31 Foreign Trips In 18 Months!
—As the President chases his record 89 trips in 48 months
—Nigeria tops with six trips, followed by USA (five trips
President John Agyekum Kufuor must be chasing a record, his record. Clearly, the man intends to break the record he set in his first term in office when he undertook 89 foreign trips in 48 months (4 years), an average of one foreign trip every two weeks!
By the time he returns from his current odyssey of a trip to The Gambia, the UK and Brazil, President Kufuor would have travelled 31 times in the one-and-a-half years of his second term of office, again an average of one foreign trip every two weeks.
At this rate, and given the regularity of his foreign visits, President Kufuor would have travelled abroad 92 times in his second term by the time he leaves office in January 2009. He must have set a world record by then, a total of 181 foreign trips in 8 years! The Ghanaian taxpayer would have paid for all these trips. Which President can beat that?
Three aspects of the President’s overseas trips are of particular interest. First, he has made sure that he has visited virtually every continent on the planet. In his second term alone, he has visited countries in Africa 15 times, with Nigeria topping the list with 6 trips, followed by Togo with 3 trips. African countries he has visited once since January 2005 are Gabon, Niger, Libya, Liberia, Sudan and The Gambia.
President Kufuor has visited the Americas (North and South) 7 times – 5 times to the USA and once to Jamaica and is currently on his way to Brazil. During his 7 visits to Europe, President Kufuor has been to the UK 3 times and once each to Italy, France and Malta. He is currently on his way to the UK. President Kufuor has also been to Indonesia in Asia.
In his first term in office, in addition to these 4 continents, President Kufuor also visited Australia.
That leaves Antarctica as the only Antarctica as the only continent of note that President Kufuor has not visited. But who knows? He may have visited that continent by the time his term ends in January 2009.
The second points of interest about President Kufuor’s visits abroad are the things he goes to do. In his current second term, he was once in Kara, Togo, for the funeral of a brother of the late (then alive) President Gnassigbe Eyadema.
He was in Monrovia, Liberia, for the investiture of Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as President of that country.
He was in the Vatican City, Italy, for the burial of Pope John Paul II. He attended the 60th Anniversary of the founding of UNESCO in Paris, France. He addressed the routine meeting of the International Cocoa Organisation in London, U.K.
He was in Germany to witness the Black Stars’ first match against Italy in the Football World Cup Tournament.
His current tour has taken him to The Gambia to attend a routine Meeting of the AU, and is taking him to the UK to address the Opening Ceremony of the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hall.
The purpose of President Kufuor’s American tours have included a visit to the ALCOA bauxite mine sites in Kingston, Jamaica; a trade and investment tour of the USA, and attendance at his son’s Graduation Day Ceremony at Harvard University in Boston, USA.
President Kufuor’s only Asian visit to Indonesia was to attend the 50th Anniversary of the Bandung Conference.
The third aspect of the President’s overseas tours which is of interest are the numerous State Visits involved. Our contacts in the diplomatic world inform us that such State Visits are normally solicited and that within international diplomatic circles, Ghana has become a laughing stock as the country whose diplomats are always begging their host countries for Presidential state visits.