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Feature Article of Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Columnist: Hadi, Alhassan

They Are Coming Again

It is election time and the political demagogues are here once again, this time with renewed promises and energy. Before I began to write this article I had two questions in mind .Firstly as a student of political science what is my role in this year’s elections and secondly what should we be looking out for in our would-be political leaders in this electioneering year.

Indeed, political leadership is very important in the development and the nation building of any state. It was not for nothing that when President Barack Obama of the United States visited Ghana in 2009 he tasked us to build strong institutions rather than strong men. Implied in this is the ability of the state to have-in the words of Gabriel Almond- regulative capabilities, distributive capabilities, responsive capabilities, extractive capabilities and extensive capabilities. In the light of this one can say that the trouble with Ghana is the failure of leadership. People may argue that Kwame Nkrumah is the best president Ghana has ever had but he had his own troubles uniting the people using the state power. T. Peter Omari in his “The Anatomy Of An African Dictatorship” said “kwame Nkrumah’s aspiration to unite Africa inspired many, but he overreached himself and in February 1966 was removed from power with remarkable ease.” Be as it may, we shall in the subsequent paragraphs enumerate the qualities that a leader should exhibit to merit a victory in an election.

Leadership should be understood in two distinct but related ways. Firstly, we should look at the personal qualities of competence, integrity, perseverance, commitment and honesty of individual leaders at the top. Secondly, common vision, common focus and above all the collective traits of the desire for development of the people and the willingness to serve the masses. The standard of leadership on our campuses and associations has left much to be desired. We should not elect leaders who are more interested in silencing their opponents, than in pursuing justice. We should not elect leaders who preach one thing and do the exact opposite. We should not elect leaders who do not understand the economic, social, human and political sensitivity of our country. We do not want leaders who place themselves above the constitution and the laws of the country. We do not need leaders who have no sense of tomorrow, other than that of their private bank accounts. We do not want leaders who will ‘gargantually’connive with appointees of the president to loot the state coffers. We do not want leaders who will make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions. We should put aside our ethnic, religious, cultural and tribal sentiments and rather cultivate a modern form of political behaviour where we identify more with the state than the aforementioned groups. Tribal and ethnic conflict will never help us. In reality the politician has a single and exclusive role and that is to get re-elected.

Thus far, we have been looking at the qualities that should characterise a good leader. Let us now turn our attention to the role we can play in making this year’s election a success. It is often said that when you blame the cat for stealing your meat you must equally blame your meat for smelling. It is about time we realised the fact that the destiny of a country cannot be left solely in the hands of politicians and that we as individuals can equally shape our destiny. Ghana is not the exclusive preserve of any political party and therefore we the citizenry cannot be taken for granted. Indeed, elections are very important in any democratic country. We have seen countries in Africa and the world at large who are still struggling to build their states and nations as a result of their inability to manage their elections. Ghana has often been praised as the beacon of African democracy but this is not to say that we are not without challenges and setbacks. If we could recall, there were scores of violence and tension across the country during the 2008 elections. I was an eye and ear victim to these tensions in the Bawku municipality which resulted in people fleeing the town. The on-going biometric registration should serve as the barometer to measure our readiness for election 2012.As citizens we must cooperate with the electoral personnel to make this a success. We should also realise that Ghana is the only country we have and we must therefore protect it jealously. We must avoid violence and intimidation in electoral centres. We should also respect our political opponents since we are all fighting for a common purpose- to win political power- but with different strategies and approaches. It is also high time we held our leaders accountable for their promises regardless of which political party they come from. It is about time we said no to the politics of insult and ethnocentrism. Ghana is far bigger than the NDC, NPP, CPP, PPP etc. Let us unite and make Ghana a proud nation .

Long live GHANA, long live our DEMOCRACY.

From; ALHASSAN HADI, 2nd year student of political science,KNUST.

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