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Opinions of Wednesday, 15 February 2006

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

Is Kufour The Right Leader At The Right Time ...

... For Ghana?

Leadership is an inscrutable topic. It is very difficult to define and means so many things to so many people. Often, we use our own values to assay what leadership is or should be. Leadership transpires when leaders act. What I want to do here is provide my definition of leadership and the attributes of the kind of leader that Ghana needs to navigate the stormy waters that we face. I am one who seriously believes that leadership is situational and that the context should determine the kind of leadership that we ask for. This means that, we need the right leader at the right time. Every hole needs a right size peg! Ghana is at a critical juncture. We are at a tipping point and will need a courageous leader with a strong vision to move us forward. We don?t need a leader who continues to manage the status quo. It will take more that managing the status quo to move us northward. A leader is one who is able to build a lucid shared vision and has enough ability to mobilize his people to carry out vision-consistent activities that actualize the tenets of the said vision. What is the vision for Ghana as we speak?

Do you believe that Kufour is the right leader at this point in time for Ghana? Notice that I am not saying that JAK cannot be or does not have leadership qualities. All I am asking is that, is he the right man at this particular point in time? Frankly, I am just as disappointed as a section of NPP folks about what Kufour is doing. I am of the view that this president has no coherent vision and is pandering to destructive forces in Ghana. I say this not in a vacuum but against the backdrop of what the president passionately occupies himself with. I have never seen any administration in Ghana devote so much time to chieftaincy and other useless or development irrelevant issues. What really has chieftaincy done for us? When was the last time chieftaincy put food on the table or created jobs? Here we have a president who was elected by the people without a significant majority, instead of focusing on national issues that benefits all, he is head deep in tribal and sectional issues. While some chiefs get attention, others are treated with scorn. Instead of speaking up for the flaws in our constitution and championing the changes that we need, the president is appointing more judges to the Supreme Court. All you have to do is listen to his reasons for appointing the justices. Appalling!! In other words, the constitution serves his purpose perfectly. How many more judges do we need to make the Supreme Court work? Can the president tell us? Rawlings is putting us through the hottest part of hell by rubberstamping this contorted and ill-conceived constitution that burdens us.

Then the president moves on to lament about how our doctors are leaving for greener pastures in the west. It is as if this problem started yesterday! My gawd!! Mr. President! These doctors, like most Ghanaians, were leaving even before you were first sworn in. What have you done about it? Instead of giving inane speeches and crying into your tea about how our doctors are leaving, why don?t you act for a change? Speeches will not stop the doctors from leaving. The IMF or World Bank cannot solve this problem for you. So what are you going do about it? It is as if the president is lost anytime he cannot find solutions outside Ghana. What is the use of a leader if he cannot solve pressing problems that affect the whole country but can douse himself with sectional issues that have no relevance to our survival and development? Contrast the latter situation with the opulence that adorns the presidential mansion. Here is a president worrying about doctors leaving our shores but wants a 30 million dollar mansion that ?befits the presidency?? Has anyone seen the plans for the presidential mansion yet? We?ve been told about the bill but we don?t deserve to see the plans? Is this president a king or president of a democracy? Now, you know why I assert that some of our folks have not transitioned from the kingdom mentality to the nation state mindset.

The more I consider the effusions that come from this NPP government, the more I feel dejected. From suggestions like a ministry of chieftaincy, royal academy for chiefs, providing 100 acres of ploughed and seeded land for MPs, management contracts with foreigners, an upper chamber of chiefs for parliament and the defense of our useless council of state. How much of this kind of asininity can we endure? Not a single person lost their job for all these gaffes. How much more of this can we tolerate at a time when our country needs serious direction and the right tools to erupt out of the muck that has become a mainstay? Our president has reduced leadership to scant speeches here and there, incessant travels overseas to beg for debt forgiveness and handouts, and photo ops to grin from ear to ear. Sadly, the docents, fawns and kapellmeisters continue to cheer on this mediocrity at the expense of the people. The president is ruling like our ineffective chiefs. This must be a gentle dwarf not giant. He cannot be caught doing volunteer work with the masses? He is too good for that, huh? Oh what a supreme ruler we have! He is coasting while the rest of the country convulse in anguish. The bar has been set so low that, the president reeks effulgence in the books of some but has nothing to show for it. What really has this president done? Did we elect him to manage the neo-colonial status or lead in radically restructuring it? Look, tolerating dissent and allowing freedom of speech, something Kufour has done rather well, is not an excuse for ineffectiveness is other areas of leadership.

I just got off the phone with a friend and it was heart wrenching to hear of the travails he endured in shipping a borehole machine to Ghana to help with the water situation. He had to pay 30,000 dollars just to get the equipment out of the harbor. In transporting the 70-ton equipment into the hinterland, one of the so-called bridges in Ghana gave up and his equipment fell into the river. This cost him another 11,000 dollars to have an Israeli company retrieve the equipment. Is this an indictment on the deplorable state of our colonial infrastructure? This is just the tip of the nightmares that he had to endure. Never mind that all the contracts for water holes or wells, end up with either the Chinese or party hacks. Ironically, those who get the contracts are those who either do shoddy work or do not have any equipment. Guess what, these people end up subletting the contract to my buddy. Corruption all the way! As it stands, the president guarantees jobs for all but Ghanaians. I just cannot understand our newfound obsession with the Chinese. I hope the press will keep their ears to the ground as our love affair with everything Chinese takes a cataclysmic turn. With all this crap going on in Ghana, the president has the crass nerve to tell us to leave our sojourn and come home? Instead of focusing on basics like, land reform, formal property registration, healthy banks, a credit system, address system, credible road network, creation of jobs, relevant education for all, viable healthcare system, rule of law, self reliance and national unity, he is rather mired is chieftaincy and building mansions to befit a president king. I did not know that our presidents were supposed to live like aristocrats! Bloody hell!!!

I know some of our NPP brethren will be either offended or downright shamed by the scathing remarks the president is enduring. However, if they take their partisan hat off, they will discover that their party stands to lose if the president does not shape up. If the president cannot attack corruption but instead thumbs his nose at us by saying we should take our case to the corrupt police or that corruption is just our own perspectives, then he deserves the drubbing that is just underway. Kufour is focusing on all the wrong places. Keep in mind that Kufour came in at a time when Ghanaians were fed up with Rawlings and the NDC phalanx. By voting Kufour and his gaggle in, Ghanaians voted for hope and a vision of progress. I am not sure if that hope lies in chieftaincy or the vision, in a president living in splendor when they, Ghanaians, nurse their sick in death camps called hospitals and feed on fumes.

We cannot talk about leadership without talking about followership. As someone averred the other day on C-SPAN, one has to learn to follow before they can learn to lead. Indeed, it is the blistering dormancy, ignorance and languidness of the Ghanaian followership that has nudged us into the leadership swamp that we so much detest. The concept of leadership should be important to all of us because we are all where we are based on some decision or the other that our leaders made. I am of the opinion that we have to change the leadership paradigm that has permeated the landscape and burrowed into our minds. This idea that a leader cannot be questioned and challenged must go. The idea also that once a leader is elected, he or she has the mandate to do what he or she likes has to go. Look at this carefully, should a handful of men and women drive a country in a direction that flies against the will of the 20 million majority? Why should the majority take it on the chin? Where is the people power that adorns democracy?

The followership fails miserably when they go to sleep after the election is over. The followership has power to extort good leadership. If they don?t demand good leadership, then they deserve the steady diet of crap that comes their way. After all, they elect these leaders. No one will fight for the people but themselves. Is enough not enough! Democracy is not a metaphor for docility and ignorance. Indeed, democracies fail to live to the hype when the people acquiesce to all the nonsense that leaders foist on them. Our parliament is virtually ineffective and the judiciary is a fetid cesspool of corruption that continues to nurse a steady bout of institutional constipation. Where really does this leave the ordinary fellow? Where is the leadership going to come from? Like soft clay, our people need serious molding to take their country back. We must challenge them to act raucously in their own interest. The days for genuflecting to so called leaders are over. I noticed with glee the president?s discomfort with what some of us are doing with the freedom that the Internet is providing us. Let keep it up! If we come together, we can make a huge difference.

Below are ten basic attributes that a leader in our current dispensation must have. Can we say that our president has these? Hopefully, before we put another president in office, we will use this framework to thoroughly vet him or her. These attributes apply to all levels of leadership.

1) Vision: A leader of Ghana must have a lucid forward-looking vision that is widely shared by a majority of Ghanaians. What he does must flow from the vision and be consistent to its tenant. This vision should be well articulated. What is the vision of our current leader?

2) Integrity and Humility: Any leader of Ghana must have integrity. That means that he can be trusted to do the right thing. It also means that he will be honest with the people. The interest of the power override that of the leader?s. He or she will be selfless and dedicated. He will be humble enough to identify with the people and live to reflect how most of his people live.

3) Stewardship: Any leader in Ghana should be a good steward of the country?s resources. The leader must abhor frivolity in the midst of abject poverty and dire need. The leader does not spend anachronistically. The interest of the taxpayer is always paramount. A good steward is one that upholds transparency and accountability. He or she employs sunshine values so that the people are in the know as to how their resources are being used.

4) Effective Listening: Any Leader in Ghana must have the ability to actively listen to the people and make informed decisions based on the concerns of the people and what is in their best interest. The leader must listen so as to act on behalf of the people not the minority or some interest group.

5) Empathy: Any leader in Ghana must be able to feel the pain of the people and understand their cry. They must be able to live and eat with the people. The ability to put one?s self in the place of ordinary folks is very critical in leading Ghana. If you cannot identify with the people, you will end up working against them.

6) Inclusiveness: A leader in Ghana must eschew tribalism. He or she should do all he can to unite the country and avoid promoting one tribe over the other. Promotion of chieftaincy enhances tribalism. Leaders should stay clear of chieftaincy and focus on levers that unite the country for progress. The leader must make sure that all of our people are included in the process. A national leader must behave nationally not in a sectional manner.

7) Anti-Corruption: A leader in Ghana must not only be incorruptible but also work to aggressively go after those who corrupt the system. He or she should go after party and cabinet members who spawn corruption. He must employ the rule of law in going after the corrupt and greedy folks within the country.

8) Uphold Democracy: Any leader should uphold democracy and the institution that supports it. Upholding democracy flows from the practice of democracy and effective governance. The best way to uphold democracy is to lead effectively and lead by example. Adherence to separation of powers and respect for the law.

9) Communicate Effectively: A leader in Ghana should be one who communicates effectively and communicates often. He is always present when the people yearn to hear from him or her, especially when their interest is threatened.

10) Result Driven: Any leader in Ghana should be results driven. He or she must produce results from the resources that they spend. They must assemble a group with the knack to implement effectively and efficiently. They must fulfill the promises that they make to the people. Leaders should constantly evaluate their actions against desired results.

Using the above framework, can you boldly say that Kufour has delivered as a leader? If you don?t like the framework above, create your own and see how the president is doing.

When I look at the situation in Ghana, I shudder and cringe. I don?t care for the NDC because I believe deeply that it is a party that was founded on the blood of innocent people. Besides, I am not convinced that the NDC is any different from the NPP. So why trade horses? Voting the NDC back into power will mean the second coming of JRJ. I am sure that no right thinking Ghanaian wants that. Not even the die-hard NDC folks. The NPP is fast becoming a serious disappointment. It is so corrupt to the extent that it has lost the moral and legal swagger to investigate and prosecute the NDC thugs who stole from us. It stinks so much so that even Rawlings, the director of the group that robbed and brutalized us, continue to threaten that he will send our NPP brethren to Nsawam waa waa if and when he comes to power through Mills the poodle. The NPP can only look within for its problems. The NPP is no longer a viable option. Who then will lead Ghana to the promised land? The Nkrumahist option has all but fizzled out. As long as the NDC has a stranglehold on the Nkrumahists, nothing good will come out of that camp.

I am eagerly looking forward to the third party option. An option that is fed up with the status quo and is willing to lead, not manage, us to the better life that we deserve. Ghana cries for bold leadership and an agitated and restive followership that demand such with swagger. Unfortunately, our answers are not in the two leading parties. Let all those who are fed up with the status quo rally around a new party that is willing to do the work of the people. The NPP and NDC cannot reform from within so long as those who run these parties stand to gain from the gravy train. The viable way forward is a new party positioned to clean house. All these recycled politicians must be swept out of office. We need a can do and untainted selfless leader to move us forward. This is not the time for reinventing chieftaincy and massaging colonial ideas. We need a radically new direction that seeks to crack out of the neo-colonial mold. We must stop begging and do for ourselves what no imperial or colonial power will do. As in NFL playoff jargon, we control our own destiny.

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