Ex-President Kufuor and other dignitaries at the function

FORMER PRESIDENT John Agyekum Kufuor says until bad governance is uprooted from the continent, its people would continue to live in despair.

?Everywhere, people talk about freedom and democracy but when you look at the situation critically, you find that in most of these countries, people are not allowed freedom and opportunity to choose their own leaders through genuine elections.

The former President was speaking at a well-attended book launch on the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) at the State House in Accra yesterday.

The book titled, ?The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) as Africa?s innovative thinking on governance: A decade of Ghana?s experience,? was authored by Professor S.K.B Asante, a member of the APRM Governing Council under the distinguished patronage of former President Kufuor.

In the publication, special attention was given to a decade of Ghana?s APRM experience.

Ghana has been a shining example in the implementation of the APRM process and many see this effort as first academic study on the APRM and its impact on the governance landscape.

As the first President to submit himself for peer review, President Kufuor said that African governments should continue to strengthen institutions for democracy and good governance to grow.

Sulley Gariba

Sulley Gariba, Senior Policy Advicer launching the book 

?You can write in constitutions fine institution but that will be paperwork if we do not have good people to fill the institutions to implement the policies that are enshrined in the constitutions.

He said the APRM had enjoined the governments on the continent to promote good governance and also to voluntarily submit themselves to be peer reviewed so that they would deepen the democratic culture, saying ?I haven?t given up hope about the APRM because I know if my colleague Presidents pursue it we will make Africa a better continent for the people.

I have always believed that through good governance, we would be able to accelerate democracy and development.

Mr. Kufuor, who clocked 75 years on Sunday, said before the design of APRM, there was mere talk about Africa?s way forward as far as economic development and democracy was concerned but the process appeared to have brought some hope for the future.

He said, ?We have gained political independence but we still depend heavily on the developed world even though in terms of natural resources, we are second to none.

?Throughout history, Africa has tended to be on the sidelines because the developed countries have been moving at a rapid pace through science and technology and have also given themselves accountable governance.

?We have to allow the people to choose their own leaders. Everybody wants freedom to explore and that is what African leaders should continue to afford the people. There should be a platform to channel the freedoms constitutionally so that the governance systems would be owned by the people

Dr. Sulley Gariba, a Senior Policy Coordinator at the Presidency, who represented President John Dramani Mahama, commended the author, APRM Governing Council, as well as former President Kufuor for the visionary leadership that ensured that Ghana voluntarily submitted itself to be peer reviewed and promised President Mahama?s continuous support for the process.

?This book is the manifestation of the growing maturation for the very essence of our democracy,? Dr. Gariba quoted President Mahama as saying.

?The book is about a pioneering initiative that is made in Africa, led by Africans, funded by Africa under the highest leadership of the Presidents, Heads of State.

?We have come to an era when Africa needs to tell its own story but we cannot tell our story if we do not review our circumstances and this makes the APRM unique,? he said.

Prof. S.K.B. Asante, author of the book said the book assesses, in particular, the pioneering and innovative models which Ghana had commendably introduced and thus made the country a ?Mecca? of democracy and good governance.

Dr. Baffour Agyeman-Duah, a Member of the Board of Directors of Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), who reviewed the 270-page book, praised Prof. Asante for sustaining the debate on good governance and democracy on the continent.

Reverend Prof. S.K Adjepong, Chairperson of the National APRM Council, announced that 17 out of 33 countries with about 75 per cent of the population on the continent had undergone the peer review mechanism.

Nana Dr. S.K.B. Asante, Omanhene of Asokore Traditional Area, who chaired the function, underscored the need for Ghana to continuous play a leading role in the APRM process for the sustenance of democracy.

By William Yaw Owusu

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