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Opinions of Monday, 29 June 2015

Columnist: Appiah Boakye - Danquah

Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah: Next Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana

The more some of us follow the exploits of the current Trade and Industry minister, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, the more we are convinced that he is a visionary akin to that of Ghana's first President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah has always thought outside the box from when he was Education Minister under the President Rawlings regime to when he was Communications Minister under the same regime, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah has always brought innovative ideas that put him ahead of his contemporaries.

Take for example, the phenomenal idea of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GET- FUND) which he introduced and championed as Education Minister. The idea was so novel, many of his colleagues in government could not come to terms with its feasibility and sustainability.

A proposal for a percentage of additional value added tax to establish the fund sent to the opposition political parties at the time on the Street demonstrating against that very visionary idea.

These protests forced the Rawlings government at the time to temporary halt the introduction of the additional VAT levy, thereby delaying the implementation of the education trust fund.

It was later to be reintroduced after massive public education by the then NDC government.

Today, the GET-FUND has gone beyond its original mandate of providing educational infrastructure for all schools at all levels in Ghana. It now even provides scholarships for Ghanaian students to study abroad - several years after Dr. Spio-Garbrah left the Ministry of Education.

This is similar to when Dr. Nkrumah tried to build the Akosombo Dam during his days and faced the stiffest opposition. He persisted because he envisioned beyond his peers.

Today, the Akosombo dam is the energy backbone of Ghana. Again, as Communications Minister, Dr. Spio-Garbrah spearheaded the communications revolution in Ghana. He was instrumental in the deregulation of the communications sector which opened the industry to private players at a time when many in the Rawlings government could not foresee the future trends of the communications industry in Africa.

Again, today, several years later, Ghana's communications sector is one of the Most vibrant, profitable and highly employing industries in Africa.

Dr. Spio-Garbrah is that public official who does not wait for instructions from his President before coming up with creative ideas to change things for a better future where ever he is placed to serve in government.

He thinks up solutions for the good of the people even if his colleagues in government are unable to buy into his vision.

Interestingly, like Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, men like Dr. Spio-Garbrah will always, and constantly face resistance from men who lack vision. And such men without vision will do all they can to discredit their visionary ideas.

For example, some of us still remember clearly when Dr. Spio-Garbrah was elected NDC vice chairman he tried to bring his creative ideas on board.

At that time, with his communications background, he tried to connect the entire NDC party structure from bottom - up using technology and technological gadgets.

He tried to do this by writing and soliciting support with NDC party letterhead from various organisations and individuals.

Social media had not yet exploded fully in Ghana but Dr. Spio-Garbrah saw in advance, the need to connect the entire party structure to facilitate internal political communications.

Again, at that time, his colleagues in the NDC party-those without vision - went on rampage - accusing him of using party letterhead to solicit funds - as though it was for his personal benefit. That great idea was put on hold and today, the NDC party is poorer for it.

But like Dr. Nkrumah, this man is relentless. His vision and passion for change drives him. He never gives up on innovative ideas.

Recently as a Trade and Industry minister, he came up with another creative idea to help prevent causing financial loss to the state of Ghana.

Whiles some of his colleagues in government and in opposition are trying hard to collude with a private entity called bankswitch to fleece Ghana of its scarce resources, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah decided to think outside of the box once again by proposing a pre-financing of a looming judgment debt - a debt which interests as a result of its non-payment continues to baloon daily at the expense of the Ghanaian people - to destination inspection companies with existing contracts with the Ministry of Trade.

This creative proposal, which Dr. Ekwow Spio - Garbrah termed "DEBT- EQUITY SWAPES" if considered by the DICs, will not only save Ghanaian tax payers millions of Ghana cedis, It will also prevent a future situation where people in the NDC government may go to prison for willfully causing financial loss to the state.

Again, lacking vision, some of the people in this same NDC government decided to leak a letter which the minister wrote on government of Ghana letterhead to DICs, not only to the media, but also to the opposition NPP with the sole aim of discrediting the innovative idea of Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah and tarnishing his hard-earned reputation.

Unfortunately for Ghana, this mischief, orchestrated by the men and women without vision has left Ghana with no solution to the problem the minister tried to solve.

Ghana must be thankful for men like the Trade and Industry minister who uses his public office for the larger benefit of the Ghanaian people and not for his personal gain.

Unlike some of his colleagues who Will condone and connive with Private individuals and organisations to milk Ghana dry, Dr. Spio-Garbrah has proven over the years to be that man - that public official - whose sole purpose is being in public office, is to serve the greater public good with unparrellel vision and passion against overwhelming odds.

A couple of days ago, an NDC business development committee was inaugurated with Dr. Ekwow Spio - Garbrah as chairman - to create business opportunities for party people who are also Ghanaians - of course. This is another task that requires business accumen and creativity. Dr. Spio - Garbrah, indeed, is the best man to chair such a committee.

The urgent question is whether or not, the men and women without vision with whom he works in the party will allow him to carry out this all-important mandate without the usual sabotage and constant accusations from within and without.

Like Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, some of us believe that Dr. Ekwow Spio - Garbrah will not allow his vision for Ghana to be killed and buried by those who utterly lack vision for the future of Ghana.

By: Dr. Appiah Boakye - Danquah - The Author is a development Communicator