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Opinions of Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

The Nana Addo Challenge: A Calming Ride or Rude Awakening?

Is it fair to unanimously agree that Atta Mills remains a failed leader? President Mills is not effective and continues to fumble amateurishly. A peak at the alternative calls for stroking your eyebrow. Should Ghanaians be worried about a win by Nana Addo? Are we ready for the second coming of Kufour? Perhaps the abysmal performance of Mills in office makes Nana Addo a tempting option. However, is Nana Addo the answer that Ghana needs now? Is he the lesser of two evils or the real deal? Oh how I wish he will deliver if given the privilege!

To shed some light on the leadership challenge, I am daring my NPP friends to convince us that Nana Addo, baring an epiphany, can and will meet or exceed the attributes of an effective political leader. I am challenging my NPP friends to tell us how Nana Addo will lead differently. If Kufour was mediocre, how will Nana be the great leader that we need? Now is the time to put your promises on the table Nana! Convince us! Make your case! Are you the people’s man?

In our Ghanaian context, I believe the starting point of any effective leader is to have a clear vision (deliverables) of where they intend to take the country. To lay out a bold vision requires risk taking and informed decision making. This means that the leader must be in touch with the people and country. He or she must understand the aches and pains of the people and country. A leader in the mold of a detached monarch is veritably not good for Ghana. We want a leader who can relate and refuse to lord it over the people. The said leader must also be able to communicate candidly, their data driven vision. If and when reality calls for amending such bold strategic goals, the leader must be willing to listen, and make informed decisions with conviction. The latter is what strong leadership means. Can Nana Addo deliver on this end?

Once a shared vision is in place, all efforts must move to execution. An effective leader in Ghana must mobilize the people to act based to clear plans emanating from a shared vision. An effective leader must have credibility with the people. I believe a humble yet confident knowledgeable individual with exemplary character will have enough credibility to make his case with the people. If and when the people see a leader who is not afraid to eat and play with them, they will come around. The latter is one of the reasons why I could not stand the arrogance and monarch-like approach of Kufour. We don’t want Ghana to be run like a monarchy. We don’t need a conquering messiah. Is Nana Addo our man on this issue? Is he down to earth? Will he eat, cry, dance and work with the people to get the job done?

To mobilize the nation to act, a great leader in Ghana will not pander to specific tribes. The leader will treat all as Ghanaians and emphasize nationality over tribal proclivities. Ghana must be made the collective responsibility and ownership of all Ghanaians. A national view is helpful in guiding the leader to fairness. Ghana is made up of tribes. It’s therefore pertinent to govern the country in a way that actually shows fairness. We saw the moaning and griping when Kufour’s government picked and chose certain tribal leaders above others. Any objective observer can contrast what happened under Kufour with what is going on under Mills. At least no chief is being projected as the chief of Ghana. We need a leader who will work tirelessly to bring about tribal harmony. There is a grave need to capitalize on the strengths of tribes and marginalize the challenges that accrue because of our tribal differences. We need a leader who understands that our challenge is not around what tribes we are! Our challenge is around coming together as one unified country with one destiny.

Executing flawlessly calls for several competencies. First, an effective leader in Ghana must be a great listener. Enough of the one way communication! The people know what they need in most instances and they must be listened to. The leader must be able to listen as well as articulate his or her views to influence the people. Leadership is not about dictating and demanding compliance all the time. Execution means having competent people in place to translate plans into action. It starts with compelling reasons to engage everyone. Execution means, resources, transparency, responsibility and accountability are placed on a person not because of their tribe or party affiliation but because they can deliver results consistently. Merit must triumph all other considerations and square pegs belong to square holes. Ghana interest must override parochial tribal and familial interst.

A great leader for Ghana must be one who believes in accountability, accepts full responsibility and demands excellence. A leader certainly must delegate to trusted other leaders. Delegation comes with accountability, responsibility and demand for excellence. Often, the system breaks down because accountability coupled with responsibility and resources does not cascade downward. An incompetent and flawed leader is not able to hold others accountable because they model abhorrent and deviant behaviors not worthy of a leader. In the end, it is not what you say but what you do. If leaders at all levels (up-middle-lower) hold their followers responsible, we can begin to turn this country around. Holding others accountable forces leaders to identify skills gaps and coach or mentor to suit their concerns. Of course, if training is required, it ought to be recommended and pursued. We must reject mediocrity and coach up and down the line of authority!

The sickening ideal of linking political power with the wealth of the people must be discounted. Ghana’s wealth is for the people and the privilege of being a steward of such does not empower you to be reckless, greedy, self-seeking and corrupt. Ghana needs a selfless leader who understands that the needs of the people come first. A great leader in Ghana will detest corruption. Corruption will be confronted and dealt with swiftly. Transparency will become a hall mark of Ghana’s political landscape. He or she will know the difference between the nation’s wealth and the leader’s personal wealth. This leader will understand that his leadership will be measured by how well off his or her people are and not how cleverly he stole from the people. Is Nana our man?

I end by asking this: Do you believe Nana Addo has the above identified attributes? If not, how do we go forward from here? If he does, how do we hold him accountable to deliver for Ghana should he win? How will Ghana be led for the next five years? What is Nana Addo doing to currently to convince you that he is the man that we need in office?

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman (Also known as the double edge sword) I don’t give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell—Harry Truman