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Opinions of Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Columnist: Jeff Mckelson

Election 2024: The mistake we must never repeat again

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As the country can best be described to be at crossroads due to its current economic conditions, we are compelled to critically look for a panacea to our challenges as people.

Ghana’s economic challenges can best be attributed to bad leadership from the moment its first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown. This is because Ghana, South Korea, and Singapore had their independence around the same period, yet these three nations can’t be compared at any level relating to development.

History has it that the nation’s premier University, the University of Ghana was one of the top choices of Malaysians, Singaporeans, and other several countries in the 1950s. Ghana was economically viable with more exported cocoa than any other nation in the world.

It possessed ten percent of the world’s gold. It also exported significant amounts of diamonds, bauxite, manganese, and mahogany. Its reserves were more than $532 million. Its liquid assets were seven times larger than its long-term debt. South Korea and Ghana had $491 and $490 as per-capita income respectively in the year 1957.

As of 2021, Sough-Korea’s per-capita income was $41,400 and that of Ghana was $6,178.29. A country blessed with any natural resources one can think of, yet as a result of bad leadership, we remain at the bottom of the list of wealthy countries on planet earth. A country once the richest nation in sub-Saharan Africa with a per-capita income of $490 in 1957.

Patriotism; which is supposed to be the framework of our nation that gave birth to volunteerism, the need for people of the 50s to undertake developmental projects in their communities toward their nation building, now turns to corruption, greed, winner takes all, self-centredness, nepotism and over-reliance on government relieves.

How can erosion deplete our roads to deep piths while patrons of such roads sit ideal expecting government aid? How can any good manager lease about 85% of the country’s natural resources for years to foreign companies in return for some United States Dollars?

How can a country such as Ghana have World bank support and IMF aid due to the economic crisis in its history despite God-given abundant natural resources? How can our GDP to dept ratio be somewhere around 81.8% in 2021 despite oil, cocoa, bauxite, gold among others, how? How come the people of the 50s had $490.00 as per-capita income and now $6,178.29 whiles South Korea in the same years had grown from $491 to $41,400? How can Ghanaians be taxed almost on everything including talk-tax and on condoms in order to pay salaries of civil servants? What really went wrong? Leadership!

“THE BLACK MAN IS CAPABLE OF MANAGING HIS OWN AFFAIRS”. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah made that bold declaration on the eve of March 6, 1957, at the Old Polo Grounds in Accra, Ghana.

A statement that calls for all Ghanaians and for that matter Africans, especially its leaders to defend with their last blood. A statement that proves all Africans must be free of any tie with their colonial masters. A statement that was to propel us as people to always put the interest in the development of our country first at all times. A statement that makes mediocrity a line we were never to cross.

I believe it’s clearer now for anyone to understand why we say the country is in a retrogressive direction and why we can blame non-other but the leadership of our country and the continent. But, have we as people been able to live up to the defence of that statement?

Nana Addo’s character assassination suffered from his NDC opponents as a weed smoker, fraud, alcoholic, and rebellious among others, was able to turn them to his advantage in his speech after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the 2012 election petition case when he said “I am Saddened by the verdict and I know many of our supporters are saddened too.

However, for the seek and love of our country, we must embark on the path that builds, rather than destroys, to deal with our disappointments”. His no-nonsense personality in his private life and work, eloquence over the Queen’s language in the expression of his vision, achievements as a lawyer and attorney general, the incorruptible title won which was expressed in his work as a lawmaker, government appointee, and private legal practitioner, humility as a flagbearer and tolerance of other religious believes in the country projected him as the best candidate for the 2016 election.

However, his responds to two major events; (1) Delta force’s invasion of a Circuit Court and freeing 13 of their members for causing mayhem at the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Counsel and (2) Invincible force’s takeover of the Ashaiman end of the Accra-Tema motorway toll booth, when he was sworn into office in 2017 defied all he has been known for as a no-nonces man, disciplined and valued rule of law. But this was just the beginning as subsequent events only confirm how weak his quest to be president really changed him to be sober.

The charismatic, energetic, fearless, no-noses, law-abiding man now supervises corruption, nepotism, and the lawless team called government. Who would have ever believed that these cases; cash for seat, GNPC/Aker Energy Deal, hiring of luxury jets by the Presidency, Sputnik Vaccine Saga, The PDS Scandal, The Bost Contaminated Fuel Scandal, Agyapa Scandal, PPA - Contracts for Sale, The Ameri Novation Deal Scandal, The Galamsey Fraud & 500 Missing Excavators Scandal among others, could be mentioned under Nana Addo prior to 2016 general election? To the extent of naming him “The Clearing Agent”, how? Leadership!

Human behaviour is one animal very difficult to predict and to control. The above-mentioned cases were not anything anyone could prevent but the ultimate question is, what happened to the individuals involved? Nana Addo as a lawyer is best to explain to us the members or parties to any corruption case.

Our leadership’s lack of a clear prosperous vision, a detailed plan to achieving such vision, and communication of same to its people which in effect, draw to their attention and contribution to the attainment of such goal is our problem.

In as much as we all complain and easily apportion the blame to our leaders, the citizens are equally to be blamed. But why? Because our leaders do not elect themselves, period! We stand in long queues at the mercy of the weather for hours to elect these leaders. And yet, we make such decisions based on sentiments but not on good policies.

Policies that are attainable, relatable to our condition, and relevant to the lives of the citizens. Rather, we choose that path of tribalism, religion, political party, persona, and unattainable party manifestos. But why blame the leaders who do not elect themselves?

Just like in every society, people with substance and the elite are those elected to lead programs and projects and for that matter, positions of higher calling. Leaders elected in the past have been the well-to-do in our societies and professionals in politics. If the best in our societies are the ones we describe as bad leaders based on their inability to measure up to those tasks, what then can we best describe ourself as people? Bunch of Inept people?

Nepotism, corruption, and greed among others prevent our very experts from supporting any government with their skills because such individuals may not know anyone in government in order to be appointed. As a result, the Nation suffers and its people pay the price.

We have had in our 4th Republic five (5) different head of state which constitutes 1 Ex-Military officer, 1 Communicator, and 3 Lawyers-cum-Economists. Their selection had basically been on their popularity, how appealing they were vis-à-vis to our accepted norm of how one qualifies as a material for the presidency, and not based on qualities exhibited by the candidates in the form of their proposed policies. I hope the trend changes as we experience the impact of our choices.

One may blame our current economic condition on Covid-19 and Ukraine-Russia war as they have impacted other developed nations due to price hikes in consumable goods. Such price hikes aren’t as high as Ghanaians are experiencing now. A gallon of diesel in 2020 was Ghc 24.00 and in 2022, it's now GHC 63.50, a 264.585% increase, how? In this crisis, salaries of government appointees have seen a 70% increment whiles the civil servants were also increased by 20%. Someone should tell me I need a degree in economics to determine this isn’t good management leadership.

It’s about time citizens consider the criteria for the selection of our head of state. We must not repeat the mistakes of our past as people seeking development, but seek a leader with a business mind, disciplined, vision, who will not spoil the child by sparing the rod and can draw his people into his vision for its attainment. We need leaders as visionary as John F. Kennedy- let’s put a man on the moon, courageous as George Washington- taking decisions that will benefit the nation in the long run than personal gratification, business-minded as Dwight D. Eisenhower and Franklin D. Roosevelt and manage as Bill Clinton.