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Opinions of Saturday, 14 July 2012

Columnist: Andoh, Charles

Power Can Be Intoxicating

“You should not represent the people if you cannot improve their lives” (Philip Atawura student of GIJ).

It seems no strange that human beings have to assume power or authority in institutions or countries in order to direct their fellow men unto the right path. But is that really the case in Ghana and Africa?
Some people have even asserted that, to know who really a person is, give him power or leadership position. Simply because it is only when one is a leader that you know his/her true colours. However, could this and many other assertions about power being intoxicating to be true? Political power has become one of the positions that is very corrupt – though I stand for correction.

Lord Arton, a Political thinker once said, “Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely” and this can clearly be seen in African political leaders both past and present.
Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia abused his office by committing crimes against humanity. He murdered a lot of Liberians by cutting off their limbs and mutilating civilians as well. He also used women and girls as sex slaves and raped many.

Similarly, Idi Amin, the former President of Uganda has been described as the most notorious of all Africa’s Post – independence dictators.
He also murdered, tortured and imprisoned about 100,000 million people in Uganda. Idi Amin is popularly known as the “Butcher of Uganda” due to the Outrageous, primitive and barbaric acts he carried out against his people during his tenure.
The obvious question one may ask is, was he trying to do away with his people and then rule over animals?
Interestingly, the former leaders of Congo, Somalia, Burundi and Rwanda cannot be left out of the accusation against the killing of women and children.

Consequently, these countries up to date are suffering from development due to the irresponsible behaviours of their leaders.
For instance, Congo, Somalia, Burundi and Ivory Coast have seen no development even though the African Union (AU) is trying its best to help resolve this problem. All these can be leveled against the leaders who set wars in these countries.

However, these leaders have not, and will never go scot free. Either they are imprisoned after their tenure of office or they run in and out of court each time. Some even suffer severe ailment and are unable to cure them and die as a result.
Indeed, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome was right when he said, “as a leader if you don’t give your best while in office, you will be in pains when you are out of office”.
It is against this backdrop that Charles Taylor, Laurent Gbagbo and many other African leaders today are spending their lives in jail and are constantly taken to the Hague in the Netherlands for further accusations.
Presently, Robert Mugabe is sharing power with Morgan Tsvangarai with Mugabe being the incumbent President of Zimbabwe and the latter as the Prime Minister.
This is simply because Mugabe refused to accept election results during Zimbabwe’s last election. This brought about a lot of tension and mayhem in the country leading to the lost of many lives and many were wounded in the process.

In 2007 – 2008, under the leadership of Mwai Kibaki the current President of Kenya, there occurred a post – election violence leaving people in torture and pains.
Meanwhile, Abdulai Wade, the former President of Senegal cannot be left out of the hook as being corrupt in his office. He managed to change the country’s constitution to suit him when his tenure of office was over.
Indeed, one cannot talk about Africa and rule out col. Muamar Al – Gadafi, popularly known as the “desert warrior”. When the people of Libya were tired of his 40years and over leadership, they asked him to organize an election and the best thing he could do was to wage war against his own country men thereby killing thousands of people and leaving many children homeless and hopeless. Today, Libya is faced with a lot of challenges in the area of development all because of the irresponsible behavior of one political leader – Gadafi. Unfortunately, in the end, Gadafi died a bitter and shameful death.
Sometimes the question I ask myself is, were these not the same people who have been begging to be voted for and the reward they can give in return is to abuse the power entrusted in their hands? It is really sad and shameful.
I am therefore quick to add that, I vehemently oppose William Shakespeare when he said in Hamlet that, “frailty, thy name is woman”.
Frailty has to do with human beings in general hence the afore – mentioned Presidents are all frail.
In Ghana, the situation is same. For instance, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who is revered all over the world by every individual, including myself as one of the world’s heroes, also corrupted his position while in office as the first President of Ghana.
History has it that, Nkrumah set up the Bureau of National Affairs which was secretly known as special African service which was to train people in guerilla warfare.
In addition, Nkrumah set up secrete camps in towns like Berekum, Wa, Navrongo, Yendi and Okponglo. He did all these to protect himself and not the Ghanaian population. It is therefore obvious to say that, Nkrumah did all these to retain power for long.
It is also recorded that Nkrumah pushed a lot of money belonging to Ghana, to Guinea Bisseau.
He left the Ghanaian economy in a devastating position. The question to ask is, was this not the same man who helped Ghana gain independence from her colonial masters?

Under the leadership of Lt. General J.A. Ankrah, the country was faced with high rate of inflation, high prices of goods and shortage of essential provision.
Meanwhile, this very man together with others overthrew Nkrumah claiming that Nkrumah did not deserve to be in office. He then assumes office and does worse things.

The order leaders who abused their position include; Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia, Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, Ft. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings among others.
Currently, the country is faced with a lot of problems under the leadership of Prof. John Evans Atta Mills. But this was the same man who promised Ghanaians heaven and earth before he was elected into office.
It is also surprising to hear when our leaders who are expected to make the lives of the Ghanaians better compete among themselves with what they do and provide for their communities. Even the provision of social infrastructure such as schools and hospitals has become a competition as to which political leader provided it.
But is it not the tax payer’s money that is used for the provision of these entire infrastructures? Why then the competition? NDC says I have done this and NPP claims, they did that. Currently, the National Democratic Congress government claims they have provided over 1.8 million jobs all over the country. Yet people are complaining of not having jobs to do.
If I may ask, why do our leaders think Ghanaians entrusted the country into their hands?
On December 7 2012, Ghanaians will be going to the polls to vote for leaders of their choice. For this reason, politicians will cajole people in their campaigns to vote for them and promise them heaven on earth. At the moment Ghanaians are witnessing such campaigns where some politicians are making promises they know they cannot fulfill in the long run. It is therefore obvious that because these politicians need votes from Ghanaians that is why they are embarking on such campaigns.
Eventually, they will tend to abuse such positions when they are given the mandate.

I will therefore not be surprised to see a new government replicate the same mistakes of our past leaders.
I am therefore of the humble opinion that, African leaders must recognize that leadership goes by followership. And leadership or power is given to people not because of their beauty but their competence and ability to serve their subordinates.
Leadership must be by the concern of the people. Therefore, our leaders must leave office peacefully when their followers express dissatisfaction in them. It should not be the time when leaders tend to wage war against their subordinates. The Good Book (Holy Bible) says that, “whatever a man sows, so shall he reap”. Against this background, if a leader sows chaos and anarchy before leaving office, he will surely reap the end result of it. In conclusion; Ghanaians do not need leaders who always claim will die for them but leaders who are committed to make the lives of the people better. Remember, our leaders, you either “drink deep or taste not”,
Long live African leaders, long live Ghana. May God bless us all.
Written by Charles Andoh(Ghana ,institute of journalism).