By Gifty Arthur
Ghana’s only two surviving former presidents, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings and his successor, John Agyekum Kufour, are in a fierce contest, waiting for who to be crowned the most corrupt leader of their time.
Mr. Rawlings, who was apparently, responding to an unprovoked attack on him by the Spokesperson of Mr. Kufuor, Frank Agyekum, over the US$24 million drillship sale saga, also packaged the most unwelcomed birthday present for his successor calling him an autocratic leader, who monopolized corruption together with his family, particularly his children.
According to Mr. Rawlings, Mr. Kufuor who turned 75 last Sunday, was so corrupt and autocratic that he used the Military and the police to suppress anyone who did not agree with him or did not ask his permission to be corrupt, adding “And he would jail anybody else who did not have his permission to be corrupt, so there was a way in which his regime looked orderly, because nobody else could engage in it, except himself or gave you the permission”, he said.
Frank Agyekum, countered ex-President Rawlings saying “That’s an allegation that has no foundation to stand on at all and I would have dismissed it and thrown it away, but coming from former president, we challenge the American Embassy to come out today to explain and to tell us if what President Rawlings is saying was true, because as far as I’m concerned, nothing of such happened”.
Some very interesting things happened under Kufuor’s Presidency, especially the involvement of his three children in national procurement contracts, drawing lots of controversy.
His first son, Chief Kufuor, was accused of fronting for his father by getting the state-owned National Investment Bank (NIB) to purchase the African Regent Hotel, nicknamed Hotel Kufuor (Wawa).
His second son, Agyekum who got married to an American lady, and later declared himself bankrupt at his base in the US, got rehabilitated by Mr. Kufuor, by awarding him a multimillion dollar Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) contract to supply prepaid meters to the state power distributor. It was without competitive tendering as spelt out by the procurement law.
Mr. Kufuor’s first daughter, Nana Ama Kufuor, was also awarded a contract to provide Chinese wax prints to the Ghana @ 50 Committee, which were distributed to Ghanaians for Ghana’s golden jubilee celebration.
Though, details of what exactly happened are sketchy, it is on record that Nana Ama and the boss of the Committee, Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby, were engaged in a controversy that led to her lawyers writing to Dr. Wereko-Brobby.
Nana Ama, again within the tenure of her father’s Presidency also got juicy District Assemblies contract to supply mathematical sets with her father’s picture embossed on them. They were compulsorily distributed to all Members of Parliament (MPs) before and after the Ghana @ 50 celebrations.
The monies for the mathematical sets were deducted from the MPs Common Fund.
It will also be recalled that the then New Patriotic Party (NPP) National Chairman, Haruna Essekou, accused the then sitting President of superintending over corrupt practices at the Osu Castle, where kickbacks from contractors were sent to him personally.
Lastly, former President Kufuor was accused of using states resources to renovate his Airport West private residence in Accra, when he assumed office in 2001.
Mr. Rawlings had said that “the difference between John Mills and Kufuor is that Kufuor was so autocratic; he had used the military and the police to subjugate the spirit of the people that he was the only one who could do corrupt things plus his family and those he would allow.
“And he would jail anybody else who did not have his permission to be corrupt, so there was a way in which his regime looked orderly because nobody else could engage in it except himself or gave you the permission”, he said.
He launched the scathing attacks on Mr. Kufuor, after signing a book of condolence in honour of late ex-South African President, Nelson Mandela at the South African High Commission in Accra, adding that corruption under former President Kufuor was widespread.
According to Mr. Rawlings, ex-President Kufuor administration got so engulfed with corrupt practices to the extent that the United States (US) had to send the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to warn him that if he did not work on it, there will be a military take over.
“The regime got so corrupt that America had to send the CIA boss…to come and warn Kufuor that ‘if you don’t contain your corruption, there’ll be a coup d’etat and it will be very popular and that’s why America will not be able to help you”, he maintained.
He was convinced that the then Parliament should have began the process to impeach him, but because of multiparty democracy, Ghana lost that fine opportunity, roping in the current spate of corrupt practices in the country.
“So I’m just saying it to demonstrate to you that he had reached so far…That was the moment when parliament should have started preparing to impeach him.
The world was waiting to hear it, to see it, but multiparty democracy lost that fine opportunity, now we are back to square one. How do we contain corruption? And it is getting out of hand” Rawlings bemoaned.
Meanwhile, less than 24 hours after the attack, the office of Mr. Kufuor has dared the CIA of the United States, to come out to confirm or deny, Mr. Rawlings’ claim that it warned Mr. Kufuor of an impending coup during his time in office, due to his alleged monopoly on corruption.
Mr. Agyekum said: “That’s an allegation that has no foundation to stand on at all and I would have dismissed it and thrown it away but coming from former president, we challenge the American Embassy to come out today to explain and to tell us if what President Rawlings is saying is true because as far as I’m concerned, nothing of such happened”.
Speaking through his Spokesperson, Frank Agyekum, Mr. Kufuor threw the challenge when he spoke to XYZ, the platform on which his accuser launched the attack’. “The CIA should come out and explain to us where this is coming from”, Frank Agyekum insisted.
Mr. Ageykum said his boss, unlike Mr. Rawlings, was a well-established person before coming into power and so wondered why Mr Rawlings would hurl such “weather-beaten” allegations against him.
In a separate interview with Okay FM, Mr. Frank Agyekum claimed that Mr. Rawlings had no moral justification to make those comments as it was rather his deeds that showed he was corrupt.
According to him, the past life of ex-President Rawlings shows that he used state monies to pay for the expensive education all his children enjoyed abroad. Mr. Agyekum continued that ex-President Rawlings could now boast of uncountable mansions sprouted across the globe; courtesy state monies.
Ex-President Kufuor, according to Mr. Agyekum, acquired his own private house before walking into the limelight and did not depend on state resources to pay for the school fees of his wards.
He ended by noting that the comparative analysis shows that ex-President Rawlings is corrupt and lacks what it takes to accuse his successor of being corrupt. Mr Rawlings is on record to have admitted that he came into office as President as a poor man who bought food (beans and gari) on credit and had to decorate his living room with abandoned seats from an air force plane.