John Agyekum Kuffuor, the former president of Ghana, travelled to Malaysia at Dr. Mahathir Mohamed’s invitation and had an experience there that forever altered his perspective on the office of the presidency.
In an interview with the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) on reviewing the 1992 constitution, Kufuor explained how that came about by saying that upon entering the nation, he was confronted with two realities.
He claimed that after finding out that Malaysia received its oil palm seedlings from Ghana, he arrived there and made the even more startling discovery of how effectively the nation had used the “gift” it received from his own nation.
When I was president, it may have been in 2005 or 2006, and Dr. Mahathir Mohamed invited me to Malaysia. It was a huge eye opener for me. I knew that Malaysia had imported oil palm seedlings from Ghana. When the plane touched down in Kuala Lumpur, you could see miles and miles of palm trees and incredibly advanced agriculture.
“And when I arrived, they led me to a facility where they had refined palm oil into some oil that will even be used as engine oil, probably only to show me something. Then, every last piece of palm was used as fertiliser for the palm trees.
“So, I replied that even though we do not know how to do this, these folks acquired this from us. Check out what they are doing with it. Then, at some time, he invited me to visit his offices in New Kuala Lumpur; the building is reminiscent of a mosque, and he showed me to the rooftop where Dr. Mohammed, who is probably not much taller than 5 feet… and then I noticed the city’s layout from there, including the lovely streets and the development,” he remarked.
The extent of creativity and progress that the Malaysians had used the oil palm seedlings for in their nation astounded President John Agyekum Kufuor, who added that he had questioned Dr. Mohamed about how they had done it.
In response, he claimed that the Malaysian Prime Minister asked him a question that so startled him that he had to reconsider Ghana’s presidential term structure under the country’s constitution.
Oh, Mr. Prime Minister, since when have you been doing this? I exclaimed as I gasped. So the man gave me a thorough inspection. What is your term of office, he inquired of me?
“I stated four years. So, what can you accomplish in four years, he responded? He had already worked for more than ten years at that point, so I’m not advocating we take that route, but he made it clear that four years isn’t really enough time to produce much.