Live from the Woods: Words, Hope, Akufo-Addo and the missed opportunity

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will enter into the annals of Ghana’s history as a great promiser but not a reformist.

He’s after all not different from his predecessors in the 4th Republic. They were all masters in making great promises but had chronic delivery issues.

They can get you to auction half of your properties in expectation of a better deal after their victory and that would be it. The next thing you know you’re the next broke man across the street. Just phantom promises.

But that’s what blind optimism can sometimes do and that’s what it has done to this country for past decades. It has robbed many Ghanaians of their dreams and future. And it has empowered a few dishonest thugs, elevating them to the status of dictators.

The one thing that sets Akufo-Addo apart from his predecessors and pitches him a little closer to Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, is his ability to make great speeches. He’s a master at it but has proved over time to be poor at delivering on his promises.

Saturday, January 7, 2017, could be said with little difficulty to be the second most important day in Ghana’s history, perhaps, after March 7, 1957, because of how significant it was. It was the day when old man patriotism and tired unity were dusted off and resold to Ghanaians as the nation’s best magic toward holistic development.

Akufo-Addo’s speech was a repackage of Nkrumah’s many speeches in one complete dose and Ghanaians bought into his message. It was apparent then that he represented the opposite end of all that his predecessors stood for. He was the light to the darkness that had been cast over the Ghanaian society by the incompetent former leaders.

He pumped back hope, patriotism, vibrancy and renewed commitment into a hitherto tired and hopeless society. The now political unbelievers became believers once again – totally converted believers.

“Sixty years after nationhood, we no longer have any excuses for being poor. I stand here today, humbled beyond measure, for the opportunity to lead this country at this time, and take us to a higher level of development,” he announced.

He paid scant respect to the status quo and advocated radical reforms. “We must restore integrity in public life. State coffers are not spoils for the party that wins an election, but resources for the country’s social and economic development. I shall protect the public purse by insisting on value-for-money in all public transactions. Public service is just that – service and not an avenue for making money. Money is to be made in the private sector, not the public. Measures will be put in place to ensure this.”

He promised hope and more of that but nearly two years after that, he has instead delivered hopelessness.

Feeling the magic in the air?

From the streets of Accra to the forgotten towns in the Upper East Region where pregnant women trek hours to access a nearby clinic, that hope, that blind optimism stoked last two years by Akufo-Addo, has given way to cynicism, tribalism, and selfishness.

His appointees have abandoned his promises and instructions with glee and taken on attitudes so typical of Arabian Kings. The breezy, brazen dishonesty of the Akufo-Addo regime and the impunity with which it is auctioning the destiny of Ghanaians in shady deals snugly fits within a political culture that does not reward truthfulness and honesty.

Corruption is rife in the Akufo-Addo’s government than it was during the John Mahama’s regime. Another great difference here is that the enviable Office of the Presidency is today being used as a warehouse to clear the allegations one after the other.

It is evident, from the pathetic $100,000 cash-for-seat saga to the stinking $89million Kelni GVG contract, that the current administration is morally bankrupt and economically inefficient in delivering its many promises.

The one-district-one-factory, one-village-one-dam and $1million to each constituency are nothing short of political and vote buying gimmicks. They were not meant to be implemented anyway.

One short-sighted project of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), purportedly designed to arrest the rising unemployment rate of the graduate class, is the Nation Builders Corps popularly called NABCO. The project by all standards is beautiful on paper but economically and intellectually weak and unsustainable. NABCO has succeeded in creating phantom jobs when what our youth need most, in these trying times, are sustainable jobs.

Historian Charles Beard said: “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad with power.” The display by the government within the past two years is enough for the average Ghanaian to know whether the Akufo-Addo administration would be a competent and efficient one or not.

A seed that has a life of greatness is noticed during the period of germination. But the verdict is overwhelming against this regime.

What we’re yet to come to terms with and I reckon it would take a long while is the understanding that a government is merely a servant of the people. And as Mark Twain put it, it can’t be its prerogative to determine what is right and wrong and sit as a judge over who is a patriot and who isn’t.

The Akufo-Addo’s government must know that its function is to obey orders and not to originate them.


About Author:

Kwabena Brakopowers is a journalist, novelist, and essayist whose works focus on politics, migration, social situation, economic and environmental issues. He spends his time writing either in Accra or Monrovia, where he calls his second home. He could be reached at or visit to read about him

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