Is Akufo-Addo Really Popular By Default? – Asks Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
The besieged founding father of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), ex-President Jerry John Rawlings, is reported to have observed to Cuba’s vice-president that the gross administrative ineptitude of President John Evans Atta-Mills is to blame for the surging popularity of Ghana’s main opposition leader, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Cuba’s Vice-President Esteban Lazo Hernandez, we are told, was let on to the foregoing during a courtesy call on Ghana’s fast-aging retired dictator.

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The foregoing observation, it goes without saying, reeks of nothing short of the insufferably insolent and downright arrogant. Needless to say, Nana Akufo-Addo’s name was firmly established on the national political landscape and was almost a household word long before Mr. Rawlings plucked up a virtually unknown Professor Atta-Mills and named the former Legon law school teacher his tax commissioner and subsequently, and expediently, Mr. Rawlings’ arch-lieutenant by default. And on the latter score, of course, the reference is obliquely to the brutal beating death of former Vice-President Ekwow Nkensen Arkaah.

And on the foregoing score, also, it is rather risible to hear the motor-mouthed former dictator pontificate about rank ethnic discrimination under the Kufuor administration. For now it has become patently clear by his own personal account that Mr. Rawlings’ decision to replace Vice-President Arkaah, a Fante man, with the then-Professor Atta-Mills, another Fante man, was squarely based more on political expediency and, by extension, ethnic discrimination than sheer merit.

If the foregoing observation has validity, and there is absolutely no reason to believe that it does not, then Mr. Rawlings had better examine the proverbial “three accusing fingers” pointing squarely at the gratuitous accuser. In any case, even a cursory glance at the photo-finish results of Election 2008, clearly indicates that absolutely by no measure could the then-Candidate Atta-Mills, who was gunning for the presidency the third time around, be plausibly said to have been remarkably more popular than his most formidable opponent. The very fact that the now-President Atta-Mills had defeated Nana Akufo-Addo by less than one-percentage point of the sum total of the legitimate ballots cast, ought to have served as a warning to the likes of the NDC patriarch that his longtime protégé had everything but the conventional mandate of the people going in.

Couple the preceding with the fact that Nana Akufo-Addo has relatively far more distinguished himself as a legal practitioner, with more of his cases routinely cited in Ghanaian judicial praxis and law textbooks than almost any other living legal practitioner, and it at once becomes obvious that Mr. Rawlings simply does not know what he is talking about, when the former Ghana Air Force flight-lieutenant attributes the Akufo-Addo phenomenon to sheer administrative incompetence on the part of President Atta-Mills.

Needless to say, as has been observed time and again, the man who steadily and adamantly sponsored the clearly vacuous presidential ambitions of Tarkwa-Atta has equal blame to share for the rank political chaos being silently and miserably suffered by Ghanaians presently. What is also interesting about the rather bleak assessment of the performance of President Atta-Mills by the latter’s mentor is that while, indeed, such negative assessment is in complete agreement with the view of most Ghanaians, nonetheless, the means by which Mr. Rawlings arrived at such conclusion is clearly based on what Sogakope Jeremiah firmly believes to be the opprobrious incapacity of President Atta-Mills for vengeance and downright vindictiveness of the highest order.

In simple terms, for Mr. Rawlings, President Atta-Mills would be regarded as an ideal leader, only if Tarkwa-Atta could also show himself to be as notoriously and indescribably wicked as Mr. Rawlings himself. To the foregoing effect, this is what the news report had to say: “The former president claimed that some innocent people were jailed under the erstwhile Kufuor administration and yet the Mills administration had failed to ‘seize the moral high ground and do what [you] have to do, [instead] you say the status quo must remain. So today we are in government but weaker than the opposition.’”

We must also recall the glaring fact that while Akufo-Addo stands, in all likelihood, to be immortalized by his landmark, foresighted and astute crafting of the Repeal of the Criminal Libel Law/Code, and thus for effectively ushering Ghana into civilized democratic political culture in the twenty-first century, President Atta-Mills, on the other hand, is more likely to be remembered for the infamous Juliet Cotton episode, in which a Mills-led team of high-powered NDC operatives under the watch of then-President Jerry John Rawlings literally handed over more than $20 million gratis to an African-American welfare recipient in apparent exchange for absolutely nothing but a peek at Ms. Cotton’s unremarkable buttocks, if you please, dear reader. The then-Vice-President Atta-Mills had loudly touted to his countrymen and women that Ms. Cotton was in the country to resuscitate the long-abandoned Aveyime Rice Project.

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of the Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Selected Political Writings” (, 2008).


The opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or have the endorsement of the Editorial Board of