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Opinions of Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Columnist: Gilbert Yaovi Agbenyefia

Addo-Kufuor - A patriot with a passion for innovation

I had always admired this gentleman from far and been thinking of who he is. Even though I have never gotten in touch with him, the little I gathered about him confirm my assertion that he deserves to be celebrated as an astute leader. In my view, he is one of the finest gentlemen, very loyal, hardworking, committed and patriotic, and his passion for innovating new ideas; as a country we are blessed to have such calibre.

I was, therefore, not surprised that he was recently honoured together with other former Defence Ministers, Chief of Defence Staffs among others, by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) for their meritorious services/contribution to the realisation of the establishment of the Centre.

Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor, one time Defence Minister for seven years since 2001, I learnt contributed immensely to the country including his support to the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) where I was told he served with distinction and was christened a man of foresight. A citation to him signed by former Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Joseph Boateng Danquah which I sighted said ‘the GAF has been able to re-engineer for itself a new image of an enviable identity as a true partner in national development during your tenure’.

The citation stated further that with great foresight, determination, fortitude and empathy, he succeeded in improving the circumstances of officers, men and women of GAF, and thereby boosted the image of the military profession.

My encounter (interaction) with some people including serving, ex-officers and civilian employees had it that Dr. Addo Kufuor pursued a number of pragmatic policies that impacted on the civilian population and their respective families.

One thing that remained resolute in the minds of the interviewees was the support he solicited for the construction and installation of facilities such as the new Burma Hall Complex, the new Defence Ministry, the ICT Centre of Excellency, the French centre, the refurbishment of the 37 Military Hospital, now Teaching Hospital with the support of Ghanaian and Indian colleagues among others, bear witnesses according to the interviewees.

Those I interacted with also mentioned the construction of the Chinese flats, the ambiance of an improved working environment and support towards the construction of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre, the Legion village and the increasing fleet of vehicle, helicopter(s), naval vessels and countless projects put the GAF on a higher pedestal. The institutionalisation of ‘Open Days’ during Independence Day celebration for the public to interact with officers and men and also have a feel of some military hardware are all ample testimonies of this man.

Certainly, one would say or argue that even though all these happened during his tenure, he might not have done it alone-yes. My piece is not to do some sort of comparison but appreciate his enthusiasm, patriotism and commitment to mother Ghana for which I admire.

Indeed if Matthew Chapter 5:9 of the Good News Bible says, ‘Happy are those who work peace, God will call them his children’ then I would not be far from right to say that the former minister would be inscribed as such, as God’s child, deducing from his track record.

I have come to realise that as human as we are, we may not be perfect but what is more important is to do our part. Undoubtedly, we may not be liked by all, neither can we be admired by all and once we all have different dates, days, weeks, months and years that we were born, our characteristics would definitely not be the same.

Personally, I am touched by his passion to the downtrodden and quest to undertake meaningful projects not for himself but for the betterment of the masses.

The one time Interior Minister and Fellow(s) of the Ghana Medical Association, as well as the West African College of Physicians, I was told was born in Kumasi on July 14, 1940 and had his education at Achimota School, Accra, the University of Cambridge, England; as well as the University College Medical School, London, and did his graduate studies at the Middlesex Medical School hospital, London; where he was also a member of staff. Thank God for some former school mates of mine who told me brief about this astute personality.

The enthusiastic former minister holds a Master of Arts, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree, all from the Cambridge University and currently, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London and the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and worked at several hospitals in London, as well as the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra.

My findings at the Interior Ministry also revealed some positive works though not visible like that of his marks when he was at the Defence Ministry, and as former President of the Ghana Medical Association.

Dr. Addo Kufuor according to the search engine was one time former lecturer at the Department of Medicine of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and in 1978 established the Kufuor Clinic in Kumasi.

Further findings about him revealed that in his quest to encourage medical students to pursue their studies, ‘The Addo Kufuor Prize’ for best students in final Bachelor of Medical examinations was instituted at KNUST. In 1993, he was appointed Inspector of examinations for final medical examinations at the University of Ghana Medical School and also served as a member of the Executive Council of the Medical School and appointed member of Court of the Examiners by the Ghana Medical and Dental Council, responsible for assessing foreign trained doctors who desired to practice their profession in Ghana.

As I indicated in my introduction, I just decided to write this piece in honour of this man. Indeed I have never written an article before but just want to put these pieces together in commendation of this dedicated gentlemen. I salute you Sir, and I know those who know you better than I do would agree with me that really, you are to be celebrated on this earth.

A colleague who studied medicine shared his thoughts with me of how open, approachable, nationalistic and always willing to impart new things including knowledge to those he worked with, his compatriots and even for medical students including those doing their houseman-ship.

My colleague cited instances where they had to follow and gather around him after every academic lecture and according to him, Dr. Addo Kufuor had time for everybody, also had listening a ear for any problem that students brought before him either individually, study group or as a collective body.

In Parliament, I was told by my former Member of Parliament that this gentleman contributed positively in the house without taking sides in debates brought before the house, which brought lots of improvement to the country. According to my former MP, though he and Dr. Kufuor were on different political platform/divide, he respected him when it came to contributions and making strong submissions on the floor of Parliament, and also learnt at cabinet meetings his impact was felt.

It is therefore not surprising that he had several honours conferred on him. Notable were those from the KAIPTC to honour past Defence Ministers, Chief of Defence Staffs among others on March 11, 2014.

Also in 2002, he was named the ‘Man of the year Ghana,’ by the Independent newspaper as well as Minister of the Year by the Spectator, the same year. In 2006, a Gold Medal was awarded to him as a distinguished medical Practitioner, by the Ghana Medical Association, as well as the Order of the Volta (Companion Division) conferred on him by the Ghana government.

What else can I say but to restate my position that indeed, this man is a role model and ought to be praised. You deserve the honours and to say that though this is my first article, I am inspired to follow his footsteps and that of other leaders who have contributed their quota to the development of the country.

I say Ayekooo Sir, you are a role model to some of us and please keep the flame burning.