FLASHBACK: DEDICATED TO NANA BOTWE- CHIEF OF AGONA SWEDRU
In honest analysis, President Agyekum Diawuo Kufuor’s rule that enjoys media and public admiration and solidarity is gradually being burdened with an uncomfortable epidemic that needs urgent purging to avoid serious infection on unblemished New Patriotic Party presidential aspirants. So, we could sincerely declare that we have come not to applaud Caesar but to mourn.
But be slow in striking back. Be patient and put up thy swords into its sheaths for we preach no evil but peace. Unquestionably, the president, inherited a heavily indebted Ghana. Thus unlike some other Africa countries set on International Monetary Fund and World Bank prescriptions, in fact, our country is still stable and peaceful with a massive untapped human and natural resources. This explains that this regime has all the enabling environment to succeed. But the President’s uneven policy of self-preservation and selective justice, appear to be his worst adversary. How, then, could he anoints even an angel, let alone tame anxious aspirants in his NPP government before his effective term expires? This is a heart-breaking inquiry yet, it might heal.
We can authoritatively report that Mr John Kufuor, who on 7 January 2001, ascended to the Black Star Stool of Ghana as President, has been diagnosed politically-timely disease today. The Oxford-trained lawyer President has been told that he has only a few years to live as commander-in-chief. This should have meant to our learned uncle to have a will appointing a successor and probably, disposing some of his hard-earned legacies to avoid family litigation amongst his numerous brothers, nieces, nephews, and relations who aspire to have just a bit of the fruits of his labour? But “Gentle Giant”, as his admirers declare him, is mute on this critical moment in his political years that might perhaps, establish his peaceful passage to join the rolls of the few living ancestors. A vital political reflection that the then outgoing President J. J. Rawlings had in 1999.
In fact, this might be rather an awkward appraisal for our sitting President, His Excellency J. A. Kufuor. But what can we truly make out of the recent litmus test- the crucial race to fish out for equally competent chairman to succeed the then sitting Chairman Huruna Esseku? Unlike Ex-President Jerry John Rawlings, the president’s kind-hearted attempt to impose a candidate- one Mr Stephen Ntim, disastrously failed. Since some political commentators have the right to give considerate interpretation to this leadership embarrassment, by suggesting that there exist honestly, in this ruling NPP, an internal democracy, there could be no winners here. But to our simple minds, could it not appear like a child losing his or her beads in presence of an elder?
At this point, we may rightly ask that why Professor Mills’ “Declaration” so vital to the National Democratic Congress and why precisely in Agona Fankobaah, where we once had veteran revolutionary stalwarts such as the Kojo Yankahs and the Kwesi Botwes? Well, this writer knows Cape and Swedru very well. And so, perhaps, he could confidently explain that besides prestigious schools in Cape, Swedru, if we were permitted to evaluate, we might say, is economically much bubbling with all its side effects. Before Rawlings recaptured the Black Star throne for the second time, there were petty crimes such as snatching the bags of travellers at night, including hoarding and profiteering but not like Mankesim. Besides these, it has a liberal chief. Nana Botwe ascended to the stool at a prime age and probably, he is one of our few traditional leaders who comes close to leadership characteristics of former President Rawlings.
It is even rumoured by those close to Nana Botwe in the early 1970s that Nana covenanted with his elders and kingmakers that although he is from a royal home, which might neither be a blessing nor a curse by his own making, he accepted his nomination as chief on condition that his youthful lifestyle would not be incarcerated by outmoded customs and traditions. That he shall be given the free hands to lead but not to lord over his people? By facing these realities, Nana might be misconstrued as a ‘bluff individual’ who wants to change Akan tradition at his own privileged position. But our elders accepted this condition. We can humbly testify that Nana is one of the first lone-voices that cried on the wilderness that our kings and queens must neither be glued in their palanquins nor be shielded under royal umbrellas. Thus, in the interest of the people they lead, they must jog where there is the need and not to remain shoulder high?
True, our ancestors fought tooth-and-nail for every parcel of land we settle today. And yes, we are reporting an eye-witness account of some decades ago. But to those who hail from Agona Swedru or ever lived in that prosperous town, might probably agree that there is still no corner that can escape the memory of the Nana. He is indeed a human and not omnipresent God. However, strangers might easily meet Nana in the streets, at speech and prize giving ceremonies and in some extreme cases, at night clubs and motels such as Bom Dwen, not forgetting disaster areas. He could be spotted in shorts and T’shirt, encircled by a few of his energetic youths and elders whenever the Akora River that lies right in the middle of the town, overflows its banks.
In all these, it appears Nana Botwe, was never robbed of his traditional obligations. Agona Swedru has neither gold nor silver. But if we were to be correct, we may argue that economically, it competes head-on not only with the traditional headquarters- Agona Nyakrom but also coastal towns such as Cape Coast, Winneba and Saltpond. Today, most kings and queens are sailing closer to this customary spirit. As the marathon drive of Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori-Panin- the Okyehene, in support of the needy, shows. Recently, the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, supported by saying that the time has come for our traditional leaders, here queens and kings, to coil out of their royal and privileged umbrellas in seeking treasures for their subjects. This confirms Nana Botwe’s belief that modernism to our culture can also bring about stability.
If Nananom are recognising the burden that we labour and are ready to go the extra mile, why not political leadership that is not rested on war conquest but on social contract? President Kufuor is a humble listener but his reactions to local issues such as disasters have not been impressive. As human, we know that wealth creation could be good. But leadership also requires motivation that does not always demand money but personal presence and sharing of grief with persons affected. That the presidency must be active whenever unusual things happen around the country it presides? From the death of the Ya-Naa of Dagbon to Mobila, the Convention Peoples Party activist, our president, who reminds the world that Ghana is at ease, is still hiding behind this “bogus declaration of insecurity” in the North in ignoring some of these presidential obligations.
Of course, in matters of national security, there must be no gambling. But if a retired president with a shadow security detail can travel to the North, then why not the sitting president who has the sovereign power to declare war and peace? As could be rightly evidenced here, based on this same insecurity scam, ex-President Rawlings has been tactically denied his doctorate degree which was to be conferred on him by the University of Development Studies. Meanwhile, our learned submitted himself elegantly to the same honour accorded him at the University of Cape Coast, where he gave a political talk. From this reasoning, could it be justified that the former air force pilot is jealous of the presidency? Can we say honestly that the Presidency, would have the courage to be at the frontlines, assuming our sovereign country is attacked by enemy forces?
In no distant past, it was reported that there had been incursion from our northern frontiers, where even a local chief was kidnapped and dragged into an unknown location. The findings in that ordeal, is yet to be established. But one thing could be certain. That nothing fruitful might come out, as for example, in the torture and killing of Mobila? One wonders whether the President controls the chess as officers live in comfort, while the private soldier or generally put, the other rank who only executes superior orders, pays the price alone? Art 3(1) of UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or punishment (1984) expressly provides that: No State Party shall expel, return or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
So, must no government send human beings to any outfit, where there is a strong presumption that she or he might be subjected to torture? Sub-section 2 says that where there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations where they think gross, flagrant or mass violation of human rights might likely occur. To this effect, S2(3) expressly explains that an order from superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked. Thus if Rawlings must be accused of every errors and omissions under his regime, why must the leadership of the NPP not accept this liability but push it on the defenseless? Why then, must we not be ashamed of ourselves for that sneaky extradition deal that we struck with the Bush regime?
The sad news is that ever since Hon. Koi-Larbi, from Adukrom, sorry, Akropong, got missing in action, there appears to be only sporadic snappers’ shots from Assin Fosu and Agona Odobeng, in the Central region. Now, everything of JAK, are roses. Forgetting that he might leave a huge legacies that might have a huge unsettled family business charges and litigations. But who dares steps the president’s toes that a familiarisation visit to disaster areas pose no direct threat to his personal security, so would have been the president’s priority when he returned from his overseas tours? It is against this backdrop that we are driven to believe that J. J. had some wonders from Nana Botwe that true, Brother Kwamena Bartels, ought to have humbly told his learned uncle?
But it is not too late for that visit. Although, Bom Dwen Model, that is nearer to Nana Botwe’s Palace, where local relations diploma courses are taught, might be too small for the entourage, however, we still have a nice Paradise Hotel at Wawase, on the Akyem Oda road. Despite the fact that General Acheampong schooled here and we have no military garrison, we guarantee your personal safety and the rest you might need to write this critical Will that we guess, might settle this hasty succession squabbles that we fear might or is grimly wrecking your enduring dynasty.
First Published at Ghanaweb, on 6 May 2006