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Opinions of Saturday, 5 February 2011

Columnist: Anteh, Nii Ayi

Wouldn’t You Rather Have Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah?

Over the recent past, we have witnessed the activities of persons and groups across the country ostensibly calling on Her Excellency the Former First Lady and First National Vice Chairman of the NDC, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings to run for the flag-bearer’s position of the NDC in the forth-coming Presidential primaries against the sitting president, His Excellency President John Evans Atta Mills. Such persons have gone ahead to print t-shirts and posters of the former first lady and have enjoyed quite a space on the Ghanaian media platform lately.

I personally would love a woman President for the Republic of Ghana. It would be a refreshing change from the all men presidency we have known as a country. And in this case, the woman in the picture, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings would really be a wonderful president for Ghana. Her qualities make her one of the few women who qualify for that high office of our land.

For almost two decades, Nana Konadu has been on the forefront empowering millions of women across the length and breadth of our country. Through her 31st December Women Movement, she has helped alleviate extreme poverty in many homes across Ghana. She has been the constant figure behind his husband, His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings over the period he was the Head of State and President of Ghana. She has seen it all. Given the opportunity, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings can be one of the best presidents this nation can ever have.
However, as a member of the NDC, I will never support her candidature for the flag-bearer position of our party. She can never retain us in power in 2012. She would be too susceptible to the despicable propaganda of a desperate Nana Akuffo Addo led NPP. Nana Konadu can never win against Nana Addo in 2012.

Sincerely, I don’t see the reason to change the current leadership of the party. The President and his appointees have performed quite well in government. Things have been very difficult but they are surely taking shape. The idea is to build a Better Ghana that can cater for the needs and aspirations of all Ghanaians. That is not an easy task. The government is however on course to make good its promise to the good people of Ghana. President Mills should be supported to win yet another electoral victory for the NDC. Any change in the leadership would be a subtle admission of failure on part of our government. That notwithstanding, should there be any need to have a new flag- bearer for the NDC in 2012, I would rather prefer Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah to Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings.

He is one of Africa's pre-eminent civil servants, and an authority on mass communications who has held several high profile positions in the field. He is a former Minister of Communication of the Republic of Ghana, one-time Ambassador of Ghana to the United States and Mexico, Minister of Education, Minister responsible for Mines and Energy and a member of UNESCOA Executive Board in Paris. He served in the cabinet during the democratic regime of H.E Jerry John Rawlings between 1994 and 2000.

As a 'Minister of Communication' of Ghana, 1997-98, Dr Spio-Garbrah initiated, developed and implemented policies and programmes that supported the increasing convergence of telecommunications, broadcasting, the Internet, publishing, news media and postal services, all of which were under his supervision. Concurrently, as chairman of the National Communication Authority, he had responsibility for regulating all aspects of the telecom, Internet and broadcasting sectors.

Whilst 'Education minister' from 1998-2001, he was credited with the creation of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), which currently mobilizes over $50 million each year from the VAT for educational sector infrastructure and student assistance programmes. Earlier, he had chaired the Public Education Committee that helped to establish the VAT system in Ghana, which currently nets more than $200 million of additional revenue to support the full range of government expenditures.

As 'Ambassador to the United States,' from 1994-97, Dr Spio-Garbrah was noted for his success in rebuilding Ghana’s image across the United States, including organising an unprecedented eight-city investment promotion programme for Ghana’s President in the USA. As a result partly of the successful bilateral programmes he executed, Ghana became the first country to be visited by President Clinton during his famous five-country Africa visit in 1998.
Before joining the Ghana government, Dr Spio-Garbrah was 'Head of Communications' at the 77 member-nation African Development Bank from 1991-94, where he directed the bank’s global corporate and marketing communications and acted as institutional spokesman. Earlier, from 1988-91, he had performed similar functions as an 'External Relations Officer' at the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank affiliate, in Washington.

His previous experience included working as a 'mortgage banker' in New Jersey, as an award-winning sales executive with Southwestern Bell, and as 'chairman of the Middle East Africa Group' within the international public relations firm of Hill and Knowlton in New York. In that capacity, he provided investment, export and tourism promotion counsel to the governments of Indonesia, Turkey, The Netherlands, and Austria, financial relations advice to the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank, Credit Agricole of France, UBAF-Arab American Bank, and energy sector intelligence to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Prior to his studies in the United States, Dr Spio-Garbrah, was the 'General Manager' of Ghana’s second-largest advertising agency, and was also the well-known 'host' of a national television prime time interview and discussion programme, "In Town".

Dr Spio-Garbrah obtained BA (Hons) degree in English Literature from the University of Ghana, at the age of 19 and topped his class in obtaining a Graduate Diploma in Journalism and Communication from the same university. He then proceeded to Ohio University, USA, where he received a Master’s Degree in International Affairs (with distinction). Following a Graduate Certificate in International Banking and Finance from New York University, he was awarded a Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa, by Middlebury College in Vermont USA, in May 2001, for his achievements in the fields of education, communication, business and diplomacy.

He is a current Vice Chairman of the ruling National Democratic Congress. I therefore ask you, if there is a need to change the current leadership of the party for the 2012 elections, wouldn’t you rather have him as your flag-bearer and President effective 2013? Think about it. God bless our homeland Ghana.
(Credits: Ghanaweb/Wikipedia/DSM)

By: Nii Ayi Anteh
Ledzokuku Constituency
Teshie, Accra.

(The writer is the creator and an administrator of the group, “Young Democrats In Support of Dr. Spio-Garbrah” on fcebook)