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Opinions of Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Columnist: Okyere Bonna

Presidential Politics and the Future of Ghana: Where is Ghana heading to?

It must be recalled that on December 23, 2007, Akufo-Addo was elected as the NPP's 2008 presidential candidate at a party congress, receiving 47.96% of valid votes (1,096 votes). Although he fell short of the required 50%, the second-place candidate, John Alan Kyeremanten, conceded defeat and backed Akufo-Addo. He was chosen from among 17 other competent aspiriants to be nominated as the presidential candidate of the governing NPP.
According to a communiqué issued by NPP Elections 2008, the campaign team consists of eight Chairpersons of Specialized Committees of the party namely: Dr Arthur Kennedy in-Charge of Communications; Mr. Dan Botwe in-Charge of Electoral Affairs; Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, Fund Raising; Mr. Alan Kyeremanten in-Charge of Identifiable Groups; Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor f in-Charge of Security and Mr. Felix Owusu-Adjepong in-charge of Traditional Affairs. Dr Owusu Afriyie-Akoto in-charge of Manifesto; and Mr. Victor Newman in-charge of Research. Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku was named as the Campaign Director; Mr. Roland Saka Deputy in- Charge of the Northern Sector and Ms Sophia Horner-Sam Deputy in charge of the Southern sector.
The rest are: Mr. Peter Mac Manu, National Chairman; Nana Ohene Ntow; General Secretary, Mr. Yaw Osafo Maafo, Ms Mawusi Awitty, Hajia Rukia Ahmed. Mr. Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey heads the 23-member campaign team for the New Patriotic Party (, General News of Thursday, 13 March 2008).
One social and political commentator had this to say on after the News was released:
“Dream team outdoored! Discerning Ghanaians have heaved a sigh of relief today to know that there is truly unity in the Nice Peoples Party and that the country's real democrats are all on board the campaign team of the freedom fighter, Nana Akufo Addo.
It is no surprise to find that all members are achievers and born politicians not by-force politicians. The roll call of these giants of Ghana's politics has immediately put a nail on the coffin ….With the caliber of men to be in charge of all aspects of the campaign of Nana Akuffo Addo, Ghanaians will be served with a political campaign based on issues and track record devoid of mudslinging” (Jato Julor, 2008-03-13 19:18:26).
Granting that he keeps them and take them serious and not just to win the elections, this author is somehow confident Nana Addo will do well.
By every count, this author anticipates Nana Akufo Addo to be the next president of Ghana. This author believes Nana Akufo-Addo will be a great president. His reason is partly derived from Nana Akufo Addo’s long standing experience and initial efforts to unite the Party (NPP). This author has confidence in the candidacy of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for several reasons, including but not limited to the following:
Though Nana Akufo Addo has been in government or served in public office for this long we don’t seem to hear any bad things or slurs on his job or office. While the author may want to admit that Nana Akufo Addo has not been seen as a transformational leader, creating new philosophies and ideals (or adding new things), he has stood his ground as part of the status-quo, without tainting his office(s). To the best knowledge of this author, Nana Addo has not had conflicts of interests with the governments he has served under. Even as part of the Establishment, Nana Akufo Addo has been a good team player and still maintained his dignity.
Recently, Nana Addo, as the flag-bearership of NPP, has apparently emerged as integrating some of the critics of his administration in his core group. He has also brought into his campaign most of, if not all, his opponents in the just-ended NPP congressional elections. This is unheard of in African politics.
Following his victory in the December 2007 Special National Delegates Congress Nana Addo has been exhibiting some transformational leadership roles. This is a good sign for our democracy. In his foremost Press Conference, Nana Akufo-Addo has announced a 23-member campaign team including most of the personalities who contested the NPP leadership race (bitterly) against him in December 2007 and lost (See above).
Albeit, this author accepts to some extent that our (Ghana’s) constitution(s) put(s) enormous powers of government on the President therefore one must be careful to pre-judge a potential administration until work is in process. It is the prayer of this author that should Nana Addo become our next president he would be willing to negotiate some of those powers that are keeping Ghana’s development backward. It must be reiterated that the original constitution of Ghana had the objective of protecting a colonial regime based on protecting the office of Her Magesty, the Queen of England. Then one dares not disagree with the monarch. We must therefore be careful to support in unequivocal terms any leadership in Ghana that is not willing to revisit the tenants of our constitution. From his past involvement in public office, Nana Akufo Addo’s candidacy may not fall short of this yearning transformational leadership model though.
As a strong advocate of the Rule of Law, I would like to presume that the candidacy of Nana Addo would tap into his experience as once a practitioner in the European legal system to bring the same level of respect and practice of the Western experience in Ghana. I dare say that until the Laws of our nation are enforced by the courts, irrespective of how many fine and great politicians we get there would still be injustice and corruption, making the economic objectives of a regime non-effective.
Involvement of such statesmen as Dr. Kennedy may bring some fresh air and a sigh of relief, above all, if and when the best brains of the opposition is also tapped into by our next president. However, it (the 2009 administration) MUST begin with some amendments to the 1992 constitution of Ghana to provide the needed checks and balances to ministers of state and public officers.
A strong and genuine involvement of the Youth in the next Ghanaian administration would be refreshing and a genuine step towards development in Ghana in particular and Africa’s political process at large. This author, therefore, finds Nana Addo’s gesture of involving many of the Youth (who contested against him refreshing. Should he (Nana Addo) be willing to tap into the dynamism of the Youth, especially the likes of Kennedy and Dr. Frimpong-Boateng, Nana Addo’s administration could move Ghana forward and closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Notwithstanding, the process must begin with a revision of the 1992 Constitution and make strong case for an independent judiciary that would curb the excesses of the executive branch and the legislative branch. I would like to presume that the next political administration has started putting in place some codes of ethics that individual appointees would have to sign and submit to. A mere statement of Zero Tolerance will not suffice.
One advice for such an administration would be, to put many of the Youth in key policy positions and not under the shadows (but monitor them well). Past administrations have frustrated the Youth, and failed the nation miserably. By ignoring the ideals of the Youth, you turn them into the status quo. Though some have been integrated in the various governments, in the past, they have only been suppressed by the Establishment and turned into “mail men” or rubber stamps (and worse looters). To put it simply, great minds and ideas (of the Youth) have hitherto been marginalized by the Establishment.
Our next president would do himself some good if he be willing to take the views of the progressive Ghanaians/Youth with a pinch of salt over and above his ego or sycophants. Please do not reduce your subordinates to “Yes men”, it will come back to hurt you Feature page

Okyere Bonna, See my latest book at

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.