JAK, Ghana’s Former Selfless Leader

Former President John Agyekum Kufuor (born December 8 1938) was the President of Ghana from January 7, 2001 to January 6, 2009.

Prior to this, he had twice being elected Member of Parliament (1969–72 and 1979–81) and also served as deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs between 1969 and 1972, during which he was a member of Ghana’s delegation to the United Nations.

During his presidency, Mr Kufuor, as he is popularly called, was elected Chairperson of the African Union from 2007-2008 and also served two terms as Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS in 2003 and 2007.

During the Presidency of J. A. Kufuor, Ghana witnessed the fastest growth in its history, attaining a middle-income status by 2006 much earlier than the projected year of 2015 envisaged under the UN Millennium Development Goals with GDP reaching a record 8.4 per cent between 2007 and 2008, the peak of the global international financial and economic meltdown. President Kufuor introduced the nationwide national health insurance scheme under which about 56 per cent of the population was registered.

He also implemented free maternal care for pregnant women and instituted the Free School Feeding programme to provide one nutritious locally produced meal a day for schoolchildren in kindergarten (age four) to junior high school (age 14).

Mr J.A. Kufuor has been instrumental in the peaceful resolution of conflicts around the continent including those in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia. He is currently the Chairperson for Inter Peace.

Awards

In 2011, he was named joint winner of the World Food Prize for Food and Agriculture with former Brazilian President Lula da Silva.

He is currently a Global Ambassador against Hunger for the UN World Food Programme; chairman of the UN Inter-peace Program; Chairman of the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership; Global Envoy for the Neglected Tropical Diseases Alliance; Lead Advocate for the Partnership for Child Development.

Kufuor, an Oxford scholar, adopted a low profile approach to governance as he kept the vociferous Ghana media at bay by not reacting to their taunts.

Indeed in his time, Ghana witnessed the flourishing of unfettered press freedom, hence the ceaseless vitriolic vilification currently ongoing in the Ghanaian gutter press.

Kufuor was a cut above his vocal critics. In 2008, when Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the former ECOWAS Secretary General, was seeking nomination and election to the high office of Secretary General of the African Carribean Pacific (ACP) Organisation, based in Brussels, Kufuor rose to the occasion by personally accompanying Ibn Chambas to the AU in Addis Ababa, to canvass support from other African countries.

Dr Ibn Chambas, a lawyer, politician and diplomat, served in the NDC government in several capacities as MP for Bimbilla, Deputy Minister of Tertiary Education, Deputy First Speaker of Parliament, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Director in the Ministry of Education, and member of many government delegations to international conferences.

Notwithstanding the fact that he was coming from the NDC stable, Kufuor gave him all the support he needed to achieve his objective. What more can we expect but a gentleman and a large-hearted man, Kufuor is! Kufuor made it abundantly clear that he was running an inclusive and open government.

So when he once came visiting Lusaka in 2001 for the AU Summit of Heads of Government, there was a strong opposition party representation on his entourage. What a shining example of a lesson in democracy.

Man of foresight

Kufour comes along as a man of foresight. During his tenure, he endeavoured to eradicate or minimise poverty in Ghana through interventions such as using shuttle diplomacy to get our huge external debt cancelled in 2002.

He made Ghana accede to the HIPC Fund and the Millennium Challenge Corporation Account. He secured a loan of 30 million dollars from the US for the upgrading of the Accra-Cape Coast road (readers will recall the fatal accident which claimed lives of Aburi Girls Secondary School students on that road).

Kufuor worked hard to implement some of the dreams of Nkrumah , such as the construction of the dual carriageway from Accra to Aburi, to afford easy access to Peduase Lodge by visiting dignitaries. The Aburi Hills, part of the Akwapim-Kwahu-Kintampo Range of mountains, affords a panoramic and scenic view of Accra and surrounding areas.

The N1 Highway, also known as George Bush Highway, was also initiated by Kufuor at a cost of 42 million dollars. After its completion and inauguration in 2011 by current President, John Atta Mills, it is seen as a masterpiece of construction.

Kufuor sourced for a 30 million dollar loan from India for the construction of the Golden Jubilee Presidential Palace, which is alleged to have cost between 45 and 50 million dollars on completion in 2008.

It is one of the prominent features in the skyline of Accra, a veritable tourist attraction, and an architectural marvel. It is however, bizarre and sad to observe that the current government is not putting it to its full use, because of perceived corruption connected to the previous regime of Kufuor. Kufuor initiated mass transit buses in Accra and other parts of Ghana, popularly called ‘Kufuor Bus’. Kufuor initiated many educational reforms in the JSS and SSS (secondary school system).

He set up the Anamuah -Mensah Commission to examine how we could better the existing educational system. He initiated the Capitation Grant to fund schools and introduced the School Feeding Programme in 2005.

Kufuor built many schools, colleges and polytechnics. Under his tenure, many private universities sprung up. He introduced the Akuafo Pa Kookoo scheme to pay fair prices to cocoa farmers. He did that in partnership with Cadbury Schweppes, and the tremendous success achieved with the scheme has made it an economic model, which is being replicated around the world.

The National Health Insurance Scheme, which has caught on so well with the Ghanaian populace, was initiated by him. He also started the scheme to provide financial support to the non-pensionable aged senior citizens, as it is done in Kenya and Namibia.

Under his aegis, Ghana successfully hosted the MTN- sponsored CAN 2008 football fiesta, leading to massive improvement in our sports infrastructure, with world class stadia being built in Kumasi, Takoradi, Tamale and Accra. It was under Nkrumah’s time in the 60s that the idea of a second HEP station at Bui was mooted, yet it was under Kufuor’s reign that the project received a massive boost.

Kufuor sought a loan of 25 million dollars from his friend, ex President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, to build our portion of the West African Gas Pipeline Project. He commenced the Aboadze Thermal Electricity project in the Western Region.

During his fortuitous tenure, oil was discovered in commercial quantities in the western part of Ghana, offshore at Cape Three Points. Kufuor was honoured with the chairmanship of the African Union, and he used his good offices to douse many a raging fire on the continent, in places such as Cote d’Ivorie, Kenya, Sierra Leone and others.

President Kufuor established the John A Kufuor Foundation in September 2011 to spearhead growth in Africa hinged on three inter-related pillars namely Leadership, Governance and Development.

The Kufuor Foundation

The John Agyekum Kufuor foundation was founded by the former Ghanaian President and premised on three inter related pillars: Leadership, Governance, and Development.

The Foundation targets three areas based on the assumption that the pursuit of those areas are in tandem with the development of the African continent.

The Foundation is collaborating with state institutions, civil society organisations, the private sector, the media and development partners in order to achieve its vision of effective leadership, democratic governance and sustainable development in Africa.

The foundation hopes to create an enabling vehicle for the continued development and consolidation of leadership and democratic governance in Africa.

Its mission is to advocate and promote leadership and democratic governance in Africa, providing a platform on which African states can build stable democracies and promote the common good of their citizens.

To the foundation, leadership is the most important and decisive factor in all human activity.

The John A Kufuor Foundation seeks to establish good leaders by creating a centre of distinction that will train budding world leaders in all facets of human endeavour.

The Foundation is to fashion out measures to promote good governance on the continent through electoral monitoring, strengthening electoral systems, conflict mediation and resolution, promoting accountability and transparency and the deepening of democratic structures.

The Foundation will focus on Economic Development, and Social Development bringing the expertise of international leaders in areas such as economic diversification, debt relief, public-private partnerships and the provision of social safety nets, to provide the critical tools needed to ensure sustainable development for countries and businesses across Africa.

Promotes agriculture, food security and nutrition

Former President John Agyekum Kufuor, was in June 2013 appointed Co-Chair of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition.

Together with co-Chair Sir John Beddington, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the British government, former President Kufuor will lead this highly important global initiative whose aim is to “provide global research and policy leadership to maximise the contribution of agriculture and food systems to improve nutrition and health outcomes, particularly of women and children”.

The 11-member panel which was inaugurated by the UK Secretary of State for International Development, Ms. Justine Greening includes leading figures in global agriculture including Dr. Jose Graziano de Silva, Director General, Food and Agriculture Organisation, Hon. Akin Adesina, Minister of Agriculture, Nigeria and Dr Jane Karuku, President of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa.

Others are Ms Rhoda Peace Tumisiime, Commissioner of Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union and Ms Rachel Kyte, Vice President for the Sustainable Development Network, World Bank.

Over the next three years, the panel will seek to create an enabling pro-nutrition environment for agricultural and food policy and investment, provide effective guidance for decision makers, particularly governments, on how their policies and investments on agriculture and food systems can influence nutrition and raise awareness of the unintended consequences of agricultural and food policy decisions.

Leads on water, sanitation and neglected tropical diseases

The Chairman of the UN-based Sanitation and Water for All Partnership, President John Agyekum Kufuor has called on African countries to intensify efforts towards provision of potable water and adequate sanitation for all their citizens.

Giving a keynote address at the African Ministerial Council of Ministers of Water (AMCOW) on the sidelines of the World Water Week in Stockholm Sweden President Kufuor emphasised the inter-linkages between water, sanitation, agriculture and health.

In his position as Chair of SWAP as well as Special Envoy for the Global Network on Neglected Tropical Diseases, the former President called on governments to marshal all resources to tackle the water and sanitation issue.

He encouraged African governments to tap into the skills, resources, experience and expertise of the private sector to bring about the needed improvements cautioning the governments from “trying to do it all alone”.

President Kufuor’s dual on water and sanitation as well as neglected tropical diseases has seen him advocating for these causes at the highest levels of governments and governmental agencies including the European Union and the United Nations. In April 2014, he will be chairing the next global high level meeting on sanitation and water in Washington DC, USA.

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JAK, Ghana’s Former Selfless Leader

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