General News of Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government he led showed leadership in the energy sector.
He says those criticising the NPP for not doing much in the sector “do not know what they are talking about.”
Speaking to Oman FM yesterday after the historic lecture organised by his foundation (John Agyekum Kufuor Foundation) where Nigeria’s Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala delivered a powerful speech, the ex-President said it would not be out of place for the leadership of the current administration to seek advice on how to tackle the seemingly protracted problems in the energy and water sectors.
“In my time Akosombo Dam almost dried up and it was difficult for us. As a result, my government gave a number of companies licence to build power plants,” he said.
He used the Asogli Power Plant project formed by Togbe Afede as an example of how the government collaborated with the private sector to serve the energy needs of the country.
“If there is water and the turbines are working I don’t see why we should not have power for development,” he said and stressed that the generation, transmission and the distribution of energy require effective co-ordination without which things would get out of hand.
“I formed committees to supervise generation, transmission and the distribution areas and it worked well for us. We realised that at the rate of our development, Akosombo alone could not serve the energy needs of the country and, therefore, we brought in the Bui Dam project with the support of the Chinese government to produce over 400 megawatts of energy.”
The former President said that the NPP government put in much resources that led to the discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantities but added that “we realised that the government could not do it alone and we had to get the private sector involved in the process.”
He called for transparency in the management of the country’s resources, especially the oil, so that the public would have confidence in the system.
President Kufuor also said the time had come for the government to expand all water treatment facilities in the country to cater for the increasing demand for water.
He said that “everybody in the world knows that in my time Ghana’s economy grew more than six times.
The GDP when we assumed office in 2001 was $4 billion but when we were leaving in 2008 it was between 27 and 28 billion dollars. Very few countries achieved what we were able to do within eight years.”
“We moved from underdevelopment to a lower middle-income country. Everywhere in the world, there are people who are facing hardships but we were able to do what we could to help by setting the pace.”
Adding “I won’t say that we solved all problems facing Ghana but I can say that we were able to do what we could.”
Touching on President John Mahama’s state-of-the-nation address on Thursday, the ex-President said “President Mahama has a God-given gift as a sweet talker.
He touched on several issues and laid out plans but he has to walk the talk and show leadership so that everybody will become part of the national development agenda.”
He said: “Ghana has moved on…it is growing…our new President has promised to do more. We should help him to deliver.”
Commenting on the minority’s boycott of vetting of ministers of state, President Kufuor said “It is painful and difficult to take such a decision.
In the true sense of democracy, Parliament, which is made up of both majority and minority, is supposed to vet prospective ministers of state and endorse the best. However, the truth of the matter is that the issue is in court and I do not want to comment further.”
He noted that anytime things do not go well in national elections, “all that will follow will also not go down well,” adding “I pray the court expedites action on the case so we all know the way forward for Ghana.”
He said that once Nana Akufo-Addo, who leads the NPP, had said he would abide by the court’s decision and President Mahama was reported to have said the same thing, “We should all hope for the best for Ghana as we await the verdict.”
He intimated that his foundation was being positioned to nurture young people for responsible leadership positions.
According to him, a lot of organisations have shown interests in partnering with the foundation to train future leaders in the field of education, agriculture, health, among others.
“If you want to be a leader you have to first know how to serve. You cannot be a good leader if you do not know how to serve. You have to strive to be a leader. It should not come on a silver platter.”