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Ghana Stands Still As Kufuor Speaks   
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Nostalgia gripped hordes of Ghanaians in Accra and beyond as they listened to former President John Agyekum Kufuor field questions in his maiden post-presidency media interview yesterday.

Touching on various aspects of statecraft, from diplomacy to the economy, including fuel supply at a time when the country was enduring a biting shortage of the commodity, the ex-president appeared to provide a soothing relief to troubled motorists as they waited in meandering filling station queues strewn across the nation’s capital.

For those hard pressed for answers as to how the erstwhile government managed the fuel supply bereft of shortages and queues, the Kufuor interview offered the answers in the incisive interaction on Oman FM and Net 2 TV, two Accra-based channels with affiliate outlets across the country. Many already hooked on to the station called their friends to inform them about the interview. “Rushing to Nigeria to meet with the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, I told him about the dire situation the country was in. It was not easy but I persevered and eventually, Nigeria obliged us”: was how former President Kufuor tackled the fuel situation.

On assuming power in the first month, he said, he realized that the situation called for an intervention. Former President Kufuor disclosed that he discussed with his government about the way forward on crude oil supply, considering the debts on the country and concluded that he would proceed to Nigeria to discuss the issue with his counterpart there. “I flew to see President Obasanjo in Nigeria and pleaded with him to support us with crude oil on credit but he said, “my brother it would be very difficult”.

Former President Kufuor persisted and the Nigerian strongman called for a note to support the pledge of repayment, which the Ghanaian leader provided. The Nigerian President, he said, offered Ghana a 30,000 barrels a day lifeline on credit for 90 days. “Did you see queues in those times?” he asked. He said the goodwill the country enjoyed when he assumed power was not attributable to him alone but the handiwork of God. “I was not the only reason for the progress we made at that time, it was the work of God,” he said. Former President Kufuor said the strides the country made during his tenure amazed him at times, adding that anything he set his eyes on were always achievable.

Former President Obasanjo also supported Ghana’s gas pipeline project at a time when the country could not meet the requirement of equity. “I told him that we needed $80 million and he called his Finance Minister who was Ms Ngozi, the woman now at the World Bank, and told her that his brother needed that much for the gas pipeline project and the deal was struck,” he said.
On HIPC, he said at the time he broached the idea, it met with a number of challenges as people considered the ‘indebted’ label demeaning. “I just could not imagine us paying debts of that magnitude when we had a number of projects needed to make life comfortable for our people,” he said. But eventually, the move yielded dividends for the country explaining that it saw Britain wiping off a debt of 50 million pounds.

He recalled how Japan, whose policy debarred it from supporting countries in the HIPC category, strangely changed the rules in favour of Ghana. “If you follow a vision with sincerity, you get results. Today, when I see the new state of the Cape Coast I am humbled.”Turning to the construction of the Jubilee House, he said the decision was informed by the fact that the country did not have a befitting presidential palace. The Castle was not used by the late Dr. Nkrumah and subsequent heads of state because of a number of deficiencies. “Even Peduase Lodge which I thought could be for the use of the President was in such state of disuse that even the first president’s bedroom had collapsed ceiling,” he said.

The former President took exception to what he termed name-calling by people who were quick to describe others as thieves and corrupt elements who should be sent to prison. There were courts to deal with such matters and so whoever was worried about corruption and had proof “let them go to court”, he stressed. A situation where the successful would prompt the envious to say “that person could be a pickpocket and should be dealt with”, he said, was not a good conduct.

As a New Patriotic Party (NPP) elder, he said, he longed for unity in the political grouping, whose tradition he believed in. His tenure, he pointed out, saw a lot of achievements in the area of water supply, road rehabilitation and many others pointing out that beside the Bui Dam project, others were being dreamed of on the Ankobra and elsewhere. “I hope that the incumbent administration would continue from where we stopped.” Former President Kufuor expressed joy that his administration started the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education among others, adding that “our children and grand children should not go through the challenges we did”.
Source: BBC

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