I have been befuddled by all the brouhaha caused by the purported statement of the NPP guru, Mr Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, that aspiring candidates to executive posts could use money to woe delegates, project themselves, or whatever. After all, it is the normal practice in both the NPP and NDC, so what is the big deal with all that sanctimonious noise from both sides? In support of my cynicism, I have come out of recess, ferreted out from my rich archives some write-ups from 1997 which touched upon this same issue, which self-same issue brought me out of the bunker to issue some comments then on Okyeame. After all, it is the same old fetid, untreated sore now becoming gangrenous: the problem of party financing.
Below is the infamous write-up from Prof. George Ayittey which allegedly caused him a ministerial post in the Kufuor administration in addition to one of those gold chains they shared. It speaks for itself. My comments made then and, with the benefit of hindsight, some additions follow in Part 2. Let posterity not say of me: he kept quiet when greedy, corrupt, lawless and evil men held sway over the land of his ancestors.
From: George Ayittey firstname.lastname@example.org
To: okyeame@AfricaOnline.com, email@example.com,
Subject: THE MOON SHINES BRIGHTLY …….
At 19:07 25.06.97 -0700
THE MOON SHINES BRIGHTLY . . .
Sierra Leoneans have a proverb which goes like this: “The moon shines brightly but it is still dark in some places.” A village elder might use this proverb in a situation like this. After scrounging under their mattresses, pots and pans for enough of their life savings to send a child to school, he returns to the village a disaster. He can’t do anything right, making a mess of everything he touches. Whereupon an elder may look steely at him, shake his head and say, “The moon shines brightly but it is still dark in some places.”
This proverb may be applicable to the following story taken from The African Observer (June 19 – 25, 1997).
TITLE: DOUBTS ABOUT KUFUOR
STORY WRITTEN BY STEVE MALLORY
“”””The 1996 flagbearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) is facing a serious accusation: lying to the party’s leadership about a donation of 10 cars estimated at 200 million cedis. This scandal of political deceit is fast engulfing Kufuor as his integrity, honesty and judgment are all now being questioned.
The facts are very sketchy. But the pieces the African Observer has gathered so far point to another story of political power, money and lies.
Last November, in the heat of the election campaign, a group calling itself “Friends of Kufuor” donated 10 Niva cars to the NPP. Two of the cars were received by the party Secretary-General, Agyenim Boateng, in full view of the press.
Unknown to the NPP leadership, the donation was part of a scheme by Kufuor and his presidential campaign team. Kufuor’s campaign team actually acquired the cars in the name of the NPP without informing the party’s Chairman, Secretary-General, and Treasury. Then using “Friends of Kufuor” as a cover, they presented the cars to the party as a donation — apparently to win more clout within the party.
Kufuor’s presidential campaign team was so confident of victory that it paid a minimal deposit for the cars, promising the supplier that it would find some means to clear the balance when Kufuor came to power. The terms of the deal were kept confidential.
Against advice from NPP executive, Kufuor ran his presidential campaign independent of the party, so the NPP leadership was virtually kept in the dark regarding his campaign’s finances and operations.
When Kufuor and his campaign team lost the elections and weren’t able to come up with the balance for the cars, they went back to the NPP leadership, pleading that the party pay for the “donation.” Then all hell broke loose.
“Initially, we thought Kufuour and his men were joking,” said a source.
“How could the party pay for his political folly?”
According to our sources, angry NPP executives say under no circumstances will the party pay any money for the cars. They have reminded Kufuor that using the Party’s name in such dubious and illegal circumstances amounts to political treachery. The NPP executives have asked Kufuor and his men to pick up their cars from the Party’s headquarters and branches and deal with their own financial mess.
Sources say some high-ranking party officials feel Kufuor has betrayed the trust and confidence the NPP had in him and they have begun having doubts about his character, especially his self-discipline and moral accountability.
Kufuor wouldn’t discuss the case when the African Observer approached him.””””””””(p.2).
Three comments. First, when the African Observer first published this story, the reaction of some NPP supporters was vitriolic. They accused the African Observer of handing ammunition over to the evil NDC regime by publishing the story. I urged the editor, Steve Mallory, to stand firm.
At issue is professional integrity. You see, when we criticise the scandalous NDC regime of various unethical practices we should not tolerate the same ethical lapses in the opposition camp. It takes a strong and vigilant opposition to make democracy work. This kind of shenanigan — taking a loan in the name of a party and not informing the executive — amounts to trenchant dishonesty that should not be tolerated by anyone who is serious about curbing corruption in party politics. If Kufuor were president, would he take a foreign loan, without informing the Ghanaian people or seek their approval, use it for some purpose, hoping to find the means to pay it back quietly without the people ever knowing?
Furthermore, a lot of us were bitterly disappointed in the performance of the opposition leaders at the December polls. The alacrity with which they surrendered and accepted defeat left many of us wondering whether they had sold out. Three days after the results were announced, The Daily Graphic showed a picture of Kufuor kissing the hand of the First Lady — in complete submission to the NDC victory — at a time some of his own party’s parliamentary candidates were challenging the results!
Now comes word that Kufuor is putting up a building and riding about in a brand new Mercedes Benz. Is there a connection? Hmmmm. Building even a hut and buying even new bicycle — 6 months after a failed presidential election — constitutes in my view an exercise of poor judgment. Even if the money were genuinely his, it is bound to spark all kinds of speculations.
Second, NPP should not repay Kufuor’s car loan. You may recall that a couple of weeks ago, I have been arguing that foreign loans contracted without the approval of the African people should not be paid Back.
Now comes a loan contracted by Kufuor on behalf of the NPP without the approval or knowledge of the executive. What should the NPP do?
REPUDIATE IT. Same rule for all — country, party or organization. It is known as the “rule of law.” No exceptions for Mobutu or Kufuor.
Contract a loan on behalf of a country or party WITHOUT THE AUTHORIZATION of its people or executive and you pay for it. It’s that simple.
Third, pro-democracy forces should use this scandal to REVAMP the opposition camp. The Nkrumaist camp is in total and hopeless disarray.
The NPP, which hithertofore, was the only credible opposition party, is now being rocked by scandals. Dr. Jones Ofori-Atta, a prominent NPP member, has been charged with assault and theft. Kufuor, the NPP flagbearer, is now involved in act of ethical turpitude. If this scandal is not resolved and swept under the rug, it will factionalize and weaken the NPP. Presenting a weakened NPP at the polls in the year 2000 (or the next election, if the NDC-dominated Parliament amends the Constitution to change the term of office from 4 to 7), will result in a such a severe drubbing that it would make the December rout look merciful.
And while we are at it, we might as well clean up the other aspects of the NPP. The NPP needs to broaden its support base. It is perceived, rightly or wrongly, as an “Ashanti party” — a perception which the NDC tried to exploit in the last election. The hierarchy of the NPP — as well as the Nkrumaist parties — is dominated by the “Old Guard.”
Last year when I visited Ghana, I spoke with the leaders of various youth organizations — NPP Youth Wing, PCP Youth wing, NUGS, Pan-African Youth Association, etc. etc. Their basic complaint was that they are all lost.
About 70 percent of the Ghanaian population is under the age of 35. Most of them don’t know who Nkrumah, Danquah or Busia was. All they know is Rawlings but Rawlings has bitterly disappointed them. Nobody says Nkrumah, Danquah or Busia were not great men, who endured personal sacrifices to build Ghana. But our youth can’t relate to them.
I think it is time to give these great men a graceful retirement and move on. We live in the 1990s and cannot use 1950s colonial era strategies to solve problems of the 1990s. The world is not static you know. I also think the NPP should be reformed or restructured, move away from the Danquah-Busiah religion and emphasize more institutions such as democracy, development, etc., in its platform. The hierarchy should be more reflective of ethnic diversity — that is, there should be more non-Asantes and young people in the executive. Further, the name NPP should be dropped and new name chosen to reflect a new, lean and mean opposition party that is broad-based, youthfully energetic and no-nonsense in its stance. The old party’s name, NPP, may carry excess political and ethical baggage for the next election.
If the executive won’t reform the party, the youth should take over the party by voting out the executive. If they won’t go, the youth should set up their own political party, to be called FREEDOM PARTY.
THE COST OF NOT DOING ANYTHING
If we do nothing and close our eyes, the NPP will be riven with pro and anti-Kufuor factionalism. Public support and sponsorship of the NPP will dwindle, emasculating its ability to raise funds and mount an effective challenge to Rawlings. The scandal-ridden NPP will limp along to certain defeat at the next polls.
This is a serious and disturbing development, given the DANGEROUS political situation that already exists in Ghana. Why dangerous? The people are fed up with 16 years of Rawlings’ despotic rule. In addition, they have had enough with the squabbling opposition leaders. Worse, they have lost faith in the electoral process. These are EXACTLY the conditions which led to the emergence of Charles Taylor of Liberia, Mohamed Farar Aideed of Somalia and Laurent Kabila of Zaire (now Congo). Remember Charles Taylor started out with 200 rebel soldiers; Aideed with less than that and Kabila with about 300. Remember also that Kabila wanted to have nothing to do with Zairean opposition leaders, whom he dismissed as “sell-outs?” Note that they all started from the COUNTRYSIDE, while the despot had amassed his forces in the capital city. Smart, eh? And how much of a “democrat” did Taylor, Aideed, and Kabila turned out to be?
Let me ask you this: If a “Kabila” were to emerge in Navrongo and says he is marching down to Accra to remove Rawlings from power, how many young, unemployed Ghanaians do you think would join him? So let us sit there in the opposition camp, propound theories and daydream.
The moon shines brightly ………………
Here ends Prof. Ayitty’s post on the social malaise Mr John Kufuor was already inflicting on the NPP and later unleashed on wide-eyed Ghanaians as President of our dear nation. My comments follow in Part 2.