Bechem (B/A), Sept 12, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufour on Sunday arrived at Bechem in the Brong-Ahafo Region to a tumultuous welcome by the chiefs, people and activists of the New Patriotic Party to begin a five-day official visit to the region.
Addressing a durbar of the chiefs and people of the town, the President urged them to exercise their franchise during the 2004 General Elections and eschew acts of violence and intimidation to ensure free, fair and peaceful polls.
He stressed that the power of the government emanated from the people, who elected Members of Parliament and the President of the Republic and urged Ghanaians to vote for development-oriented people "and not those who come to you with threats, insults and pronouncements that are intimidating".
President Kufuor said: "We want free, fair and peaceful elections", and expressed the hope that Ghanaians would judge the government's stewardship by its performance and vote wisely.
He advised the people not to allow any politician to infiltrate their ranks with the sinister agenda to derail the country's development process and commended them for the tremendous goodwill that the Government was enjoying from them.
Nana Kwadwo Seinti, the Regional Minister and other Ministers of State had earlier welcomed the President and his entourage to the region at Abesewa, a town at the boundary between Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions.
The Ministers included Mr J.H. Mensah, Senior Minister, Mr Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Ernest Akubour Debrah, Northern Regional Minister, Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Ekumfi, Minister of Ports, Harbours and Railways, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and Mr Thomas Broni, Deputy Minister of the Interior.
President Kufour emphasized that the government was committed to the welfare of all Ghanaians and the President's Special Initiatives were introduced to help empower the people economically.
He said the government was not interested in establishing state farms and urged the people to embrace the Initiatives in palm production, which was equally profitable as cocoa.
The President extended the government's gratitude to farmers for the abundant food in the country now and to cocoa farmers for the all-time record-breaking production of the crop - 700,000 tonnes - this year and. urged them to redouble efforts to enable the country to regain its position as the world's number one cocoa producer within the next few years.
"The government is determined to leave a worthy legacy for posterity although we met a depleted economy," he added and called for the continued support of the people to enable the government to achieve this goal.
On education, President Kufour reiterated the government's policy to ensure that one Senior Secondary School was upgraded as a model institution and gave assurance that these schools would be equipped with libraries, laboratories and have quality teachers.
In a welcoming address, Nana Fosu Gyeabour Akoto 11, Omanhene of Bechem Traditional Area expressed the people's appreciation to the government for the number of development projects undertaken in the area in fulfilment of promises made.
He thanked the government for the rehabilitation of the Presbyterian Secondary School in the town and the construction of a police station but appealed for barracks for the police personnel.
The Omanhene said the people appreciated the creation of Tano South District, with Bechem as the capital and prayed that a sober, hardworking and humble person would be appointed as the District Chief Executive.
Nana Gyeabour appealed to the government for an extension of electricity to some parts of the district, which did not have it, as well as the rehabilitation of roads in deplorable conditions.
President Kufour assured the chiefs and people that riding on the goodwill of the people, the government would not let them down and would work to satisfy all Ghanaians to ensure that the country regained her image and prestige as land of gold.
At Duayaw Nkwanta, Nana Boakye Tromo 111, Omanhene of Duayaw Nkwanta Traditional Area expressed gratitude to the government for fulfilling its promise to create the Tano North District, with Duayaw Nkwanta as capital.
He noted the relative peace in the country since President Kufour came to power, devoid of killings of women and fear among the people, coupled with the number of development projects undertaken in all parts of the country.
The Omanhene appealed to President Kufour for the extension of telephone system in the area and the President assured the chief that he would ensure that the relevant agencies and Ministry worked with Ghana Telecom to solve the problem.
President Kufour commended the people in the area for their self-reliance spirit over the years, which he said, was a factor for the creation of the new district and urged them to work harder for its success.