The leader of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) strongly believes come January7, 2012, his tarried birthright dream of becoming Ghana’s head of state would be realized, however, the man on whose “impressive record” he plans to run on to the Golden Jubilee House ex-President John Kufuor, is not optimistic about his chances.
Mr. Kufuor expressed his uncertainty in Nana Akufo-Addo’s chances in the forthcoming elections in the German capital, Berlin, when he last week addressed participants as guest of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung governance body with links to the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) led by Mrs. Angela Merkel.
The ex-president started on a rather positive note extolling his administration’s achievements, saying that Ghana witnessed an economic growth rate of seven percent with poverty reduced from over 30 to about 25 percent, thus putting a smile on the faces of the poor. But he shockingly ended: “You have my assurance, should we come back to power, which we hope to in the near future, we shall continue in like manner in an even intensified manner.”
Interestingly, among the audience were his party’s flagbearer, Nana Addo and NPP National Chairman, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, who according to Mr. Kufuor’s press secretary Frank Agyekum, had also been invited by the Germans to participate in the event.
Photographs on the function hoisted on the internet showed Mr. Kufuor full of glee with those who invited him, while Nana Addo and Jake wore a very stern face. It was on the theme African Perspective on the Social Market Economy (SME).
“By 2008, when I was leaving office, the economy was growing by over 7 per cent a year, business confidence was high and poverty had been reduced from over 30 per cent to just about 25 per cent. Ghana had become probably the first African country to attain the MDG of cutting poverty into half before 2015,” he told the Germans.
“In all modesty, I need to state it here that in my eight year experience as President of Ghana, my party and I have come to see the SME as a clear way forward for Ghana and Africa. If we have to move our continent out of its present condition of poverty, penury and misery, then we should be looking in the direction of the SME as our guiding philosophy”, he said.
“The economic base which was at about $4 billion when we took over had quadrupled to $16 billion and Ghana for the first time was among only a very few select states in Africa to be able to source funds from the international capital market. Indeed, Ghana’s request for $750m was over sub-scribed by about four times to more than $3 billion” he added.
He went on: “When my party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), took over the reins of government through a historic two-round presidential election in the year 2000, the SME had already become entrenched through 18 years of a merciless structural adjustment program. The economy was experiencing a modest 3.7 per cent annual growth.
“But the poverty level was unacceptably high and health care was based on a vicious cash-and-carry system. In spite of an official free basic education policy, school gross enrolment rates were below expectation, especially for girls”.
adding “with social market principles as our guide, we gradually adopted a step-by-step approach of balancing the efficiency of the free market with human social policy. We started a school feeding programme which gave primary school children one hot meal a day”.
According to him, “the NPP government started paying schools a capitation grant for every child enrolled to stop schools from charging parents for various services. The combination of these two policies shot school enrolment through the roof. Going to school now became the joy of every child”.
He observed that “the succeeding government has built on this and introduced free school uniforms and free exercise books in all basic schools”.
On health sector as he met it, Mr. Kufuor said “the cash-and-carry system of healthcare which came with structural adjustment and FME had depressed hospital attendance by the poor and disadvantaged. O.P.D.s recorded low attendance figures from year to year”.
But “my government’s response was to institute a National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which brought healthcare within the reach of every Ghanaian, and gave free maternity care to pregnant mothers.
“Finally, to put the smiles on the faces of the poor and most disadvantaged sections of our population, we introduced LEAP or Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty grant which helped some of the poor keep body and soul together”.
He signed out by saying: “I am proud to say that my party has been implementing the SME for some time now, and we would urge like-minded political parties in other African countries to follow in our footsteps.
You have my assurance should we come back to power, which we hope to in the near future, we shall continue in like manner in an even intensified manner”.
Source: The Herald