By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Folks, former President John Agyekum Kufuor says that if he had had his way, he would have decorated his wife Theresa with “State honours.” I won’t go any further but refer you to the real stuff coming from him: “According to the ex-president, his “veteran” wife has been helpful in maintaining a decent marital home for the many years they have lived together…
“…We’ve been married for 51 years, so she is a veteran, a real veteran and sometimes I just say if I got the opportunity again I would decorate her with some State honours,” Kufuor said when a former Nigerian leader General Abdul Salami Abubakar paid a courtesy call on him at his Airport residence. “She is my landlady. Now I think there is some understanding, she says I should behave and she would allow me to be”. (See: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=320965).
I am tempted to throw the searchlight on Kufuor within this context because “he has brought himself” (as our Ghanaian soldiers will say). When he was in power, we heard rumours about his incontinence in matters concerning the “sweetness of the flesh” (outside what Theresa could offer him) but didn’t get that much hooked on them because of our feeling that it is the usual Ghanaian thing, where polygamy opens many doors to conjugal infidelity. Power corrupts in every way possible; and absolute power will definitely corrupt absolutely the powers between the men’s thighs too. Hurray to those with such powers!!
There is a backdrop. Yesterday, I read a news report about Kufuor and the former Nigerian military ruler (Abubakar Abdul Salaam) meeting and reminiscing over their hey days as the founts of power and honour in their respective countries and sharing experiences on how they felt many years after leaving office. The news report said that, they concentrated on personal experiences, focusing on family affairs, especially how many children and grandchildren they had and how life was treating such products of their procreative endeavours. Good for them that they could have powers between their thighs to regenerate life in diverse ways. Virile men of integrity?
But it seems that Kufuor is taking issues too far; he seems to be craving some attention so he can either come to terms with reality or recall wasted efforts and gnash his teeth over. Why isolate his wife alone for honouring? Are other wives of people in authority that much loyal and worthy of recognition and appreciation to be so elevated for national honours? Why should Kufuor be so fixated on only his wife? An attempt to hide something? Or to create the impression that he defers to his wife and can’t be separated from her, even when in many of his nearly 200 foreign trips he didn’t take his wife along, unlike most heads of state (including the Rawlings that the NPP people regard as their worst nemesis who would always go out with Nana Konadu, his wife)? What is Kufuor desperately trying to cover up?
In all honesty, Kufuor deserves recognition for being what and who he is. I admire him for one thing—knowing how to adapt himself to the terrain to play it safe. In all that he did to succeed in overturning the table against the hegemonistic Rawlings system and to retain political power thereafter, he deserves much commendation. As to what he did in office, history should be the best judge. Those of us not well disposed toward praising him anyhow may have our reservations; but he is still standing tall, even as he counts his days in his 80-something years on this wretched earth. He has a life to live.
In office, he lived that life in diverse ways, seeking opportunities to prove his worth and ending up self-aggrandizing. Take his over 200 foreign trips, for instance, and you should know him as a gallivanting person. Not only that. He made sure that he prepared a safe passage for himself as he neared the end of his tenure.
The Chinery-Hesse Commission that he appointed to carve out a post-office niche for him did its best to weave an Arabian Nights Carpet for him, but sadly, he couldn’t fly. The ex-gratia was alarming and Ghanaians kicked against it, especially when the Mills-led administration torpedoed it.
But Kufuor had a streak that nothing could diminish. He caused to be spent millions of dollars for the production of medals that he awarded himself and others that he had isolated as the cream of Ghanaians whose accomplishments needed to be written in stone (or gold?). In choosing the beneficiaries, he slighted Akufo Addo (someone who had emerged to lead the NPP at Election 2008) and privileged the opposition NDC’s Atta Mills. A sacrilege? Go and ask Kufuor himself.
Persistent pressure made him reverse his decision to bring in Akufo-Addo; and on the coronation day, Kufuor sat in state and enjoyed all that happened. Ghanaians bore the cost and cursed him for playing the al-Houdini trick on them.
Folks, can you imagine that many years thereafter, Kufuor will be out to say that he should have included his wife (Theresa) on the list of beneficiaries of his largesse? Believe it or not, the truth is that Kufuor now thinks that his wife deserves a national honour, not for serving Ghana to improve governance or living conditions of the people, but for being a “loyal wife
Who will easily put behind him/her the scandalous developments about one Iraqi woman (Gizelle Yajzi), who was in the news as being engaged by Kufuor as an economist or adviser and placed at the seat of government to advise Kufuor on how to solve Ghana’s economic malaise but ended up being his bed-fellow? We have been told that their liaison yielded twins that bore Kufu0or’s name and that of his younger brother (Addo Kufuor). In all that happened, Mrs. Theresa Kufuor was reported to have kept her cool, unlike others (especially Victoria Kibaki, wife of the former Kenyan President, Mwai Kibaki) who would have turned the whole world upside down in the circumstance?
So, long after leaving office—and many years after sidelining his wife in the award of medals of “meritorious achievements”—why is Kufuor coming out now to make this utterance? And he wants to waste public funds to honour his wife for being “a loyal wife” to him? Oh, Ghana!!
Is this man really what he is to be admired? Of course, I am none of his admirers and will not pander to him. I see him as he is and will comment on him as such. He can choose to honour his wife as such. After all, if he can establish a Foundation to promote his interests, what prevents him from honouring his wife to immortalize her as the one who has made him what he thinks he is? His problem is that he won’t want to do so from his own resources. He would wish to use resources of the state to do so.
Unfortunately, the days of dipping hands into the national coffers are long over. Do you recall how he stole 41 million Cedis in January 2001 for the rehabilitation of his own private residence in the Airport Residential Area of Accra? He hasn’t yet found it expedient to abandon the “Kwaku Ananse” tricks that have continued to prop him up; but unfortunately for him, there is no more “open Sesame” to fall back on. The Ali Baba days are over, even if some have learnt to follow in his footsteps. With such characters, efforts at building Ghana in our time will continue to be difficult to make.
I shall return.