Feature Article of Thursday, 13 September 2012
Columnist: Sakyi, Kwesi Atta
..... and everywhere – part 2
By Kwesi Atta Sakyi
6th September 2012
Pamphleteer, Pawn, Planter, Prioritization, Prosperity, Posterity, Passivity, Populist, Purity, Partnership, Parley, Patronage, Parenting
Next time you buy a product, think of the 4Ps and 7Ps and look for how it is positioned strategically on the market. The product should be of high quality and fit for purpose. It should have a price that gives the purchaser value for money. Its physical appearance should be attractive, and its packaging should serve the purpose of protecting it against the elements or extending its shelf life. The packaging should be informative, portable, durable and physically appealing. So also should our next President in Ghana package the product Ghana and position it strategically on the global market. Whatever place the President visits outside the country, he should lose no opportunity in promoting and selling the product brand, Ghana. He should promote and sell Ghana as a peaceful, promising and physically vibrant place with warm and welcoming people. We expect our next President to be a philosopher to muse over some of our nettlesome problems and to use his plemipotentiary powers to help secure palliative solutions, be they prophy lactic or placebo. He should be like a medical doctor who should be able to diagnose our ailment and prescribe prophylaxis. Our next President should show prudence in dealing with a Pandora’s box of national headaches such as the draining of the everlasting sore of Accra, the Korle Lagoon which has stunk or stonk ages and which defaces Accra. Other issues awaiting resolution are youth unemployment, unresolved Ya Na murder case, poor sanitation in our cities, declining quality of our educational system, among others. If will be instructive for our next President to set our national priorities right so as to ensure, efficient, economical and effective use of our natural resources such as minerals, timber, oil and farm produce. Our next president should be perceptive in planning ahead. He should have prevoyance or foresight in choosing a team of ministers and advisors who are patriotic and have track records of enviable performance.
In the power calculus, our next leader should not be seen as a power-drunk predator who bulldozes his way through parliament to assent to questionable bills. Our next leader should endeavour to leave an indelible legacy for posterity. This means he should eschew blind political party partisanship. Neither should he allow himself to be used as a pawn by power brokers in his party. Once elected to power, he must be his own man and not a puppet in the pulpit, preaching what his mentors and patrons whisper to him to say behind the pulpit. I think our next presidents mantra should be, ‘power, peace, passion, progress, people, prosperity.’ With the power invested in him he should use it to pursue peace and abate poverty levels. He should be imbued with passion to work for the public interest and to promote the welfare of the people who gave him the mandate to govern. the next President should be a planter of seminal ideas, which he can achieve through writing or pamphleteering. He should prove himself a statesman by working assiduously to promote peoples rights, and improve the lot of retirees or pensioners, elder citizens, among others.
What a tall order for our next president! He should work in cooperation with other regional and world leaders in ensuring peace on our continent. He should be a champion of peoples rights, especially the vulnerable in our society such as deprived children, the disabled, women and the mentally challenged. We expect the next president to exude positive vibrations in his speeches, always seizing every wee bit opportunity to mend fences and build bridges across the gaping political chasm. As our image and portrait maker, we expect him to be an iconoclast who will be able to use the powers invested in him to change the face of Ghana for it to become a showpiece and a preferred foreign direct investment destination. I will like to imagine that our next president will behave like a foreman of works or a superintendent or overseer, inspecting on going projects in the country and putting his lieutenants on their toes. He must adopt a management by walking around (MBWA) approach. Many a time, civil works in parts of the country stall, either due to shortage of funds or lack of seriousness on the part of project contractors, who may be in kahoots/cahoots with the regional inspectors or presiding officers. We will like our next president to initiate a renaissance in Ghana, a king of reawakening, revival and resurgence of learning, because it is said that a nation perishes if it does not seek knowledge. This is in line with NEPAD. Our next president should be a role model academic, who will write books to share his vision, ideas and experiences. This will invigorate a national passion for reading and learning. The late Ethiopian leader Medes Zenawi, undertook an MBA degree in the UK, hence the stupendous strides made by that country in their airlines, agriculture and other industries. I will like to think of our next president as a pilot of a commercial place or a driver of a passenger bus or a captain and helmsman of a ship. All these pilots, drivers and captains need to know the principles of their vehicles and they should display competence in navigation,, people management and trouble shooting, knowledge, skill and courage. All the conveyers of passengers must observe safety regulations and international protocols. Thus, our next president should first and foremost continue our tradition of Pan-Africanism. This is because we live in Africa and Africa should be foremost in our foreign policy. We must therefore honour all protocols relating to the All, ECOWAS and other African regional groupings. Our former presidents such as Nkrumah Kufuor, Rawlings and John Evans Atta Mills played their parts in dousing flashpoints on our continent, notably in Congo, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, sierra Leone and Sudan. One area where our presidents have been failing is public finance. This is the area which deals with the national purse and issues of public revenue and expenditure, issues of equity, taxation, public debt, externalities, public and merit goods, interventions, protectionism, among others. We are now facing the ugly spectacle of settling judgment debts. Our next president should ensure that the screw are tightened in the area of public procurements award of contracts and the disbursement of public funds. Our next president should not be a passive passenger in the unfolding drama of judgment debts. We want our president to be a proactive player and action-oriented. We expect him to have a wide horizon and a large heart instead of being parochial and particularistic when it comes to managing power and local politics. He should use the public media to his advantage to rally the people to his side. This reminds me of Nkrummah’s dawn broadcasts Roosevelts’ radio speeches during the Great Depression of the early 1930s and Churchill’s fiery but galvanizing speeches during the Second World War. Our next president should be persistent in following through his plans and he should be an optimist rather than a pessimist. He should be a positivist and he should instill confidence and national pride in the people. This means he must embrace pluralism so that he is seen as a father or patriarch of the nation. Nana Atto Dankwa Akuffo Addo and John Dramani Mahama who of these is going to be our next president? It looks like we are going to have our last and fourth John after John Kufour, John Rawlings and late John Atta Mills. If not, we will see the resurgence of the Danquah-Busia tradition revived in Nana Akuffo Addo. Whoever wins the December 2012 elections will be welcome to Ghanaians. We will expect him to husband the national kitty in a professional manner so that we increase productivity and profitability of our national ventures. He must remember that he should play by the rules and observe some of the good tenets of corporate governance, as well as apply the principle of the principle-agent relationship, where we the principal (voters/public) hold our presidents accountable for their performance, because they wield power in trust for us. The agent or appointee cannot be more powerful than his principal or patron. We expect the next president to avoid all forms of patronage, which smacks of corruption, nepotism, and insularity. He must not populate the presidency with political popinjays and family members or tribesmen. Appointments to high national offices should be based on meritocracy and professional credentials. Of course, our parliamentary vetting committee is vigilant and up to the task.
When I started writing this article, I had wanted to title it, ‘Letter to the next Ghanaian President,’ then I thought that was too banal. Then again, I wanted to title it, ‘Musings on the Ghanaian Presidency observations of a bystander, ‘I thought that was pedantic and a bit stilted. I hold also thought of using sub-headers of Ps, but then that was going to be too academic, boring and it would have extended this essay into not less than 50 pages, word processed. Readers would have been peeved, miffed and pissed off, knowing me as a rambling writer.
Last but not least, our next president should pursue the 8 MDG goals set by UN in 2000 for the year 2015. I wish him success in advance. May the best win.