What President Kufuor Probably Meant

? ? ? ? ? ? While presenting his keynote address to a graduation ceremony hosted by the Nhyira Prophetic Institute, somewhere in Ghana, last week Saturday, former President John Agyekum-Kufuor was widely reported to have admonished his fellow Ghanaians to curb their criticism of the Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress and, instead, use their cranial resources to facilitate the rapid development of the country (See Graphic Online 2/10/14).

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Naturally, the report outraged a lot of Ghanaians, particularly those in support of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). It may also have raised tempers to unprecedented heights because in recent days, some cabinet and key NDC operatives have cynically attempted to silence critics of the government, in the wake of the precipitous decline in the value of the Cedi, the country’s monetary currency. In sum, to those disgruntled by the bleak economic temper of the times, as it were, the former president curiously appeared to be condoning the gross managerial incompetence and abject venality of the Mahama/Amissah-Arthur regime.

 

Now, Mr. Kufuor’s longtime spokesman, Mr. Frank Agyekum, has released a rather terse and decidedly unconvincing statement denying that his much-maligned and much-criticized boss had made the remark widely attributed to him. “When he [President Kufuor] was in government, he was criticized left, right, center and even now out of government, he is still being criticized by people who feel like criticizing him. So how can he say that nobody should criticize the government,” Mr. Agyekum was reported to have bitterly opined.

 

The preceding is not very convincing because it is a perennially peculiar characteristic of the former president to assume the otherwise dignified and charitable posture of a statesman at just the wrong moments. We all wistfully witnessed a striking example of such shabby statesmanship when Mr. Kufuor defied the common stance of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the New Patriotic Party by attending the caustically controverted inauguration of Mr. Mahama in January 2013. As usual, back then, his grounds for flouting the NPP-NEC’s resolution was patently self-serving, in the sense that it sought to quaintly place the stature and personal interest of the former president over and above the collective supreme interest of the very political organization that had singularly facilitated his accession to the highest position in the land.

 

Nevertheless, Mr. Kufuor was dead-on-target in observing that our general national temper could do with a decent modicum of sobriety and rhetorical discipline, irrespective of whether people like the now-President John Dramani Mahama had been quick and profusely gratuitous in their cavilling of his relatively more successful 8-year tenure at the helm of the country’s affairs. The fact of the matter, though, is that Ghanaians are not apt to be able to effectively help a government that sports an unsavory pathological siege mentality, and one that pretends that every critic, regardless of critical tenor, is an inveterate enemy that ought to be chased out of the public arena of our national political discourse, almost as if the concerned critic were a criminal intruder or an interloper.

 

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*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Department of English

Nassau Community College of SUNY

Garden City, New York

Feb. 11, 2014

E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

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