Who is Arthur Kobina Kennedy and ...

Thu, 4 Jan 2007 Source: Jeffrey, Peter

what does he stand for?

Dr Kennedy burst on to the Ghanaian political scene as a young student leader during the 1980s economic crisis when he had runs in with the Rawlings led PNDC military junta about the way the country was being govern. As result he was forced into exile (United States) where he completed his medical studies.

At the time that politics in his homeland was getting very tense to the detriment of stability and economic development, Kennedy became the first politician to preach reconciliation between parties in the interest of nation building and cohesiveness.

On his “Mission Crusade” across United States and Western Europe, Kennedy highlighted some of the difficulties facing his homeland and how he intends to pursue policies that would benefit everyone irrespective of tribe or status.

Kennedy identified 4 areas that he hope would make an impact in the first 4 years of his administration.

1} Making Government work for the People

Kennedy wants to lead a government where working men and women are given voice through Metropolitan authorities and district assemblies. Kennedy wants every district assembly to have total control of education and primary health care in their area of jurisdiction. Kenney want to empower district assemblies to have control in transport management and local employment opportunities in their districts. This Kennedy stated that that would enable the assemblies to work together with the traditional authorities to implement policies to generate employment for the local youth as well as cutting down on senseless accidents that are claiming more lives. Kennedy want central government to be cut down to manageable size and transfer some ministries to the regions. This he argues enable fair distribution of government employment as well as facilitating improvement in every sector.

On Health Care, as a distinguish physician, Kennedy recognised the part better health care plays in the life of working men and women and the nation as a whole. To this regard, Kennedy want to facilitate a cordial working relationship between Ghana Medical Council, the nations 3 prestigious medical schools, (University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, University for Development Studies medical schools) plus Cape Coast Medical school to forge close working partnership and relationship with Ghanaian Doctors and Dentists Association of United Kingdom and Ireland and their sister Association in United States to enable knowledge transfer and teaching to benefit the nation. As a spokesman for the combined Ghanaian Associations stated, they are non political and are willing to work with any one who is elected as the President of Ghana in the interest of Ghana. The UK Doctors/dentists association led by Dr Anthony Annan and his executive, including Dr Stephen Addai pledged last fall to support their Ghanaian counterparts and medical schools in health care delivery in their homeland.

Kennedy is the politician to highlight health and leadership and argue that although the health of leading politicians is of paramount importance to the Ghanaian people, however one must be careful of making political issue of a candidate’s health to gain electoral advantage.

On education, Kennedy recognised that without educated workforce no nation can prosper. As someone who uses education to get out of poverty, Kennedy understands that the only way his motherland can actually become a middle income country by the year 2015 is to make education accessible to all irrespective of status or region. Kennedy acknowledges the role Dr Nkrumah’s free education policies played in the educational attainment of the nation soon after independence. Kennedy argues that it is insane and criminal to deny any African child the opportunity to go to school. Kennedy always uses his own upbringing as classic example. He stated that without the educational policies of Dr Nkrumah, he would not have had the opportunity to go to school. Like their medical counterparts, the Ghanaian lecturers and teachers in the UK are also interested in helping their colleagues in Ghana. Not to be left out, the Ex Servicemen and women and the Ex Police Officers Associations all planning some form of programs to support their colleagues in Ghana. Kennedy stated that every sector that fails to deliver, the sector minister would be held accountable for this failure and to a degree the president as well. Speaking with passion and drive at his London “Mission Road Show”, Kennedy stated that throughout his career, his one ambition in life is to serve his motherland with dignity and ensure he helps to change lives of his compatriots for the better. Kennedy stated, “ All that I am asking for is the opportunity to serve”.

On gender issues, Kennedy wants every girl in his homeland to be given the opportunity to go to school or have some form of vocational training. On his mission crusade, Kennedy spoke passionately about the need to abolish the servant/house girl where young girls are sent to distant relatives or total strangers to work as house girls. Some of these children are abused and even killed for refusing sex with the host. Kennedy place more emphasis on training, especially vocational training and how the district assemblies must be empowered to take lead in this area.

2) Putting People to Work.

In his “Mission Crusade” Kennedy spoke candidly about how countless Ghanaian graduates from the nation’s universities and polytechnics leave the country soon after graduation. Kennedy stated that majority come out of the institutions with very bleak futures, because there is no job for them to go to. Kennedy emphasised that majority of these excellent graduates’ main aim after graduation is to serve their motherland but unfortunately there are very limited employment out there. Kennedy explained that in his travelling to sell his mission crusade to his compatriots, he met many Ghanaians and other Africans who are all willing to go home and help with the development of their homeland. Kennedy banished the notion that Ghanaians in Diaspora do not or are not willing to go and help with the development of their homeland.

3) Making a place at the national table for Diasporas

As there are estimated to be over 5 million Ghanaians and dependents living outside the country, Kennedy recognises the enormous contributions of this group to the development of their motherland. It is estimated that remittances from the Diaspora to their motherland is now the 3rd largest foreign exchange earner. Kennedy wants to enhance the working relationship between the leadership home and the Diasporas. He also wants to establish working relationship between the educational and research institutions between the Diasporas and the home institutions to enable knowledge transfer and support especially between the medical schools and science based technologies.

Revamping our health care

As already stated Kennedy wants every district assembly to take ownership of the primary health care/facility in their area. This includes hiring the best nurses and doctors and ensuring that they are given the necessary tools and facilities to enable them discharge their duties. Kennedy also wants Diaspora doctors, nurses and others to render services to their district health centres as well as teaching. This Kennedy argues would enable Ghana to close the gab between patients and doctors and enables Ghana to deliver quality health care to her citizens. Kennedy stated that due to the 1980s structural policies, all the gains that Ghana made has been eroded. He cited then introduction of user fees into health care and education as policies that the PNDC/NDC administrations should have rejected out right. He said Uganda rejected the introduction of user fees in education and was able to offer free primary education to her people.

Kennedy is the first candidate to clearly call for all presidential and parliamentary candidates to put the interest of their country first before individual selves. His bright ideas, Kennedy is clearly distinguishing the brand of politics that he wants to introduce to Ghana and Africa at large. He is a man on a Mission. With his youthfulness, dynamism and motivation to help his motherland achieve rapid economic growth, the election of Kennedy as the NPP flag bearer and Ghana’s next president would change politics in Africa forever. Being the first politician to openly call for any public official who abuse office to be prosecuted, Kennedy want to set a clear example to the rest of the corrupt politicians in Africa that one does not have to steal from the poor folks that one promise to serve and better their lot. Kennedy always makes it a point to highlight corruption in African politics and stated that those who want to serve in his administration if elected must declare their assets before and after office. Kennedy want everyone who is willing to work (99.9% of Ghanaians want to work, but the point is there is no work for them to go to) must be given the opportunity to do so. In this regard he wants government to work in partnership with the private sector to create more employment opportunities for the Ghanaian people. On research and development, Kennedy is the first candidate to openly argue for funding for researchers in stem cell technology and nano technology. Kennedy recognises that as the world gets smaller, Ghana and indeed Africa must be able to find vaccine for the numerous tropical diseases that kills millions of Africans each year. As a physician Kennedy agrees that it is imperative that a cure is finding for malaria. In this regard, Kennedy wants to encourage universities in Europe and United States to partner the 4 Ghanaian medicals schools in their research programs.

Poverty is one area that troubles Kennedy. Having seen many Ghanaian children with no home and hope and exposed to the elements, Kennedy want the Social services well funded to equip them to provide homes and training for these boys and girls who roam the metropolis aimlessly. Kennedy stated that opting out of the education/job programs for the so called “Street Children” is not an option. He cited his own up bringing where those elders who are not related to him in his neighbourhood can intervene to ascertain why a child who is meant to be at school is seen roaming during school hours. This total lack of discipline troubles Kennedy and wants to bring back those glory days back. Kennedy stated that as one people and country, our respect for elders and humility is what has saved our country from any civil conflict. Arthur Kennedy might be the bright and brilliant front runner among the general populace, but it is Nana Ohene Ntow and the NPP delegates who have the power to elect their flag bearer and not the Ghanaian people. To most delegates the question is not about good leadership qualities but what the hierarchy tells them as was the case in the recent NDC presidential flag bearership elections. Ghana deservers better leadership. Is Dr Arthur Ebo Kobina Kennedy the one to take Ghana to the take off phase? Time will tell.

Peter Jeffrey.

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

Columnist: Jeffrey, Peter

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