Diasporian News of Friday, 27 June 2008
Source: KWASI AGYEMAN BUSIA ,NPP ATLANTA CHAIRMAN
I cannot begin to tell you how very delighted I am to see you all here tonight and I cannot begin to express to you the joy that comes to my heart as I see you fellow citizens of Ghana, non citizens & surrogate Ghanaians, good friends & family gather in this ballroom tonight . Your presence here tonight is a demonstration of your commitment to see Ghana continue to rebuild and improve.
In the last couple of years I have had the exceptional privilege to be involved in an extraordinary movement-a political reawakening of Ghanaians living in and around Atlanta. Your presence here tonight underscores that interest and sense of patriotism that continues to remind us that no matter how successful we may be in North America and elsewhere-Our home, our real homes are in the towns & villages of Ghana and that our tour of duty in the United States with all its loves & joys, struggle and achievement, friendship & fellowship are perhaps only a conditioning for a transition back home to Ghana to help rebuild our own country. My name is Kwasi Agyeman Busia ?Chairman of the Atlanta Chapter of the New Patriotic Party & on behalf of the members of the Atlanta chapter of NPP I welcome each and every one of you to this gathering tonight.
I would like to extend a special welcome to our guest of honor Dr. Arthur Kennedy, to welcome him back to his own backyard -Not too long ago I recall how you and I used to spend hours in my home and talk far into the night & figuratively speak of battles to be fought in the motherland, and now it appears Doc Kennedy has indeed transitioned to begin that noble fight where it really counts at ground zero- and is doing his part in the rebuilding of our dear country?.Doc welcome back to the neighborhood! I also welcome Mrs. Kennedy-without whom nothing happens!
I would also like to welcome Mr. Kofi Boateng-NPP?s Chairman responsible for North America. A good man with an awesome responsibility- I think Mr. Boateng has a tough job. You know our people have opinions on everything- especially when it comes to politics---Imagine your job is to hear every opinion, galvanize thought and come up with an option that nobody would agree with in the final analysis ?just because they have more to say on the subject over & above what you heard before? I must say, I have had the unqualified pleasure in working with Mr. Boateng in the last several months. We share a kindred spirit?Kofi on behalf of the Atlanta Chapter of the great NPP we welcome you to Atlanta Ga.
I also welcome Hon. Obeng Busia-Ghana?s Consul General to the United States of America- a member of the team that founded the NPP Atlanta chapter back in 1998/9. Undoubtedly he has very strong ties to the region and he is also my older brother. Please feel free to blame him for all my short comings. Mr. Busia welcome back to the cradle of the south.
I welcome our special guests-Nana Acheampong Asantefoo hene, Nana Konadu-Asantefoo hemaa, Ms. Josephine Danquah, Dr & Mrs. Cudjoe, & Ms Asabea Asare (member of the Akufo Addo for President campaign team in Accra) & Mr. & Mrs. George Ollennu?
Tonight we are gathered here for 3 notable reasons
The first is to inaugurate the Atlanta chapter of that great & noble party NPP- The group would represent the NPP in Atlanta in this capacity and be deemed as a branch of NPP USA, and as such promulgate the vision and aims of NPP in Atlanta and the USA. The party which has its basic tenets in liberal democracy, sovereignty of the individual, private enterprise & free markets-
Today Ghanaians can form or join associations without fear of harassment or arrest. There?s no fear of disappearing in the middle of the night because of something you had said during the day?
For the past seven years the NPP administration has worked tirelessly to curb inflation ?currently about 12.8 % from about 50% when NPP took office. Interest rates have fallen from 47% to 24.2% and our GDP has more than quadrupled from $3.9 to $15 billion dollars. Not too long ago the World Bank rated the country as one of the most attractive emerging markets to do business.
The larger question becomes - have these encouraging numbers translated into social programs that the general populace can see & feel? That question in part is the question that need be answered to make a case for the renewal of NPP?s term in office. With righteous indignation against poverty, the introduction of pro-poor policies like the capitation grant, school feeding, and free bus rides for students, basic school enrollment has more than doubled. The National Health Insurance Scheme has helped to make health care affordable to all especially the more vulnerable ones in our society. The Kuffour administration has also scored high marks in the area of governance. There is a free & vibrant press and the culture of silence has been broken?the demystification of the presidency with the introduction of concepts such as the people?s assembly have been successful. The National Youth employment program has led to gainful employment of hundreds of thousands of youth. There have also been infrastructural improvements, road construction, and revival of the Bui Dam project, to name a few. Needless to say there?s a lot more work to be done in areas such as sanitation & waste management, clean water and so on?
This enviable score card is also a paradox- Within the opportunity it presents and the good foundation lies clearly the challenge for the next administration-hence the theme for tonight?s gathering-The opportunity & the challenge for what we hope to be an Akufo Addo?s administration for the next 4-8 years. The very position of being the incumbent is only half of the story, the experience, the understanding of the mood of the electorate and a pulse on threshold of pain of the general population constitutes the other half of the story. The courage to translate ideas into policy and execute in areas such as education, decentralization, controlling the menace of illegal drugs & corruption would require the collective skillet exemplified by the NPP and is needed to manage among other things the windfall of what I consider to be a divine intervention i.e.-the discovery of oil in commercial quantities within our borders. I submit to you that the NPP administration has demonstrated that it has the core competency, the experience, the leadership and now the record to manage the affairs of our country ?
I have often wondered that at the birth of the new Nation Ghana in 1957, in all its grandeur, promise, leadership & example, where our founding fathers envisioned we would be in our growth after 51 years of existence-I?m sure we all may have different opinions about that, but I will tell you what my imagination tells me.
My imagination tells me that the founding fathers not only envisioned a nation where health care was universal and available but also a health scheme that was portable and usable no matter where one may fall sick in the country. I imagine that by now they had hoped we would have a national policy that would have a fundamental outlook that protecting health delivers better value than treating disease. A strategy that would commit to a regulatory and social commitment to a fundamental principle of health promotion, prevention of diseases, injuries and disabilities. I imagine that they would want health promotion & disease prevention to be the default choice.
My imagination tells me our founding fathers envisioned that by now no man or woman, or child should go to bed hungry at night; I believe they also envisioned that no Ghanaian should die needlessly from illnesses that are curable like malaria?
My imagination also tells me that our founding fathers did envision a country devoid of unnecessary death on our roadways and a country where all regions are linked by a super highway to promote commerce & education. I imagine they would want us by now to have access to clean water and an infrastructure for plumbing & proper sanitation all over the country. I also imagine we will have well lit streets with clearly marked lanes for motorists, with traffic lights that work most of the time & streets where neighborhoods exude vibrant & buoyant commerce, business & entertainment.
I imagine that parks and recreation centers abound, so are libraries with books & supermarkets filled with goods- Neighborhoods where roads are devoid of dust & waste by the roadside and people do not go to the hospital to get cured of diseases only to go back to the waste & bad sanitation that got them ill in the first place...Oh & by the way, I imagine that the founding fathers never envisioned corruption as a fossilized culture in the mainstream of life?!
The second reason for this gathering is to raise funds for NPP?s parliamentary & presidential elections in December. The obvious question is why would we want to do a thing like that? These are tough economic times- with soaring oil prices and food shortages & abysmal decline of real estate value ? Well the simple reasons are 2 fold - first, we want to realize the vision of the founding fathers and secondly the NPP administration?s score card of the `past 7 years makes them the party that is on the path to make that the vision of the founding fathers a reality. The challenge for an Akufo- Addo administration is to build on what has been started & optimize what has began so well & also have the courage to recognize and implement change where needed. It would be highly imprudent and even irresponsible to change horses in mid stream in this instance. There is without doubt a real sense of urgency here for continuation tempered with creative change ?
In these hard economic times of high gas & food prices we hope you will continue to find ways to join and help us keep the campaign going to win the parliamentary & presidential elections in December ?I believe this is perhaps the most important election of this generation- The very soul of our country may be at stake here ?Our founding fathers are watching ?watching to see if we would live up to the true meaning of their vision and our heritage?In that context of sacrificing in these hard economic times, I would like to recognize the men & women who have worked tirelessly to keep the vision alive in Atlanta and have put this event together tonight- They are-Peter Stevens, Sam Ado, Sam Nyarko, Nana Basra, Ike Kwarteng, Nana High, Nana Champing, Nana Konadu, Yaw Danso, Lawrence Boateng, Serwaa Boateng, Godwin Boateng, Richard Druyeh, Alhaji Alhassan, George Fosu, Austin Baffo, Tanko Yakubu, Kwasi Poku, Kofi Amoo, William Oduro, Robert Baffour, Isaac Boateng, Edward CudJoe, Charles Abrokwah Emmanuel Odame, Martin Odame, Paa Kwesi Coomson, Vicki Owusu, Mr. Owusu, Kwasi Jamal Boateng, Azuma Asumda, Richard Larbi, Yvonne Baffour, Kwabena Banahene, Emmanuel Asibe, Delores Maxwell, Mercy Adubofour & Henrietta Kisseih, -Will the chapter members ?most of them are wearing name tags tonight - please stand up and would you pls help me give them a much deserved round of applause
The 3rd & final reason for meeting tonight is to have a political discourse and galvanize thought & generate ideas within our limited vision that could help in fashioning policies at home especially in the next administration and also find ways to help ourselves here in Atlanta?Central to this is the sense of community building and being each others keeper-to motivate ourselves to be the best we can be in whatever hand the school of life has dealt us in life?s journey ?As we think of rebuilding at home we must also consider the reality of our life?s here in the United States of America. I know & you know that there are many here who many others depend on in Ghana both monetarily, emotionally & even spiritually?If you pay attention you would notice that by & large our dreams are the same. Our hopes and fears are not dissimilar- We want the best for our families and our children, safe environment, good schools & a health facility to take care of us if we fall sick. A good income with the hopes of a saving plan that we can fall on when the chips are down?That being the case let us lend a helping hand to each other here in Atlanta?You know about 2 weeks ago The chapter hosted a picnic for friends and families and for those who were able to attend, you would recall that across from our pavilion our children played on swings, monkey bars & slides and hopefully made new friends. Later that evening as I pondered about the events of that day and replayed the day?s events in mind?s eye, I saw our kids but I saw them as teachers, doctors, firemen, politicians, social workers, priests, counselors and so on?, the networking is already in motion for these 1st & 2nd generation Americans. Fathers & Mothers you do not need me to tell you this but I will nonetheless-Tomorrow night as you kiss these kids goodnight, let the hugs linger a little longer, embrace them a little tighter, because they are because we are & vice versa?
We also need to come together -with the endorsement of an Akufo-Addo administration- and find ways to assist those who are willing to transition to Ghana and help with the rebuilding efforts whiles managing their undue exposure & mitigating the risk of losing everything they have worked for here in the United States of America- For there?s strength in numbers and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?Let us also set out to do a good job in what ever our life?s work is, let us do it so well, so well that the living, the dead and yet unborn cannot do it any better-
As Dr. King said ?if it becomes your lot to sweep streets then be the best street sweeper that ever lived, sweep it as well as Michelangelo Carved marbles, Rafael painted picture or Beethoven composed music,? he goes on to say
??Sweep so well that the host of heaven & earth must pause and say there lived a great street sweeper, be a bush if you cannot be a tree, be a star if you cannot be a sun, be a trail if you cannot be a highway because it is not by size that we win or loose?
With this sense of excellence we can continue to push & build a stronger interdependent community person to person & families to families. Above all else pls remember that the centrality of our mission on earth as a people is to love another--Because we need to understand that power and indeed political power without love could be reckless and abusive. More than anything else we have to learn to love more ?when I speak of love I?m not speaking some sentimental & weak response, I?m speaking of that force that is seen as the supreme unifying principle of life ?Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu, Moslem, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is summed up beautifully in the 1st epistle of St John-Let us love one another for Love is God & everyone that loveth is born of God- and knoweth God , he that loveth not knoweth not God for God is love, when we love one another God dwelleth in us his love is perfected in us?let us hope this spirit will become the order of the day?
As I move toward my conclusion ?I would like to say this ?
We need to understand the awesome responsibility & commission we have to safeguard the freedoms we have and to work harder to ensure a brighter tomorrow for our children and their children. If we do not do this, then the vision of our founding fathers would have been wrong, the sacrifice and good works of Drs. Nkrumah, Danquah & Busia would have been wrong?.The good works of John Agyekum Kuffour in the last 7 years would have been wrong, the very soul of our country would be wrong and perhaps God Almighty would have been wrong!
But is he??