Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku, the New Patriotic Party presidential aspirant and Member of Parliament for Offinso, North, has challenged his critics who perceive his being dropped from President John. A. Kufuor's Cabinet as a sign of his non-performance to trace his records at all the ministries where he worked.
"I want it to be compared to anyone who has been at the Ministry of Trade since independence, to look at my achievement and so I have nothing to be ashamed of in terms of competence," he stated.
Speaking in an interview with The Heritage newspaper on Friday, Dr. Apraku said he has a record of achievements and accomplishments that he is ready to let everybody have a look at, adding, "So when one talks about having dropped from the government I'm not bothered; whatever may have been the motivation for me being dropped, that is for someone else to answer."
According to him, he does not think he did anything wrong; neither does he think he has not achieved much in life. He said Ghanaians knew leading members of the NPP before they came into government and he, Apraku's record in government stands tall.
Shedding some light on his accomplishments, he said he was a university professor in the United States of America; what he attained there are there for those who care to verify. He left the States and came back, fired by zeal to serve his motherland in a political fraternity that was at the time in opposition, the NPP. As the party's spokesman on finance his achievements speak for themselves or at least are easily verifiable.
Dr. Apraku, who resigned his position as a professor of finance in the USA to join the opposition party in 1991, stoutly defended himself, underscoring the fact that he is not a failure but an achiever.
After faithfully serving the opposition party for 10 years, five of which he was a parliamentarian, Apraku's party earned the mandate of the people to form a government and he was made a minister. He said at the Ministry of Regional Cooperation and NEPAD, his second portfolio to handle, he established the Ghana Governing Council and ensured Ghana's completion of the APRM programme, as well, he worked hard to make Ghana the first African country to complete the African Peer Review Mechanism.
He said he elevated the NEPAD concept from obscurity to a practical result-oriented programme marked by the creation of NEPAD, E-Schools and School Feeding to aid Ghanaian children in their academic pursuits.
Under his leadership at the NEPAD, he recalled, Ghana was selected as one of the ten African countries to pilot the School Feeding Programme. Upon successful completion of the pilot plan, he initiated negotiations, which are now near completion for a $IOO-million annual grant from the Dutch authorities to expand the programme.
Dr. Apraku also laid claim to a National Approvals Committee to review applications of companies, which applied to join the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme. The establishment of the committee, according to Dr. Apraku, had shortened the period required for the admission of companies to the scheme from one-year to three months.
The presidential aspirant adds that his performance at the Ministry of Trade and Industry was a no mean achievement. According to him, he established and operationalised the export Development and Investment Fund, which is now providing credit to the private sector.
"I restructured the Ghana Export Promotion Council, which gave an added impetus for export of non-traditional products. It is noteworthy that, as a result of this initiative, non-traditional exports increased by about 20% each year between 2001 and 2003."
According to him, he championed the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), making Ghana the first West African country to be granted the AGOA visa for no quota, no tariff exports to the United States.
Asked to let The Heritage in on the happenings on his campaign trips, the MP said the response had, so far, been simply fantastic, "extremely good." He reported that he was making significant impact and was "pretty sure" that he would win the race come December, adding that he has been able to tour all but one -region, which is the Volta region where he heads for next week.
Pressed to give the best of his best, he said he was very confident of five or six regions and underscored his claim that, by the time the marathon campaigns, which have put two score aspirants trotting the country, ends, there he would even have boosted his ego further of winning convincingly.
"Within the next three months, things will begin to crystallize in such a way that it would become so obvious who is winning and who is not."
According to Apraku, wherever his team goes there are three messages that he puts across; the first one being service he has provided for the party since its formation in 1991 and the second, political experience he has gained therefrom.
"I believe I've been lucky enough to have political experience from 1992; a know-how learnt at the feet of Adu Boahen and President Kufuor and as a Member of Parliament for 10 years ... there is nobody in Ghana's history who has been president and has had 10 years Parliamentary experience before seeking for the presidency," he stressed.
On the bigger question as to why he wants to be the president of Ghana, Dr. Apraku replied that he believed he has been given tremendous opportunity to understand the world and Ghana and has gained enough experience so that he can bring to bear to improve the living conditions of the people of Ghana.
He intimated that there could be a motivating factor for one to be president but, to him, his background has been the guiding principle - noting that people like him who came from nowhere and have been given the opportunity to learn "must also feel a sense of responsibility of making some people equally better positioned to take advantage to help bring their hidden talents."
Culled from The Heritage