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Opinions of Saturday, 31 December 2016

Columnist: Asubonteng, Bernard

Encouraging sign: Nana Akufo-Addo gearing up for 21st century public policies?

By Bernard Asubonteng

An Akan proverb is loosely translated into English that one can fairly predict how successful or otherwise a village market activities will be, just by looking at the influx of the participants in the early morning hours.

Since his stunning victory on December 7, 2016 general elections, the president-elect Nana Akufo-Addo has shown encouraging signs that his approach to governance is not going to be business as usual, but it will hinge around modernity backed by sound public policies. Already, he has sounded an alarm bell to his prospective cabinet members and other government bureaucrats that public service is not the right avenue to make money. For the president-elect, anyone aiming to make a lot of money must go straight to the right place: The private sector as opposed to public employment.

Aside from Nana Addo’s avowed aim to pursue a government based on transparency, accountability, and robust internal controls of the state bureaucracy, other encouraging public policy pronouncement that inspires this current piece is the incoming administration’s desire to relocate GNPC headquarters to Takoradi (Ref: Ultimatefmonline.com/106.9FM/December 27, 2016). Moving the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation main office from Tema to the Western Region where the bulk of the oil operations are taking place is a harbinger of success and industry of the upcoming new government.

More so, it underscores the president-elect’s practical vision and resolve to carry out not only his pre-campaign but also to translate his postelection promises into reality when he assumes power. Nana Addo Danquah’s determination to spread out or decentralize governmental activities across the country is a 21st century approach to governance that focuses more on efficiency and eliminates bureaucratic red tape.

Indeed, one of the fertile breeding swamps for the exponential incubation of state corruption originates from the cumbersomely age-old bureaucratic system in Ghana whereby almost every major government operation/service is centralized in one place—Accra and its metropolis of Tema.

Like almost all Africa capitals, it is unexplainable why in this century the policymakers in Ghana still “put all their eggs in one basket” while lamenting about overcrowding and uncontrollable traffic jams in the major cities in the country. Fact is everyone wants to come to the capital city where all the important jobs are situated to compete for inadequate state employment. No sane person will wish for any bad news to befall his or her place of abode.

But, certainly, there are some natural disasters that can happen in an area that goes beyond the cure of human control or prevention. Imagine in hypothetical scenario waking up in the morning to see a capital city partly destroyed in a devastating natural catastrophe?

In that unfortunate circumstance, it will take a pretty long time for the country—like Ghana—to pick up the pieces and recovers nationally, in that the majority of the nation’s heartbeat infrastructures and services are mostly concentrated in Accra and Tema.

It’s from some of these realities that the president-elect Nana Addo Danquah’s intention of relocating one of the nation’s preeminent institutions to Takoradi is an encouraging sign for many good things to come. In other words, having GNPC’s operations moved to the city of Takoradi shows Nana Addo understands the geographical and the functional relationship of Western Region as the emerging industrial oil hub of Ghana.

Listening to his pre-and –postelection policy proposals everywhere he goes, we will not be jumping the gun by asserting that the incoming Akufo-Addo administration stands the chance of becoming the best and the most effective government since the nation’s independence. Truly, we hardly need emphasis to say that the president-elect will measure up to his goals and even far exceeds the expectations of majority of Ghanaians home and abroad. The raison d'ê·tre for our unshakeable belief that Nana Akufo Addo’s presidential success story is imminent is mainly based on the fact that he is viewed in many ways as a radical politician.

Indeed, some Ghanaians often described Nana Akufo Addo as “radical” as if it is derogatory word. But under close scrutiny, calling someone radical isn’t a bad label; for, we’re all radicals one way or the other. Any change people make in their lives borders on radicalism; since changes entail opening a new or different chapter in every human endeavor. Throughout history individuals with radical tendencies have been the instruments for far-reaching transformations in cultures or societies in the past and in the present.

Without complicating or belaboring issues here, it is worth pointing out that Jesus was unapologetic radical, looking at many unconventional positions he undertook against the religious establishment during his short but productive time on earth. So also were Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nana Yaa Asantewaa l, Nkrumah, JB Danquah, and a host of others, who led radical campaigns culminating in seismic changes in their time in history. If Nana Akufo Addo happens to be a radical person, then the country has finally elected the right leader to effect radical changes for the good and advancement of the 21st century Ghana. That is in itself a promising sign.

It is no wonder that the president-elect Nana Akufo Addo has already begun hinting on litanies of radical policy ideas he plans to pursue after swearing into office. One of the many encouraging policy pronouncements by Nana Addo relates to the local governments whereby the districts’ CEOs will be elected directly by the local people instead of the currently outmoded system where the government in power appoints municipal officials (Ref: Modernghana.com, 12/27/2016).

Ghana’s sister country of South Africa practices this contemporary system of local governance in which the central government has no control of the selection of the municipal/local leaders. So far, the prospects look bright for Ghana because we are on the verge of having a “radical” leader in the nation’s political saddle bent on transforming the country into its rightful place among the comity of serious nations in this globalized century.

The writer is United States-based sociopolitical analyst. He can be reached: b.asubonteng@gmail.com