Kufuor bares heart out to Ghanaians

President J. A. Kufuor
President J. A. Kufuor

With less than one month to the end of his tenure, President John Agyekum Kufuor has formally apologised to Ghanaians who might have been offended in one way or another in the course of discharging his duties as head of state.

He said as President of Ghana, “I served the nation with all my heart and the best of my ability to accelerate the pace of socio-economic development, and in the course of exercising my duty, I might have inadvertently stepped on the toes of some Ghanaians. I therefore take this opportunity to apologise sincerely to such people because it was not intentional.”

Explaining further, he said as human and a leader, he was bound to make mistakes, and it was prudent that he apologise to anyone who felt offended in one way or another.

President Kufuor rendered the apology in Kumasi at a media briefing yesterday.

He also explained his relationship with former President Jerry John Rawlings and the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Nana Akufo-Addo, Mr Alan Kyerematen, a former Minister of State and a leading Member of the NPP; the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr E.A. Owusu Ansah; Minister of the Interior, Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor and Madam Cecilia Abenaa Dapaah, the Member of Parliament for Bantama, were some of the dignitaries who attended the media briefing.

On his relation with former President Rawlings, President Kufuor conceded that it was not the best and said he wished that he had a more cordial relationship with him, but expressed regret that the former President did not give him that opportunity.

Explaining further, President Kufuor said for the almost eight years of his reign, former President Rawlings “never accorded my Presidency the needed respect and dignity deserved by a sitting President. He always created the impression that there were two sitting presidents, which could never happen under our cherished constitution, and sometimes I was forced to respond to some of his comments”.

President Kufuor gave the assurance that he would offer the requisite respect to anyone who would succeed him as the President and also accord the Presidency its deserved dignity to prove that he was a true statesman.

He wondered why the media refused to comment on what he described as some of the outrageous remarks by former President Rawlings, especially when he compared him (President Kufuor) to a notorious armed robber such as Ayi-Ayittey (Ataa Ayi).
“Such remarks, coming from a former President, exposed the Presidency to ridicule, which is not the best,” he said.

On his relationship with Nana Akufo-Addo, President Kufuor said it had always been very cordial since they met for the first time at Oxford University in 1962.

He said as Liberal Democrats, they had their differences, “but that had never affected the cordiality of our relationship, which could be seen when he served as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice under my Presidency, as well as the Foreign Affairs Minister”.

“In all his assignments, he offered his best and this is not the time to let him down, so I have also offered him my unflinching support, since he was elected as the flag bearer of the NPP”, he stressed.

President Kufuor therefore appealed to all supporters of the NPP and their sympathisers to vote massively for Nana Akufo-Addo during the run-off on December 28 to enable him to become the next President.

President Kufuor said Nana Akufo-Addo had the experience and best team to harness both the natural and human resources to take Ghana to her next level of sustainable socio-economic development and stressed the need for Ghanaians to offer him that opportunity on December 28, 2008.

On the December election, President Kufuor urged the Electoral Commission (EC) to investigate the circumstances that caused over 200,000 ballot papers to be declared rejected and devise a mechanism to educate the electorate to reduce that number.

He was of the belief that it was the problem of rejected ballot papers that had forced the election to travel to the second round, stressing that with effective education, the problem of rejected ballots would be history.

President Kufuor also urged the EC to devise a means of reducing the number of electorates in each polling station to ensure that every eligible electorate exercised his or her franchise.

He explained that the long queues associated with some polling stations did not only frustrate some of the eligible electorate but also prevented them from exercising their franchise.

“Free and fair elections means every electorate should have the opportunity to exercise his or her franchise, but in a situation where somebody would be denied that opportunity through frustrations, the election cannot be said to be fair,” he said.

On the threats of lives of some Ghanaians and threats of intimidation against a section of the public, President Kufuor said it was wrong for anybody to intimidate any Ghanaian because such people did not vote for their party.

He said every Ghanaian had the right to vote according to his or her conscience “and to issue threats against such people undermines the peace we are enjoying in this country”.

He called on the security agents to take steps to investigate the allegations of threats of death against some Ghanaians and bring them to book to serve as a deterrent to others.

Source: Daily Graphic

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