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Opinions of Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Columnist: Appeadu, Charles E.

Atta Mills! Seize This Golden Opportunity!

Let’s pause to congratulate ourselves – Ghanaians – for the maturity our citizens back home have demonstrated during the last four weeks in the process of selecting our next President. Although the process did not go without a few hiccups here and there, the important thing is that we have come out virtually unscathed. Is this an indication that we are taking back our role as the first-born in Black Africa? I hope so. As we celebrate our collective achievement in the democratic process as one people, let us pause to take stock of where we are, where we have gone wrong in the past, and what we need to do right in the future to overcome the inertia that has kept us crawling for so long.

Two of the most destructive forces in our society are tribalism and corruption. The Kuffour administration went into office with a promise to the Ghanaian people that his administration would have Zero Tolerance for Corruption. Many Ghanaians feel strongly that Kuffour failed miserably on making good on this promise. I believe that this is one of the major reasons why the NPP lost many parliamentary seats and the presidency itself. The tribal sentiments displayed in the comments to articles on GhanaWeb stand as an unfortunate reminder to all of us of the extent to which tribalism has overwhelmed our society.

Many Ghanaians perceive the NPP to be an Akan party and the NDC an Ewe party. Although Professor Atta Mills is not an Ewe (he is a Fante, an Akan), the assumption among many is that he is there to cover up for the Ewes and that most of the real decision makers will be Ewes. I genuinely pray that God will give Professor Atta Mills and the NDC leaders the wisdom and the courage to work hard to nullify this perception! The 2008 CIA World Facts book on Ghana puts the Ewe population in Ghana at 11.7%, the Akan population at 45.3%, the Mole-Dagbon population at 15.2%, Ga-Dangme population at 7.3%, {the others are: Guan 4%, Gurma 3.6%, Grusi 2.6%, Mande-Busanga 1%, other tribes 1.4%, other nationals 7.8%}. I wish to advise President-elect Atta Mills to use the nation’s population distribution as a guide in putting together his administration. While I am not saying that he should adhere strictly to this distribution, large deviations from this distribution will smack of tribalism. In a forty (40) member cabinet, for example, this distribution calls for about 5 Ewes, 18 Akans, 3 Gas, 6 Mole-Dagbons, etc. Of course, the actual distribution will be expected to be a little different from this but a make-up of, say, 1 Ewe, 36 Akans, 1 Ga, 1 Mole-Dagbon, and 1 Guan will be a complete tribal distortion in the same way that a make-up of, say, 25 Ewes, 5 Akans, and 10 Others will also cry foul.

I wish to call on President-elect Professor Atta Mills to recognize the positive aspects of the Kuffour administration and build upon them. If there are individuals in the Kuffour administration who are performing excellently at what they do, he should consider extending their tenure of office beyond the Kuffour presidency. We should mature far beyond vindictive politics and truly put Ghana first!

We have all heard of the reports that Ghana has struck oil. If this proves to be true and Ghana does become an oil exporting country, my advice to the President is to put together a diverse group of accomplished Ghanaians of proven integrity and give this group the mandate to receive oil revenues and disburse these revenues for the development of much needed infrastructure for Ghana. The nine (or some other appropriate number) member group should comprise all major ethnic groups in Ghana and about 5 men and 4 women. This committee should appear before parliament twice a year to give account of the revenues received and developmental projects undertaken and to engage in Q&A with members of parliament.

There are many other things we expect from our next President but I will just emphasize corruption in addition to what has been discussed above. Please fight corruption. Please punish corrupt people and charge your cabinet and DCEs to set good examples. Let us be passionate about doing the right things. If we do, Ghana will be able to wrestle itself free from poverty and underdevelopment. God bless you, President-elect Atta Mills, and God bless Ghana!

Charles E. Appeadu, Ph.D., CFA.