30.09.2013 Feature Article

What Made President JD Mahama's Visit To New York A Success?

What Made President JD Mahama's Visit To New York A Success?
30.09.2013 LISTEN

'Far too often, democracy in Africa is defined simply by the absence of dictatorship rather than by the presence of the vision that fuels it, and the willingness of individuals to take a stand in defense of that vision, regardless of the consequences.'

--- President J.D. Mahama

Humility and patience are virtues that are combined with intellect and vision to rule a nation. Ghana does not lack these virtues and qualities in their leaders. Our first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah embodied a vision for Ghana that was cut short by a coup d'état in 1966. Late President Professor JEA Mills tried to revolutionize Ghana with his vision of 'Better Ghana Agenda' but as we all know, met his untimely death.

Today, current President JD Mahama is following through with the 'Better Ghana Agenda' and carving an enviable new image for himself.

His speech at the UN General Assembly was received with much enthusiasm. The speech was telecasted live and streamed on various media channels. Perhaps the reason why many were captivated by his speech was his approach to a new vision he is carving for Ghana. How many times have we had informal discussions among our peers about adding value to our exports? President Mahama could not have been wrong on this when he stated, 'We cannot continue to be exporters of raw material and primary produce. We need to add value to our exports. We cannot continue to export raw cocoa beans in Ghana. What we need to do instead is process more of those beans into value-added products. We cannot continue to export unrefined gold.'

If the president's vision is carried through and factories are built to turn cocoa beans into finished products, process petroleum products and produce power with the gas, process bauxite into alumina to feed aluminum smelters, how beneficial this would be to our economy - employment, infrastructure, and a huge shift from having to import finished cocoa products and aluminum at cut throat prizes from developed countries.

But the perennial problem that many African leaders have is one of procrastination. Much is talked about and little is done to actualize their visions, hence they end up not 'walking the talking.' Fortunately for us, in the case of Ghana under the current Mahama administration, we are expectant of action because action speaks louder than words. From what we have seen and heard so far from the horse's own mouth, His Excellency means business and with our support he will carry through with his vision to turn our economy around for the better.

The president further stated that, 'We need to add value to our gold exports. We cannot continue to export oil and gas. We need to integrate that industry into our economy. We need to process petroleum products and produce power with the gas. We cannot continue to export bauxite and then in return import aluminum to feed our local aluminum smelter. We need to work towards creating an integrated bauxite and aluminum industry in Ghana.'

President Mahama espoused his vision again in a pack-to-capacity auditorium at Columbia University where he delivered a speech as part of the World Leaders Forum lectures. It was an ecstatic, warm and an electrifying atmosphere as he elaborated his vision further, 'When I speak of the vision, I speak of social justice. I speak of equality. I speak of religious and ethnic tolerance. I speak of access to education, to healthcare, to housing and sanitary conditions. I speak of respect for the dignity of the human spirit. These are the ideals that come together to form the vision. And that vision is what fuels democracy.'

These, coming from the President makes me think he gets it. We need to develop our human resource. As he surmised, it all comes down to value. The more we value our people the greater this human resource will be developed. Indeed, there has been a reverse of the brain drain as many Ghanaian intellectuals and entrepreneurs are returning home to help in nation building. One could infer from the New York University (NYU) Africa House event that many are excited to go back home to help in nation building. It was a delight to have and to watch this academic interaction - Where the President was taking questions of relevance and addressing issues to the excitement of everyone in the auditorium.

As for me, I think Ghana has taken off successfully and with the vision from this President, we will surely attain and surpass the middle income status that we have long struggled for to reach all these years. With this, I thought President's visit was a huge success.

Editor's Note:

By Cletus D. Kuunifaa, Long Island University, LIU Post, New York. Can be contacted at [email protected] or Follow him on twitter @ckuunifaa