There was a time when President Nana Akuffo Addo was held as the incorruptible septuagenarian-a man who had achieved all there was to achieve in his life and had no need of worldly goods or rewards. That, all he needed in what was left of his life, was success as a president to perpetuate the good family name, a name that had been held in high esteem in Ghana since his father had been appointed ceremonial president in the Busia administration.
I believed that, and so did millions of Ghanaians who queued at dawn on that fateful December morning to cast their votes and offer him such support as has never been witnessed in the history of this country. It was a great day. With the force and power of our thumbs, we had booted out corruption, avarice and political impunity for good. Or so we thought.
There were early warning signs which most of us chose to ignore in the euphoria of the moment. How could we ever have expected, that the man who so eloquently preached for decades about bloated governments and waste of government resources could end up appointing one hundred and ten ministers, thirty to forty ministers more than any other government in the history of the country had managed to appoint. There were excuses. They had so many projects to execute, that all these ministers were needed to keep things on tract. We shrugged, kept mute and watched.
Then, the same man who had so eloquently preached against friends and family governments in the John Mahama era even when no proof could be provided for this ended up filling his appointment list with Akyim compatriots – a roll call of Akuffos, Danquahs and Ofori-Attahs. This time, there was not even an attempt to provide excuses. They had all been appointed, apparently because, well, they were qualified. And not only that, previous girlfriends and a mother of one of his children were appointed ambassadors. We shook our heads, but still kept mute, and watched.
It did not take long for allegations of corruption to start streaming in. The first of which was from no less a person than the Honourable Kennedy Agyapong, a leading NPP member of parliament who openly proclaimed on TV, that people were being charged twenty thousand dollars just for the opportunity to confer with the president. There were investigations of some sort, and everybody was cleared. We watched in bemused silence.
This was followed by yet another allegation that people were being charged as much as a hundred thousand dollars just for the opportunity to sit by our esteemed president at a business awards night. There was an investigation of some sort initially at the presidency itself and everybody was cleared even before parliament had had the opportunity to delve into the matter.
In all of this we believed, that the man himself remained largely incorruptible except that certain shady characters around him were, perhaps, exploiting his age and lack of complete control to enrich themselves. No one dared impugn the character of our esteemed president.
And so it remained, till Kwesi Nyantakyi came on the scene and blew our solidly held faith into smithereens. The myth was broken. And so for the first time we knew, that rather than being a man who had achieved all there was to achieve in the world and needed no financial reward, our president was actually broke. And he was broke because, he had had to sell lots of family property to finance his political campaigns. And he was under a lot of pressure from his family. Suddenly, things started to become a bit clearer. One started to sort of understand why he would go against his long-held convictions and pack his government with family and friends. Had they all sold some property or other to help finance his rather long campaign?
But that was not all, Kwasi Nyantakyi made us realize, that under some special circumstances, one could actually give millions of dollars to our president. One only had to be smart about it and approach him the right away. And, that vice president, the clever one, the saviour of Ghana, the “arrestor” of the cedi, is not averse to receiving a “little” gift here and there himself. (where “little” is defined as anything over a million dollars or more).
Of course, Kwasi Nyantakyi has apologised and retracted his statements. But I wonder if there is one Ghanaian who believes that Kwasi would come out at this moment and say he was actually right and everything he had said was true. And so are we left with a horribly bad stench wafting round our poor noses.
For, in the end, we are talking here of a man who had been GFA president for thirteen years, was vice president of the Confederation of African football and was a prominent member of FIFA. A lawyer and a banker of no mean repute, the man is a millionaire in his own right. That such a man would meet people he believed to be rich Arab sheiks keen on investing millions in Ghana and simply “brag” about his connections with the president of Ghana, is something you would have to tell the marines.
Not me. I’m too old for that… excuse the punt. And so do I believe, that even without the proof of the president having actually received anything, that reputation of an incorruptible old man who wants for nothing, has been irreparably damaged.