Former President John Kufour has urged Ghanaians to cherish the country’s democracy and not rely on only economic indicators as a measure of development.
As Ghana celebrates 25 years under the fourth republic, Mr. Kufuor downplayed comparisons with more successful countries like Rwanda, which have autocratic regimes.
He said the rule of law must not be compromised as Ghana strives for development, regardless of the slow pace.
“We believe we can have democracy with development. That is what I believe is evolving in Ghana and we should sustain it and respect it,” the former President said to the media at a ceremony to outdoor him as the patron of the Ghana Jobs Bank Initiative.
He stressed that democracy must ultimately reflect positively in the lives of the masses.
“People talk of the democratic Dividend. I believe the dividend should translate into wellbeing, employment, good earnings not just for the state but for all citizens. Everybody should feel the count as citizens of this land.”
However, people who suggest that a dictatorship or autocratic regime would be best for Ghana’s development take their freedoms for granted, Mr. Kufuor suggested in response to a question on the matter.
“Anybody who will talk like that is exposing himself or herself as not really befitting of the title of a citizen. Democracy working on the basis of rule of law should function with citizen’s rights acknowledged and fundamental human rights respected… Yes, there may be a little too much noise but the laws are there to ensure that when you talk out of turn, you may be disciplined under the law,” he said
Freedoms can’t be sacrificed for progress
Regardless of the development in autocratic states, Mr. Kufuor said basic rights and freedoms of citizens could not be sacrificed for quick development.
“Will you sacrifice your right of expression to just be fed like a captive animal? Do you want to be put in a golden cage? As we sit here, as human beings, just because you are in a golden cage and every morning you are fed with something and you are denied the right to express yourself; what you think and what you want to say, is that what you want? So the comparison shouldn’t happen,” he stated.
“We have suffered our bit of ups and downs. We are coming out from the woods and we should sustain this move and put ourselves on a trajectory that will give us both the economic benefits as well as the benefit of human rights. Everything should be defined on the basis of human rights.”
Source: Delali Adogla-Bessa