-Sit Tight Leaders betray trust of the people says Former Ghanaian President
By Ajong Mbapndah L.
He may be out of Office but the esteem he enjoys across the globe makes you wonder if he misses anything about power at all. Former Ghanaian President John Kufuor is a prominent figure in the small but growing club of elder statesmen in the continent. For leaving power after two terms (2001-2009) Mr. Kufuor is revered by many across the continent. Out of office Kufuor who served as Chairperson of the African Union from 2007-2008 is still engaged in multiple activities most with a bearing on development in Africa. He is Chairman of the Interpeace Governing Council, World Food Ambassador of the UN against hunger, member of several boards including the Leon Sullivan Foundation, and the Brenthurst Foundation of South Africa just to cite a few. Not the type to shy away from a good course, President Kufuor was recently introduced as a Special Envoy for Neglected Tropical Diseases by the Global Network for Tropical Diseases at a Luncheon in Washington DC. In a chat with PAV, President Kufuor said, his desire to improve on the quality of life not only for Ghanaians but also for humanity makes him ready for service whenever he is called upon. The future is only getting brighter for Africa he enthused but cautioned that inspirational leadership was needed for the continent to reap premium dividends from the courtship it is getting from the rest of the world. Urging leaders to respect trust bestowed on them by their people, President Kufuor says those using messianic instincts to remain in power for ever act in error. Given the opportunity, African people will make their own way forward successful says President Kufuor .
PAV: H: E congratulations for your nomination as new special envoy for neglected and tropical diseases, may we know what this means for you, Ghana and Africa?
John Kufuor: Very Important because neglected diseases have been causing havoc to our communities. There sap our efficiency and productivity among our working communities, our children and make the old unhappy. This can be seen in our villages with diseases like guinea work, river blindness etc. So I feel humbled and honoured that the Global Network should invite me to be its Special Envoy to advocate support from around the world for the fight against these neglected diseases and also to advocate among the recipient countries and heighten the awareness of the dangers posed by these diseases to our people. It is a big thing and I welcome it. I believe the fight is been joined and with the political context that my coming in is calculated to bring, both the local and international community will get up and do more about relieving people of these diseases.
PAV: How does this new assignment tie in with some of the issues that dominated your Presidency in Ghana?
John Kufuor: Well, health and education are both basic and crucial when it comes to development. If you talk of human development and you do not talk of education, and you do not talk of health, then I do not know what it is to talk about. This appointment ties in with what efforts I made while in government to improve on the quality of live for Ghanaians.
PAV: You are Chairman of the Interpeace Governing Council, World Food Ambassador of the UN against hunger, member of several boards including the Leon Sullivan Foundation, the Brenthurst Foundation of South Africa etc where do you get the energy and how do you juggle all these activities?
John Kufuor: Well, I want to say that I come to politics with a missionary call to help improve on the quality of live for people not only for my people in Ghana, but also for humanity. Where ever I can contribute to improve on quality of living, I am always ready to be of service. I believe people see this in me and this is why people invited me to be part of the venture that brought me here.
PAV: We ask the questions because the continent has leaders who have been in power for thirty years and counting, do you share the concerns of Africans on this disturbing trend?
John Kufuor: First I believe in the self confidence of the African people that given the opportunity, they will make their own way forward successfully. So anybody who pretends to be the messiah because that’s the mentality of those who stay in power indefinitely is making a mistake. You swear by the constitution when you take power and by the same constitution, you must step down when your time or term is up. If you refuse to step down, you are betraying the trust of the people. Any leader who respects the trust of the people he leads would not want to perpetuate himself in power especially against their wishes.
PAV: The continent recently had coups in Mali and most recently Guinea Bissau as one of the Elder Statesmen, what is your reaction to these developments?
John Kufuor: Our continent is very big in terms of land mass and population and faces many challenges. I hope the African Union would use this panel of the wise and other agencies to get people to dialogue and try to resolve the many problems besetting the various countries and people. It is important that in moments of crisis the African Union should show the necessary leadership.
PAV: For the first time an African in the person of Ngozi Okonjo Nweala contested for the presidency of the Bank and lost how much of a blow is this for Africa?
John Kufuor: Well actually those of us who know and appreciate the competence of Ngozi and her expertise in the management of the World Bank are sorry she did not make it. The bank is a world body and the world is made up of so many countries and diverse people. Today our sister did not make it but as you observed, it is the first time, I believe the next time an African candidate will make it just as Koffi Annan also broke into the scene at the United Nations. Africa should bid its time and not give up.
PAV: President Kufuor a prediction on the future of the continent as we to round up?
John Kufuor: I think it is showing so much promise now. The continent is getting lots of attention from all sides of the globe. From the East, China, Japan and India are courting Africa. From the west America and Europe are doing same, Russia does not want to be left behind. This shows there is something about Africa and we must not only be proud but be very ready for that. However leadership is very critical. We must get leadership that will inspire us with confidence and pragmatism instead of dwelling on ideologies we have neither thought through nor understand. If we were to do that and negotiate well with all our friends and partners, Africa will take center stage in the world.
PAV: President Kufuor thanks for talking to PAV
John Kufuor: Thanks