Feature Article of Monday, 14 January 2013
Columnist: Ackon, Paa Kow
The outside influence of people, the destinies of countries and history itself are determined to a substantial extent by the politics of political leaders. When electing a political leader, most voters habitually exchange their conscience for the swag they collect from politicians during the electioneering campaign instead of considering the personal achievements of such leaders. This unfortunately, often brings to power bad leadership, which is rooted in corruption, incompetence, stringency, blinkeredness, pitilessness and intemperate behavior.
The media partly has to be blamed for failing to promote Ghana as a multi-party democratic country. False impression has been created as if Ghana is a two-party state. Moreover, the media has not grown famous in educating the people about the important role the smaller political parties like the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) play in encouraging participation, minimising a likelihood of political instability and enhancing proper governance of a modern state. It is heartwarming to distinguish the PPP as another vehicle for strengthening the electoral system and as an alternative to the NDC and NPP.
Arguably, within the milieu of power, idiosyncratic thinking like leadership, character and morale are elements that can move a nation forward. History has over and over again recorded how the two have in unaffordable circumstances brought about socio-economic transformations. Leadership is not just about making blazing speeches and sanctified promises. It is a serious and delicate business of managing the destiny of a country through vision, selfless devotion, mental resilience and team building.
The best performance indicator of a political leader should be about the majority of our mothers and sisters enjoying better maternal morbidity and mortality, high paying jobs for the youth, high literacy rates, better housing system, good road network, robust financial markets, clean water, smooth power, and a nation where people would be proud to live in and work. Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah demonstrated selflessness as a leader. He faced up to his own leadership by stating ‘‘we shall measure our progress by the improvement in the health of our people; by the number of children in school, and electricity in our towns and villages and by the happiness which our people take in being able to manage their own affairs. The welfare of our people is our chief pride, and it is by this that my Government will ask to be judged’’.
Over the years, we have failed to look out for the best qualities in people before placing them in leadership positions. For instance, when organizations are recruiting people, they identify the unique qualities of the individual and what they bring on board and not necessarily their corporeal looks or the ethnic group they belong. Even though we all know about this, we seem to be more interested in party considerations and ethnic affiliation as opposed to individual ability. Personality traits of most political leaders in Ghana are often analyzed and juxtaposed with the performance of their governments. It is high time we centered the election of such leaders on personal comparison other than party comparison. It is naked truth that, the Presidency is a seat occupied by one Person and not a Party. It is the President who appoints state officers like Ministers, DCEs/MCEs, Ambassadors, CEOs and Members of Board of Directors of State Institutions etc. It is the President who makes the decisions that affect the health, education, livelihood and prosperity of all Ghanaians.
The winner takes all governments we have had in the past have not helped us in anyway. In future elections, we need to vote for leaders who believe in inclusiveness by its true denotation because, if the best people form a government, we shall get a better result. It is in our own interest to accept competence as the criteria for electing political leaders and not party connection. Likewise, anyone who aspires to become President does not need to have an affiliated seat in Parliament. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana even makes it possible for an Independent Presidential candidate to become President. We all owe it a duty, to ad infinitum educate the over 12 million people who are suffering through no peccancy of theirs from a flawed perception created by the media and politicians that, the winner of the Presidential elections must also control parliament. This practice where Parliament is perceived as a rubber stamp is not of good repute. It needs to be stated in black and white that the executive arm of government is totally different, independent and separate from that of the legislature. Any attempt to fasten together the two should be resisted by all well meaning Ghanaians.
The expectation is that, our political leaders will not place themselves at the center, but will rather place others there and engage everybody in decision making. They will not seek the attention of people, but will give it to others. They will not focus on satisfying their own aims and wishes, but will look for ways to respond to the needs and interests of their constituents. Our leaders would resist the temptation of being self-centered; they will give consideration to the welfare of the citizenry. We expect our leaders to serve the interest of the people who have made it possible for them to lead. In serving the interest of voters, leaders should strengthen credibility and demonstrate that they are not there for themselves; but rather, they have the interests of the nation at heart. It is possible that being a servant may not be what many leaders had in mind when they decided to take responsibility for the vision and direction of the country, but serving others is the most celebrated and gratifying of all leadership responsibilities.
Incontestably, the relevance of power is to serve and help people, but, despite the promises our leaders make, they still brush off the people by not fulfilling those promises. At the recent inauguration of H.E. John Dramani Mahama as the sixth President under the Fourth Republic of Ghana, he assured us that he will keep all the promises he made and that he will not let us down. We are holding the President to his words especially where he promised to use the Youth Entrepreneurs Programme with a seed capital of Ghc 10,000,000 to eliminate youth unemployment in Ghana. The people of Cape Coast are waiting tolerantly for the President to construct the Cape Coast Stadium, and the Kotokuraba Market as he promised. He promised the people of the Northern Region that government, through a $174 million loan, will upgrade the Tamale Airport into an International Airport. Indubitably, he also promised to build 200 new SHS’s in the country. Ghanaians have taken note of all the promises the President made before assuming office. Whether he will be able to fulfill his promises or not, we live to see. But, if he is unfacile to deliver on all his copious promises, then “Deo Volente” Ghanaians would be obliged to vote for Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom as President in 2016.
Eyewitnesses are apprehensive if indeed this current President can shepherd Ghana out of the present disaster towards a strong, self reliant, economically prosperous and a proud nation. All successful leaders have been men and women of extreme focus. They spent years in the backwoods before their time came. They commanded charisma, demanded attention and earned respect. They were delightful, imbued with sincerity, integrity, selfless devotion and a doer attitude. It is the expectation of most Ghanaians that President John Dramani Mahama will be avant-garde, with proven personal character traits, ability to resist praise, down to earth, visionary and nurtured in the wild rather than the establishment.
Although John Mahama has been sworn in as President, his legitimacy is being challenged at the Supreme Court by three individuals of the NPP. It is normal for some people to oppose the decision of these individuals, but it is important we congratulate them for choosing the rule of law over the rule of human beings and violence. The PPP equally needs to be applauded for identifying flaws in the recent election and pressing on the electoral commission to enforce the political parties act and disqualify parties that do not meet the minimum criteria within the next six months. The fear of most Ghanaians is whether either of the two parties will be bonhomous to accept the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling. If they decide not to accept the Supreme Court ruling, what would become of Ghana? Clearly, we live in dangerous times.
The President as a matter of urgency, should do all he can to be a unifier and President for all. He should possess the twin attributes of knowledge and wisdom, proud that he has learnt so much, humble that he knows no more. President Mahama should also assemble a team with a blend of experience, youth and vigour. He must bear in mind that he is the indomitable head honcho with traits to drive the country out of the troubled waters.
Most people would like to know whether His Excellency John Dramani Mahama is the “Messiah” we have been waiting for or he is just one of the “John the Baptists” we have had over the years, for answers to these questions, time is the revealer of all truth.
By: Paa Kow Ackon