Ambassador Fritz Poku Retires
E. Ablorh-Odjidja

On August 15, 2006, H. E. Fritz Poku left Washington, DC for retirement after 35 years as a career diplomat and a Foreign Service Officer for Ghana.

In a letter written earlier to the Ghanaian communities, through their associations in North America, Ambassador Poku informed all, with regret, of his impending retirement. It was the end of his tour as Ambassador, he said, and he thanked them for the goodwill and the support given to him, his office and staff during his stay here.

The most rewarding part of his tour as Ambassador, His Excellency Fritz Poku wrote, “has been the privilege of working with beautiful people like you.”

Thus ended a two year diplomatic service in the US for H. E. Poku, but as some in the community described it, it was one which was packed back to front with stellar achievements; the invitation by the US Congressional Caucus to address both House and Senate of the State of Illinois, a first by an African diplomat, and the awarding of the MCA grant to Ghana by the US government during his tenure were some of the instances cited.

H. E. Poku clears his desk

At my request, as the publisher of ThisWeekGhana, Ambassador Poku and I sat through an hour of conversation at his office at the Embassy in Washington, DC. There was much to talk about. And with probing questions, the information came out in chunks, with no betrayal of hubris or emotional awareness of the importance of his contributions in the overall service to his country on his part.

At a young age of 61, Ambassador Poku was proceeding on retirement. My observation was that the archaic civil service rules of Ghana had done it again. To require that seasoned officers retire at the ripe age of 60, when, perhaps, they could be most productive, I said, was wrong.

His reaction to my observation was different. He said that his total experience as a Foreign Officer with “accreditation to diverse countries has been a fulfilling and enriching one.” And that there was much in his 35 years experience in the diplomatic world that he was thankful for.

H. E. Poku plays host to Harambee

Ambassador Poku graduated from the University of Ghana, Legon, in 1970, with BA (Hons) in French. Within years after graduation and while working as a Foreign Officer, he would gain a string of post graduate diplomas to culminate with a Barrister at Law degree in 1982 and a call to the bar in 1983.

His role as a Foreign Officer in the service of his country, he said, started on a particular key theme in the Ivory Coast when he realized that the best way to serve his government would be to help it formulate country specific policies that would apply to the countries it had missions in. That theme became his approach to discharging the service required of him as a diplomat in all the countries he was to serve.

Fast forward to March 2002 when the MCA Fund was proposed by President Bush in Monterrey. President Bush had called for a "new compact for global development…" This was an attempt to link “greater contributions from developed nations to greater responsibility from developing nations” in order to help Third World countries combat poverty. In January 2004, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) was founded by Congress to help administer the funds voted for the MCA project. Ambassador Poku

H. E. Fritz Poku

was to arrive in the US in July 2004 with his “country specific” attitude to help channel Ghana’s effort to win the MCA Compact. Barely a month before Ambassador Poku left for retirement, the Compact was signed with Ghana receiving about a quarter of the total fund allotted and the remainder going to 8 other nations.

Whether through competence or providence, Ambassador Poku thrived in the Foreign Service, always being at the center of critical junctures of some paramount policy developments.

For instance, he was serving as Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent representative of Ghana to the OAU & ECA when the transition to African Union was proposed. He served on some of the Ministerial Sessions and Summits that brought the AU to fruition.

He was a member of the delegation for the historic 5th Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade
H. E. Poku at the US Chamber of
Commerce for the MCA Compact
Award Luncheon

Organization held in Cancun, Mexico, 2003. The repercussions to that meeting are being felt today and would most likely be felt for a long time to come because of its link with agricultural subsidies in the developed world; a subject which has become a bone of contention between the First and the Third World.

Ambassador Poku happened to be serving as the Director of International Organizations and Conferences (1996-97) at the foreign Affairs headquarters in Accra at the time when His Excellency Kofi Annan was being considered for the Secretary General’s officeat the UN. Needless to say, he spearheaded the Ghana government’s interest to have this most illustrious son elected to the post.

Back in Washington, DC, in his capacity as the CEO of Embassy business from 2004 onward, H. E. Fritz Poku insisted on a “customer service” approach for his staff. Service was the goal. Everyone, big or small, he said, had a part to play to help burnish the Embassy’s image as a place for the efficient delivery of consular services.
H. E. Poku (middle) on the podium
with President Kufuor (top right corner)
and others at the Willard Hotel,
Wash. DC for the MCA Compact
reception for Diasporans

“The piccolo player” the Ambassador would say, alluding to a huge orchestra, had equally an important part to play in the rendition of the music.

Ambassador Poku and his wife, Mrs Nana Poku have four children. The family left the US for Ghana on August 15, 2006.

E. Ablorh-Odjidja, Washington, DC August 19, 2006

H. E. Poku and family departing
from Dulles Airport, Washington, DC

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