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Opinions of Friday, 3 October 2014

Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

Can Nana Addo learn from Alex Salmond's statesmanship?

It is a multi-million dollar question, which I can only wish for. Of course, it’s just a forlorn hope; nevertheless, 18th October is a long way away for him to consider it. Perhaps, to look very hard again to the image in the mirror and re-evaluate what he is doing to NPP and the people of Ghana. Besides, it is a huge lesson for all our politicians who have declared the word resignation ‘persona non grata’ from their lexicon.

Just over a week ago the Scottish people were offered a referendum to either extricate themselves from the United Kingdom or keep their umbilical cord intact. I doubt whether it made the headlines in Ghana. However, there is an important human story, which probably would have made Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo cringe a little bit.

The Scottish National Party, led by Alex Salmond, has been campaigning tirelessly for the past two years for Scottish Independence. His bet was to overturn a three hundred year old union based on his popularity at the polls since 2007. What surprised me about the Scottish referendum was some of the tactics applied by the SNP foot soldiers, which were less edifying. For example, graffiti were sprayed in some areas warning of dire consequences for those who were supporting the No campaign. It brought to mind how easily a civilised society can degenerate. More to the point, what some of the die-hard Yes campaigners wrought reflected more of a banana republic electioneering rather than a people that produced David Hume and Adam Smith.

Although, the foregone is a worthy headline news, what I am really interested in is the announcement made by Alex Salmond few hours after the results were declared. He affirmed that he was going to resign come November. And the following is his resignation statement.

"The last seven years as first minister of Scotland has been the privilege of my life, but I think that's a reasonable spell of service, and I think that we have to understand and recognise when it is time to give someone else a chance to move that forward." It was delivered at his residence at Bute House, in Edinburgh. This was delivered by a man whose office as the first minister of Scotland is still intact. On the other hand, he is very much interested in the long term wellbeing of his party and that of Scotland.

It is obvious that his political antennae are privy to the changing times. He knew there are people who might have opposed his leadership of the SNP. In addition, there are people who probably support him on everything, but possibly opposed to independence. On balance, it was a bitter campaign that brought a lot of division. So immediately the results came in and the Yes campaign has lost, Alex Salmon saw himself as a polarising figure. Therefore, to restore harmony in Scotland and especially for party unity he swiftly threw in the towel just hours of after the result.

Now, let’s train our minds back to our cloud cuckoo land. In 2007 the bitterness after the NPP flag bearer ship, which Nana won but lost the big price was palpable. For party unity, he could have resigned, but he didn’t. He battled for the 2012, which again was handed over to him on a silver platter, and he failed again the most important test. He has literally turned himself to the proverbial ‘Konongo Kaya’. He cannot win and he will not allow anyone to give it a try.

Now, I have been told a few times that I cannot compare what happens in the West to Ghana. And my answer is why not? The ultimate aim of all our effort is for a better economic life. As far as my eyes can see they have better economies so why can’t we copy some of the good things they practice in order to improve our lives. If you are farmer and a visit to a neighbour’s farm brings to your knowledge a method that is improving his yield wouldn’t you like to try it on your farm? It will be foolhardy to say that I am going to try something else when the blue print has been formulated already.

A lot of our Ghanaians and for that matter Africans are obsessed with the notion of Africans developing authentic African institutions and African way of doing things. However, we live in a global community that no one is an island unto himself. We all copy from each other. I once read a speech by Hilary Rodham Clinton, who drew copiously from an African saying that it takes a village to raise a child. She was making reference on that as to how best it can help to stem the tide of child delinquency in America. For a more serious example, just assess the clumsiness of how the Roman numerals will play out if we have to use it in a mathematical discipline like calculus.

But for the notion of zero and what they term erroneously as Arabic numerals modern calculus wouldn’t have become a reality. And people like Newton and Leibnitz can only give thanks to the Indians who came up with the idea of zero. When the Europeans came into contact with the superior Indian numeral characters they didn’t say that to hell with it, because they have got their good for nothing awkward Roman characters. They embraced it and turned the world around with it.

This is my last appeal to the NPP delegates and I am not going to bother myself again. Let us learn from other cultures. And the caveat is very clear in my mind. We should copy when the way those cultures conduct themselves are actually paying dividends. And this is to Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, don’t let the delegates show you the door. There is more dignity in the word resignation than to be booted out.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr. London