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"I’m The Man To Beat Mills" 7/19/2007
Judge me by my track record
it is not about telling people what one would be able to do when given the nod to lead this country but it is about telling the people what one ever promised doing and was able to do for which reason one should be given the chance to do what he says he would do.” He was adjudged Africa’s number one Finance Minister, he presided over the single most important economic policy of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) - the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative and made sure Ghana got to the completion point of the initiative within a record period of two years.

These are few of the things that earned him the name, Oseadeeyo- the one who does exactly what he says. The man is Hon. Yaw Osafo Maafo, Member of Parliament of Akim-Oda, first Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of the NPP whose immediate task was to see to the betterment of an economy that had its inflation rate at 40%, less than a month import cover and a multi-billion dollar debt.

The Akim-Oda legislator is one of the numerous contenders for the flagbearship of the party and yesterday he told listeners of an Accra-based radio station that he was the right man to lead the ruling NPP for the 2008 elections because he has all it takes to defeat the presidential candidate of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Prof. John Evan Attah Mills. Mr. Osafo Maafo argued that next year’s presidential elections was going to be based on issues and the track record of competing candidates would be a major decider of who wins the polls and that is why he would continue to emphasize the need for delegates to examine the track records of all the aspirants.

The MP, widely acclaimed for his grasp of issues and his ability to put his views across convincingly to the admiration of even his political opponents as demonstrated in his defence of major government policies as Minister, admonished delegates, who would be selecting the presidential candidate of the party to critically assess all those who are aspiring for the presidential ticket of the party, look at the track record of each of them to be able to make an informed choice at congress.

“We cannot pretend, the people know us and our track records and it is the track record of a candidate that would determine who wins floating votes and who does not,” the presidential aspirant pointed out and emphasized that his track record both in and outside government have proven that he is a visionary leader who has always proven to be an achiever. “While I was being vetted for the position of Education and Sport Minister, I told the vetting Committee that my dream was that under my watch, the Black Stars qualify for the World Cup for the first time and it came to pass,” the former Minister said.

To give a gist of what he might have done to ensure the victory of the Senior National team’s qualification to the World cup, he stated, “people don’t know that not all good coaches are players and people don’t know I was director of Kotoko for seven years.” Mr. Osafo Maafo whom many see as the man who was the brain behind the strengthening of the nation’s economy as Finance Minister, dropping inflation rate and stabilizing the nation’s currency, says, “it is not about telling people what one would be able to do when given the nod to lead this country but it is about telling the people what one ever promised doing and was able to do for which reason one should be given the chance to do what he says he would do.”

“The president has done a lot and we need someone who would be able to fit into the shoes by continuing with the good works of the President,” he told listeners and reiterated that it was important for delegates of the party not to base their decision at congress on monetary considerations because, “we are going to choose someone to become president of Ghana and not NPP president.” The legislator disclosed that information from his intelligence networks had indicated that he was doing well in the race. When it was pointed to him that a number of supposed opinion polls had placed people like Nana Akufo Addo, Alan Kyeremanten and Vice President Aliu Mahama as being the leading contenders in the race, he said he knew he was far ahead of those people.

Why was he sacked?

One critical question posed to the former Minister was why the president fired him from his cabinet. The Question was put, “were you sacked by the president?” His answer was, “I was reshuffled out.” A further push got the former Minister to reveal his suspicion that he might have been fired because of his open support for Mr. Peter Mac Manu, incumbent Chairman of the NPP during the last congress of the party in 2005 as against the president’s support for Mr. Stephen Ayensu Ntim. He however emphasized that the president had the prerogative to reshuffle his team. Asked whether he was on good terms with the president, he responded that he admired the president especially the way the latter had managed to elevate the presidency. He did not however give a categorical answer of whether or not he was on good terms with President Kufuor.

Mr. Osaafo Maafo re-stated his call on the president not to do anything that would lend credence to speculations that he was backing one candidate stressing that if the president did, it would not be good for the progress of the party. Macmillan contract and CNTCI loan The Akim-Oda MP was then asked about the two most controversial issues that many are always quick to point to as blunders he committed during his work as Minister – the CNTCI Loan and the Macmillan contract affair. On the Loan that never came, the Minister explained that normally government deals with bilateral and multilateral partners for loans and sometimes sectors Ministers could also source funding from private entities to execute projects under their Ministries and the CNTCI loan was such a loan that was being sought from a private entity. He did not however drop the name of the Minister who was behind that particular loan.

He said Cabinet and parliament had given approval to the loan and he was doing his job as Finance Minister and so had to work on it after it had been approved. He was of the view that the loan was therefore not something that could be used to discredit him or take anything away from his solid track record. On the Macmillan book contract, he told listeners that the National Procurement board had written to give approval for the procurement of the books, which he said were necessary to help Ghanaian students, after Ghana had, for four consecutive years, placed bottom in English Language in the WAEC examinations.

Mr. Osafo Maafo emphasized that it was instructive for all to note that the state did not loose a dime in that transaction and also the ruling that said the contract for the procurement of the books was not appropriate was being challenged through an appeal by the Ministry of Education and the Procurement Board. The presidential aspirant said it was therefore unfortunate for people to create the wrong impression that the contract had been wrongfully awarded and try to portray him in bad light.

Other matters

Mr. Osaafo Maafo clearly stated his opposition to the proposed sale of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) and stressed that the bank should be allowed to operate under the mandate for which it was established. In his view, if the Bank of Ghana has to offload its shares in ADB because of legal implications, then the central Bank’s shares in ADB should be transferred to the stock market for Ghanaians to acquire them. On the current energy crisis, he said a lot more of immediate interventions have to be embarked upon and noted that government was in the meantime doing its best to improve upon the situation.

For strategic reasons, he could not respond to questions of what he would have done differently on the energy situation and the issue of corruption if he were the president of the country at the moment. He however was of the view that the government was doing reasonably well in the fight against corruption but advocated the adoption of more measures that would make corruption completely unattractive.

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