The Immediate Past Minister of Regional Co-operation and NEPAD, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, has promised Ghanaians a transparent, accountable, dedicated and exemplary leadership if they entrust him with leadership of the nation in the 2008 general election.Dr Apraku, who stated unequivocally that he was going to contest the NPP flagbearership, said, ?As a man who shares the interest and aspirations of the people, particularly the poor, marginalised and disadvantaged, my pursuit of the highest office of the land is for nothing but the betterment of the lives of the people.?
The leading member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) who held the position of Minister of Trade and Industry in the first term of the NPP government made the promise in an interview in Accra yesterday. He said during the 1998 congress of the NPP to select a flag bearer for the party for the 2000 elections, he was described as very young.
?I am now older, wiser, more experienced, accommodating and I understand politics better and can provide solid leadership through the NPP,? he said.
Dr Apraku said he enjoyed popular support among the rank and file of the party and that under him, appointments to ministerial, ambassadorial and district chief executive positions would be done by the President, in consultation with party executives at the national, regional and constituency levels for such appointees to feel obliged to the party to make Ghana better.
He said his more than 20 years accumulated experience in politics, including serving as a Member of Parliament, Member of the Cabinet and Executive, as well as experience gained in academia and the United Nations, had given him adequate insight into the problems the nation and its people faced today. He said that had placed him in a unique position to fashion out a clear vision and programme that can be worked with others as a team, to redeem the country from its myriad of problems. Dr Apraku pointed out that the country?s fundamental problem was that of overcoming under development, that was, moving from an agrarian economy to one of sustained industrial development to create jobs and prosperity for the people.
?It is important to take advantage of the country?s political stability and human resource potential and use ICT to generate wealth and employment,? he added. Asked if the recent ministerial reshuffle had not dented his chances of becoming a flag bearer of the NPP, he said on the contrary, it had generated a great deal of goodwill from a lot people for him and given him ample time to reflect on the problems of the country, plan and device appropriate strategies and work with party people to enhance his bid for the flagbearership.
Dr Apraku, who had stated earlier that it was the prerogative of the President to hire and fire and that one needed not to be a minister of state before one could serve his or her country and party, added, ?Everything God gives is for the best.? He said the NPP government had laid down a solid foundation, although not all had been done, especially in the area of job creation, and that it would take some time before the economic benefits would be experienced by the people.
He said his track record spanned his position as the Head of the UN Economic Reconstruction Unit which rebuilt shattered Croatia after the war into a vibrant country and the role he played in the NPP in opposition as the spokesperson on Finance and Economic Issues during which he, together with his colleagues, held the NDC government accountable and articulated a clear vision for the country and created a national debate on the direction for Ghana.
?We did this work so creditably that the nation saw the NPP as a credible alternative to the ruling NDC and that culminated in our successful electioneering in 2000 when the NPP won the mandate of Ghanaians to govern,? Dr Apraku said. Dr Apraku, who also lectured as a professor of Economics and Finance in some universities in the USA for 11 years, said as a minister of state for five and a half years, he had better appreciation of policy making and had developed rapport with the developed and developing nations which would be used for developing the nation.
Touching on his track record as a Minister of Trade and Industry, he said he secured the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) deal, making Ghana the first West African country to market its textile products into the USA without restriction in terms of quotas.
He noted that if that had been followed with similar vigour, it would have transformed the country?s export industry tremendously for the benefit of all.
?My initiative in promoting handicrafts as a non-traditional export, which led to the establishment of craft centres at Aburi, Salaga, Kpando and Bolgatanga, if it had been equally followed with the same vigour, could have brought more income and jobs to Ghanaians than what obtains at present,? he said.
He also mentioned his initiative in instituting trade houses as centres to promote investment and trade for Ghanaian products in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Thailand and India. He said these were not sustained after he was removed from the ministry.