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Opinions of Monday, 14 May 2012

Columnist: The Herald

Kudos To Ofosu Ampofo

I have always wondered how many selfless leaders we have had since Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana.

The only thing running through every politicians mind the moment the person gets the opportunity to serve this nation in any capacity, is how much can I steal? Hardly, did I know that among the bad lots exist good people who will at anytime put the interest of this country and their fellow men first.

My readers would agree with me that I am not in the business of praise singing and bootlicking. But as it is said, praise must be given where praise is due.

I have a stake in the success story of this country, and I want to share in the success story of the Presidency of John Evans Atta Mills, whom I admire so much.

In line with this conviction, I would help the President to identify which Minister is performing and who is using his office for self-aggrandizement, to run his government down.

In opposition, call a politician today and he answers yesterday or call him in the afternoon and he answers in the morning. This simply means they are always ready and willing to answer their phones anytime you put a call through to them. Why must people change the moment they get power or are appointed to positions of responsibility and authority?

If we are to conduct a headcount to ascertain how many Ministers would answer their phones anytime they are called, I believe we would not have more than ten. The situation is so alarming that one begins to wonder how power changes people.

Perhaps what they forget is that nothing last forever. For as long as it is the President who has the sole prerogative to dispense privileges of power, and the people also decide who should rule them through the power of the thumb, nobody is spared, including the President, let alone his appointees.

I believe strongly that the strength of anybody serving in government in any capacity is his or her ability to rally people around him or her. He should be a people’s person. He or she must respect the party faithful as well as anybody who come s before him. Basically his or her name should precede him or her. But what we find unfortunately is the opposite. Some ministers have built castles around themselves.

Once in a while a gentleman gets appointed and his kindness and foresight touch so many people, and brings some sanity into our politics.

How many Ministers would pick their calls upon one ring, considering the number of responsibilities on them and their work load? Only one man does that and he is in the person of Hon. Ofosu Ampofo, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development. If there is one appointment that the President has made that could be said to be a round peg in a round hole, then look no further than Mr. Ampofo.

I struggle to find the words that could amply describe this man, who by far was the best regional Minister when he was the Eastern Regional Minister. His organizational ability and achievement is what informed the President to re-assign him, so that he would touch so many lives in so many regions, as well as extend his kindness to all those that need him.

It came as no surprise to many when his Excellency decided in my estimation to elevate Mr. Ampofo, a reward for hard work and a commitment to see to it that the rampant agitations from foot soldiers is curtailed or reduced, as well as achieve his “Better Ghana Agenda”, and truly too the incidence of foot soldiers threatening the stability of the government is now a thing of the past.

In a country where politicking has been raised to the highest pitch with politicians fouling the air and accusing each other for one thing or another, you would hardly hear Mr. Ampofo make any derogatory statement about his opponent, and this has also informed his opponents to stay off him.

If the President could be remembered for one decision that he made that has meaning and which would in the end impact positively on millions of Ghanaians then it is the appointment of Mr. Ampofo to serve in his government.

As a former Member of Parliament (MP) he is nursing the idea of going back to Parliament, this time around to represent Tema West.

Fortunately, that is my Constituency and that of my family. If I have one promise to make to Mr. Ampofo, it is that I can assure him of my vote and that of my family members. You deserve more than that. I have had interactions with friends who do not belong to the NDC and do not share in the ideals of the party, who have pledged to vote for Mr. Ampofo, because to them, he represent their aspirations, the future and the kind of politician they want to represent them in Parliament.

Parliament would be the biggest beneficiary of the presence and contribution of this noble and humble citizen of the land.

The minister has rejuvenated the Constituency (Tema West), the vibrancy and the willingness to help in the Constituency has been raised to a high pitch.

In this day and age where politics is about patronage, where money is used to induce people, usually during elections, and abandoned afterwards, only to be returned to when elections approaches, Mr. Ampofo does not play to the gallery.

He is an exception to the rule. He is using the power he has to help people who need it. No wonder a lot of people think he should have been the Chief of Staff.

Mr. Ampofo is an exemplary leader whose kindness extends beyond his party; he is loved by many and hated by few. If I have one wish, it is my wish that this illustrious son of Ghana would not only serve this country in the capacity as a Member Of Parliament as well as a Minister of State, but would go on to serve this country in a higher capacity. Perhaps he would consider contesting the Presidency when the term of President Mills expires in 2016.

The ‘Better Ghana’ the President promised Ghanaians to a large extent was to begin with his appointees, who would do things differently, a paradigm shift from the way appointees behave towards the people who helped to put them there.

But what do we see, a lot of them now have special assistants who answer their calls, or have changed their numbers that supporters use to call them on. I have even heard some still use their old numbers, but the phone is always on charge and at home, it will ring alright when you place a call through, but they are not available to answer.

This behavior cannot be said about Mr. Ampofo. A colleague and I were beneficiaries of his forthrightness. His timely intervention because he answered a call we placed to him saved the day for us.

What surprised us most was that he did not have our number; we called someone who was closed to him and asked for his number. The person obliged us and when we called him, he answered, assured us he was going to do something about it.

Which he did immediately. How many of the Ministers we have would do that. They don’t even answer your calls when they know your number, let alone answer a call from a number they don’t know.

The recent parliamentary primaries organized by the party were enough testament and a wake-up call to those who think they can take the people for granted. A lot of them lost the elections not because they were not good Legislators but because they took their people for granted.

The young ministers who have grown bigger than themselves need to learn a thing or two from Mr. Ampofo. Power is nothing if you don’t use it to affect the lives of people around you. The arrogance and cockiness that has gotten into them leaves much to be desired.

Kudos Mr. Ampofo, God richly bless you.