Fifty-year-old International banker and contender in the highly competitive campaign for the presidential ticket of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. Boakye Agyarko, may after all, emerge as the dark horse in the race.
Late last week, The Chronicle engaged Mr. Agyarko in a two-hour interview at a venue located at the slum suburb of Nima in the national capital, during which he made what could be described as very stunning revelations of his outstanding contributions and demonstrable commitment to the ruling party. He is a founding member of the party and bears a certificate to that effect issued him on July 28, 1992.
Influential party lords including Hon J. H. Mensah, former Senior Minister, have made it clear that demonstrable commitment and contributions to the growth of the party shall be a key factor in deciding who leads the party for the next elections. This proposition seemed to have attracted the endorsement of the party's decision makers, compelling virtually all standard-bearer aspirants to bring out at the least opportunity, what they had done for the party.
The question was put to the international banker who had been domiciled in the United States for about two decades now, whether he was qualified as far as his contributions to the party were concerned. His initial response was that he was not comfortable with disclosing the things he had done for the party.
Agyarko, who left his lucrative job as the Vice President of 221-year-old New York Bank (NYB) - the oldest Bank in America- despite pleas from his employers for him to accept the option of a leave of absence, said people were aware of what he had done for the party.
Unlike Mr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, the defeated flagbearer aspirant of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) who got his job with the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization based in London secured, plus even an extension of his contract to 2011, before coming down to contest for the NDC top position, the NPP's Agyarko called it quits before descending from his base in the world's super power nation to Ghana.
A suggestion from this reporter that he was generally seen as someone who had not done much for the NPP, like the other competitors who openly disclose whatever they had done for the party, and yet seeks to lead the party, triggered him to start mentioning a couple of the things he had done for the party.
But when The Chronicle still challenged him to authenticate his contributions, he pulled up a file that contained the shocking evidence of one man's contributions to the ruling NPP that very few might be able to match.
The file contained signed vouchers, showing his payment of monthly salaries of 18 staff at the party's headquarters for six whole years from 1993 to 1998 (i.e. the payment of monthly salaries of 18 people including then secretary and fellow aspirant Dan Botwe for 72 months). Additional documents showed how he contributed $1000 each month to the party from 1996 to 1999.
He noted that those were only part of his contributions which he got documented and that it was not everything he had done for the party that he was going to reveal to the paper emphasizing that there were others that the kingmakers of the party who were going to decide who leads the party for the 2008 general elections, were aware of.
Though he was not prepared to make known to the paper, his other financial contributions to the party, this reporter cited other receipts that showed a total payment of $5500 to the organizers of the famous 1995 'kumepreko' demonstrations, which were championed by key figures of the then opposition NPP, against policies of the Jerry Rawlings-led NDC government.
Mr. Agyarko, who had been the President of the North American Branch of the NPP for years, denied a suggestion by the paper that he had been making those contributions because of his ambitions of leading the party at a point in time.
“I am a founding member of the party and I left the country not because I wanted to leave but I left because I had to save my life under the PNDC regime. So wherever I found myself, I found it as a duty to help build the party,” the banker, who was taken to the United States in June 1983, virtually comatose after being shot by militant extremists of the PNDC regime, explained.
Asked why he had decided to contest for the position this time round, Agyarko, described by his contemporaries as an international financial wizard, said he had the conviction that after having worked as a banker and helped other countries and people, it was time for him to come back to use his expertise to rather help his country.
“I have been helping other countries through my work. So I asked myself, why shouldn't I use the expertise to help develop my country? I can tell you that if I am able to do a quarter of what I have done for other countries over the years to this country, Ghana will be a different country,” he lamented.
The aspiring NPP standard-bearer further narrated how he was partly responsible for the current booming Costa Rican economy through his significant collaborative works with the government of that country.
He disclosed how his colleagues and subordinates at the NYB teased him when Ghana failed to acquire a $1billion loan in the infamous IFC loan transaction. He explained that the contention of those who teased him was that he had been helping countries to arrange and acquire loans sometimes in excess of $7billion and yet his own country had failed to acquire a billion-dollar-loan facility.
He said he declined the offer from the NYB to take a leave of absence to do his campaigning and rather resigned because he had committed some people to his presidential campaign and did not want a situation where his supporters would feel that even if he failed to secure the presidential ticket of the party, he had a job waiting for him.
“I am really determined to help build this country in the capacity of a president and I am prepared to risk all. It is okay for me to give away the big salaries and fat allowances in order to wage a crusade that will give me the opportunity to help develop my country,” he said.
The presidential aspirant noted that, with all his expertise, he works for the benefit of just some few shareholders who own the bank and he had realized the need to rather use his expertise to work for the benefit of the over 20 million Ghanaians.
Agyarko said if voted the president of the nation, his major priorities would be in the areas of employment for all, especially the youth, education and health.
He said the Asian Tigers like Korea and Malaysia had been able to chalk their current economic success because of the quality education provided the citizens of those countries over the years and promised to ensure the implementation of good educational policies with a curricular that would have a direct bearing on the development aspirations of the country.
He emphasized that with the formulation and implementation of appropriate policies to solve the problems bedeviling the country in these three sectors, the country would be enabled to witness the requisite development.