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Opinions of Thursday, 21 February 2008

Columnist: Lari, Gordon

Mr. President, an opportunity for your legacy is en route!

I read with satisfaction a secondary source on the President's address, highlighting his willingness and promise to step down at the end of his term of office. Except for trends in African politics, this expression should attract no commendation and is expectant of a civil politically matured democratic leader. I believe Ghana's President is of this caliber but should be commended not only for declaring his intentions, but doing so at a high profile forum such as the State of the Nation Address and at a time when many countries on the continent are experiencing political instability, the cause of which can be traced to the dictatorial tendencies and machinations of incumbent governments and their warped 'all invincible? political parties' concept of democratic governance.

The recent political conflict in Kenya exemplifies the fragility of Africa's political systems and the potential for mayhem when leaders fail to clarify their values not only in verbal terms, but exemplifying them vis-a-vis national priorities that nurture democracies and build nations. I am not allocating blame to any political party in Kenya and to any political leader but a collective one to the entire leadership of Kenya for allowing a hitherto promising democracy as theirs to falter, and gravely so. I accept the concept of the emergence of challenges in the growth of democracies as a political, economic and social evolutionary necessity, but will not endorse it for the sake that political leaders sometimes create mayhem for the lust for power; so should you!

Mr. President, your actions will give meaning to your declaration and assure Ghanaians that a new brand of leadership worthy of our trust has emerged not only in Ghana, but on the entire African continent. Ensuring free and fair elections during the upcoming elections and handing over power to the next President, whether from your own party or the opposition, will become your legacy. Do not allow such an opportunity to be compromised. I am sure your government has some credits to its name as highlighted in your address, but none of them will compare adequately to what lies ahead. I will not delve into the potential scenarios but can assure you that your government?s achievements and those of its predecessors are at risk, decomposable to nothing if you do not protect a safe, transparent and sound transition to the next term of governance. Hindsight is often 20/20 as the Americans say, and Ghana has had many opportunities for such political hind-sighting. Ghanaians want to believe Ghana is on a democratic path for life. Can you grant us such wishes? In fact, we wish it not as a fantasy but because it is within our rights to do so. Our constitution bears us out and we acknowledge our responsibility to do our part in sustaining our nation?s growth by being responsible and hard working law abiding citizens. Most importantly, we will vote!

The upcoming elections will require you to emphasize the importance of the words ?free? and ?fair? in your public statements to enlighten Ghanaians about the importance of transparency in elections and the meaning it gives to the country?s future. Free and fair means no individual and political entity should attempt to influence another with gifts or anything of such a nature, and nothing about the elections should be shrouded in mystery. No one will be intimidated in exercising their right to vote! As a leader who probably will remain active in your party?s affairs and the affairs of ?Oman-Ghana? long after leaving office, you owe it to your party to influence its members against any actions that will create an appearance of impropriety in the time leading up to and during the 2008 elections; appearances can be misconstrued and may have the same impact as acts of impropriety. Supporting Ghana?s Electoral Commission (EC) in performing its duties by providing adequate national resources in your capacity as an Officer of the State will be required of you. To crown your efforts, you will not interfere with the electoral commission?s official duties and encourage your party?s supporters, loyalists and the opposition to do the same. Adhering to these leadership expectations should guarantee you a ?precious? place in Ghana's history and CREATE YOUR LEGACY!

Gordon Lari is a Business Analyst and a doctoral student at the University of Phoenix, AZ, USA.

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