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Opinions of Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Columnist: Ahenkro Osei

Oh Mr. President.

When leaders lead, followers will follow. A wise man once said. After almost a year of the NDC coming into power, Ghanaians have now had the opportunity to judge the kind of a man we voted as our President. I have watched our President and I have made some observations about him. Ever since he described his Government as the Arthur Mills Government on his inauguration I started to form an opinion about his mindset.

I think our president is a man who does not like taking personal responsibility for his Government’s actions. By describing his Government in the second state as the Arthur Mills Government he was straight away telling Ghanaians that he will not be personally responsible for the performance of his team. He has subsequently proceeded to try to lead in a manner to make himself look good and not take responsibility for the actions of his government. This cumulated to his ridiculous statement a few days ago that he would not receive any Christmas hampers. At a time when Ghanaians needed their President to wish them a Merry Christmas and assure them of a more fruitful new year, he was more concerned about how to make himself look good by bringing out a self serving statement about Christmas Hampers. When we need a President to release a statement to fill us with Hope, Assurance and Inspiration, we get a Christmas hampers headline all because the President is more concerned about telling everyone how he is not corrupt by rejecting Christmas hampers. You may recall he pulled a similar popularist stunt when he let the customs officials go through his pockets at the Airport. Only in Africa can a President use Humility and his Faith as personal qualities to sell himself to the masses to gain power. I have observed that anytime this happens in politics, this is used to cover the short comings of the politician. And if you criticise them, you are accused of hating people who are God fearing and humble. George W. Bush used his Faith to get power and we all know how it ended up. In our own backyard in the Gambia, President Yahya Jammeh is not only ultra religious but also claims to be a faith healer but that did not stop the murder of Ghanaians by his forces and the subsequent denials and cover up.

A further chink in the President’s armour is his fear of confrontation. This was manifested spectacularly when he made his “there is only one president speech” without stating categorically who he was referring to for fear of confrontation. His silence after the Abgobloshie violence and other sporadic violence in the country further exposed his weakness and his fear to confront the bad apples in his party. The most astonishing episode was when there was a lot of time been wasted by his Government over the office of the Ex-president Kuffour and Gbovlo Lartey was on the airwaves claiming the property belonged to the national security body as if to say the President had no control over national security issues, only for Mr. P. V. Obeng to come out to say he had actually had a conversation with the president and he was happy with the arrangement. The subsequent denial by Mr. Ayariga not only embarrassed Mr. P.V Obeng but also exposed the weakness of the president. Only recently the A.M.A boss came out to say that the President had called him to apologise about a publication in the National newspapers about the Accra decongestion exercise only for Mr. Ayariga again to deny the President ever apologised and the Accra Mayor had to sheepishly go on the Airwaves to retract his statement to save the President from further embarrassment. All this coming from a man who was a Vice President for 4 years. I cannot recall the President having a meeting with the Press session since he gave himself 80% for his performance in office .Is he scared of been asked unscripted questions?

The setting up of committees for everything is a sign of a man who will let committees make decisions for him, to exonerate him should anything go wrong. I don’t recall a committee deciding what rewards Dan Addo and his fellow under 17 World Champions were given. Mr. President, you have been given the mandate to rule for four years and whether you hide behind Committees, Spokespersons, Communication Directors or Information Ministers you are personally responsible for the actions of your Team and you will be held accountable for your actions or inactions everyday and not at the end of your mandate. When Americans had the chance to correct President George .W. Bush but decided to shirk that responsibility we all know how it ended. Four more years they said, and their Children are now paying with their lives and where is President Bush ? On his ranch in Texas. The masses always pay for the decisions made by the politicians. In life we do not choose our DNA, The Tortoise cannot get angry when people say it is slow because it is not it’s fault it is slow. No one is blaming you for been slow in reaching decisions, you are just doing your best and we are just stating the obvious.

Mr. President, what you should do is to use your often trumpeted humility to reach out and unite this divided country and stop giving directives to your Ministers to open their doors to NDC foot soldiers. The looting of cars by your team at the harbours is making Nkwantabisa look like a schoolboy. Your inability to confront the issue of Tribalism and Division in the country is a sign of weakness and is leading to the confusion in your Government as your lack of direction is leading your Team to make mistakes. One minute you are “father” for all and the next, you want special treatment for NDC foot soldiers.

This lack of leadership from the President has lead to his Ministers not carrying out his directive to declare their assets. If the people closer to him are not carrying out his directives, how can he control those outside his immediate control. They know his convictions lack courage , now we are all witnessing it. This is a man who on the Campaign trail, said an allegation of corruption alone will warrant an immediate investigation yet when the “Honourable” Muntaka’s indiscretions were exposed, he exonerated him but called for the Whistleblowers to be arrested and sacked only for the courts to overturn his abuse of power and lack of judgement. As the old adage goes, “Talk is Cheap“. Mr President this was your chance to prove that your convictions was backed by courage but you blew it, now you have to refuse Christmas hampers to prove yourself but you are only turning yourself into a laughing stock. The story was listed in the odd story section on Yahoo. That says it all.

The President coming out to say he will contest the 2012 elections when he is hardly out of his first year shows a President who struggling to impose himself all because he is not a natural leader. His idea of leading from the front is making sure he keeps his public persona of humility and a God fearing President intact while he ignores the behaviour of the rest of his team. His lack of leadership and direction and shirking responsibility for his Government’s actions and inactions as well as his lack of effort to unite a country that he and his mentor Jerry “ I will sell Nsawem Cannery to my wife and get her working capital from a Chinese grant but accuse others of corruption and greed ” Rawlings divided in order to gain power makes his first year a failure. I will write about the President’s Judgement on another day. I hope he learns from his shortcomings and surround himself with the right talent. Because whether we like it or not we are stuck with him. He should realise that like the Tortoise, it is not his fault he is slow and if he is smart, he will surround himself with Cheetahs who will do all his running for him.

To quote Plato, “In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill... we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.”

Ahenkro Osei.