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Opinions of Friday, 18 June 2021

Columnist: Yaw Ofori-Amanfo

Totally misunderstanding political leadership

The author says leadership is meaning the mandate and the promises that go with it The author says leadership is meaning the mandate and the promises that go with it

When rational human beings, people, yield their liberties, freedoms, will and power to any individual to exercise on their behalf, it is a sacred trust that must be guarded with ones integrity and life.

With such an arrangement, based on the dictates of rational principles, the weakest of men or women could be elevated to the pinnacle of human power. These rational principles obligate the suppression of animalistic tendencies that operate on the basis of the strongest preying on the weak.

Rational principles stimulate the desire of humans to cultivate virtues that seek common good, common interests, cooperation, and collaboration that works towards the improvement of the human condition for preservation of our species. Unlike animals, the application of rational principles ensures that humans can pursue happiness, liberty and eventually live in harmony with one another.

In contrast to jungle laws that depend on killer instincts to survive, and succumbing leadership to the strongest brute, human leaders are given a mandate to ensure the protection of inalienable rights of individuals and justice (the fair distribution of resources) held in trust for all members of society.

Such an arrangement insulates against reckless confiscation and domination of sacrosanct life by an inconsiderate brute exercising animalistic tendencies of the natural order.

Imagine for a minute, if becoming the president of a country, or holding a high state office is dependent on brute power, what the road to the top will look like. I know many strong and “buffy” guys that by brute strength, would easily qualify to be president of any nation.

In a state of incessant anarchy of conquests and counter conquests, there would never be stability for anyone to hold state office for more than a moment.

Once considered the strongest person, there would always be another stronger person lurking in the shadows to conquer the strongest man of today. To curtail such chaos of existence, human beings opt to come together to formulate strategies for peaceful coexistence in the pursuit of happiness. If one is elected to be president or holds high state office, the elected holds that position in trust of the electorate to carry out the mandate that goes with the position.

And, just imagine again if the elected, once installed, choose to abandon the very principles that put them in the position of trust, only to adopt brutism. It is unfortunate that in most cases, the scenario played above is exactly what happens with some elected leaders. They do not understand what leadership, especially elected leadership, is all about. Election is a representation of collective thoughts and decision-making.

The elected do not act on their own accord!! They direct the electorate in crucial decision-making and try to implement the collective decisions of the particular group.
The major difference between humans and animals is humans’ ability to reason, justify their actions by moral and ethical principles in self-reflection or introspection.

Humans do not just act as if there are no consequences for their actions. Rational and acceptable human actions go through a process of justification of the act, and consequent evaluation of implications of the act. Some may argue that our closest species, chimpanzees, could be taught to perform complex functions.

I am no biologist but simple logic notes that chimpanzees do not teach chimpanzees to perform the complex human actions that are being evaluated. On the other hand, the complex functions are tested and taught by clever and high functioning humans.

So again, it is human intellect that is making a chimpanzee look clever and “smart” by the processes of adaptation. In spite of the claims by some people of the high functionality of certain animal species, the most outstanding difference between animals and humans is the human ability to self-reflect (introspection).

Whereas animals follow their natural program to live and survive, humans have adaptation and problem-solving abilities. Instead of living in the jungle with all animal species, humans have isolated themselves into protective enclaves called towns, villages or communities.

They build homes and fence around their homes to protect themselves from other predators. Humans find different and easier means of living through creativity and inventions. Animals do not have these adaptations to life to sustain their species and therefore live vulnerably to more powerful predators.

The special human abilities are the reason humanity has over-hunted other species almost to extinction following the order of natural selection and evolution. Let the strongest survive while the weakest go extinct.

An animal will kill or have, for instance, sexual bouts the same way for all species over and over again with only slight modifications by happenstance. They eat the same ways. They sleep the same ways. They hunt the same ways etc without improving their modus operandi.

A few animals may exhibit certain rational behaviors here and there, but not to the scale warranting classification and attribution of traits of rationality.

It goes to say that animals’ instinctive programming goes without tinkling or tweaking to higher methodologies. It only buttresses the natural order of survival of the fittest in which the strongest and most beastly subject the weaklings to the food chain preying.
In a pure survival instinct, the strongest animal is king. So, if we take the case of a lion for instance, it may be relaxing with its feet thrown in the air.

Then all of a sudden, something activates its hunger pangs and desire to go hunting. The hunting instincts when activated, have no restraints whether moral or ethical. It has no respect for any animal based on pedigree or relationships. The lion, when hungry and prowling, would never consider even the most revered person in the land, such as the president of Ghana. When hungry, the lion would not give justification for why it could not eat a prey. It would not say, “Oh, I cannot eat the president because, as commander-in-chief, he would unleash the full force of the army and police to hunt me down and kill me.”

It would not say, “I can’t eat the fawn here because it is my neighbor and it’s not nice to eat your neighbor.” The lion will eat anything in sight when hungry “even its caretaker and one that feeds it every day.” That is how animal instinct works.

In a world or settings like the jungle that has no laws or principles, there is no restraint to actions. Imagine a human environment without laws and controlled by brutish instincts. Nobody would be safe or secure. Without guarantees of freedom and liberty, people would not feel safe enough to plan life into the future. Nobody would be interested in building a home and accumulating property and wealth.

The idea is that whatever one has today would be lost to a stronger or more brutish person who challenges another for their family and property. Who would want to live in a world like that? Hence, humans come together to enact laws or rules to guide everybody’s behavior and conduct.

The coming together of humans to draw rules of engagement and to secure basic liberties for everyone makes their world a livable place. These are the building blocks to the founding of human societies.

Some basic rights as entrenched in famous documents like the Constitution of the United States, and the United Nations declaration of Human rights guarantee certain basic rights to all people regardless of country, race, religion and pedigree. Without these guarantees for common good and the improvement of the human condition into higher cognitive functionality, human beings are just other animals.

But humans ought not to act like animals because of our capacity to rationalize and justify our actions. Human beings must think, rationalize and justify our actions. We must subject our actions to the crucible of morality and ethics to see whether our actions are justifiable and conforms to acceptable behavior of rational human beings.

Then the question is asked, “If humans do not subject their actions to justification and morality or self-reflection but act by instinct like a lion would do, what are they? This is the crux of this writing.

It is a contemptible human tragedy for leaders, even the weakest among others, to be elevated to the pinnacle of human power by rational principles only to turn their backs on the people and the rational principles that gave them the power.

To avoid the phenomenon of deadly struggles to the top in a free for all fight for supremacy, rational principles have allowed groups to elect people to represent them. The representative’s job is to bring all resources belonging to the group together to ensure fair and equitable distribution so everyone is catered for.

Once elected, the representative in his or her capacity subjugates personal preferences and interests to the sideline. The representative carries the mind of the group. It is a group think situation. When he opens his mouth, he is the mouthpiece of the entire group. When he makes choices, he makes choices that ensure every member’s interest is taken into consideration.

It is a sad tragedy and a betrayal of the people’s trust for any leader to assume power and act as if he acts for his own interests, and exercises his own power. Any time a leader disrespects his mandate, he disrespects himself as a rational human being by adopting brutish principles. When a leader uses his capacity to dehumanize other members of his group, the leader stridently dehumanizes himself.

By abandoning rational principles, one’s only choice left is animalistic predisposition to tyrannical behavior. If humans do not exercise rationality and act like other rational humans under similar circumstances, then they relinquish the core trait that makes them human. They are just lions with human faces or wolves in sheep clothing.

The leader abuses the mandate held in sacred trust for the people who put their faith in him. Humans must justify their actions and make sure they conform to the norms of rational humanity. An elected leader by a group acts not on his own accord, but acts the sacred trust bequeathed to him.

A robust illustration illuminating these ethical principles is the galamsey menace in Ghana. Every human being born on earth, unless born away from their nativity, has a natural endowment of a small portion of land they can call home or homeland. It is a gift of nature. It is irreplaceable. Now, whereas there is population explosion on the planet, the land mass basically remains the same. It means generations of people will inherit and inhabit the same land.

They have to tend and cultivate at the same time, to preserve this precious inheritance. Since survival is the most important existential predisposition, having no place to call home or habitat is a threat to extinction.

Galamsey in Ghana is such a threat to many communities and their habitats. The people are crying but nobody listens to their cries. The people are screaming in protests and they send police and army to intimidate them into silence. The people are murmuring and their last resort is completely ignored.

The people are depressed and despondent about their plight but nobody cares. The people have hit a brick wall with nowhere to turn and the status quo goes on. In the end, people have given up, learning in clear view and from news sources that the very people they voted into power and pomp as representatives to secure, guard and protect their lands and natural endowments have condoned and connived to sell their birthrights to Chinese and other foreign nationals.

In most instances, politicians have engaged miscreants to do galamsey mining for the politicians.

These people, in collaboration with the worse crop of Ghanaians, have been given power over the local and vulnerable Ghanaians to contaminate the waters, lands and environment for selfish interests. They have mortgaged the lives and inheritance of generations unborn for their own personal gain.

And for any person, group, or government chosen by the people, to show total disregard for such a sacred trust with reckless abandon, is tantamount to dehumanization of the people. Whenever an elected official sees himself or herself as more human than the rest of the people that invested their trust in the person, loses their self-respect, dignity and humanity.

The saddest response by elected leaders to the cries and plight of Ghanaians and other concerned environmental groups around the world, is to make excuses that they are not corrupt. The leaders completely deny any involvement in the wanton destruction of the Ghanaian land heritage.

But such response is most absurd. If the leaders are not personally engaged on the field, but hide behind appointments of people who become executors of their diabolical schemes, then what are they?

For instance, if the president would deny being corrupt but bypasses all the honest and trustworthy people in the land only to appoint well-known and highly corrupt individuals into his cabinet, then isn’t he acting as a “drug kingpin or mafia boss?”

Usually, the kingpin or boss stays at the command center and deploys his boys to do his dirty work. At the end of the day, however, is he not the orchestrator of the destructive schemes?

Any serious leader, who is serious about the business of the people, would always find innovative ways to tackle and solve menacing problems affecting the peoples’ wellbeing and future. What has Paul Kigame of Rwanda not done for his people?

He disbanded 6,000 predatory churches. He passed laws stipulating qualifications for preachers. A preacher must go to college to study theology to be equipped to work with Rwandese. He banned the use of classrooms and other sheds as places of worship.

There must be a decent building befitting a house of worship to house worshippers. One cannot take any ramshackle building and use as a house of worship.

So, as we see, a leader is one who takes the interest and welfare of people to heart. The leader uses the mandates given by the people to treat such people with respect and dignity.

Leadership is not lip service and broken promises just to fool the people.

Leadership is meaning the mandate and the promises that go with it.

Are there any leaders in Ghana? Let them stand up and say here we are!