Ghana will ask for nothing more than accountability and transparency in her relationship with development partners, former President Jerry John Rawlings has said.
He said while the country welcomes and indeed desires foreign investments in building local capacities and infrastructure, especially in its newly discovered oil resource, corruption will remain one big challenge that must be battled at every turn if Ghana was not to fall victim to the proverbial ‘oil curse’ that has divided some African countries and impoverished their people.
“Integrity, transparency and accountability must be at the root of our development so we do not lose our sense of responsibility and undermine our stability,” he emphasized. Ex-President Rawlings was speaking with a technical delegation of energy consortium, Nexus Energy, including its Chairman and CEO, Neil Mallon Bush, brother of immediate past U.S. President George W. Bush, who paid a courtesy call on him and his wife, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings.
He said many Ghanaians have advised against abusing the newly discovered oil resource, and that admonition, he said, places a moral obligation on any government to see to it that the best interest of the people are served. ‘There were question marks about what took place in the Kufuor regime as far as transparency in the oil deals were concerned and it is important that the NDC government does not toe the same line,” former President Rawlings stated.
Ex-President Rawlings said the Mills administration has been primed enough to be wary of a lot of questionable oil exploration deals that were signed by the previous Government of the New Patriotic Party, and this is a call the government must answer to ensure the mutual credibility of Ghana and her partners.
The delegation was on a business mission in country and held talks with the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, and also met with President J.E.A. Mills and some members of the Government. The discussions with ex-President Rawlings occasionally touched on Ghana’s political history and climate. Neil Bush was interested in how Rawlings managed the transformations after the 1979 uprising, the succeeding elected government and the subsequent ‘holy war’ of 1981 and eventually to constitutional rule. Former President Rawlings said while the energies of the people were channelled into productivity, there was also a very high sense of direction, describing governance during the period also as very democratic. He said this was the period Ghana started and nurtured her decentralization process.
He said the decentralization was ‘terrific’, in that while Ghana had gone through all manner of political systems – Single party rule, multi-party, socialism, etc – which all failed to be accountable to the people, the PNDC era demystified governance. Against what pertained in most African countries at the time where political power was harnessed in the president, he said, everyone joined hands and descended into the trenches for national development.
“Given what we achieved, the IMF and World Bank may have been surprised in pushing us thus far,” he said. “Ghana was commonly touted as Africa’s ‘Shining Star’ of IMF and World Bank development projects,” he explained. Rawlings said when the New Patriotic Party took over national administration after winning the 2000 elections, corruption became a common feature of the administration, while the country was acclaimed a major transit point for drugs.
He said so pervasive was corruption in the administration that the then President of the United States, George Bush, sent emissaries to warn the government to take steps to stem the tide, however, rather than hold the government and its officers accountable, George Bush surprisingly invited the then President J. A. Kufuor to the US and paraded him as a good example of leadership.
Source: Kofi Adams, Rawlings' special aide
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