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Press Review of Thursday, 27 September 2007

Source: Lens

Editorial: What An Insult!

When a President abandons unfortunate victims of disaster in his country and travels out of the country with the excuse that he has “other equally important assignments” to perform outside the country, the least that such a President could do to demonstrate his commitment to seeking the welfare of his people is to rush back as soon as those “other equally important assignments” were cancelled.

But not so with President Kufuor. For a whole one week, Ghanaians were kept in the dark with regards to the whereabouts of President Kufuor, who left Ghana on Friday 14th September, 2007, for Canada.

Mr. Kufuor left Ghana on Friday 14th September, 2007, ostensibly to engage in bilateral talks with the Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Stephen Harper, and the Governor-General, Ms Michaelle Jean, as well as meet with officials of the aluminium giant, ALCAN, which has proposed to build a bauxite refinery in Ghana.

Information available to The Ghanaian Lens has it that President Kufuor did not get to Canada and that none of the programmes took place.

So where was the President in the one week that had suddenly been ‘freed’ by the cancellation of his scheduled Canadian programme? Nobody seems to know.

Wherever the President was for the one week prior to his arrival in New York on Saturday, 22nd September, 2007, one thing is clear; beyond the lip-service, photo opportunities and attendant media attention, Mr. Kufuor and his NPP do not give a damn about the suffering masses of this country.

Elsewhere in the world, where leaders are really committed to seeking the welfare of their citizens, they cut short their foreign travels and return home as soon as there is a disaster in their countries.

That is not the case with Mr. Kufuor and his NPP. Indeed, the exact opposite is the case with Mr. Kufuor and the NPP.

Right from the May 9, 2001, stadium disaster, the very first tragedy to hit the country under the watch of the NPP, through to the recent disaster in the northern regions, Mr. Kufuor somehow finds it most appropriate to travel out of the country whenever a section of the Ghanaian populace is suffering from the effects of one form of disaster or the other.

The NPP, the political vehicle that propelled Mr. Kufuor to the presidency, apparently does not find it necessary to insist that he cancels his foreign travels so as to remain in the country to provide leadership and also reassure the affected citizens that their plight is being given the highest possible consideration.

But, even the most unrepentant apologist of the Kufuor regime and the NPP, as a political party, would be hard put to explaining why, considering the enormity of the calamity that has befallen our compatriots in the northern regions, the President did not find it necessary to return home once he realised that the programmes that he was scheduled to engage in had been cancelled.

Of course, no one denies that there are “equally important assignments” that are constantly competing for attention of a leader at any given time. But when hundreds of citizens have lost their life’s savings and have been rendered homeless; when hundreds of citizens have lost their livelihoods and the situation is likely to impact on the food security of the nation; and, in all these, human lives have also been tragically lost, the least that is expected of any leader worth his sort is to be with his people to provide leadership through the crisis. It speaks volumes about the commitment of a leader who leaves home at the time the disaster was raging, with the excuse that he was going to attend specific programmes, but fails to return home when those programmes were cancelled. Isn’t it shameful that international bodies have sent people to help our compatriots out of their misery but our President was out of the country doing only God knows what, and the taxpayers whose money is paying for his travels do not know exactly where he was and what he was doing out there?

Fact is, it is bad enough for a leader to leave his country in times that sections of his people were facing disasters, but it is most callous for a leader to refuse to return home when his scheduled programmes had been cancelled and he had ‘free’ time on his hands.

No doubt, some leaders would even forego an opportunity to address the United Nations so as to remain with their people than to abandon their people to go and address the United Nations.

This is simply because the loudest and most effective statements are not always made through speeches, but often through actions and inactions. Thus, handled properly, the absence of a particular leader at a deliberation of the United Nations could more effectively draw attention to the problems in his/her country than any long speech that such a leader would make at the UN. Obviously, Mr. Kufuor and the NPP can afford to abandon their suffering compatriots because, after all, “obia n’tumi n’ye hwee”, to quote Mr. Kufuor himself. The Ghanaian Lens thanks the almighty God for LEADERS like Prof. John Evans Atta Mills who, rather than abandon their suffering compatriots, abandon all their programmes to be with their suffering compatriots so as to give them hope and confidence.

No doubt, the good people of Ghana are taking note.