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Feature Article of Thursday, 23 February 2012

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

Atta-Mills or Akuffo Addo? It Will Get Worse Before It Gets Better

A menagerie of troubling corrupt practices continues to volcanically erupt all over the Ghanaian landscape on a daily basis. Though I am not a soothsayer, I can’t help but to note that it will get worse before it gets better. It will get worse because Atta Mills is inept, and whether he is reelected or not, we are dead in the water. The latter is true because I just don’t believe that Akufo-Addo will be an improvement on either Mills or Kufour. Indeed, I will bet my last shiny dime that Akuffo-Addo represents the second coming of Kufour. Surprise me Nana!! To fathom that we have at the least, a minimum of 5 precious years or more to waste on either Atta Mills or Akuffo Addo makes me shudder. I wish our civil revolution will come sooner! I don’t believe we can make the needed radical changes through the four year voting cycle. The latter system is compromised and the only way to move forward is a civil revolution within the constitutional framework.

There is nothing that Akufo Addo has done in the past that shows promise of a great leader. Indeed, his record at the Attorney General department and his stint as the foreign affairs minister in the corrupt Kufour regime, shows clearly, that, he is not the leader Ghana needs today. In each of these roles, Akufo Addo did nothing to convince any discerning Ghanaian that he is a man of vision. In addition, he did not lead by example or show any moral compunction that compels students of leadership to take note. Never once did Akufo Addo find it necessary to speak for country Ghana, given the corruption that we all knew was going on. So a vote for Akufo Addo is in effect acknowledging that we will get more of the Kufour style corruption that he was a part of. Akuffo Addo does not show conviction for what he allegedly believes in. We don’t even know what he believes in. We know he is fond of chieftaincy and enjoys litigating his sexual prowess in the public arena. Is this our impending president to be? Add the charge or allegation of hard drug use, unfairly or fairly, and the picture gets bleaker. What is the threshold of great leadership in Ghana? What are the core tenets of what makes great leaders in Ghana? Does Nana Addo measure up? Have we really seen a great leader in Ghana?

Our struggle to define what great leadership represents in Ghana is made even more difficult by bad leaders like Rawlings and Kufour in recent past. They’ve set the bar so low that everyone thinks he or she can lead Ghana. I believe it is time we draw the line and define clearly, the core attributes of who a great political leader should be in Ghana. In my estimation, a political leader should be one who follows the constitution, operates transparently, understands the urgency for change, abhors corruption gravely, is of great moral character, rises above tribalism and chieftaincy, articulates a clear vision of where Ghana should be headed and is willing to die for Ghana by giving his or her best, instead of stealing from the people.

A great political leader should be one who can build a shared vision, mobilize all Ghanaians to a cause greater than him or her. Lastly, my vision of a great political leader is not one of a conquering messiah but rather a servant leader. I admit that these values and ideals that I espouse are subject to different interpretation. However, a great leader will find ways to engage the country in defining what these ideals and values mean within our context and how we can make them a permanent part of the leadership culture in Ghana. Leadership in my estimation, is the catalyst that will lift Ghana up. It is the glue that holds it all together. Until we get it right, nothing else will change or move in the right direction. I also admit that we may not be able to find this constellation of attributes in any one person. However this and other attributes ought to serve as a great start.

In Ghana, a teacher can work for years without pay but a con man like Woyome can get paid without any justification. In Ghana, pregnant mothers either cue to give birth or die needlessly during labor. In Ghana we can find tidy sums of money to pay Woyome’s false claims but Legon, our premier university, attracts 200 or more students per class. In Ghana we pay end of service benefits to officials who have looted from the coffers at the same time as we tell doctors and nurses to go to hell. Every organization, bar none, is trapped in the jaws of bald face corruption. These so called leaders, religious, traditional, and political, all benefit from this filth and that is why they have no interest in changing it. We all know these things are wrong yet we sit quietly and continue to pay people who are supposed to be correcting these issues. Are we not reinforcing bad leadership by shoring up these behaviors? What is our role in creating the filth that continue to choke our progress and when will we rise above the fray by calling out bad or ineffective leaders?

The gist of this write up is to once again point out that leadership is sorely lacking in Ghana. In the short run, it will get remarkably worse before it gets better. It will get better only when the people get fed up enough to throw out the bums and turn the system upside down. This is why a civil revolution is way overdue in Ghana. Where will the leaders come from once the system is turned inside out? We won’t find a boatload of leaders ready made for our lofty dreams. What we can do is to create viable systems, checks and balances and high standards backed by enforceable consequences for any leader who violates the agreed to norms, policies, procedures and laws. In addition, we can open the doors for merit based leadership instead of money based leadership. Will it be perfect? Surely not! Will it be better than what we have? Absolutely yes!

Just imagine the youth of Ghana rising up against this corrupt system. Imagine our youth taking matters into their hands so our sisters, aunts and mothers can have dignified births. Imagine our youth making sure that our political system works and our constitution is rewritten so that we can hold these criminals responsible. Imagine a Ghana where schools work, corruption is on the decline and infrastructure is in place. Imagine a Ghana where these pot-bellied men no longer have bloated end of service awards and every leader pays fairly for his or her imports. Imagine a Ghana where our leaders are not globe-trotting hat in hand begging for leftovers. Imagine a Ghana where local industry is thriving and our economy is on the mend. Imagine a Ghana where we manage our natural resources to benefit the whole country and the environment. Imagine a Ghana where tribe is relegated and nationality is hoisted. Folks, we can do all the above! Yes we can! However, the catalyst to getting it done is great leadership. Leadership is the missing ingredient and until we get leadership right, nothing else will change.

Until we come together, we can’t get it right! It will take collective effort from all of us to get this country headed in the right direction. So as the saying goes, “stop bitching and start a civil revolution.” Every little effort helps! Add your voice! Pinch somebody! Wake somebody up! Hug somebody! Just do something that helps to overthrow this leech-filled vile system in Ghana. We’ve suffered enough!!!

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman ( Also known as the Double Edge Sword)

I don’t give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think it is hell—Harry Truman

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Atta-Mills or Akuffo Addo? It Will Get Worse Before It Gets Better

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