danquah-Busia Tradition, with Akufo Addo promoting Danquah-Akyem legacies whilst Kufour promotes that of Busia’s big Ashanti project.

Since the murder of Osei Tutu l, an Ashanti chief by the Akyems during the days of conquest for ethnic supremacy, relationship between the two ethnic groups can be described as anything but peaceful. In today’s era of democracy, party politics has been the natural vehicle to drive this ethnic supremacy agenda.

The same factors led the Asantehene Otumfuo Nana Prempeh ll to tactically support the destoolment and de-gazetting of Okyehene Nana Ofori-Atta ll by Kwame Nkrumah.

Indeed, the same motivating factors led Mr William Ofori-Atta (Paa Willie) to walk away with the Akyem half of the Progress Party to form the United National Convention (UNC) (of the UP tradition) and Victor Owusu to do the same with the Ashanti half to form the Popular Front Party (PFP). As they say, the rest is history.

It appears the Ashantis have succeeded to achieve with politics what they failed to realize with traditional warfare expansion agenda, Asante dominance over the Akyems. Interestingly, the elevation of Kufour to the presidency in 2000 also saw an equal elevation of the Ashanti Chiefdom, with the Asantehene playing host to important visitors of the State, undertaking external assignments on behalf of the government and assuming the title of ‘King of Ghana’, which created the false impression that all Ghanaian chiefs swear allegiance to the golden stool of Ahsanti Kingdom.

Importantly, it is the fear that Akufo Addo’s presidency will promote the Akyem Chiefdom over that of the Ashanti kingdom, which has gotten Kufour to lead the Asante mafia in the NPP to sabotage Akufo Addo, using his connections as ex-president and overnight wealth acquired while in government.

Indeed this paranoia led Kufour to support a relatively unknown Ashanti, Alan Kyeremanteng, against the highly rated Akufo Addo, who since 1996 had been tipped to succeed Kufour. But for the steadfastness of supporters of Akufo Addo, who pushed for expanded Electoral College, to thwart the ability of Kufour to use his limitless finances to influence the verdict of the previous limited Electoral College, Akufo Addo would not have been the candidate of the NPP today!

Truth be told, Akuffo Addo is damaged as a presidential material because of allegations of drugs and other claims of misdemeanor used against him by the Kufour camp whilst promoting Alan kyeremanteng in the last two Presidential primaries of the party. In fact, allegations that Kufour is financing the African watch magazine to promote Akufo Addo’s alleged drug use has not been denied!

Today, by courtesy of leaked USA diplomatic intelligence cables, we know Kufour dismissed his National Security Coordinator, Francis Poku because of the latter’s support for Akufo Addo.

On the other hand, Akufo Addo is not just a victim in this ethnic struggle in NPP. He appears to be a calculating predator, who wants to consolidate his strength first before striking. Dr. Kwasi Anning of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre put it best when he spoke to a US embassy Official prior to the 2008 elections. ‘Although Akufo Addo has surrounded himself publicly with NPP stalwarts and former ministers such as Alan Kyeremanteng, Hackman Owusu Agyemang, Jake Obetsebi Lamtey and Kofi Apraku, his closest advisors, Anning claims, come from his own family and clan. If Akufo Addo wins the election, Aning says none of those NPP luminaries will have a place in his cabinet.’

Nana Addo’s former director of communication, Arthur Kennedy, supports this view heavily. In his book ‘chasing the elephant into the bush’, Kennedy opines that the problem with Akufo Addo is not self-inflicted but ‘those over educated, over westernized, spoiled and arrogant Kyebi groups around him’. Kennedy concludes ‘to get to the presidency Nana must reach significantly beyond his family.’

As flag bearer of the NPP in 2008, Akufo Addo made sure that Stephen Ntim, an Ashanti and favorite of Kufour never became the party chairman. As sitting president, Kufour was sidelined from decision-making of the NPP’s 2008 elections. Kufour only learnt that the NPP would not contest the 2008 run-off in the Tain Constituency on the radio in his car whilst on his way to campaign there. Apparently, Akuffo Addo’s apparatchiks were busy trying to stall the final electoral process by filling law suits against the alleged voting irregularities in the Volta region.

As if that is not enough, Akufo Addo never misses an opportunity to attack the economic record of Kuffour in government. Whilst Kufour insists he took the country to middle-income status and quadrupled the size of the economy, Akuffo Addo always refers to the economy as a Guggisburg one, a colonial economy that will take him alone to modernize through a yet to be birth ten year development plan.

It is in light of the above that political watchers think the timing of the launching of Kufour’s Foundation was part of carefully calculated efforts aimed at crowding out Akufo Addo’s campaign, from the media space. We barely have a year to the 2012 general elections, yet the concentration of everybody is not the NPP candidate’s policy statement, campaign activity or credibility crisis but celebration of Kufour, who will never contest any election again in Ghana. The visibility and height of Kuffour makes it difficult to notice Akufo Addo standing behind him.

Indeed the Akufo Addo campaign team is not lost to this reality. While writing under the caption ‘where are the NPP Brains,’ the Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, Gabby Asare Okyere Darko, lamented bitterly about why his uncle, Akuffo Addo, has been abandoned in the cold by NPP stalwarts. The loud silence by NPP gurus on both their candidate’s policy statement and negative press, speaks volumes about their desire to see him ascend the throne of presidency.

Come to think of it, it makes political sense for Akufo Addo to lose in the 2012 elections to boost the chances of the Ashanti darling boy, Alan Kyeremanteng in 2016. The establishment of Danquah Institute to promote the Akyem – Akufo Addo Agenda and the Kuffour Center of Excellence and Leadership to promote Asante – Busia agenda shows Akufo Addo has more than the NDC as his political opponent to defeat on his journey to become President.

Drawing the conclusion

Kufour’s actions appear to be public relations antics aimed at correcting his reputation as a corrupt, inefficient, morally bankrupt and elitist leader, whose sting with Ghana’s presidency succeeded only to transform his cronies and family members into overnight millionaires. The principle is simple: it is easier for people to remember what he is doing today – collecting awards that doesn’t change our poverty, observing elections that can never be criticized but praised, and traveling to make speeches that nobody will care about in Ghana – all to keep us thinking on his charitable deeds of the present whiles forgetting the dirty, damaged past, riddled with cronyism, monumental corruption and vicious cycle of poverty set in motion by 8years of his maladministration.

As Kuffour spend millions of dollars to refurbish his image, the poverty-stricken inhabitants of Nkawie, his hometown, continue to lack basic-necessities of life, giving life to perception that the NPP/UP tradition only requires the votes of the masses, and not their welfare. The masses vote leaders to provide food, water and shelter, not an ideological institute to glorify a political tradition.

The next immediate beneficiary is his family –the Busia lineage, Ashantis, and the ideology of his family, Busia. After building a statute for him in Nkrumah’s hometown, he is now building an image for his family line through the minds of young Ghanaians, students of intellectualism, and torchbearers of the future; he is prolonging the life span of an unnecessary rivalry between his family and the Akyems into another generation.

Lastly, he is setting up Akufo Addo to lose 2012 elections even before the first ballot is cast. Take it or leave it, Akufo Addo melts into the shadow whenever Kufuor is in the news. If Kufuor can keep being in the news even in 2012 he will be Akufo Addo’s shadow opposition candidate. And you can’t fight shadows. Akufo Addo will fight Mills in the light; Kufuor will fight Akufo Addo in the dark. He did it prior to 2008, when in an election year, he built a presidential palace against better judgment of modesty, he increased petroleum prices whiles Akuffo Addo campaigned and Patricia Adjei eventually had to walk in the streets of Kumasi begging motorists to vote Akuffo Addo despite petrol increases. He ordered a jet to be bought, when in an election year such expenditure will certainly make a government unpopular.

The JAK centre of excellence is the centre that will glorify Kufuor, consolidate a family line, and plot Akufo Addo’s defeat. In all this, the material interest of Ghana and Kufuor’s Nkawie will be lost.

Akyena Brantuo Benjamin

Member, Ghana Government’s Communication Team and an alumnus of IMANI-AfricanLiberty.org’s summer academy

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