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Opinions of Thursday, 1 August 2013

Columnist: Sakyi, Kwesi Atta

Does Ghana need Turnaround Leadership?

Post- Election Malfunction

By Kwesi Atta Sakyi

Ghana is now declared a low middle income country and we are at the critical stage of take-off, where we need to build enough thrust for the take-off to actualise.

Some of the pre-conditions for this take off may include, but not exclude factors such as a stable political environment, an enabling environment for investors, enough power supply, first class road infrastructure, world class institutions like efficient banks, airports, harbours, hospitals, among others.

Currently, we cannot say we have political stability in Ghana despite our much vaunted democratic credentials. Opposition political parties are at daggers – drawn with the ruling NDC party over post-election dispute.

The government which is in place cannot be said to be an all-inclusive one as top positions have been filled mostly by appointees from the NDC and from the northern parts of the country, in what I call Mahamisation of Ghana.

Despite this, there is urgent need to rally around the presidency and collectively deliver development to the people. Now is the time for action and not for splitting hairs, or finger-pointing. The dust storm following the 2012 elections must be allowed to settle by all, so that the country can forge ahead. After all, they say that when two elephants fight, it is the grass which suffers.

Not only that, one of them may sustain a broken tusk or ivory and eventually die. In this case, our poor people may die needlessly due to lack of cooperation by the powers-that-be, because the empty stomachs of the masses are not filled by politicking or sloganeering and pamphleteering.

The incumbent president promised during his pre-election campaign of running an all-inclusive government. Was it mere political rhetoric to pull a fast one on Ghanaians? This dents heavily the trust and credibility of the government and it does not augur well for political stability.

Clearly, it is a stab in the back of national unity and democracy. The on-going Supreme Court post-election petition has indeed rocked the political boat, and heavily distracted attention from the development agenda. Be that as it may, we must heed the voice of reason and forge ahead, or else we will have no one to blame but ourselves when future generations come to assess our contribution.

Currently, we cannot say there is an excellent enabling environment for investors in Ghana, because our economy is facing severe deficits in power supply, chronic corruption in government outfits such as IRS, customs, immigration, police, health, education, lands, among others.

Our rate of inflation has worsened in the last few years to about 9 to 10%. The cedi has experienced escalating haemorrhagical depreciation against the major currencies, as its velocity of circulation is about to breach the sound barrier, or become faster than Usein Bolt, with a bolt-away hyper-inflation.

(Will Paa Kwesi Mintah contend with me on these points? He needs to go to Ghana to verify on the ground, instead of pontification on issues from his ivory tower hideout in Sylvia’s Restaurant in Big Apple. He is a veritable confuser, not very much like Confucius).

Our governments must work conscientiously to detribalise the country by recognising meritocracy, by eschewing appointments based on cronyism. For a turnaround to occur in Ghana for rapid economic development, we need a visionary leader like Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who outsources project plans to the best German and European engineers and planners, but uses the cheap labour of the Chinese to execute and implement those plans.

I am told Paul Kagame spent 5 years studying economic systems which have worked in the world, such as South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and UAE. He has a strong think-tank including the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Paul Kagame is also using ICT as the leading turnkey sector to empower his people, particularly farmers and small scale enterprises. He seeks broad consensus across the population, and is tapping into expertise both within and outside his country.

He has formed a broad coalition of talent in his country, what may be termed a union government, exactly what we need now in Ghana. Ghanaians are now sick and tired of multiparty democracy because our current crop of leaders, have become selfish, myopic, ethnocentric, clueless and greedy.

We need to rationalise our political landscape by refocusing away from political trivialities to issues of macro-economic importance, such as increasing exports, creating massive jobs for our youth, paying attention to issues of decentralised governance, increasing our capacity to grow our own food, and be less dependent on food imports, among others.

A turnaround leader should reduce the cost of doing business in Ghana by dismantling the grinding bureaucracy and apathy in the civil service.

Such a leader will be proactive and he will need to run a smaller government to cut down drastically on cost. We will need an iconoclastic leader who is an image maker, perhaps a maverick like Paul Kagame. Such a leader will be a change catalyst to facilitate great changes to the way we do things in Ghana.

We will need a paradigm shift to our work culture, our attitude to life, our style of politics and the way we engage our foreign stakeholders. Currently, there seems to be a divorce and disconnect between the bride (people of Ghana) and the President (bridegroom), after the 2012 post-election imbroglio and debacle in the Supreme Court.

Like the ancient Israelites in the Bible, we are in the wilderness, and we need an astute and no-nonsense Moses to make us fall in line. I will recommend to government to consider outsourcing major public infrastructural development projects to quality engineers and contractors such as Julius Berger and Strabag in Germany.

Now that we have raised capital from the international capital market, we need to husband it prudently by engaging the services of quality contractors. These are the world class contractors who built most of the roads and bridges in Lagos during the time of Yakubu Gowon, Murtala, Mohammed and Shehu Shagari during the oil boom era in the 70s and 80s.

These are the contractors who Paul Kagame is using in Rwanda. We also need to revisit the New Deal in the 1930s and 1940s which were implemented during the Great Depression under American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. A New Deal type of programme of undertaking massive infrastructural development across the country will be the only way to provide millions of jobs for the masses and assuage the anger of Ghanaians. Let the 3 billion dollar loan from the Chinese be properly utilised towards such activities.

Ghana now stands at the crossroads, waiting for an astute leader to take us to the Promised Land. Will that leader be John Mahama, our fourth consecutive John head of state? Ghana currently needs a complete overhaul of our current crop of leadership so that we get people who have professional background, people who are astute entrepreneurs and statesmen, and people who will not do business as usual to create a clear vision for us.

We need men of integrity and imbued with high sense of patriotic zeal. That is the challenge we face. We need leaders who will inspire, motivate and galvanise us to achieve our full potential and exceed our own expectations as we cruise along in this fast-paced, hi-tech 21st century.