Joojo Cobbinah: A Tale of Two Akufo-Addos

I did not vote in 2016. If I did, I would have voted for Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. The man was convincing.

Backed by his running mate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia who sang a beautiful chorus of hope, I must say that I was bought, packaged and utterly sold.

But I was not the only person swayed by Akufo-Addo’s aura of immense goodwill. I vividly recall a taxi ride on January 7, 2017, where the driver charged me almost half the usual fare, a mere 8 cedis instead of 15.

Yes, I had faith that Nana Akufo-Addo would set Ghana on a high economic pedestal. As a child, I watched him on TV at the forefront of the “Kume Preko” demonstration when he kicked against the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) and the high cost of living.

I recently watched an interview he granted the Associated Press at that time. He said, “The policies that the government (Rawlings NDC) are introducing, are policies that do not find favour with the general mass of our people and that the mass of our people have been systematically impoverished”.

Who would have thought that the man who kicked against VAT would today be introducing VAT on domestic electricity consumption? 

Was it not Akufo-Addo who criticised Rawlings for introducing policies that did not find favour with the masses? Yet, was he not the same man who even taxed monies in our pockets in the name of E-Levy? The public wailed but Nana Akufo-Addo did not listen. 

Vice President Dr Bawumia had explicitly stated that “We should not tax mobile money because a lot of people who are using mobile money transactions are very poor”. Well, the “old” Nana Akufo-Addo who had criticised former President Mahama for “yentie obiaa” (we will not listen to anyone) also refused to listen to even his Vice President.

Was it not Akufo-Addo who mounted the campaign platform and complained about Kenkey costing GHȼ1, and now a ball of Kenkey is GHȼ5 and over?

On 26th May, 2009, the old Akufo-Addo at the Osu Presbyterian Hall said instead of a lean government, then President Mills had managed to secure Ghanaians a “lean kenkey”.  Well, it is apparent the new Akufo-Addo has given Ghanaians an obese government and an expensive yet leaner Kenkey.

Was it not his government that said it would move Ghana away from taxation to production?

Can you imagine the old Nana Akufo-Addo watching the new Nana Akufo-Addo on BBC saying that Ghanaians are undertaxed and also adding that “people never like taxes? I don’t know a group of people especially businesses when taxes are brought to them that like it”.

Do you remember the old Akufo-Addo passionately complaining about the cedi depreciation? He said in his flamboyant Twi that “Cedi no ayƐ hata hata”. What he meant was that the cedi had lost too much value. Now, how is the cedi faring against all the major trading currencies?

As a human rights activist, I was drawn to Nana Akufo-Addo. I had so much faith that he would set everything right.

My late mum laughed at me and said I was only young, naive and gullible. Of course, I vehemently disagreed! But now I am old and wiser. My mum was indeed right.

If anybody had told me that President Akufo-Addo would be loudly quiet when military men besieged Ashaiman and tortured residents there, I would have cursed that person.

But when a soldier was murdered, the military randomly inflicted physical harm on residents, forcing them to bathe in the mud while lashing them. As well, the victims were illegally detained for hours.

Well, the police investigated and eventually arrested the murder suspects who had allegedly fled the community.

Many residents were abused for nothing. We later learned from the Deputy Defence Minister, Kofi Amankwaa Manu that the abuse was sanctioned from the very “top”.

Could there be a reason why Nana Akufo-Addo has changed? If you find that answer I would be delighted to know. Well, Lord Acton is quoted to have said that “power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Is that what has happened to the man who was “born to succeed” as Daddy Lumba musically told us? Did he care about Ghana at all? I am sorry but I don’t have the answers.

What I am certain about is that if the old Akufo-Addo met the new Akufo-Addo, they would not recognize each other. In fact, they would fight.

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