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Opinions of Sunday, 7 October 2007

Columnist: Sekyere, Emmanuel Asiedu

The Leadership Qualities of Nana Akufo-Addo

As the race for NPP flagbearership draws closer, I hereby offer delegates some of the leadership qualities to look for when they vote for our next President. As a third or fourth generation member, I think Nana Akufo- Addo is the best. I do not personally know him nor am I affiliated with any of his groups. However, I have followed Nana’s political life since I was a student at St Peter’s and University of Ghana. I have listened to him on several occasions beginning in 1992 and also read many articles about him. Based on these and many other reasons, I think he is more than qualified to lead our great nation. Since our future lies in the hands of our delegates, I would like to share with them the leadership qualities of Nana Akufo-Addo, and remind them not to be deceived by money.

Nana understands both the deliberative function of our democracy and the limits of such deliberation. I remember him because of his firmness and the depth of his convictions, his unyielding opposition to dictatorship or military rule and his determination that a house divided cannot stand. He was the first person to congratulate then candidate Kufour at the party’s 1998 Congress at Sunyani.

He redefined the message of the NPP to make it appealing to a majority of Ghanaians especially the youth. Some of us were tired of the excesses of the NDC and wanted a change for the better. We saw in Nana as a member of the NPP to be forward looking, optimistic, confident, universal and strong leader.

He is high on energy, drive and purpose. He has demonstrated his humility and readiness to deny selfish interests. He has respect for the office of the President. As a cabinet member with presidential ambition, he is reported to have said that, “we must all help the President achieve his goals since Ghanaians will judge the NPP flag bearer on the performance of the eight years rule of President Kufour”. Most of the cabinet ministers with presidential ambition wanted to resign even before the job was done. Are they not selfish?

There are those who thought Nana had neglected them after he lost to President Kufour. As he said in London “You do not support your party’s cohesion and government stability by strengthening or consolidating your personal ambitions at the expense of the collective programme - that would be a recipe for bad governance, mistrust and instability for the party in government ”, (Ghanaweb August 07). His actions and reasoning show he understands our tradition and that makes him more than a leader hence, the qualities that we should be looking for.

He practices participatory leadership. He is the only one who has an all inclusive campaign team. The membership of his campaign team is comprised of almost all the tribes in the country. Nana projects hope because he is able to visualize solutions to the problems of the hour, and he live in anticipation of reaching the goals he sets for himself.

He encourages the youth to stand up in the face of oppression, dictatorship, social injustice, religious and tribal politics. The late President Ronald Reagan of U.S. once said, “freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.” Nana is one of the leaders who fought for our freedom because he understands its value and he will uphold it at all times.

He is acutely aware of the presence, the concerns and the needs of those around him. He speaks warmly, exhibits friendship and builds a sense of rapport with those around him including the opposition. He is the only candidate who congratulated Professor Mills when the latter was elected as NDC flag bearer.

He is a friendly man with whom people could identify and he always has fresh and innovative ideas. He is a self-confident leader who trusts his beliefs and instincts and cannot be seduced by the temptations of power or prestige; a warrior who is willing to withstand the disapproval of those who want to tarnish his image. I laugh when people say that Nana is arrogant and elitist. From where does he draw his support? Is it not the poor like me? He is arrogant because he hates injustice?

Nana has a unifying character, clarity of vision and honesty in conviction to persuade even the NDC supporters to vote for him. As Mr. Victor Newman puts it “ a man that a cross section of Ghanaians have no doubt at all about his ability to lead decisively, sacrifice without seeking reward and deliver on promises” (Statesman August 07).

Let us not experiment with the 2008 elections. We do not need just a flag bearer. We need a winning candidate. We cannot win elections if we do not have a qualified candidate. So please Mr. or Mrs. Delegate, assess the strength of all the candidates so that you do not compromise your vote. If some think they have cash now, where were they when we were crying for cash during our days in opposition? Nana proved to be more resourceful when we were in opposition and even when he challenged President Kufour. Do we have to come to power to prove that we have funds and that we will put cash into the pockets of would-be delegates? If we were to amend our constitution so that all members in good standing can vote, will they be able to put cash into all our pockets? Give me a break.

According to Dolly Parton (2003), “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are an excellent leader”. Nana is an excellent leader because his actions and words inspired the son of a poor single mother like me to study hard and become somebody. I know how his actions and words inspired so many Ghanaians to stand up for their rights and be optimistic even during tough times.

According to W.G Bennis and B Nanos 1985, “leaders are distinct from managers. True leaders innovate, develop, inspire, have long term view, ask what and why; originate, challenge the status quo and do the right things. However, managers administer, maintain, control, short term view, ask how and when, initiate, accept the status quo and do things right”. Most of the aspirants are managers. But we need a leader. Nana fits as a leader since he possesses those qualities and that is the kind of person we need to lead us in the 2008 elections. Nana is someone who can inspire us when the going get tough; someone who can motivate and inspire Ghanaians with his personal magnetism and charisma. He is one person who will continue to create an environment in which Ghanaians innovations and creative contributions are welcome--- This will be Nana’s new Ghana.

In Nana’s new Ghana, he will not allow partisanship to get in the way of building a nation. In his address during the launch of Ghana Muslim Education Fund at Koforidua, Nana said “ A new Ghana where enmity, bitterness and vengeance do not frustrate our collective efforts towards improving the lot of each and every Ghanaian.” He added that he wants “Ghanaians to be each other’s keeper irrespective of political, religious or ethnic backgrounds”. Do these statements not show his level of political maturity, reasoning ability and his understanding of our body politics thus making him an exceptional leader?

Nana has the vision to lead, the courage to act, and the ability to offer solutions to our problems, instead of slogans. Please Mr. or Mrs. Delegate, you have the power so, do not compromise it. The race is not about the highest bidder; neither is it an experiment in personality nor beauty contest. It is about leadership, vision, faith, family, community and nation building. It is about Ghana and our future. It is about hope for the poor and the less privileged. Please, vote Nana for President on December 22. Thank you.

God bless the people of Ghana God bless NPP. God bless Nana.


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