President John Agyekum Kufuor will be two years in office this month but already his former opponents are queuing up to applaud his "sound" economic management. Yet ordinary Ghanaians at the sharp end of the same economy, say they cannot see what the applause is all for.
These are strange days in Ghana. Never in the 46 years of independence has the country seen anything like it. Political opponents putting aside their party loyalties and praising the other side for good work done? It never happens in Nkrumah's country. But it is happening now. Nkrumah would be turning in his grave. For, despite the sheer enormity of his economic, political and social achievements (which no Ghanaian leader has since beaten or bettered), Nkrumah is still criticised (sometimes bitterly) by his political opponents, most of whom happen, incidentally, to be Kufuor's supporters. Thus, Kufuor must be doing something special to receive such encomiums from his political opponents.
At the head of the applause queue is Paul Victor Obeng (affectionately called PV), one of the leading lights of the Rawlings' era, who as advisor on governmental affairs to Rawlings, his views were highly respected by the latter. While in office, PV was an arch opponent of Kufuor's National Patriotic Party (NPP). Today, he is full of praise for the man who supplanted them. "Though there are areas that a lot could be done," PV said in a recent radio interview in Accra, "so far the management of the economy has been sustained well. They couldn't do any better than they are doing, having taken over at a very difficult time in our history as a nation." PV's view, however, sits so oddly with that of his former boss, Jerry Rawlings, who, in a typical tongue-in-cheek outburst, told a rally in Kumasi, the capital of Kufuor's support base, that Kufuor's government was "the most inept" in the country's history. But PV begs to differ: "It will be miraculous for anybody to expect that after just 24 months in office, sign ificant eye-catching prospects will be recorded by the new government", he said, adding that "Kufuor's government needed everybody's support."
"I don't think we should watch and see them fail and say we told you so. Because when they fail, the whole nation fails and the lives of our children and grandchildren become mortgaged," PV added, generously. Behind him in the queue was the country's "prodigal professor", Dr Kwesi Botchwey, the finance minister under Rawlings for 13 years, whose love-affair with the IMF led to a catastrophic depreciation of the national currency...