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Opinions of Saturday, 6 December 2008

Columnist: Ampofo, Samuel Asiedu

Ghana, Continuity in Change or Change in Continuity

As the cycle of leadership elections are held around the world, a trend seems to be developing; albeit expressed in a variety of ways, mostly peacefully, some results in violence, others power-sharing etc. The people of the world seem to be agitating for change. A change that takes away the old ways of doing politics and driving the national and International agenda of both developing and developed countries.

A case in point is the United States; Senator Barack Obama running on the message of change and winning on that basis. As a spillover, change has been reverberating through national politics in most developed and developing countries.

Candidates campaigning with a message of change are experiencing unprecedented levels of broad support. As a result, everybody seeking leadership is claiming to be the candidate of change.

In the UK for instance, the opposition Conservative party is making inroads leading current opinion polls with between 5 and 10 percentage points over the incumbent Labour government because there is a perceived non-performance and the message of change is resonating with the citizenry even though the Labour government is recovering as a result of their perceived proper handling of the current financial crisis.

In Ghana, the situation is no different: almost all the presidential candidates have one time or the other sought to identify themselves with Senator Barack Obama’s win. Most political commentators will agree that it is time for at least some sort of change. A change that will prioritize rightly, direct and invigorate our country’s development agenda.

Although sympathisers of the NPP believe that Government should stay fundamentally unchanged as it has been for over the past 7 years, the need for a change in attitude towards the country’s development priorities, corruption and national security seems widely acknowledged. NDC sympathizers believe that the NPP government has been a failure and that change means a wholesale shift from NPP’s capitalism to their new brand ideology of “social democracy”. CPP and PNC sympathisers on the other hand believe that both the policies and fundamental principles underlying our political practice need to be overhauled.

The question then is; do we subscribe to change in continuity as NPP would like or continuity in change which stresses the case of NDC and other opposition parties?

Thus in 2008 Presidential elections, whose win would be continuity in change or change in continuity?

Who would bring about the change that Ghana needs and deserves? Indeed, given that the very definition of “change” is subject to dispute, this question would be a difficult, if not impossible one to answer conclusively without making a variety of assumptions. What we can answer with some degree of objectivity is what type and leadership style of a candidate we should be praying and seeking to lead our dear nation.

For me, Ghanaian politics is a national vocation for which every Ghanaian living every where on the globe has a responsibility to air and share their concerns, opinions, ideas, suggestions and basically their take in an effort to help in the national discourse and development agenda. Ghana, I believe is at the cross roads where we need leaders who would bring new ideas, vision, strategies and style to the table as the opportunities and potential for the socio-economic development of the country are unprecedented now than any other time in our entire history.

Therefore my take on the change I seek from the next president and leadership of Ghana is as follows;

• I need a leadership which is aware of the past we know and understand, the present we have and have the vision for the future we seek.

• I need a country where every one of the citizenry especially the youth would have a fair shot and not a long shot of the available opportunities.

• Where all citizenry of any tribe, race, religion and culture are galvanized to channel their ideas, experiences and energies into productive activities for national development

• An administration that really believes in science and technology as the tool for development and would actively pursue policies in that direction.

• A leader who understand the real issues facing ordinary Ghanaians, and have the ability to prioritize fairly and rightly with only the national interest as the sole consideration.

• I need a leader who would set time frame targets for land mark manifesto projects within his term and achieve it. For instance, name every street of Ghana by June, 2010.

• A leaders who advocates and practices transparent, accountable and efficient leadership in public service.

• A leader with basic and common decency of knowing where to say what and what to say where.

• A leader who by word and deed helps unifies the country and work to halt and reverse the downward trend of inherited socio-cultural practices that does not aid and hasten our development.

• A leader that provides the children of Ghana the tools they need to succeed in this current challenging world of ours. Thus, education, health care and safe environment to nature, grow and develop their talents.

• A leader who recognize the importance of understanding the workings of Ghana’s socio-cultural as well as the political system and structures, and would work to successfully strengthen and improve its efficiencies to serve the development agenda of Ghana.

• A leader who can identify, strategize and implement grand schemes (pillars of economic change and progress). Thus, major policies that are geared to speedily, radically and fundamentally change the course of the nation’s development.

• I also seek more government effort through the Chieftaincy Ministry and National house of Chiefs (bearing in mind the 1992 constitutional provisions) more sanity and decency into our chieftaincy institution in terms of succession and holding stool properties in trust for the people (accountability) and blend it to recognize and improve upon its cornerstone role as the embodiment of our identity, peace, cohesion and development as a people.

• A leader, who would drive consensus, manage people and change effectively and efficiently whiles protecting the basic social and economic rights of its citizenry both in Ghana and abroad.

Do we, and can we have such a leader in Ghana, I sincerely believe we do and can have such a Leadership. For me, this election should be about the future versus the past. But only in terms of the experiences of the past and what is and would work for us in the national development agenda for the future.

The choice should be clear if the cause is fair and just, by critically looking at the candidates and the issues confronting the country if the nation’s development agenda and its interest is the sole objective. Vote confidently for the aspirant who would fulfill you take in Ghana.

Good luck with your choice of a leader and have a fulfilling elections as well as a Happy Christmas in advance. Long live Ghana.

By Samuel Asiedu Ampofo

The writer is a financial adviser in London, UK. You can reach him with your response and comments through