Feature Article of Wednesday, 4 April 2012
Columnist: Akuaku, Bennett
One mark of true leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes a disaster. And it is in this light that politicians, the likes of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, J.B. Danquah, etc. will forever remain big names, not because they led Ghana to attain her independence, but because they foresaw today’s problems half a century ago and started advocating for solutions for them. Unfortunately the case is not the same with others, particularly when it comes to decision-making.
For instance on-going developments in the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) go to suggest that whoever advised Mr. Alex Narh Tettey-Enyo, Former Minister for Education to go into politics had, in the first place, done a great deal of disservice to the guy. And secondly, whoever impressed it upon President John Evans Atta Mills to pick him as a minister must have nailed his coffin.
This is because the failure of those political advisers to foresee that the game, as it is played in Ghana, is not his trade-in-stock, and would ultimately not be in the interest of a gentleman like Tettey-Enyo is quite amazing.
It is not clear if his character had to do with his very humble/rural background, religious upbringing, or the regimental educational drills of his days. But whichever way one looks at it, Alex, the 4th son of the late Emmanuel J.A. Tettey-Enyo, a devout Methodist elder resident of Somanya, should have remained in his turf (the civil service) than dabble in party politics.
The guy was brought up to be a strict constructionist, a liberal of a sort with deep conservative ideas and views, and having reached the peak of his career as Director of Education at the Ghana Education Service, was cruising ahead of a smooth retirement, only to be entangled with the lies and controversies that bedevil party politics in Ghana.
And once a politician the devout Christian and moralist no longer had the luxury of not taking sides in matters, no matter how rational or otherwise the issues look, hence his fall.
Standing before the vetting committee in parliament as nominee in early 2009, he had to struggle through with his Curriculum Vitae (CV), which after considerable permutations at the time strongly suggested that he must either have started Primary School when he was one-year old, or he obtained his first University degree when he was just fourteen years old.
A few days later, he went ahead to embarrass the president by openly telling the media that he actually lobbied the Office of the President to be nominated as a minister.
Then, soon after he managed to scale through with that second embarrassment, he again stirred the hornet’s nest with a strong vow in parliament (most probably in conformity with the NDC’s manifesto) that his first two objectives as minister were to revert to three years, the then four-year Juniour High School programme, and also abolish extra classes in all public schools.
True to his word, he spent a whole year bulldozing his way to make those political promises see the light of day, and in the process he ‘inadvertently’ pushed to the rear the dire needs and aspirations of his constituents who elected him into parliament. In the end, he only succeeded in satisfying his political masters, but not without a cost.
Sadly, after just about eighteen months in office, Tettey-Enyo was reduced from the brilliant, hard-working civil servant everyone knew him to be, to a disgraced politician, not only by his party and president, but by his own constituents as well, who all deserted him.
He was among the first batch of ministers to be fired, and even though no reasons were assigned for his dismissal (the president is not obliged to) observers say it had to do with the incessant strike actions that had bedeviled the ministry at the time. Thank God no scandal or corrupt deals were alluded to the president’s decision.
And hard as media practitioners tried to unravel the facts behind the firing of a gentleman of his stature from cabinet, the rather sketchy responses that popped up were often shampooed from the castle and given a cosmetic appearance. At the same time, opposition concerns and calls for explanation were massaged by his colleagues on the Majority side, ostensibly in their zeal to reduce any negative political fallout from Mills’ first cabinet reshuffle.
Even though the sea of demonstrations and strike actions at the ministry were not his making, in politics there is always someone to blame, and subsequently the 70-year old MP (born June 6th 1940) had to be sacrificed for it.
Leaving the country’s education sector worse than how he met it, Alex also ended up pleasing virtually no one because of his wavering stance on delicate issues that confronted him in as minister---(ie. his troubling sympathy for capital punishment in schools, skepticism about the benefits of 4-year SSS programme, indifference at the opposition’s call for free education up to the SSS level, tough stance against extra-classes for students, strong passion for revival of mission schools, and slackness in confronting striking teachers, probably because he was once a teacher himself).
While to some NDC members his removal was a relief, others saw it as a glorious occasion to grab what was left of him----his parliamentary seat.
And as if to add insult to injury, just as the embattled MP was licking his wounds, the Ada Constituency of the NDC, in an open show of betrayal, told him to the face that they were done with him. At the party’s parliamentary primaries recently, the former minister was defeated by a less-known woman, one Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe Ghansah.
Comments passed by true-blue NDC members from his constituency on facebook clearly testify to the fact that they must have indeed lost interest in him.
“How can we have an MP who has so distanced himself from the party that he does not even recognize constituency executives? Could you believe that whenever we call him on his cell phone to discuss party matters, it takes him several minutes to identify us?”
Another officer accused him of doing nothing to improve education in his constituency, an accusation that may not be fair to him considering the short time he was ‘allowed’ to remain as minister.
But another vocal minority in the party say the ‘Ada betrayal’ of Tettey-Enyo is strange if one weighs his so-called baggage against the heavier ones of Muntaka Mubarak, Mahama Ayariga, Baba Jamal, Samuel Okujeto, all of whom have won parliamentary primaries in their constituencies.
As things stand now, the political dream of the former minister seems to be nearing a precipice, but will that be the end of the road for the septuagenarian? That is left for time to tell.
He stands as a lone ranger, left with the two talents that four years in politics could not take away from him----sheer academic brilliance and cool headedness. Whether these are enough weapons for another political takeoff in future is another matter.
One good thing, however, about going to parliament is that, members enter the House as strangers, but leave as friends. His future now depends on how many of such ‘friends’ he made during his one-term as MP.
By Bennett Akuaku (Negative Realities)