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Opinions of Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Columnist: Osei, Kwabena

Dr Kofi Annan our next President?

Ghana is at its pivotal stage of development. The country cannot afford to slip back into its previous days of darkness. The country needs a leader with an international vision to reposition Ghana to the centre stage for a tangible economic deliverance, a leader who could continue the solid foundation initiated by our present administration. The present administration made significant progress, but had their shortfalls. This progress will be meaningless unless progress is continued by the incoming administration.

At this stage of our development Ghana needs a leader, who has handled the world, a leader who can put Ghana firmly in a strategic position for business, a leader with international reputation.

Our country Ghana is well endowed with natural resources and has roughly twice the per capita output of the poorest countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains heavily dependent on international financial and technical assistance. Gold, timber, and cocoa production are major sources of foreign exchange. The domestic economy continues to revolve around subsistence agriculture buying and selling. Ghana opted for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) program in 2002 and was included in a G-8 debt relief program decided upon at the Gleneagles Summit in July 2005. However, we need to review our debt before the introduction of HIPC and where we are currently. In this way, we could assess how effective the introduction of this system is benefiting the poor within our society.

In 2008, Ghanaians will be given the opportunity to choose a new leader for the next four years. Is it going to be the same old story? The same short sighted leaders borrowing money to build prestigious projects which we can not afford to maintain? Our short sighted leaders create debts that benefits only our generation. Debt, that is to be paid by our coming generation, who are not even going to enjoy these projects? Because of our borrowing, contracts are directed to companies in countries where the loans are acquired. We need a leader who can see the importance of building our country with our own resources, our own tax. This way corruption could be reduced as every single penny collected in tax will have a purpose in our budget. We should only borrow for projects which would show a return to the economy in the future and which we can maintain ourselves.

We need a leader who can build a solid foundation for Ghana. Kofi Annan has done this for the world – United Nations. He has made UN today less dependant on USA and other powerful nations. This man is the ideal President for Ghana. Kofi has all what it takes to put Ghana at a stage where we belong. He can make Ghana less dependant on foreign aid. We can not afford to allow Ghana to slip ever backwards into reliance on external aid. Kofi Annan will be 69 this month. We can not let a man with such quality to go without any benefit our dear country.

Ghana, at this day in age, still has problems with electricity, transportation and potable drinking water, but the country can lend money to our MPs to buy cars. We borrow money to build our roads – are we going to borrow to maintain these roads? Based on what Sara Grusky (2002), US coordinator of the International Water Working Group of Public Citizen reported that, the average price for a bucket of water, which used to be 400 cedis, rose to 800 cedis following the May 2001 price hike. One US dollar exchanges for 7,000 cedis.

Currently, says Public Citizen, about 35% of the Ghanaian population lacks access to safe water and 68% lack sanitation services. More than 60% of the population earns less than $1 a day and approximately 40% fall below the national poverty line. Is this not a shame to any given leader to read such report and what is being done to ensure that everyone get adequate drinking water.

The late Kwame Nkrumah set the country on development plan but progress has been irregular ever since.

Where are we now, what do we as a country aim to achieve within the next 10 yrs? How shall we get there? These are crucial questions we need to ask ourselves before we start voting for yet another leader.

Yes! We have achieved to some extent since President Kuffour took the leadership. Indeed the President’s international travels have significantly widened our participation on the international stage.

Many Ministers are pushing ahead to be Ghana’s next leader. There are too many to choose from: Hackman Owusu, Alan Kyeremateng, Dan Botwe, Kwabena Agyapong, Addo Kuffour, Kofi Apraku, Obetsebi Lamptey, Akufu-Addo, Osafo Maafo, and many other NPP hopefuls plus Prof Atta Mills. How many have what it takes to take on Ghana as competent leader, is debatable? Though Dr Kofi Annan is now retired and needs his rest with his lovely wife, Ghana still need someone to strategically position the country firmly on its feet. One recognises the enthusiasm of Ministers pushing ahead to be our next leader this is great news indeed. However, Ghana as a nation may need to approach Dr Kofi Annan to reconsider his status and lead us briefly before handing over the arena to the Ministers for a leadership challenge.

Are we going to tap into the brains of our honourable brother, Dr Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations (1996-2006)? Having known that his lasting contributions to peace and security, and his commitment to help the world's poorer nations in their fight to reduce extreme poverty and hunger, as envisaged in the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Why are we not recogniising this achievement and take the credit as Ghanaians for such an acheivement? Shouldn’t Ghana benefit from these qualities for our own man to lead us into our next phase before any one else takes the leadership of our country.

Ghanaians now want a leader with a proven track record which could easily be got from the internet rather than qualifications from one you have never heard of?

Ghana needs a leader who would unite the nation. Kofi Annan won the Nobel Peace Prize back in 2001, one of the highest accolades he had received during his career as secretary-general. Annan rose from the middle ranks of the U.N. system to its upper echelons over a period of 44 years -- first, as assistant secretary-general, then as under-secretary-general, and finally secretary-general. Ghana must be proud to vote such a person in as our next president in 2008.

The UN and the world praised him for his firm commitment to environmental sustainability, his consistently strong advocacy of human rights, including responsibility to protect, and respect for humanitarian law. He is also noted for his promotion of gender empowerment addresses a key issue of societal development and the attainment of larger freedom for all. Dr. Annan has vision for the future and Ghanaians the opportunity to elect him as the next leader.

This is a man who had commitments to the advancement of the concerns of the world's poorer nations in their fight against poverty and hunger, and their battle against the spread of HIV/AIDS.

This is the man who gave more than two-thirds of his life to serve the United Nations, which continues to embody the hopes and aspirations of over six billion people in the world today. Ghanaians must remember that this is a man whose outstanding leadership in the pursuit of the very mission for which the United Nations was created in 1945: seeking global peace, political stability, recognition of human dignity and the pursuit of human development is internationally recognised.

Dr. Annan, I personally believe you might not think this is a good idea, but please Ghana needs you now more than ever. Ghana is crying out for someone of your calibre. We know you are the right person for the job and especially at this time in the Country’s history. Children of Ghana have been crying for too long. When you go to Ghana today, young people are walking on the street selling what ever they can lay their hands on. These are the future Presidents and Ministers of our dear nation. What are we doing for them? Are we going to let them down yet again? Please consider this. You will not be alone. There are many of us everywhere willing to join you all the way through. However the decision lies with Kofi Annan is he this is too much for him then we may need to encourage him to take a key position within the new Government to lead Ghana on the same pathways as he did for the UN.

What are we as Ghanaians waiting for?

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.