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Opinions of Friday, 28 November 2008

Columnist: Atta-Boakye, Ken

The Obama-Type of a President for Ghana.

The American President-Elect, Barack Obama has a message for all nations and their politicians. He has led the way to a civilized kind of politics and that ought to be the key to future politics. By his humble approach to politics he is gradually redefining the political playbook both at home and on the world stage. In the absence of an Obama type of a candidate for the Ghana December 7, 2008 General Election a vote for a more credible party should be an option. We honor, applaud and respect Obama.

Coming from no where Obama started his campaign strategy from his small Chicago local base and concentrated on the youth. With his definition of Change in Washington he won the heart of all Americans. He had no funds for his campaign but through smart appeals and sophisticated use of technology he ended up receiving more donations than anyone has ever received towards a campaign for public office. With a campaign defined by the tag line “no drama Obama” he managed to stay above the fray and responded to attacks with eloquent appeals to our better selves. Yes, his eloquence set him apart from the pack – but eloquence is a vital prerequisite at that level of political engagement – no, what made him stand out was the genuine authenticity that underscored his every utterance. In all the speeches he delivered to defend racial slurs and character assassinations, he remained committed to civil politics and stayed true to who he is. In short, one might have said that here was a candidate who was truly comfortable with his own skin. And because he had resolved his own internal conflicts, he forced us to see him on the merits of his positions and his intellect, as opposed to the conflicts of identity and belongings that have so long bedeviled many a black American candidate.

Americans have demonstrated yet again why they deserve the mantle of leadership in the world. It has proven to the whole world that the capacity to adapt to changing times and circumstances is the key to long term sustainability and relevance as a nation. Their capacity to assess the situation and conclude that the times call for the right leader irrespective of his race or other such nonsensical factors during social and economic turbulence is the perennial hallmark of these great United States, and this generation of Americans have lived up to that reputation.

Unfortunately, as a son of Ghana, I can’t help but think during such time that Ghana has squandered a similar opportunity.

When Ghanaians go to the polls on December 7, 2008 they can hardly boast of an Obama-Type of a candidate. All the presidential candidates in one way or the other have issues that take the shine away from them. Prof Atta Mills of NDC was handpicked by ex-President JJ Rawlings and that defies recognition and acceptance. Even Prof Atta Mills didn’t prove himself a seasoned leader when he headed the NDC Economic portfolio. NPP played dirty tricks to elect Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo during the nomination process. Others splashed money around as though they couldn’t ran on their merit.

The other candidates don’t have reputable national records to run on. The fact is in the Ghana case, those with international clout and less baggage were ignored. NPP had the Obama-Types among the 16 Presidential aspirants yet these leaders ended up with the least votes. Even Busumuru Kofi Annan could have easily transitioned into the Ghanaian Presidency after serving the UN but when his name was mentioned it turned into tribal politics. Even if other people opposed him he was so good that he could go for the second term in office. Wasn’t that an accomplishment to tell the stuff he is made of?

I wish to appeal to Ghanaian voters to do the nation one big favor at this time in the nation’s reconstruction program. Please, vote for a more credible party. If it is a choice between NPP and NDC how should voters decide? NDC has ex-President JJ and NPP will also have ex-President JAK. Each of them will have political influence while their party is in government. Guess whose influence will be more profitable and productive to the nation. Even between the two who has positive ideas? Reflect on the caliber of the leadership of these two parties and determine which party can deliver based on their records. It is most likely NPP will get more Parliamentarians than NDC and that would be an advantage. NPP as an incumbent can continue with their programs and initiatives. Giving the government back to NDC would mean starting from afresh. All these should help voters to decide.

The chances favor NPP but numerous allegations of corrupt practices and economic hardships have tarnished their good name. Let the people vote for NPP and find new ways and means to control the massive corruption. The leaders are corrupt because the people also give in to corruption. A sudden chill ran through my veins when one of the Talk Shows described a kind of corruption that took place when the Black Star played Tunisia last week at the Ohene Gyan Stadium in Accra. At the gate the Gate-keeper broke one ticket into two pieces and gave to two paid up spectators. They turned round to sell the other ticket outside the gate for more money that will ostensibly go into their own pocket. Corruption is a cancer that must be treated from the top down. Nevertheless the party that gives the best chance of bringing about the necessary reforms is quite obviously the NPP. We may not have Obama on the ticket, but that doesn’t mean that the country is not ready for a change in our thinking. Compare records of accomplishments between the two parties and vote accordingly. Pragmatism should triumph over sectarianism and sloganeering.

Ken Atta-Boakye Woodbridge, Va USA.