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Opinions of Thursday, 10 December 2015

Columnist: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku

Let's Celebrate Prez Kufuor Every Year - Part II

ON GOOD GOVERNANCE
• His Excellency, President J. A. Kufuor tolerated all shades of opinion and verbal abuses from ‘Dr.’ Asemfoforo, an NDC paid serial caller, and J.J. Rawlings, who at one time referred to the then sitting President as ‘Ataa Ayi’ - a notorious armed robber.

• Ghanaians witnessed the National Reconciliation; the reburial of three former heads of state namely; Okatakyie Afrifa, Gen. I.K. Acheampong and Gen. F.W.K Akufo and five senior military officers, who were executed in 1979 by J. J. Rawlings.

• In addition, over 100 assets of noble and hard working citizens seized by J.J. Rawlings were deconfiscated to their owners.

• The criminal libel and seditious laws which had provided 10 years’ maximum imprisonment for offenders was repealed. The People’s Assembly concept which made it possible for Ghanaians to interact with the President and his Ministers on yearly basis was instituted.

• There was all-inclusive governance with the likes of Mallam Issah (PNC), Dr. Paa Nduom, Prof. Badu Akosah, Prof. Hagan - all CPP leading members, working under the NPP administration. Kufuor also facilitated the appointments of Dr. Ibn Chambas as the Secretary General of ECOWAS, and Ekwow Spio-Garbrah as Chief Executive Officer of CTO.

• Kufuor created 60 additional districts and raised some of them to municipal & metropolitan status to facilitate local governance. The District Assembly Common Fund was increased from 5% to 7.5%.

• There was a plethora of FM Radio stations, regular media encounters with the President, broadcasting of news in the major local dialects on the Ghana Television (GTV), which hitherto had been in English and Akan.

• The Kufuor government passed the Representation of the People Amendment act (ROPAA) into law to enfranchise Ghanaians in the diaspora, though Afari Gyan failed to make it operational.

• Kufuor should also be commended for the expansion of mobile phone network across the length and breadth of the country as he removed tariffs on mobile phone importation.

• Kufuor created a Ministry for Public Sector Reform with the view to developing a new and positive mindset for public sector workers; Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs to empower women and improve their lot; and the Ministry of Chieftaincy Affairs to tap the rich expertise of our noble traditional leaders.

• Also, June 4 and the 31st December were removed from the statute books as public holidays. The 64th Infantry Regiment were disbanded to other units to ensure discipline in the Armed Forces.

• Kufuor featured regularly at all G-8 Summits. His excellent diplomatic relations with world leaders enabled Ghana not only to attract attention and investment worldwide, but also he was unanimously elected to chair both the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Under his leadership, Ghana had the opportunity to assume the rotational presidency of the UN Security Council.

• President Kufuor also won several international awards including the Chatham House Prize Award in 2008 as a result of peace and economic growth which characterised his two terms in office. No wonder he was given a rousing welcome by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of England.

• Again, President Kufuor took a leading role in mediating in regional conflicts including those in Liberia, La Cote D’Ivoire, Kenya, Sudan, and Zimbabwe.

• As a true democrat, he was even criticised by his own party members and sympathisers for not hanging onto power before the Tain by-elections when the NPP’s Presidential Candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo was leading in the 2008 Presidential elections.

• Kufuor is on record as the only President who left office in the peaceful manner in which he entered it. This is indeed a lasting legacy because all his predecessors were either overthrown by the military or metamorphosed themselves into civilian presidents.

• Kufuor introduced the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme, where the aged and other vulnerable people in Ghana were paid monthly allowances of between 8 and 15 Ghana cedis.

• Under President Kufuor's leadership, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to cut in half the proportion of its people who suffer from hunger. He and LUIZ DA SILVA of Brazil jointly received the 2011 World Food Prize.

• He introduced micro finance loans to help small and medium-scale businesses, the Export Development Fund (EDIF), the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which makes it possible for local producers to access the US market, as well as, the Ghana Poverty Reduction Programmes I & II were all aimed at improving the lot of Ghanaians.

• The Kufuor-led NPP administration purchased VALCO from the Americans at a cosmic sum of US$20m.

• On corruption, a minister of state under his administration was charged for wilfully causing financial loss to the state and together with other members of the previous government, was sentenced to a prison term.

• Ghana was the first country in Africa to submit herself to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). It would also interest readers to note that for the first time in 50 years, Ghana under the leadership of Kufuor earned a respectable B+ rating on the international financial scene in 2006 and this indeed, facilitated the country’s successful bid to access over US$ 750m from the Eurobond market.

• The passage of the Public Procurement Act, Financial Administration Act, Internal Audit Agency Act, which made the agency exceed its revenue target every year, the Office of Accountability Act, the Whistle Blowers Act, the importation of new police uniforms and over 1000 police vehicles to combat crime, the Right to Information bill, the establishment of Fast Track High Courts, the strengthening of state institutions like the SFO, CHRAJ, among others, were all geared towards the eradication of this social evil in the Ghanaian society.

• Last but not the least, Ghana under Kufuor’s reign became the largest recipient of Millennium Challenge Account funds of US$547m to combat poverty in Ghana. The bilateral and multilateral debt cancellations as a result of Ghana joining the Heavily Indebted and Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative and the UN's and World Bank’s lucrative jobs for His Excellency, J. A. Kufuor even before the 2008 general elections make peerless in the annals of African politics. He made Ghana, an oil producing country as oil was struck in commercial quantities in 2010.

In conclusion, I would urge all right-minded Ghanaians to join me in saying a happy birthday and a big thank you to Kufuor, for his sterling performance at the presidency. The man, who began his administration with HIPC and left Ghanaians with oil in commercial quantities, deserves better. Success, according to Arnold Glascow, is simple: do what is right, the right way, and at the right time. This, I strongly believe, was achieved by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) under J. A. Kufuor and could only be disputed by all those who are blinded by political hatred. The fact that he awarded himself with an ‘expensive’ medal, or the 'hotel Kufuor' saga, the ex-gratia brouhaha etc clearly shows that, he is just a mortal fallible soul. As a human, Kufuor had his own weaknesses but these should not override the notable role he played in moving Ghana forward. ‘Mpanin se, barima b3y33 bi na woama am3y3 ne nyinaa’. The hardship being handed to Ghanaians by the "Incompetent Dead Goat" Mahama confirms Georges Duhamel’s statement that, we do not know the true value of our moments until they have undergone the test of memory. For, if the Ghanaian voter had given the mandate to Nana Akufo-Addo in 2008 to continue from where president Kufuor left off, we would have seen a prosperous Ghana today and not a "Bitter Ghana". The year 2016 presents another opportunity to right the wrongs.

God bless Ghana! God Nana Addo!! God bless Kufuor!!!

Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, Asante Bekwai-Asakyiri
(National Coordinator - PAP)
0202471070