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Opinions of Saturday, 18 December 2004

Columnist: Jeffrey, Peter Nee

Is Dr Kwesi Botchwey the man to lead Ghana in 2008?

Dr Kwesi Botchwey would be a formidable candidate against any candidate that the NPP would put forward for the December 2008 elections.

Dr Botchwey was the architect behind Ghana?s IMF/World Bank growth during the Structural Adjustment period. He was among the technocrats that persuaded ex-president Rawlings, then a die hard socialist, to adopt the policies that brought Ghana from the brink of collapse and thus save our homeland from famine.

Kwesi B as he is affectionately known by friends has got the same brilliant credentials as ex-President Mills and will come with a worth of experience.

Now that the 2004 elections is over, the notion of blaming one particular tribe for not backing their ?son? and the flaming of tribal sentiments should be consigned to the dustbin of history and the rebuilding process start now. A country without a formidable opposition is not healthy for democracy and where one ethnic group dominates can lead to instability and/or bloodbath. Rwanda, Kosovo, Bosnia and Ivory Coast are just a few examples of what can go wrong. The voting pattern in the Central Region and Cape Coast (where my mother hails from) and the Western Region (my home region) shows how sophisticated the Fantis are. My people (once known to be the jokers of Ghana) have shown that issues matter more than just voting for a hometown boy.

The task ahead of us is more important than infighting among political foes. The issue of poverty, illiteracy and health care must be seriously addressed. When the NPP won the 2000 elections they drew a ?Poverty Reduction Strategy? to help combat poverty in our country. Although they put in place various policies in other areas as well but the results as mixed. Now that the Ghanaian people have given them another 4 more years, this time they cannot argue for more time. In order to hold them to their word, we need a strong opposition. The only credible opposition that we have got now is the NDC, which like the NPP claim to be the centre of right party. In their day they had brilliant candidates who when given the opportunity again can do as well as the NPP boys.

The government should set clear and productive policies to help fight poverty, illiteracy, HIV/AIDS and inequalities among our people. Ghana are at a crossroads of our developmental process where we will need all the skills that we can gather to help us move forward. The urgency shown by all stakeholders in our march for middle income status should be applauded and encouraged. Our over reliance on aid must be reduced and rather encourage our people to save more so that the government can tap into this savings for development. Others have argued for land reforms. Countries that went through the phase that we are going through now implemented drastic land reforms before they embarked on industrialisation. The Koreans, Malaysians and others all implemented land reforms, thus making sure they were self sufficient in food production before the take off. Ireland who were predominantly an agricultural country were self sufficient in food production before embarking on their industrialisation programme.

There are various countries that we can learn from. Our land system is well out of date that we would need the same drastic land reforms on the lines of that that were promoted in the East Asian countries. Our agricultural system needs to be modernised and our farmers educated in the uses of modern agricultural machinery and equipments. This is where we can learn from the Irish. We must shift our emphasise from over reliance on cocoa and gold into other areas. We should be able to feed ourselves first and foremost. We should also concentrate on the African markets rather than the West where we our discriminated in favour of Western Agricultural produce. We should overtime limit our reliance on NGOs whose policies are to safeguard the interest of their home countries MNCs (Multi National Corporations). In effect we should be able to plan and implement our own policies with out being dictated to by people who do not necessary understand how our system works.

Dr Botchwey who is now a research fellow at Harvard and the man who was in charge of the economy during the ?Miracle years? knows the magnitude of the task ahead of us and thus would be best placed to take over the country from the current President in 2008. Is Dr Botchwey the man who will lead Ghana at the take off phase? Some commentators might argue that it is too soon to predict but looking at the record of the man during the ?Success years? of the Structural Adjustment period, he has all the credentials to take the Presidency. It is therefore incumbent on the NDC hierarchy to elect him now so as to give him enough time to put his team in place for 2008. The NPP as we all know have a wealth of talent that can challenge Dr Botchwey. People like the vice President, Nana Akuffo Addo, Papa Owusu Ankomah and Joe Apraku are few of the names that might come forward. What can not be dispute is all these people like Dr Botchwey would have gained experience in government come 2008 and thus establish themselves as credible candidates.


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.