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Opinions of Tuesday, 28 June 2005

Columnist: Appiah-Danquah, Kufuor

Listen to Stefan ? Outgoing EU Commissioner.

?Why don?t Ghanaians write about the many positive and good things going on in their country?? Stefan Frowein, EU Ambassador to Ghana.

Gordon Wetherell UK Ambassador and many members of the Western Diplomatic corps have expressed the same sentiments.

The comments of Mr. Stefan Frowein the outgoing EU Ambassador to Ghana must be taken seriously by the Ghanaian media and the political elite. Our language is intemperate, undemocratic and downright abusive. For example, I may disagree with Tony Aidoo but Boakye Djan was absolutely wrong to call him a fool- Tony Aidoo is no fool. If you have no objective and sensible points to put forward ? Boakye Djan just keep quiet and stop calling your political opponents fools. The age of insult and personal attacks are over- debate on issues not personalities.

Relative Prosperity

Let us be clear about one issue - No one in his right mind would suggest that our country is prosperous and rich. We are a poor country with most of our folks working like mad to earn a living and to make ends meet. The country as a whole as stated by Stefan is making great efforts towards good governance. At least in the Western World and the European Union Ghana is seen as a country that is attempting to improve the lot of its citizens despite all the immense hardships. We may disagree on every issue and most folks will cite corruption as a mega issue affecting the body politic of our country. I beg to differ.

However, together we can make a difference. Exactly 24 years ago a group of students led by our friend, mentor and tutor Professor Martin Dent, Keele University formed Third World First- the predecessor to Jubilee First and now the much bigger Sir Bob Geldof?s crusade. Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine that 25 years hence from humble beginnings in a brick ? wall University our tiny movement would move on to become Jubilee First and then embrace guys like Bono, Sir Bob Geldof and the world.

We may have our book long theories on every issue under the sun but I passionately believe that most ordinary people in the West wish us well. Most decent folks in London, New York, Australia, Japan, Canada, France, Italy Holland etc do not want to see children starve and mothers go hungry. They genuinely and sincerely wish us well.

In Ghana, we have our differences but in the end our energies and our God- given strength must be used to create a better tomorrow. When the NDC was in power, I worked tirelessly with the then High Commissioner Mr. Aggrey Orleans to promote the image of our country in the UK. Folks will be surprised that Ambassador Orleans actually recommended me for a position under the NDC.

First and foremost I am a Ghanaian and like Tony Aidoo and Ama Benyiwa and Kwasi Pratt we want the best for our children and grandchildren. We all want to leave a country that our grandchildren and great grand children can be proud of a country

Let us Debate

I am not arguing for the stifling of debate or the silencing of the press ? good, investigative journalism is part and parcel of a thriving democratic system. By all means let us continue to be ourselves and have a good banter but like Stefan my worry is about the negative reporting of events and in particular the continuing ?wahala demonstration? which is okay in a one party military state.

Millennium Challenge Fund (MCF)

I was at the first meeting in Brussels when the conditions and parameters of the Millennium Fund was set by the Chief Executive of the Fund, Mr. Applegarth. . At that meeting it was clear to me that Ghana would be one of the first beneficiaries of the fund. Since then the Finance Minister and the President have met with the Chief Executive and officials of the Fund and extra conditions have been placed on our country. It does not need an expert in Economics to deduce why- Negative reporting.

I was in Zeeland ? Holland last week for a European Conference and once again the issue of transparency, the wahala marches and the introduction of land banks was raised by some of my colleagues from Finland. We need the MCF funds it will make a big difference to the lives of our children By all means let us criticize and debate the issues but let us pat ourselves on the back and promote the good side of our country

We have a lifetime chance and opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for our grandchildren A Radical Solution

Maybe the only way for the Government to deal with the alleged ?corruption? issues is to be radical and imaginative. I suggest that Parliament enact a law which states that the Chairman of CHRAJ will always be nominated by the opposition party-we may even go further and state that the staff of Serious Fraud Office will also be nominated by the opposition party of the day that will ensure that the process of transparency, accountability and good governance has been finally embedded in our culture.

It may not be palatable and acceptable to the current ruling party but the tables may be turned one day. As far as I am concerned the NPP has nothing to hide and to fear from a CHRAJ Chairman who is seen and perceived by Ghanaians and the Western World as an appointee of the opposition party. -It may not resolve all our issues but by Jove it will go a long way in restoring confidence among our Ghanaian electorate.

God Bless our Country



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