By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
He knows I am no fleering sycophant; and so when I say that former President John Agyekum-Kufuor is Ghana’s best leader in the Fourth Republic, I am not mincing words – neither am I brown-nosing; for, really, there are no tangible favors to seek (See “Ghana’s Economy Was Better Under My Gov’t – Kufuor” Adom TV/Ghanaweb.com 7/15/13).
You see, I am not like that summer soldier ensconced somewhere in the Carolinas who flatly lied through his teeth that it was the late Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia who initiated the National Service Scheme. And this funny guy actually ran in the New Patriotic Party’s presidential primaries some five years ago; he also imperiously claims that he has sunk his “treasure” into the party much more than any of his most formidable rivals and competitors. And yet, he has absolutely no clue, whatsoever, as to who really founded the National Service Scheme in 1974.
Anyway, for his deafening information, Prime Minister Busia was ousted on January 13, 1972. And so now I guess he can readily figure out that, indeed, it was the cowardly and brutally slain Gen. I. K. Acheampong who bequeathed this most salutary and lasting and constructive legacy to the people of Ghana. To be certain, Prime Minister Busia has his own fair share of remarkable achievements to think of having the achievements of any other Ghanaian leader mendaciously credited to him. And I would not be the least bit surprised if it should turn out that, indeed, the National Service Scheme was an integral portion of the plank of the Progress Party’s development agneda.
My simple advice to the sanctimonious Carolina summer soldier is tersely as follows: If you don’t know what you are talking about, just shut up and let those who know enlighten the rest of us, including you, of course. Don’t feel vainly obligated to compose any twaddle simply because it is the centenary birthday anniversary of Prime Minister Busia, and you feel the imperative need to hog an inch or two of publicity space.
The fact of the matter is squarely that it was Dr. Busia who made the term “rural development” a household name. For instance, when the people of Akyem-Nsutam, near my own ancestral village of Akyem-Asiakwa (just one of my more than several ancestral towns and villages, by the way), were being regularly and desperately flooded by the Birem (Abena) River and being forced to take shelter in the boughs and branches of trees, it was the Wenchi/Wenkyi royal, not Kwame Nkrumah, who resettled them in a modern real-estate housing project.
Busia also understood the nature and significance of modern education more than any other Ghanaian prime minister or president, including the African Show Boy. Busia was also the man who made the study of “Civics” a centerpiece of our country’s elementary- and middle-school curricula – although, from time to time one of scions of his inveterate detractors emerges out of the proverbial woodwork to cynically counter-claim that the Natioal Center for Civic Education (NCCE) is the brainchild of some impersonal junta entity called the National Liberation Council (NLC).
The latter junta, of course, has its fairly enviable and respectable station in the annals of modern Ghana; but, of course, it was the gigantic cognitive gray-matter of the first Ghanaian to obtain the Doctor of Philosophy Degree from the University of Oxford that moved the NLC into establishing the iconic institution of democratic governance. Busia is also widely known to have crafted the motto of the NCCE. It goes something like the following paraphrase: “If You Have Nothing Meaningful To Do, Don’t Come And Do It Here.”
I personally met and sat alongside Dr. Busia half-naked in his 1969 white campaign station wagon (OPEL?) when I was a second grader at Akyem-Kankang, now known as Akyem-Sekyere, near Jejeti, where my mother was a pupil teacher. Busia had been very good friends with my maternal grandfather, the Rev. T. H. Sintim (1896-1982) in Sekondi-Takoradi. But that is a story for another time and another article.
For now, though, what Ghanaians need to be reminded of is the fact that when Microsoft’s Bill Gates visited the country recently, it was Mr. Kufuor’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) that he glowingly commended, and not the hard-nosed Cash-and-Carry Darwinian health policy of the Rawlings-cobbled National Democratic Congress (NDC). Also, just the other day, the Dutch government was reported to have profusely commended the brains behind the NHIS. You would think that the judgment-debt guzzling NDC piranhas would have learned something meaningful from the preceding and mended their ways by now.
If anybody has any genuine doubt that, indeed, President John Agyekum-Kufuor quintupled the size of Ghana’s economy during the 8 years that he held fort, as it were, let that Doubting Thomas and/or Thomasina check the record books. Or is this also a mission impossible for the inveterate detractors of the Gentle Giant?
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York