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Opinions of Friday, 27 April 2012

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

A Somber Message to my NPP Friends: Ken Agyapong must Go!!

As many of you may have noticed, the issue of leadership is near and dear to my heart. The topic of Leadership must remain front and center ad infinitum. I believe with every fiber of my soul that effective and responsible leadership is the catalyst that will propel Ghana forward. If we get leadership right, our progress and development will not be as distant as it seems at the moment. I think for far too long, we’ve allowed our so called leaders too much gateway to misbehave, stay lazy, remain arrogant, be unresponsive, be irresponsible, not accountable, steal from us, live high on the hog and remain downright incompetent. Without effective leadership, we are doomed to continue wondering in the wilderness. So and to all my friends, let us make it a sacred responsibility to challenge our leaders to perform, and behave responsibly. Ghana will be on its way, the day that we challenge our tribesmen, friends, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins in leadership, to perform with dignity, courage and character. Until then, it will be more of doing the same and expecting different. Is the latter not madness?

Mr. Ken Agyapong is a Member of Parliament for Assin North. A Member of Parliament is definitely a leadership position in Ghana. An MP is someone who should be able to work with others, influence others, promote teamwork, deal with conflict constructively and value diversity. So, I want my NPP friends to tell me how Mr. Agyapong is going to promote teamwork and leverage diversity and inclusiveness if he is full of tribal hate? How is Mr. Agyapong going to be able to reach across the aisle and work with people from other parties and tribes? If you were a Ga or Ewe parliamentarian, could you trust Ken or can he trust you? Is Ken the kind of man who could look in the eyes of his party/tribe members, and go to bat for other tribes? Is he the kind of man who could say, “no don’t do that”, because, it is not fair to the Ewes, Ga and other tribes?

If Ken can harbor such hate for Ga and Ewe folks, is he not capable of harboring like hate for the Mamprusi and Nzima folks? Why should we not worry about Ken’s leadership ability, let alone effectiveness? Yet, despite all the evidence, even before this incident, the NPP is hell bent on keeping this destructive force. To think that the arrest of Ken for such grave misdeeds has energized the NPP base is to seriously worry. The NPP folks may be legitimately frustrated with President Mills. However, is frustration the same as supporting tribal hate? Is the NPP biting its nose to spite its face? Come on now! Are talking about the same people who went ballistics when the chiefs of Volta region rallied and demanded the release of Woyome? Haba! Perhaps the need to keep Ken Agyapong is more for his alleged financial prowess than leadership ability. Maybe it is a sign of defiance and tribal solidarity. Where do we draw the line though? When should the interest of Ghana override parochial partisan and tribal interest?

You cannot focus on Ken’s behavior without having some NPP agent provocateur point to similar actions by Nii Lante Vanderpuye of the NDC. So let’s look closely at the case being made. Is it the NPP’s position that Ken was provoked by Nii Lante’s actions? Therefore, the logic here is that the cause(s) justifies corresponding action. If we follow this warped logic, any man will be justified if they shoot somebody for sleeping with their girl friend. Girls could be raped for wearing short skirts. This line of minimal veneer thinking takes responsibility and commensurate response out of the equation. Of course two wrongs don’t make a right. Leaders are provoked all the time. Look at the constant provocation President Obama or Mills endures on a daily basis. Our politicians must grow up and realize that the word honorable is exactly the expectation that they must live up to. Ghana is not some zoo being run by inmates. Or is it? We are capable of effective and responsible leadership and that is what we should demand at all times.

There is also the fine leadership skill of providing a measured response, emanating from careful reasoning and deliberate action. Even if you want to delve into the weeds, I am not convinced that a call to prevent others from registering based on tribe, a very distasteful and criminal act, is equivalent to inciting tribal bloodshed on a national scale. If Ken is not capable of crafting a measured response, then he is surely not a leader by any stretch of imagination. This again undergirds my argument that he has to be censured and removed from post. Ken could play so many roles in society. Leading in politics should never be or is not a role that fits Ken. The key benefit of removing Ken from politics, apart from saving him from self, is the raising of the leadership bar. If we leverage this misfortune properly, it may yield hidden results for leadership as a whole in Ghana. This is why the NPP must stop its recalcitrant posture and get rid of Ken. He represents a bad and radioactive symbol for the party. However, if NPP want to be hoisted on its own petard, it can continue to serve as a safe harbor for a hate monger and tribal antagonist.

There is nothing that Nii Lante did that should push a so called leader (MP) to call for tribal genocide on a national scale. Talk about sledgehammer response President Kufour! My position on Nii Lante’s actions and pronouncements, is not a justification for his alleged hoodlum acts. This write up is not a discussion on the merits of Nii Lante’s actions. The NPP must stop making excuses and push Ken to accept responsibility. If Ken cannot stand the heat, then he must exit the kitchen. Leadership is not for the faint hearted. Leadership is not about flaunting material possessions. Leadership is about taking fine heat and performing at the same time. Ken Agyapong has a history that must not be ignored. If Ken cannot stand aggravation and act responsibly, he must quit politics and go to his village. In his village, he may be able to act a fool without any consequences. I believe Ken’s case provides a rich opportunity to broach a vibrant discussion on what it takes to be a leader in Ghana. It is sad to report that, anybody with a little bit of cash in his or her pocket, sees him or her self as a leader. To the contrary, those without cash, have been drowned out of the leadership equation. Ghana must define the parameters, scope and expectations of effective and responsible leadership now.

Let me end by saying this: Any leader in Ghana, who calls for tribal genocide must be removed from office immediately regardless of party affiliation. That leader must never be allowed in public office ever again. Oh how I wish we had a law that does exactly what I’ve just espoused. Ghana has suffered irresponsible, arrogant and misguided leaders for far too long. Mother Ghana must draw a line in the sand. Let those that dare her tempt fate. We must all stand united to stamp out tribal hate. All those peddling tribal hate must find a new job. Enough!

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman (Also dubbed the double edge sword)
I don’t give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think it is hell---Harry Truman