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Opinions of Friday, 10 November 2006

Columnist: Abass, Fusani

Leadership with vision -President Kufuor

In January 1999, Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor was asked the following question and I quote:

“Are you then saying that you would encourage doctors and nurses to stay and work in Ghana.”? This was his insightful response: “Yes I would encourage them to be pragmatic. The doctor, who is being paid ¢300,000 or ¢400,000 when he finds his way out to say Saudi Arabia would be paid around $4,000 a month. While not saying we could pay like what pertains in Saudi, Britain or Germany, my government would put such salaries at the back of it mind when working out policies on incomes or other incentives to keep these servicemen in Ghana”.

Most graduates eager to leave the shores of Ghana for greener pastures may have reacted to this answer as merely political. Six years down the line, with our current minimum wage, I am convinced the man had a vision to ensure that the rate of attrition significantly reduced. The government ordered Honda salon cars for our young doctors about a year ago. The next time it was Opel Kadett vehicles for nurses.

We are all apprehensive about politicians and their promises but this incentive for doctors and nurses is a fulfillment of a promise Mr. J.A. Kufuor made to Ghanaians when Mr. Frank Asmah asked that question. Without doubt, our doctors are receiving salaries comparable to those in the sub-region. The vehicles I am told have been given to the doctors and nurses on hire purchase with soft conditions. What gladdens my heart is the new development of Ghana’s Premier teaching hospital Korle-Bu and the fact that the authorities are reclaiming its encroached hospital lands by securing it.

When the President was asked about the cash & carry, he said and I quote: “In many countries today, governments encourage citizens to contribute towards payment of medical services. But there are some basic exemptions.”

Current happenings in the country clearly show that the President at the time was referring to the NHIS and the exemptions for emergencies and the elderly. It takes a leader with vision to dream for the benefit of his countrymen and women.

Most Ghanaians sometimes do not agree with the President. As the President remains quiet in the face of provocative insults from some political opponents, but I have come to the firm conclusion that after our turbulent past, the soother to the nation’s wounds is President J. A. Kufuor who has earned the respect of the whole world, especially, among the world leaders. His patience and careful thoughts before he speaks is admired.

Press freedom is on the ascendancy. No radio station has been closed down, no shit- bombing and no journalist has been arrested for expressing contrary opinion, like it happened sometime ago. Since the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law, journalists attest to the fact that under H.E J. A. Kufuor’s presidency, the practice of journalism has broadening its horizon especially those who survived the bloody and errant behavioral days of ex-president Rawlings.

Mr. Albert Kan Dapaah, Victor Newman and Dr. wereko-Brobbey were charged for operating a radio station. I also remember vividly when one of the NDC ministers, Mr. Kofi Totobi Kwakye said “Radio Eye has been refused license because Accra can accommodate only two FM stations”. The current media landscape where there are about 20 FM stations clearly exposes the lie the minister told the nation.

Public scrutiny through what has become known as “The People’s Assembly”, where people from all walks of life ask the President questions on all facets of Ghanaian life, give credence to The President’s respect for free speech.



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