President Kufuor Cannot Be Neutral To His Own Mess

Those who have either read or even perused his biography, authored by Ivor Agyeman-Duah, cannot but come to a sad and definitive conclusion that former President John Agyekum (Kofi Diawuo) Kufuor is squarely to blame for the current confusion and regressive infighting raging in the New Patriotic Party (NPP). In fact, it was Mr. Kufuor who singularly, injudiciously and deliberately lit and stoked the flames of faux-ideological partisanship raging within the so-called Elephant’s Party. Like the late maverick Mr. Victor Owusu, it is a glaringly known fact, albeit often tactically muted, that Dr. J. B. Danquah is not a personality that is much beloved among “Kufuorian” circles. Cunningly, however, in view of his seminal formidability, the ideology and ideals which Dr. Danquah fervidly cherished and championed, and for which he fearlessly and dearly paid with his life have found great appeal and resonance among pragmatic opportunists like Mr. Kufuor who have cleverly appropriated the same to enviable effect.

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In his biography, Between Faith and History (or some such pseudo-religious and outright presumptuous title), the former Ghanaian president mischievously attempts to “Akyem-cize” the erstwhile United National Convention (UNC), led by Mr. William (Paa Willie) Ofori-Atta, even though it was such Asante-born United Party stalwarts as Mr. R. R. Amponsah and Gen. A. A. Afrifa who effectively bankrolled the UNC and actually convinced the long-retired Mr. Ofori-Atta to join the 1979 presidential contest. Predictably, however, having set up the UNC and Okyeman as scapegoats for the largely self-induced failure of Mr. Victor Owusu, a man far more notoriously arrogant than any politician or statesman ever produced in Akyem-Abuakwa, President Kufuor, through his exuberant biographer, was able to gratuitously blame a purported “UNC Fractional Proclivity” for the ringing failure that was Mr. Owusu’s 1979 presidential bid.

It comes, therefore, as rather amusingly curious for Dr. Nyaho-Tamakloe, a former ambassador under the Kufuor government, to be calling for the very personality who almost single-handedly inflamed the current convulsive dissension raging within the party to, literally, step up to the proverbial plate and pretend neutrality (See “Nyaho-Tamakloe Taps Kufuor To Mediate In NPP Infighting” 2/4/10). You see, we “Kyebifoo” were not the very first Ghanaians to access Western education (though a cursory glance at the original membership of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences belies this fact); still, we were, somehow, able to clinch the enviable accolade of having had the first West African – perhaps even the first continental African – to have obtained the highest academic laurel in the West in the twentieth century. I am also quite certain that long before the “Atwima Philosopher” obtained his Oxbridge sheepskins, a Kyebi boy and/or girl had already assayed and marvelously succeeded at the same.

I vehemently and, perhaps, also a bit angrily make the foregoing observations because Mr. Kufuor appears to have been allowed to commit a lot of morally reprehensible crimes and gotten away with them, even as wholly innocent people are being nesciently – or ignorantly – faulted for the same. I have also lived long enough and long enough in Kumasi to remarkably appreciate how politics is done in Oseikrom. Still, through all the lurid attempts engineered by some party insiders to thoroughly malign and demonize Nana Akufo-Addo, for instance, I have remained obliviously silent, all the while fervently hoping that, somehow, sanity would prevail. Then also, the inescapable fact of my being historically a direct descendant of Otumfuo Osei-Tutu I, by way of the Akyem-Asiakwa royal family, has necessitated my measured reticence.

The foregoing notwithstanding, let me remind the “Kufuor faction,” if indeed any such entity does exist, that I was in Kumasi and at the Ghana National Cultural Center (GNCC) when following the untimely demise of Dr. Alex Kyerematen, Anokyekrom’s founder-director, Mr. L. K. Idan, the former’s longtime associate and deputy director, was shamefully prevented from legitimately succeeding Dr. Kyerematen. Back then, one bold, honest and courageous nephew of then-Asantehene Otumfuo Opoku-Ware II published an article in either the Weekly Spectator or the Ghanaian Times clearly indicating the fact that Mr. Idan had been summarily denied the post of substantive director of the GNCC, precisely because the heir apparent was half-Fante and half-Yoruba and therefore thoroughly unworthy of being named custodian of a legendary Asante institution.

It may also interest readers to recall the fact that as a fairly regular poet of Anokyekrom, in fact the first poet to be permitted to compose and perform my poetry exclusively in English at the GNCC, following the death of Mr. L. K. Idan, then a senior lecturer at the University of Science and Technology (now KNUST), I would also be prevented from reading a poetic tribute to the man, on the rather dubious grounds that it was apt to provoke a bitter conflict!

Needless to say, Dr. Nyaho-Tamakloe is dead-on apt in calling for a lasting solution to the 1979 rift (actually the problem partly stems from Otumfuo Nana Prempeh II’s decision to acquiescently back President Nkrumah and his CPP in the wake of the Okyenhene Osagyefo Nana Ofori-Atta II’s destoolment and de-gazetting) that created the UNC and the so-called Popular-Front Party (PFP) factions of the Danquah-Busia Tradition. The real problem here, however, is that appointing a putatively pathologically partisan ex-President Kufuor as an above-board mediator is not apt to cut it, as it were. For merely having been President of Ghana with a decidedly splotchy record, albeit one that is unbested by the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), does not a neutral mediator make!

Indeed while this writer, for example, admires something about Mr. Kufuor’s deft diplomacy as substantive Ghanaian premier, still, based on his shamelessly crude partisanship in the lead-up to the 2008 presidential election, even if God (Christian, Muslim or Traditional African) descended to our part of the planet Earth and appointed Mr. Kufuor a chief mediator of the raging leadership crisis in the NPP, I, for one, would still not respect Mr. Kufuor’s verdict, should such a verdict as he is apt to pronounce even synch with my own!

Ultimately, though, the NPP has absolutely no choice but to get its proverbial act together, none the least because the next general election is just around the corner. Rather, the NPP needs to get its act together precisely because presently, the NPP is the only organized political party in the country that is capable of steering Ghanaians out of abject cultural decadence and economic and political strangulation.

*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. A former poet of Anokyekrom of the Ghana National Cultural Center (GNCC), Okoampa-Ahoofe is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI), the pro-democracy think tank, and the author of 21 books, including “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (, 2005).