President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (right) and Dr Mahamudu Bawumia
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (right) and Dr Mahamudu Bawumia

Akufo-Addo’s philosophy sets Bawumia for victory

Born in 1944 into a family whose dominant careers were law, politics and public service, President Akufo-Addo was destined to become either a lawyer, a public servant, a politician or all three.


He is reported to have described the events during, and immediately after the famous riots of the 28th February, 1948 in Osu and Accra as his political baptism.

He was only four years old, but remembers the tremendous movement of humans in a ferocious manner of anger and resentment towards the colonial authority.

Consequently, the suspected leaders of the riots were arrested, save Nii Kwabena Boney, the Osu Alata Mantse, five lawyers and their general secretary, Kwame Nkrumah, were arrested and detained.

Led by JB Danquah, the group became famed as the Big Six whose images adorn the national currency.

Three of the big six were his direct relatives, Danquah was a grand uncle, William Ofori-Atta was his direct uncle and Edward Akufo Addo was his father.

He was also acquainted with the other three, particularly, Obetsebi Lamptey, whose son Otanka (known as Jake Obetsebi Lamptey) was also four years old and who became Akufo-Addo’s first, best friend.

Akufo-Addo then saw and must have been disturbed by the rancorous politics of the pre and post-independence era and being raised in a political home, Nana Addo, as he was known then, must have been bombarded with daily stories about policy decadence, the abuse of human rights and objections to some provisions of the 1960 Constitution.

It was in those circumstances that the young Akufo-Addo observed the imprisonment of his uncle Danquah under the Preventive Detention Act (PDA) and the dismissal of his father as a supreme court judge by the president for the ruling in the Tawiah Adamafio trial.

These two occurrences developed the human rights activism in the young Nana Addo and it began to form an essential part of his political philosophy.


Next was the overthrow of the Nkrumah regime, and the restoration of parliamentary democracy. By this time, Nana Addo was at university and had more grounded philosophy, having met many young ideologues at Legon, among them, Prof. Modibo Ocran (later nominated by Akufo-Addo to the Supreme Court, during the Kufuor era), Prof Fiadzo, Tsatsu Tsikata, Akilagpa Sawyer and the left wingers of the day.

The first ideological strand that seems to have taken firm roots was the human rights.

But Nana Addo must have observed with great disappointment the furious and unhealthy attitudes manifested by some, who were determined to divide the United Party (UP).

Tried as they did, they couldn't convince Joe Appiah, a staunch member of the tradition to accept Busia as the leader; Appiah felt that he could lead too.

In the end, all the elders, including Da Rocha, and most likely Akufo-Addo's father, gave up.

Appiah left and formed his own party. 

Busia won a landslide, Appiah was vanquished and became a pariah to the UP.

Nana Addo must have felt terrible about that and that incident began to mushroom into his strand of philosophy, that is, unity of the group, unity of purpose and a broad-based approach to leadership.

Akufo Addo's next level of interaction with politics was to manifest the two strands of his now emerging political philosophy, human rights and a broad-based political movement, but keeping with the tradition.

This was the events in the mid to late 70's of the protest by professional bodies against the human rights violations of the Acheampong era and the attempt to torpedo democracy by introducing UNIGOV.

Nana Addo worked alongside former Nkrumahist from the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the National Alliance of Liberals (NAL), together with people from his own tradition.


He enjoyed working with Obed Asamoah, Sam Okudzeto, Dr Kportufe Agama, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, Da Rocha, Victor Owusu, Peter Ala Adjetey, Adu Boahen, and of course, one of his long-time mentors, Akwasi Amankwa, who actually got Nana Addo excited about this action for democracy.

So, by the end of the elections of 1979, Akufo Addo's political philosophy had been well formed, it was two-fold, an avowed pro-human rights philosophy and a stickler for party unity, plus a broad-based outlook for party leadership.


At the beginning of the 80's, Nana Addo supported the unity talks between the Popular Front Party (PFP) and the United National Convention (UNC).

These tales gave birth to a new party called the All Peoples Party (APP). The APP was to be led by Victor Owusu, and was to have Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu as its running mate.


The APP was poised to win the 1983 elections, but alas, the elections was not to be; J.J. Rawlings and Kojo Tsikata showed up.

In those early 80's, Akufo-Addo left UV Cambell Law firm to set up his own. Together with his friend, Dr Prempeh, (who is currently a chief in Asanteman) they formed Akufo Addo Prempeh and Co.


One of the distinguishing features of this law firm was that they represented clients for free on all human rights issues.

 It was a big sacrifice to make and junior lawyers were not particularly excited by having to go to court for free, but this was the master's philosophy.



The 1980's were quiet for politics in Ghana.

During the period, Akufo-Addo spent his time in both England and Ghana.

At the funeral organised for his father in 1980, the Bar Association President, Mr William Adumoah Bossman, paid glowing tribute to the late CJ, emphasising that if what had been seen of his son was anything to go by, then the bar must be ready for a blistering legal career that would surpass that of the great Edward.

To this there was loud applause.

Mr Bossman prophesied right!

By 1991 Prof Albert Adu Boahen had used university lectures to arouse the desire  for a return to constitutional rule.

With pressure, the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) agreed to allow party politics to occur from 1992, with a new constitution.

The UP tradition had to form again, and this time unity was key, once unity was key and the choice was to be broadened Akufo-Addo was in.

This was his philosophy:  “let's unite and broaden our base by making leadership accessible to all.”

So, he supported Adu Boahen.

Then came the loss of election and the boycott of Parliament, which left the opposition with just the courts and street protests and the media to count their objection to J.J. and the NDC.

At this time, Akufo-Addo introduced another strand of his philosophy: the clarion call for independent media and the repeal of the criminal libel laws.

He set up a newspaper, and named it the Stateman, the same name as J.B. Danquah's paper in the 1940's.

So there emerged a third strand in the philosophy of Akufo-Addo: human rights, broad based politics and independent media.


The years of opposition from 1993 till 1996 were eventful, a new group called the Alliance For Change (AFC) emerged.

It became a formidable group of young persons who staged what is yet the biggest demonstration ever.

The success of the group and the calibre of their leaders made them a clear choice for political mobilisation and party politics.

This situation came with huge temptations; the NPP seemed to be struggling with youth mobilisation but was better than the CPP. It was felt that the AFC could usurp the space of both parties to create a movement to supplant both traditions to win power for the moment.

This thought was tempting and it became even more pronounced when the AFC's choice of Kwame Pianim as NPP's candidate was undermined by the Supreme Court ruling disqualifying him from running for president.

Elements in the AFC, who really wanted the break away to form a new party included Charles Wereko-Brobbey, Kojo Poku, Kakraba Cromwell and Kwesi Pratt Jnr, and to some extent Tony Akoto Ampaw.

But the most popular figure was the human rights lawyer, Nana Akufo Addo, who was also the group’s spokesperson (as pointed out by Nyaho Tamakloe) and this his support was needed for this break wash effort.

The NPP had proceeded without Kwame Pianim and it elected John Agyekum Kufuor for the first time to lead the NPP.

The groundswell of talk about the break away occasioned an alliance between the CPP, called PCP and the NPP. Nana Addo was very much against the break way of the alliance. He stood for unity.

So, the 1996 election was fought and Kufuor lost; J.J. was elected. 

There were other elements in the AFC leadership like Kweku Baako who felt same as Akufo Addo that the alliance would not supplant the regular parties. It is said that Mr Baako had a real admiration for Prof Albert Adu Boahen and seemed to have transfered same to Kuffour after he became the candidate.

Akufo Addo was given pressure by the youth to challenge Kufour for the NPP in election 2000 and 1998.

This writer is one of the young people who organised a bus from the University of Ghana to attend the Congress in Sunyani and offer Nana Addo the support. 

The youth met with the candidate, Nana Addo, addressing them in the company of Gen Nunoo Mensah, who was his campaign manager at the time.

The candidate told us that whatever happened he was grateful for the support, adding that win or lose, the youth needed to support a winner to defeat the NDC in 2000 because as he pointed out it, Ghana might collapse under a government of ineptitude if the NDC won again.

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