The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Kufuor Foundation, a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) set up by the ex-President, John Agyeman Kufuor, has disputed claims by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) that, President John Dramani Mahama, attacked the personality of their flagbearer, when he described him as a dictator and a divisive person.Contrary to a strong case being made by the main opposition party that their flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, has been insulted, Prof. Baffour Agyeman-Duah, said he did not see the comments by President Mahama, as something the NPP needed to worry about, because it is accepted in political campaigns.
The former United Nation’s (UN) Governance Adviser, said this when he participated in a live television panel discussion, on Accra-based, GhOne programme, last Friday night.
Prof. Baffour Agyeman-Duah, first worked as UN Senior Governance Advisor in Tanzania, and later as a Senior Special Advisor to the United Nation Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
Prior to working for the UN, he was Associate Executive Director of the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), a public policy think-tank, which he co-founded in 1998. He continues to serve on the Center’s Executive Committee and Board of Governors of CDD-Ghana.
The NPP, found it offensive when the president in faraway Northern Region, said among other things that, Nana Addo, the three times presidential candidate, has divided his party into two, because of his divisive and dictatorial nature.
President Mahama, who is on a campaign tour of the Northern Region, stated that Ghana needed a leader who is understanding and could stand criticism from his party members, and not a dictator who divides his party.
While addressing supporters at Bimbilla in the Nanumba North District, President Mahama, charged that, a leader who cannot unite his political party is not worthy of becoming a president of Ghana.
He said that Nana Addo was leading “only half of the party” and that “the other half are sitting with their hands folded watching him drive the bus down the hill.”
“What we need in Ghana is an understanding President. The era of dictatorship is gone. We are not looking for dictator, somebody who can’t stand criticism. Within his own party, if you criticize him he will sack you. We are looking for a leader who can bring people together,” he added.
“What we need in Ghana is an understanding President, the era of dictatorship is gone, we are not looking for a dictator, somebody who can’t stand criticism in his own party, if you criticize him, he will sack you…that is not the kind of leader we are looking for, we are looking for a leader who can bring people together. “We are looking for a leader who can unite Ghana and not a leader who will divide Ghana, if you can’t unite your own party, how do you unite a nation.”
Following President Mahama’s comment which the NDC says, is a mere doze of the NPP flagbearer’s earlier attacks on him, the NPP’s acting General Secretary, John Boadu, hurriedly organized a press conference to hungrily attack the president.
But speaking on a number of issues, especially on the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, Prof. Agyeman-Duah, when asked by the hostess what he thought about the President description of Nana Addo, and the debate over the matter between the two major political parties, he said in his view, there was no cause for alarm.
The Professor, who was full of laughter expressed surprise, at the NPP’s condemnation of the President. He compared what pertains in Ghana to other countries where democracy started many centuries ago.
Citing the American example, Prof. Agyeman-Duah said, what is happening between Democrats’ Hillary Clinton and Republicans’ Donald Trump, who are known to be advanced in democracy more than most countries in the world, come nowhere near what is happening here in Ghana.
“If you follow world politics, this is minor. Donald Trump and others say worse things”, he told hostess, Nana Aba Anamoah
He believed what the president was reported to have said, was a one off thing, adding that when it becomes routine, then there is be a problem, the NPP, should be able to stomach it and move on tolerantly.
“Frankly speaking, I do not necessarily view this comments as necessarily insulting, ok. But I know also that, if comments constantly focus on a person, rather than issues, than that becomes a problem. And I think because the president has been constantly over the past four or five days, just talking about Akufo-Addo, that’s why perhaps people are picking on it, as an insult because, if he had said it just once and carried on or continued with his programme, achievements he has made and all that, I am not sure the attention will be shifted from these issues to the person that he is [said to be] attacking”, Prof. Agyeman-Duah.
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He went on “So I guess the president will not like to continue on this path because the reaction has not been very pleasant”.
According to Prof. Agyeman-Duah, “at political rallies people will cheer comments like that about your opponents that are expected. When you are on the platform, you talk to the politicians, when they get on the platforms, they are no longer the person you know, that is politics”.
To him “Once they jump unto the platforms, somehow, they change, the adrenaline flows and they say things to excite everybody. But I think that happens on all political platforms”, adding “if it becomes consistent over days, then people have the right to question whether you are addressing the issues or you are just attacking the person of your opponents and that’s where the problem is”.
On the proposed one district one factory by the NPP flagbearer, Prof. Agyeman-Duah, said the policy was laudable and should be encouraged except that, it could not be done in even eight years.
He said, politicians needed to refrain from exaggerating their capabilities, because there is a time limit for every administration to execute it manifesto promises.
“The problem with that also is that, when you are promising, I think most of them tend to forget that they are given a mandate for four years. In four years, it is not possible to achieve certain ends, it is not possible. They forget themselves and make promises that are not attainable. For instance, when the NPP promised one factory per district, I think it is a great idea, but it cannot be done in four years, not even in eight years”, he said.
The ex-CDD-Ghana boss, had wished the NPP “had clarified that statement by saying look, this is our plan, so far as we are in power, we will continue to work towards achieving a factory in every district of the country”.
Again he wished that in all the 216 districts of the country, there are existing local industries that funds and resources can be invested in to bring employment to the local people.
This, he explained is “because every district, you can identify a certain local industry that you can bring resources to support to expand to help the people to gain employment in their locality. I think it’s a wonderful idea, my only beef is that they did not go forward to qualify it so that they put it the right contest for it to be more believable”.
He insisted that “If you are saying this is my plan and over the four years maybe I can do five or ten or whatever, it is more credible”.
The former lecturer, explained that the same exaggerated mindset, has led to the NDC’s ongoing 200 community day school promised in 2012, which he said was not attainable in four years. Without being able to mention how many has been commissioned and how many are on-going, Prof. Agyeman Duah said, “it is the same problem I think my friends in the NDC are also having. The President promising 200 schools which is not attainable in four years and did not qualify it by saying, if I win a second term, I will finish all the 200. They did not say that, so politicians have the nag for exaggerating their capabilities”.
By Gifty Arthur