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Opinions of Sunday, 27 July 2014

Columnist: Agyepong, Emmanuel

Welcome on Board, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah!

Our society has failed in its effort to pay glowing tributes to its best performers while they are at the peak of their carriers. The pride of Africa, Kormla Dumor, one of the finest journalist our African continent has ever produced would have wished to do more for humanity if all the accolades and tributes his untimely death received were given him while he was alive. The least said about the late Professor Kofi Awoonor, the better. As for President Mills, who was so vilified in life, who would have thought that Ghanaians could mourn with such passion, wailing and weeping for a whole week for a departed President? Why do we as society wait for the demise of people before we give honour to whom it is due? .

The public euphoria that greeted the appointment of one of the priceless figures in Ghanaian politics, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, would have surely given President Mahama relief and a renewed self-confidence that for once during his leadership, he had hit the 100% rating in decision making. I imagine, for the first time as President of Ghana, President Mahama slept as soundly as an innocent baby the day he announced the appointment of Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah.

But why, the public euphoria?

Yes, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah needs not much introduction to Ghanaian politics and his track records which speak for him has endeared him even to the most die-hard NPP fanatic. The shocking silence of the opposition NPP on the President's recent reshuffle is probably due to the inclusion of Spio Garbrah. The NPP seems to be overwhelmed with the return of Spio, that for the first time since Atta Mills took office under the ticket of NDC, the NPP has failed to officially ridicule a cabinet reshuffle. Even the sworn critic of the NDC government, Franklin Cudjoe of IMANI, only had praises for Spio's return to government but to show his natural detest for an NDC government, he still had time to propose that Spio-Garbrah should have become the Energy Minister. To him, the energy sector is in turmoil and is more critical to the Ghanaian economy, so it needs an astute problem-solving leader as Spio in that Ministry. This is a clear manifestation by an NDC critic of his recognition for the quality that the new Trade & Industry minster brings into government. Kudos Mr. President!!

Even the words of Kofi Adams, the Deputy General Secretary of the NDC summed it up in declaring Spio-Garbrah's return to government as " Positive for the State". At a time when our country is faced with an avalanche of challenges, some looking insurmountable, many of the connoisseurs and power players of Ghanaian politics have been looking for the magic wand to help President Mahama to turn the economy around. It is therefore of no surprise that many Ghanaians and NDC partisans turned into a frenzy mode at the news of Spio-Garbrah rejoining government. However, unlike during the Rawlings government, Spio is neither expected at the Ministry of Communication to re-introduce the Value Added Tax nor at Ministry of Mines & Energy to save Ashanti Goldfields from extinction, or are we going to see another of his brain-child GETFUND-like intervention at the Ministry of Education. A great intervention that he championed that had hitherto made him the unsung hero of the Rawlings government.

It is his unparallel ingenuity and ability to think outside the box that make most of the youth cut across party lines most of whom benefited from the GETFund to adore him like a favourite uncle, idolize him like a rock star and revere him like a religious icon, their demigod!!. It is common to hear many Ghanaian Youth call him Uncle Spio to symbolize, the close affinity they have him at heart.

Spio's rise to international fame is not surprising and had never failed to impress in all of his engagements. His credentials both in Ghana and the international community is well documented. To say therefore that Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah will go down in the annals of history as one of the great men of our time isn't saying much, though, since in this new era of cynical politicians there are so few politicians to be found with his integrity, honesty, servitude, strength and resilience. Checking through his LinkedIn profile, one is amazed to be reminded that he was Ghana’s youngest ambassador to the USA, at the age of 40, yet did a brilliant job to lift Ghana’s flag all over that vast country. Some remember how he became the CEO of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation through a competitive process involving some 100 other candidates. In getting that appointment, he became the first African to occupy that seat in one hundred years. When he left that office, we read in the Daily Graphic that one of his main achievements was to buy an office building for the first time in London for this 100-year old organization. His other achievements are too many to list and discuss here. After all how many Ghanaians of his era could sit and pass Common Entrance Examination to enter a Secondary School at the age of 9, pass A Levels at the top of his Achimota School class at 16 and have a University of Ghana degree at 19 years old?

His voice represented, and continues to represent, inspiration and courage across the country and beyond. Considering the years of his political alienation within his own NDC party and his recent appointment by President Mahama clearly denotes the President's trust in his determination, fortitude, and great contribution that are needed to turn government machinery around at this crucial times.

But Dr. Spio Garbrah, as we welcome you on board the sinking ship, there is no time for merry-making, poverty among us seems to be entrenched. With your inclusion to the cabinet of President Mahama, Ghanaians are getting optimistic because we have an abiding faith in your widely acclaimed expertise and great wisdom. We believe that somehow the right will prevail. We have to keep working . We can achieve it together as a unified country.”

The sense of renewed hope in government expressed by NDC members and sympathizers that followed his appointment made some of us outside of the NDC party to believe that Spio- Garbrah is probably the single most admired and respected national and international figure in the entire country and are hoping he delivers and on time for the "Better Ghana Agenda". Knowing the kindness in which Spio was tempered in the political fire of adversity during his alienation which gave him an unassailable credibility and integrity for his modest conduct, it is good to admonish him to be willing to extend a hand of friendship to his former adversaries for the greater interest of his party and mother Ghana.

To many, you may befit a living legend!! It is worth to say, from the days of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah through to the days of Flight Jerry John Rawlings, our nation has had its icons- great leaders who rose above ordinariness to inspire their generations. In our generation, God has bequeathed you to us, Dr. Ekwow Spio- Garbrah. We salute you and call on you to work with the team around President Mahama to lift the Ghanaian economy out of the ditch that it is currently in.

With this tribute, lets hail the return of one of our living legend!!!.

Emmanuel Agyepong

CPP Cadet