Opinions Wed, 9 Aug 2006
Arthur Kobina Kennedy on a missionSince Ghana gained her independence from Britain on 6th March 1957, only Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Flt Lt Jeremiah John Rawlings and John A. Kufuor can claimed to have contributed towards the country’s development thus far. Is Arthur Kobina Kennedy the next leader to take Ghana into the middle income league of countries? This writer continues the series by profiling the NPP front runner Arthur K. Kennedy. This writer is not here to promote any candidate but to profile those who have got realistic chance of becoming the next President of Ghana.
On 6th March 2007, Ghana, the first country south of the Sahara to gain political independence would be exactly 50years old. In terms of social and economic development Ghana lag behind those countries that emerged around the same period as Ghana. Countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea are now well established Middle Income countries. In fact Korea and Singapore are on the verge of joining the second league of highly developed countries. GDP in these 2 countries are now at par with most countries in Western Europe. Singapore and South Korea were strategically placed and hence were guided by the developed countries as a bulwark against the spread of communism to the east.
Dr Robinson Rojas, one of the dependency school theorists of ECLA (and this writer’s lecturer at graduate school a few years back) explained that the sort of industrialisation that both countries pursued cannot be copied by others who want to emulate them. The leading “home grown industries” were protected from the MNCs of the West. Ghana at the period in question had a leader who was pursuing import substitution strategy with socialism at the core of its ideology which antagonised the west. From that period Dr Nkrumah’s time as president of Ghana were numbered.
Ghana, once seen as the most promising of this class of countries is still classified as a highly indebted poor country, with economic aid from her former colonial master and the Britton Woods Institutions forming over 40% of her Gross Domestic Product. One person who wants to change the economic course of his country is Dr Arthur Kobina Kennedy. Kennedy realises that Ghana’s human and physical infrastructure are nothing to write home about.
On 1992 the country embarked on her 4th effort of establishing democracy by the ballot box. Since then Ghana has enjoyed over a decade and half of democracy after many years of mismanagement under various criminals in military uniform.
Who is Arthur Kennedy and what does he stand for?
Arthur Kennedy came to the fore as a radical leader of the influential National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) in the 1980s and fought running battles with the PNDC junta at the period in question. He left the student politics to pursue a career in medicine in United States returning in the 2000s with his “Message of Hope” crusade.
Throughout his time in United States, like Dr Kwame Nkrumah before him, Arthur Kobina Kennedy never forgot his roots and the plight of the poor in his homeland. Although Kennedy embarked on various speaking tours in North America and Europe to sell his “Message of Hope” to the Ghanaian Diaspora and friends of Ghana in the business world, his long term ambition was to lead his country and implement the policies that he speak about to his compatriots in Diaspora.
Arthur Kennedy was the first to declared his intention to run for 2008 Ghana’s presidential elections on the ticket of the ruling New Patriotic Party. He was the first to publish his manifesto. Kennedy has time on his side. Some commentators argue that Kennedy has peak too early.
Kennedy’s manifesto, like Nkrumah’s when he was a student at Lincoln, is to transform his homeland from a backwater economy into the economic giant of black Africa, where every one, irrespective of tribe or region is given fair chance to succeed.
Kennedy knows the huge disadvantages that faces the northern half of his homeland and is sad that the 3 northern regions, which have huge potential, had been neglected for far too long. Kennedy wants his homeland to reflect the make up of his country’s national soccer team – The Ghana Black Stars.
Arthur Kennedy spoke of transforming this northern half of Ghana into the most developed economic zone in West Africa. Kennedy’s mission reminiscence Dr Nkrumah’s political adventure some 60 years ago.
Like Dr Kwame Nkrumah before him, Arthur K. Kennedy is on a mission. He wants people to go into politics to serve and to make an impact to the development of their communities and country. He often quotes his more famous namesake, President Kennedy, “Think what you can do for your country and not what your country can do for you”. This simple message underpins Arthur Kennedy’s message of hope.
In order to achieve his ambitions, Kobina Kennedy wants to decentralise government by spreading the ministries to the regions and making government, from local to national level accountable to the people who elected them. Arthur Kennedy’s radical ideas, like those of his student days, are not in conformity with the elders of the party that he wants lead. Yet his simple message of hope is gathering such momentum that he is now seen as the clear favourite to secure the nomination of his party.
Arthur Kennedy knows that if Ghana is to achieve middle income status by the year 2020, then poverty must be eradicated all together. Hence poverty eradication forms a central plank of his manifesto.
Arthur Kennedy wants local businesses to be given both financial support and advice by government experts to enable them grow, thus creating more jobs for the numerous jobless roaming about in most metropolises aimlessly, as well as positioning these industries to expand into other West African countries.
Like Dr Nkrumah, Dr Kobina Kennedy’s ideas extend far beyond the shores of Ghana. Dr Kennedy wants Ghanaian industries, aided by research from the Ghanaian universities to be strategically placed to move beyond Ghana. Arthur Kennedy sees University of Ghana Accra, University of Science and Technology Kumasi and University Of Development Studies Tamale as strategically placed to spearhead this agricultural and industrial revolution. Kennedy wants to enticed pharmaceutical companies and other science based organisations to invest in researched based organisations aligned with these 3 universities. Kennedy wants to set aside a substantial amount for research and innovation at all the public universities. Like Osahene Kojo Boakye Djan, Arthur Kennedy wants medical schools set up at 37 Military Hospital, The Police Hospital and University of Cape Coast. Since Kennedy wants every region to become a magnet for inward investment from both foreigners and Ghanaians in Diaspora, he has listened sympathetically to the people of Volta Region about their aspirations for a university. Although Kennedy has not commented on this, his inclusive politics means he and Osahene Kojo Boakye Djan are the only presidential aspirants to make the wishes of our brothers and sisters in Volta region come true. Logically it makes sense to have the Agricultural University sited at Ho. Perhaps Ho polytechnic should be transformed into this university. One good trait about Arthur Kobina Kennedy is he listens to all sheds of opinions before making his own informed decision. Ghana is blessed to have leaders such as Arthur Ebo Kobina Kennedy.
On energy requirements of the country, Kennedy does not rule out anything, especially as high oil price affects every sector of our homeland. Kennedy’s wealth of knowledge in biotechnology would benefit the country immensely. Companies associated with his work in United States are willing to come in and help our Universities to transform themselves into the leading universities in West Africa.
Arthur Kennedy wants every sector of the economy to benefit from his economic growth policy. He sees tourism as a way of promoting Ghana strategically and inviting foreign firms to invest in the rich but deprive north of the country. On transportation, Kennedy sees the growth of air transportation as one area that can hugely benefit Ghana. Apart from Nkrumah, only Osahene Kojo Boakye Djan and Kennedy have spoken of using Dr Nkrumah’s master plan transform the north.
Perhaps Kennedy’s education and health care delivery programs, which ironically parallels Osahene Kojo Boakye Djan’s, is geared at giving local communities the ownership of how education and health are delivered at the local level.
Kennedy wants to give the district authorities the political and financial powers to deliver service at the local levels and thus can be held accountable for any lapses.
Kennedy, like Nkrumah, wants to work with a team that reflects the tribal make up of the country. He also wants politicians, academics and technocrats whose first aim is to help transform their homeland by delivering the promises detailed in his manifesto.
Is Arthur Kobina Kennedy the right man to transform Ghana into a middle income country? Can Arthur Kobina Kennedy be able to achieve his life time dream of uplifting millions of his compatriots out of poverty? Dr Arthur Kobina Kennedy is on a mission!
God bless our homeland Ghana, and make our nation great and strong and under God we march on for evermore.
Columnist: Jeffrey, Peter