I haven't had a direct encounter with the man, but he invited my political God-father in the lead up to the 2007 presidential primaries.
Upon his return, he confessed he would have worked for him, but for his loyalty to another stalwart of the party. He said, "Alan is simply magical". He said Alan harboured no ill-feeling, when my God-father mentioned he was already in another camp and wished him well.
Beyond these, I have personally formed an opinion of what Ghanaians want in their leader, and he seems to tick most of the marks.
Ghanaians want a president in someone they can share a coke with. And yes, Alan fits that bill. They look out for person with a distinguished physical appearance, which he's endowed with to a higher degree. The youth want someone who can inspire confidence in them.
That also he clenches with little difficulty. They desire a conciliator and I am yet to meet anyone who knows of Alan throwing tantrums. Above all, he has shown commitment to diversifying the economy, through various initiatives in the past, a resolve to promote socio-economic development of this country, through partnerships.
When I googled his profile, I discovered how he initiated, directed and managed the preparations for the hosting of the 12th UNCTAD Conference in Ghana, and introduced for the first time in the history of UNCTAD conferences, the World Investment Forum which has now become a major calendar event for UNCTAD. Alan also co-ordinated and supervised the hosting by Ghana of the Sixth United States-Africa Summit in 2006, and played a key role in negotiating changes in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Alan’s profile showed he was chairman of the ECOWAS Council of Trade Ministers at the critical stages of launching the EU-ECOWAS EPA negotiations. I recall a live show I hosted during the UNCTAD conference, without knowing which roles he played, except to think of him as a minister, who was doing his official job. Learning about his contribution to such an important international event, earns him some extra credit on my score board.
Then again, I find out that before gaining political prominence, the former Ambassador to the US, was appointed by the UNDP as the first Regional Director of ENTERPRISE AFRICA, which was an Africa-wide, flagship initiative for the development and promotion of small and medium enterprises. He established enterprise support institutions and programmes in 13 Sub-Saharan Africa countries – Botswana, Benin, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. Enterprise Africa, under Alan’s leadership, assisted Out of that initiative, over 4,000 African entrepreneurs and small business.
Earlier, he had been responsible for establishing and managing the EMPRETEC programme in Ghana, a leading business development programme sponsored by the United Nations and Barclays Bank Limited. According to public data, transformed EMPRETEC from a UN project into an independent foundation, and developed it into a world-class institution that is recognized as a successful model enterprise development in Africa.
He's also reported to be one of the leading members of the technical team providing strategic guidance and support to the African Union Commission in developing and elaborating an Action Plan for boosting intra-African trade and preparing a framework for the establishment of a continental free trade area. As part of this effort, Alan was nominated a Special Envoy of the African Union to hold consultations with selected African Heads of State prior to the 18th African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government in January 2012.
Most importantly, Alan is well educated and well exposed. Not only is he a Fulbright scholar in Management, he also holds a degree in Economics and a Barrister-at-Law.
He is a blend that both young and old can identify with and he can provide ‘the inspired leadership that leads to that great society in one generation’, a society that ensures prosperity through legacies that transcend current generations.
For me, Alan can be equated to a 'great product', in the midst of many, which many haven't picked from the shelves because the importers and distributors expect buyers to just go out there and pick it from the shelves.
Those days are gone. Patrick Awuah's sterling presentation at TED (a platform for sharing innovative ideas) years ago emphasises that our continent can only be transformed by enlightened leaders. In the presentation under the theme; ‘the question of transformation in Africa is a question of leadership’, the former Microsoft analyst (Elaborate on this aspect in one sentence).
Alan's handlers cannot expect us to 'mystery shop' for their great but not well marketed product. They need to market him in a most profound manner through various channels of mass communication for the people to experience him.
One thing Ghanaians do really well is assessing people who intend to lead them. They want to encounter them, know what they eat, what excites them and get a sense of their smell.
On the ladder of advertising, Alan, a product that has been around since 1992, is only at the level of Interest, making it past only the 'Awareness' stage of the (Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action stages also known as the AIDA model. That simply isn't good enough. There is the need to push him to the “Desire” and “Action” stages of this process. That is when people, even loyal to other candidates in the party, may begin to appreciate him and set aside all prejudices against a candidate, set to secure victory for the party. The truth of the matter is at the mention of Alan, dry bones rub against each other. That's no mean achievement for a 'product' that has not been marketed with a coca cola marketing style. But to be fair to the handlers, if the craving for Alan in the political outer space of Ghana is a reflection of his second stage of advertising, it makes does not sense not to present him to the electorates at the next general elections.
Despite his limited market, the only criticism against Alan has been that he resigned or threatened to leave the NPP upon his concession in the 2007 seventeen-man race. The question that any politically active person must ask is, how would the party grant him the opportunity to contest the flag bearer’s slot, if he really resigned as his opponents alleged? Shouldn't we question the party leadership for not putting that issue to rest by telling the world the real story? Or because it furthers certain interests, the accusation must linger?
All criticisms against Alan are within the party. They are merely intra-party 'pull him downs'. "He wasn't on a particular campaign trail" or "he failed to support a candidate elected to lead the party in general elections". Even these come with no evidence. No one has as yet offered anything concrete enough to dump his presidential ambition. When it comes to leading Ghana, people outside the party have demonstrated enough enthusiasm about his candidature. People suspected to have voted for the opposition at various elections have openly craved for him. Why won't his own party give him the chance to lead this country?
In the 2007 NPP presidential primaries, Alan, without a shred of doubt, conceded to the forerunner in the race, displaying real loyalty and sportsmanship. He did that for his party Ghana. That was the height of consensus building, commitment to a cause and above all a belief in his party and nation. Consider how Nana Addo won the first round of the 2008 election and lost the second round to Professor Mills. Who knows? Maybe, if Alan had contested that second round, Nana wouldn't have been the candidate in the general elections for that year.
The President's Special Initiatives (PSIs) should excite every entrepreneurial mind. Through Alan’s ingenuity, private businesses were supported through a government intervention to start various major projects in specific sectors of the economy.
Today, the PSIs have not only transformed lives, but placed the nation's name on the global map of entrepreneurship. For years, the impression has been created that the companies were state-owned, a palpable falsehood. A critical assessment will reveal that government supported businesses through a deliberate policy of technical assistance among others.
In 17-man race of 2007, Alan was the man to beat. I recall how in his victory speech, the declared winner, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, congratulated the handsome gentleman, for putting up a good fight, for giving him a good run for his money and promised to hand him the baton, when he was done with his turn. I thought that time was here, until Nana decided to run again.