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Opinions of Friday, 22 June 2018

Columnist: K. Badu

Does Ghana really need a Father Christmas President?

In Ghana today, we have politicians in our midst whose rhetoric only deludes and proselytises millions of unsuspecting supporters. Regrettably, however, what these leaders do not often provide is simple but essential: a true leadership.

As history has shown time and time again, in a democratic ambiance such as ours, governments pop in and pop out. And given the political dynamics in Ghanaian political landscape, it is a trend we can confidently expect to continue.

The all-important question however is: can we trust every political party to produce a formidable leader and form a credible government and steer the nation to the right direction?

Apparently, a leader is a person who is appointed, elected or informally chosen to direct and co-ordinate the work of others in a group (Fiedler, 1995).

The preceding extant definition underscores the fact that the formally appointed leader cannot always be a real leader, but it is also confines the notion of leader to a group context. If we take the word “group” literally, this definition precludes leaders of nations, large corporations and so on, except in so far as they lead a small group of senior colleagues.

On the other hand, leadership can be considered to be the personal qualities, behaviours, styles and decisions adopted by the leader. In other words, it concerns how the leader carries out his/her role. Hence while the role of leader can be described in a job description, leadership is not so easily pinned down.

In Ghana for instance, we have in our midst people we may call leaders. Nevertheless, we have regrettably been enduring the deficiency of true leadership for some time now. Indeed, leadership in Ghana today is lacking the quality of urgency and inspiration.

After attesting to so much scheming guiles and such frequent abuse of power, many Ghanaians have ceased believing these leaders. Unfortunately, however, no matter how sardonic we may turn out, we abdicate ourselves to the fact that we require someone to keep our nation in order.

And since we are engaged with our own lives, we are obliged to elect or appoint officials to manage the affairs of the nation. The big question however is: do we have the right leaders’ to direct us to the right direction?

Yes, we do need true leaders. Obviously, we need someone who has vision, direction, and strength to reach our goals. Suffice it to state that a leader provides a new direction and inspires us to abandon our “old ways of doing things”.

And when we are imbibed with our self-interests, be infinitesimal or cyclopean- a leader sends out a wake-up call, alerting us to seek the true priorities in life. This sense of urgency is just as important in a leader as a sense of foresightedness.

Genuine leadership, in practice, must give people a long-term vision that absorbs their lives with meaning; it must point them in a new direction and show how their every action is an indispensable part of a positive change ahead, for it is not good enough for our leaders to only teach us to be productive or efficient; they need to inspire us to change or improve our lives in a productive and meaningful way.

Well, with so many people purporting to be leaders these days, how do we distinguish between a true leader and a demagogue? In order to do justice to the preceding question, we must pause and sigh deeply and ask: What is it that a leader is actually trying to achieve?

Apparently, a true leader wants nothing more than to make people independent, as leaders in their own rights. Instead of trying to deceive us with his or her oratory, a true leader reflects our own light back to us.

Paradoxically, we tend to believe that a leader is a person who is well-connected, who is powerful or charismatic or wealthy. We judge our leaders by what they have. But a true leader should be judged by his/her extraordinary qualities, not -- ego, impertinent boldness, and self-interest.

A true leader, in theory, sees his/her work as altruistic service toward accomplishing a goal. That is by putting the acquired skills, experience, knowledge and empathetic qualities at the disposal of the needs of his/her subordinates. As the sages say, “Leadership is not just power and dominance; it is service to mankind.”

Fellow Ghanaians, I think it is about time we distinguished between a demagogue and a true leader. In this way, we would avert the apocalypse of our dear nation sinking deeper and deeper into the mire.

But the crucial question is: how do we stop backing the ‘losing horses?’

There is no gainsaying the fact that some of us were extremely disgusted when former President Mahama bizarrely doled out large portions of our scarce resources to inveterate apologists like the founder of Ghana Freedom Party (GFP), Madam Akua Donkor, who in all honesty, contributed nothing meaningful towards Ghana’s wellbeing.

Ghana, to be quite honest, does not need a Father Christmas who would carelessly give away our hard earned resources. But Ghana rather needs a serious, a committed and a forward-thinking leader who can utilise our scarce resources judiciously to the benefit of all Ghanaians.

Typically, a judicious distribution of national resources is the implementation of poverty alleviation policies such as the Free SHS.

Considering the enormous benefits therein education, it is, indeed, prudent and somewhat forward-thinking for any serious and committed leader to seek to bridge the ever widening social inequalities gap through rational distribution of national resources in the form of free SHS and other social interventions.

In sum, for me, I’ll always choose a living and forward-thinking horse over an insensitive dead goat that can’t and won’t bother to respond to the needs of real human beings.