Kufuor: "We Are on Course"; in This Interview, President John Agyekum Kufuor Tells Baffour Ankomah about the Great Strides His Government Is Making on the Economic Front, How He Sees Pan-Africanism and African Development, and How He Felt "Betrayed by the International Community" on President Charles Taylor
Ankomah, Baffour, New African
Q: Is a presidential term limit for a developing country like ours necessary and progressive?
A: Four years is too short. Even in America where there are developed institutions and enhanced awareness, people see the four-year term as quite short; so you can imagine for a young or developing country like ours with a rather messy socio-economic system, a four-year term is not adequate. Ideally, it should be five years.
Q: Looking at the current strengths of the political parties in the country, you are likely to win a second term without much sweat. Is that how you see it?
A: I believe if we keep the pace at which we've been growing, continue to show sensitivity to the people, and continue doing the good work within the priorities we've set ourselves, the people will elect us for another term to continue with the good work of improving the lives of our people.
Q: Is eight years enough for you to finish your programme?
A: I can't say it will be enough, but I will try and put in as much as I can during this first term, so that by the end of my second term (if the people give me one, which I trust they will), they would see the results for themselves. We are on course.
Q: Why is the flag and emblem of your party, the NPP, the same as the Republican Party of the USA? Are there any ideological and other links between the two parties?
A: I think it's just a coincidence because at the formation of the NPP in 1992, we tried a whole series of colours and emblems, and I remember it was Dr Safo Adu, one of our party leaders, who suggested the elephant. The idea was not an imitation of the Republican Party. In Ghana, the elephant from time immemorial has always had an important symbolic and proverbial role in all the traditional settings, especially in chieftaincy. So it was just a coincidence.
Q: At the People's Assembly in January last year, you said, and I quote: "It is a matter of great concern and indeed a shame for all Ghanaians that more than 60% of our budget comes from development partners." You must have spent days thinking long and hard about this. So what was the motivation? What made you tell the nation this truth?
A: Well, I wasn't condemning getting help from outside, no, after all we are a developing nation and we need help. Yes, I told the people the truth, but I also think we will need aid for quite sometime to come, to develop our infrastructure and economy, so that we can stand on our own and compete in international arenas.
I wanted the people to be aware of the reality; that we need to work hard and help our own very selves and not be resigned to our state of poverty. I wanted them to be aware that we needed to take our destiny into our own hands.
For instance, in the public sector, the efficient and careful management of public property, and the execution of individual duties in the appropriate business manner can yield benefits for all.
In the private sector, I think that entrepreneurship in real terms is a calculated risk-taking, and if our entrepreneurs would do their finances correctly and conduct feasibility studies before launching their businesses, as well as borrowing money with the aim of recovering and expanding investment, our dependence on outside help might reduce. And it will increase our self-respect and self-confidence.
Q: In the glorious days of old, Ghana was THE champion of African causes. These days Ghana is hardly mentioned at all, except when it comes to ECOWAS. What is happening? Will Ghana ever re-take its rightful place on the African political radar?
A: Ghana is coming back to centre stage in African affairs. For the past 30 years or so, there was a lapse on the African scene because, as you know, the economy collapsed and the fact that everybody knew our plight, we feared that we would not be taken seriously. But I can assure you that Ghana is Gradually recovering ground. …