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Opinions of Sunday, 27 December 2020

Columnist: Abdul Razak Lukman

Advisory letter to President Akufo-Addo

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana

Dear President-Elect Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo,

On behalf of the youth and people of Tolon, traditional authorities and myself, I cordially congratulate you on your election as President-Elect of the Republic of Ghana.

Thousands of victorious campaign staffers, donors, glory seekers, and hangers-on will soon be swarming the capital in search of jobs in the new administration. This act, in both political and administrative purposes, has always been the case for all past governments.

Your Excellency, as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, you need to identify, recruit, and retain talented individuals committed to your programmatic and political goals. No matter how political your goals might be, it must contain a reasonable percentage necessary to put development at the forefront over everything. I am sure, which you equally are, about the severe challenges of your stewardship four years ago. The challenges associated with corruption and illegal mining (otherwise known as galamsey) involving some appointees of your government made it a daunting task for you going into the 2020 elections. You could have had a sweeping majority with ease if some appointees had conducted themselves professionally.

I am respectfully aware that in the identification and recruitment of candidates, the president is forced to accommodate his partisan and electoral coalitions. Yet the management qualifications of most political appointees - and even the technical qualifications of many–are no more relevant to their positions. Simply put, fix your appointees at places they are supposed to be and not what they want or lobbied for. You do not put a medical doctor as education minister and expect the person to achieve greater heights. That won’t work, despite the fact that we have a chief and technical directors at various ministries. The minister must have a complete and professional understanding of the ministry and not to be briefed on basic issues about the same.

Mr President, in your second and last tenure in office as president, you will be overwhelmed with names of candidates wanting to be appointed to serve in your government. They may be smart, committed, and frequently high-energy workaholics, but most have never run anything, except, perhaps, a political campaign. You need to, as a president, be able to let those who can professionally manage the administration of your party to continue to do so. All that the party has to do is to resource them and get them fixed on a party payroll that would keep them away from government official duties. Ghanaians expect a lot from your government and you need to live up to that. I am not oblivious to what lobbyists and party financiers want. I am very much aware that financiers want you to dance to their tunes. They want you to appoint their favourites to sensitive positions so that they can have juicy contracts awarded to them. Your Excellency, the onus lies before you to either work in balance with financiers or give all your government to them. The former would be better as you can hardly do without them.

Mr President, a number of your policies did help alleviate the sufferings of the ordinary Ghanaian in many facets of their work life. Your policy of Free Senior High School did magic to parents and guardians across the country who had to pay school fees to see their children study in our numerous high schools in this country. I must say that it is a fantastic project to have been implemented by your government.

However, it didn’t translate into real votes as we might have thought. It didn’t materialise into votes just like NABCO, Planting for Food and Jobs and many other employment avenues initiated by your government. That is not to say that your leadership is poor but you have to work on executing sterling policies and be very mindful of procurement issues. Procurement is one major area which easily translates into corruption within a twinkle of an eye. And all these can be curb when you appoint professional administrators who really go by the word“professional” in all their dealings. A single act or attempt of corruption can ruin your whole government for the whole four years. When that happens, citizens would stop talking about all the good aspects of your administration to discuss corruption throughout your tenure. The challenges are bound to occur but you must be prepared to deal with them squarely.

Commander, I know you are still finding it difficult to come to terms with why a good number of your MPs (Members of Parliament) lost in their bid to retain their seats in Parliament. It is instructive to know that at least 33 incumbent New Patriotic Party (NPP) MPs lost their seats in the December 7 elections. About 21 of them are either ministers, ministers of state or deputy ministers. They lost because they failed to initiate their own policies to the benefit of their constituents. They heavily relied on your national policies to get them elected. Some of them poorly relay or communicate your policies to their people.

Mr. President, aside from your government policies which aimed at benefiting all Ghanaians, constituents expect their MPs to initiate different policies that would again alleviate their suffering. Constituents view your policies (FREE SHS etc) as a government one and by extension, should not, as a whole, be used as a yardstick to vote an MP. They expect the MP to come up with his/her own policies to prove his/her worth as an MP. You and I know very well that MPs are not responsible for creating employment avenues as captured in the Constitution. They are responsible for enacting laws for us. But our unofficial social-dynamics now make them agents of job creation and development — and because they want votes from their constituents, they willingly and happily go by that.

The challenges ahead are enormous. The current election cycle has seen political tensions rise, particularly between members of your party and the opposition National Democratic Congress. Violent incidents occurred during the December 7 elections, leading to injuries and deaths on both sides. Your commitment to strengthening dialogue is positive, but for democratic space to thrive and the rights of Ghanaians to be upheld, they should not be required to speak the same language as the government. Ghanaians should be free to peacefully express dissent, concerns, opinions or questions about your government’s actions through any means they choose, provided it is legal within the constitutional framework. As a celebrated international human rights advocate and lawyer of years of good standing, your tenure as President of the Republic of Ghana has a lot to do in that respect.

Mr President, I am worried for far too long. I am worried about an issue which never gets addressed but that issue is the bane of our woes. Your Excellency, Why are people in many communities in Ghana living in poverty? Why do epidemics that appear to be man-made still have yet to be tracked to the source? Why do you allow any company like MTN - Ghana to continue to rape citizens using high data and call charges? Why? I mean why? So, today and going into 2021, I, on behalf of the people of Tolon, the people YOU serve, demand to know the truth – about everything. It’s a win-win situation.

Your Excellency, I am fully aware of the immensity of the task that lies before you. Please be assured of my prayers and of my willingness as a citizen to accompany you in building a country founded on justice, peace and reconciliation, where the fullness and dignity of life will be the daily experience of each and every one.

I am humbly asking Almighty Allah to bless you for new achievements in your activities. May God keep you under the umbrella of His Holy Right and grant you long years of a healthy life.

I respectfully urge you and your government to make these issues a priority.