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It is written “Good things happen to those who wait for The Lord”. By this I am referring to what we have just witnessed in the contest of the just celebrated Ghana @50 anniversary and the person at the helm of the state of affairs in Ghana – namely, His Excellency President John Ajekum Kufour.
President Kufour and his NPP party was a formidable political dynamo that fought the despot Jerry John Rawlings during his 20 year autocratic reign and ultimately defeated him in the 2000 election, after a series of elections in 1992, 1996 and 2000. Indeed, after loosing the 1992 election the NPP leadership justifiably denounced the election result, given the prepondrous evidence that were unearthed to proof the NDC’s shenanigans to thwart the NPP from wining that election.
Notwithstanding, the overwhelming outpouring of adoration and glory, climaxed by the president’s historic visit to London at the invitation of The Queen of England, clearly indicate that the long and painful wait that Mr. Kufour and his party endured during that tumultuous 20 years reign of terror was worthwhile. For, had Mr. Kufour became president at any time other than now, he undoubtedly wouldn’t have been inducted into what I call the “World Class Leadership Hall of Fame”, reserved only for Leaders whose purpose in life is sacrosanct; viz., those who the Almighty Himself sees fit to “make their feet like hinds' feet, and setteth them upon His high places” (emphases mine). I am talking about the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, The Queen of England, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Pope John Paul II, among others.
As indicated above, Kufour came to power after a twenty–year reign of terror and given the atrocities that occurred during that period, we as a people (Ghanaians), wanted revenge by way of capturing Rawlings and his Hench-men, lining them-up and firing squad them. Yet, the dignified new president whose persona embodies the fear of God and respect for human life, completely refrained from that ominous thoughts and made economic development and unification of the country his top priority. In the process he averted a potential bloodbath and sewed the seed of prosperity for the future generation.
Specifically, Mr. Kufour opted to focus on macrocosmic stability and good governance. As part of his strategy to achieving these goals he joined the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative program, which got approximately $4.1 billion or 90% of Ghana’s external debt written off by its creditors; thereby, giving him a jump-start in his economic development program. To stimulate the economy the president plowed back the huge windfall profit from the HIPC program into the various sectors of the economy particularly, the agricultural sector, to give farmers incentive to increase productivity. The strategy has increased cocoa production several fold. For three years in a row the agriculture sector has consistently contributed the lion’s share towards the GDP growth, averaging about 35% per year. This strong cocoa output is the result of good governance of the Kufour administration, ensuring that farmers get a big slice of the pie by way of increasing cocoa prices which is currently approximating 70% of the world price. Ghana’s economic growth record over the past six years has been among the strongest in Africa, with real GDP growth reaching 6.2% in 2006 and poised to sky rocket in 2007 and above.
The stronger economic performance under Mr. Kufour has metamorphosed Ghana from the doldrums of a banana republic to a 21st century country, with privileges to raise money from the international capital markets, other than the “old school” method of dependency borrowing from the World Bank and/or IMF; not mention the culture of incessant begging as a means to beef-up GDP.
For the first time in the country’s 50 years history, Ghana’s creditworthiness is being rated by international rating agencies, such as Fitch Ratings, Standard and Poor’s (S&P), and Moody’s among others. For example, in February 2007, Fitch upgraded Ghana’s Long-term foreign and local currency ratings; to a “B+” with a positive outlook affirmation. In the report announcing the rating, Fitch indicated that “ Ghana’s growth continues to outperform its rated peers, while macroeconomic stability has been maintained in the face of last year’s oil price shock and single digit inflation is near at hand”… The report goes on to say that “This in itself is a measure of the track record that Ghana attained, both politically and economically, since President John Kufour first took up the reigns at the end of 2000 thus, echoing the outstanding performance of the president, that has excited Wall Street and the international financial community. Indeed, in early March this year, Ghana announced that it is soliciting bids from investment bankers to underwrite and float a $500 million bonds on the international capital markets, with the proceeds to be used towards the country’s ongoing economic development program, and, the response has been phenomenal.
Internationally, Mr. Kufour performance is no less a banner. As head of ECOWAS (2003-2004), Mr. Kufour exhibited exceptional leadership in diplomacy that was reminiscent of, that of Dr. Henry Kissinger, the former US Secretary of State. In an unprecedented peace negotiations among war factions in Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, and Sierra Leone, the president use shuttle diplomacy unheard of in the political landscape of Africa and, crisscrossed the sub-region and Africa as a whole, to broker peace among the war-torn countries that has since brought lasting peace to the sub-region. Today, Liberia has democratically elected a true and dynamic leader – Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whose motherhood appeal has attracted the children of Liberia from every corner of the world and are rushing home in droves to help her rebuild their nation. Cote d’Iviore is currently enjoying a peaceful coexistence nationhood, so is Togo and of course Sierra Leone all curtsey of President Kufour’s leadership. Little wonder then, was he unanimously elected by his peers in January 07, to head the African Union as Chairman.
On the domestic front, the president has maintained an unprecedented calmness amidst the incessant tantrums of his predecessor, whose ardent wish is to see him fail. It will be recalled that for the sake of unity and to let “by-gone-be-by-gone” as Mr. Kufour put it in his BBC interview a forthnight ago, he sent eminent emissaries to Mr. Rawlings’ house to invite him to join his brethren in celebrating the Ghana@50 festivities together; an approach which is customary in line with Ghanaian culture. Notwithstanding the eminency and nobility of the membership of the delegation, Rawlings arrogantly and disrespectfully turned down the invitation and failed to show. But alas! That was vintage Rawlings. Had he accepted the invitation and participated in the Ghana @50 pageantry, would have been a red flag that, the ex-president was experiencing a serious psychological dementia that needed immediate psychiatric attention. Mr. Rawlings is not a peace loving man. His kind is aroused only at the sight of blood and thus, could not have phantom being comfortable in the midst of peace loving men and women at that solemn occasion.
Therefore, Mr. President let not the constant harangue and the noisome pestilence of your nemesis detract you and continue to do what you best – building a better Ghana for our children and our children’s children. We only hope that the person who will succeed you is genetically programmed with the ability and the technical wherewithal to build upon the solid foundation you have laid down, to lead Ghana into the deeper corridors of the twenty-first century. God Bless you Mr. President and Long Live Ghana.
Wall Street, NY, NY
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