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Opinions of Monday, 13 June 2005

Columnist: Okyere Bonna

What Should Be The Qualifications Of Our Next President

An Enquiring Mind Wants To Know.

Diasporans do not have to Say It Loud but to show Ghana How To Do It. In fact, even the West knows that we can do it if only we can add some Love-of-country to our Know-How. Ask (a friend) which side the wind of Ghana's progress is blowing and pitch in or find your nitch. Our forum is not to be mistaken with SAY IT LOUD. It is a forum with Vison, Direction and Focus. JOIN Ghana Leadership Union TODAY.

It is not enough just to be listening in but also to let us know what you believe in. Ghana Leadership Union, (GLU) among others is here to provide a platform for good citizenry and governance in Ghana. So please join us to make it happen. Ghanaians are now learning to abstain from choosing a president who does not know what to do when elected or one who has never made his beliefs or ideas known to the public; Thanks to Ghanaweb, we can all be reached easily. So please let us get to know our presidential candidates before election day. Just being a party loyalist or the oldest one in a political party or even the financier MUST no longer be criteria for Presidential Candidacy. Our Republic must not be looked upon as chiefdom any longer. It must be viewed as the fountain of accountability, justice and responsibility for all Ghanaians.

A responsible, accountable, hard working President will produce the same citizenry. Unfortunately, in our political culture or climate, it all revolves around LEADERSHIP. Corruption will not cease so long as we have a president who is afraid to speak out because he himself is the MOST corrupt person in the country. Or because he's got his eyes on Ghana's goldmine.

I challenge all of us to start identifying the good candidates amongst us study them and get to know them better. We need to know them, at least, two years ahead of time to give us time to know what they believe in. Ghanaians should be tired of Old and Armchair Politicians who have no solid achievements to run on nor have they exhibited any love for Ghana. Ghanaians would be doing Ghana a great dis-service if they still hang on to the idea that it is only those remnants (old politicians) who have been dis-stabilising Ghana and sending it backward who are fit/qualified to lead. Anyone so elected to be President in 2008 must prove his or her worth in a constructive debate; and that one must make every effort to contribute some positive ideas towards Ghana Vision 2020 (i.e., the desire to transform Ghana into a First World country by 2020). I am excited because I know there are men and women out there who are going to usher in the new Ghana. Ghanaians want to see and know you. Name the truly great men and women of our lifetime- war heroes, politicians, sports figures and special names come to mind. You remember them because of certain acts or character qualities. So forgive me if I etch in your mind names like Dr. Arthur Kennedy in my "sermon." This is only an attempt to recollect or highlight on people who have served Ghana faithfully and courageously. Far from being known this unheralded man deserves to be mentioned in any such Ghana discussions pertaining to love for country. As the NUGS president in 1981 during the AFRC hate-regime this man defied tradition to question the authority of the AFRC and the rational behind the return of Flt. Lt. J.J. Rawlings after the so-called ?clean-up? in 1979. It may be too early to sing the praises of men like Dr. Arthur Kennedy but one thing I know is that he is a man of vision and integrity and should Ghana have him as our next president Ghana Vision 2020 would not be far fetched. I know Arthur Kennedy is not only a man of integrity but also a man with a vision for Ghana. You will love him when you meet him. This is the core of what I know about Arthur Kennedy. You can read more about him if you care to do your own investigation.

At least, I know there may be many or a few such honorable Ghanaians out there; please let us know you so that we can promote you. Guess what we can achieve if we can all work together peacefully for the sake of Ghana. We, Ghanaians in the Diaspora must see ourselves as one big family and unite ourselves behind any qualified Presidential product who loves the country better than his or her pocket. This is what all Ghanaians must be praying for. Yes we are all brothers and sisters and we should not encourage any family feud to linger on and rent the union into pieces before we wake up. We need to renew and transform our minds. Say It Loud, Okyeame and Ghana Cyber Group must be born again and help push Ghana?s policies in the right direction. We must all work together with GLU to help Ghana achieve Vision 2020.

It may appear to some as fun to exchange words but it is not funny when the exchange is unhealthy. It may also appeal to some as releasing tension or speaking ones mind and being free but it may not when it involves washing our dirty linen in public. Yes, it may be healthy from time to time to allow brothers and or sisters to vent out some of their frustrations (as they can be poisonous substances). After all it is more healthy to vent out and be free than to harbor grief and die or to conceal some disagreement towards hate and murder. Although it is healthy to SAY IT LOUD sometimes, it is even more prudent to cut it at a point and state the solutions.

By divine appointment, now it is easy for Diasporans all over the globe to get together and build the Ghana we have left behind. Let us not abuse this privilege. I think we have heard enough and it may be prudent to claim the indulgence of all Ghanaians in the Diaspora to consider burrying their differences and let us move on for the greater good of Ghana. We cannot afford to work in isolation if, in deed, we are aiming at solving Ghana's many problems. Together we stand, divided we fall.

Each and every one of us has a part to play in building our Ghana. You would agree with me that at this point we have all articulated our points WELL. It was only prudent that we started the ACTION NOW. We all need to roll our sleeves and work to achieve Ghana Vision 2020. Anything short of this is distraction. And I must add, there can be no winners here since we are all a big one family. Or should I say, WE ARE ALL WINNERS OR LOSERS. Any further exchange of offence, affront, injury or miscall would only constitute division and lack of love for our nation, Ghana.

Who said in a family we must all believe in the same philosophy? Who said two or more people with divergent views cannot work together to achieve a common objective? The PHARISEES AND THE SADDUCEES WERE MORE ENEMIES THAN ANY GROUP DURING THE TIME OF JESUS, yet they were willing to work together to achieve a common objective. (This is just to make a point).

It is the belief of this author that if we all believed in one way of solving a problem, life may be bored; and above all the solution may be shallow. Ghana and most African countries are not thriving well in our policies and one reason is lack of tolerance for other parties ideas. We must learn to work together no matter what if we really say we love our country. We must all be willing not to drag our feet in reaching a compromise/solution, for the sake of PROGRESS.

In spite of the many talents and brains, Ghana remains but only a valley of dry bones. Ask yourself, 'What am I in this doing to help Ghana go forward?" Or why should I trouble myself with GLU and or say Ghana Investment Club (GIC)? If your answer is short of, LOVE FOR GHANA, THEN I BELIEVE YOU ARE IN THE WRONG PLACE. In case you are here to proof a point then I guess GLU is the wrong forum or platform. This author believes the points have already been proven many times. What is lacking is the love/passion and will to implement the points. We should not assemble here only to flex our intellectual muscles; But to transform Ghana, to renew our mentality and to conform to progress and development. Ghana has some of the better brains among the world?s best and the most natural resources under the sun. Name it, we have it. What we lack is lovers of the nation. America is great not because the citizens are more intelligent or that the country has the most resources. No. It is because the people LOVE the USA. They always put the nation first.

On the contrary Ghana and or Africa is broken and rented not because of lack of resource or manpower (or even management) but lack of love for the nation. Our leaders don't love the nation and so are the citizens. All we hear are slogans. At least, so far as this author is concerned there has not been any or much action to back the claims up. The evidence we have is ego and selfishness. African leaders (government officials, especially) hold fat bank accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere African politicians, especially past presidents have the best mansions or greater number of property in their countries yet we have the worst GDP. As if we did not know that our politicians are stealing from the nation, they also parade the corridors of the West and beg for more and share among themselves and their cronies. Where is the love for their country?

Wouldn?t it be honorable if African Presidents and for that matter Ghana?s President made plans to meet all her citizens in the Diaspora during their many travels to discuss their country in depth? Never once did any African leaderHONESTLY assembled or appealed to her citizens within or without to rally together (financially) to redeem herself for fear of being exposed or being compelled to account for every dollar. The use of complicated tax system to extort money from the innocent hard working people in the Diaspora is only one of the devices of African regimes and Ghana is getting notorious for this- Taxation without any accountability. Proper guidelines need to be in place to ensure probity and accountability. Why will our officials rather (prefer to) go for foreign loan and hide under the cover of national sovereignty and divert the monies to their own accounts, or at least, the chunk of it without any accountability? Why is it always "I, ME and Myself?" And why must the citizens sit down unconcerned or quiet? Where is our love for our nation?

The elites want to align themselves with the winning party so that they can get a share of the booty not to shape policy in the right direction. We see the wrong things our party leaders and members do and never stop to question them. Once it is our party or cronies, we say it's okay but for the other it is wrong. Where is our love for the nation?

We refuse to acknowledge the good in the other party or person we disagree with and always dwell on their bad side. Where is our love for the nation we claim to defend? If you love your country, it does not matter who is in control, if one (he/she) does the right thing we need to acknowledge it. A statesman, Abraham Lincoln, once said that, "If you want to find the bad in a person you will always find it." Let Ghanaians for once also look for the good in the other person and learn to work together for a better Ghana.

Everyone of us, even the worse criminal has his/her good side. The question is not MYSELF, MY TRIBE, MY UNION or what have you. The question is, Do we love Ghana enough to save it? If we could save Ghana, we can save our lives, our families, our tribes (if it existed) and everybody else. This author believes some how that our problem is more to do with loving Ghana than getting the ?qualified? people in government. So we must first test our candidates to see if they really love their nation. It must be the nation first before sectarianism.

As a nation full of intellectuals and hard working men and women Ghana is still poor and remains a valley of dry bones. We have observed no significant progress after Nkrumah or independence. We have lost the vision after Nkrumah. We are no longer a nation but individuals with different and selfish agendas. We have become a people scattered with different agendas or without a common goal. We need to become a nation once again or else our talk will not produce any results. We need to unite behind the love of the nation not ideologies.

The only hope Ghana has is Diasporans. We need to show the remnants back home that it is possible to over ride tribe and regional boundaries and co-exist as one people, one nation, under God. Counting the government of Ghana?s admission that Diasporans contribute some $1.2 billion annually to Ghana? economy, which is more than 70% of Ghana?s revenue, we should be careful to compose ourselves, conduct ourselves in a professional manner and seek active involvement in Ghana politics. We should not allow any feud to break us.

Diasporans need to rally together, at least for now, under the banner of GLU and breath some life of hope into the remnants back home. This author believes that the transformation and restoration of Ghana rest in the hands of Diasporans. The people back home (remnants) may be so desperate that they can't even think right. Therefore, this author sees the urgency for Diasporans to not only conserve energy for the progress of Ghana but also to reconsider how best this can be done. It appears all our politicians care for are slogans, not ACTION. They can't see anything less than the doom of the country so they do all they can to speed it up. They have lost their hope and love for the nation. No matter how much they fake it, the facts are obvious. Many don't love the country but their stomachs. We cannot do less but to train and or encourage the incorruptible few to think of renewing and transforming the dead bones. Diasporans therefore need to be united now than never before and rally behind any honest and true lover of the country to assume the mantle of leadership irrespective of his/her party affiliation. Ghana must come first.

This author is a strong believer that Ghana's next president must come from the Diaspora. Or one who has not been corrupted by the system; one who can stand on his or her feet and weed out (CAUTION: weed here does not imply killing but denying them political or public offices) all preys of the nation and lovers of their pockets. One who is not afraid to bring party leadership/lords to order. One who is not afraid or intimidated to speak to the old dry bones to shape up. We need someone who can breathe into the intellectual dead/dry bones and make them live again. These intellectuals have so much to give to Ghana but they have sold their consciences to money and favors; they all wants to be the friend of the President. Where is their love for the nation? We need someone who can breathe into our civil servants and make them live again. A President who will not be afraid nor slow to put flesh and muscles on the Public Sector and cover the nation with skin. Then the whole world would know that Africans are not stupid.

Charity begins at home. Therefore, let all Diasporans rally behind GLU and fight to redeem the Ghana we love so well that we are not hesitant to send remittances whenever the call came. Thanks to Diasporans these dry bones still give some rattling noise all across the valley of Ghana; an indication that there is some hope.

This author sees a bright Ghana coming; the country where Africa can look up to for leadership and example. We will gather flesh and attach ourselves as they are expected to be. Yes, flesh is forming over the bones and the skin is forming to cover the bodies as Ghanaians in the Diaspora begin to focus on WHAT MATTERS. This is our call, COME,O LOVERS OF GHANA FROM THE FOUR CORNERS AND BREATHE HOPE INTO THESE DEAD BODIES THAT THEY MAY LIVE AGAIN.

In the next presidential elections, let us educate our members and families to not vote for party but for lovers of Ghana; this is the essence of non-partisanship. Our next president must be ONE who has not only learned and got exposure, from the West or elsewhere but also someone who knows the history, politics and topography of Ghana very well; a distinguished gentleman or lady who can work with all fashions and above all exhibit love for the nation. I pray that this is what Ghana will get in 2008 so that we can move closer to VISION 2020. What Ghana needs is not more ideas or intellectual debates but lovers of the nation.

It is the believe of this author that we (in the Diaspora) are gathered here not by accident but by divine appointment to learn to take on love and to preach love of the nation we claim to defend. We must move forward. We have stood still for too long that we have or are beginning to bend backward. Let us be propelled by love of the nation, like the nations we have so identified already. Let us learn to rid ourselves of suspicion, jealousy, hatred, covetousness, selfishness, animosity, revulsion and all the like that render us too heavy to soar to our desired heights. Rather let us take on the spirit of love, altruism, generosity, self-restraint and benevolence and all the like that we will find new strength to fly high on wings like eagles.

Our universities back home are really in bad shape. Someone ought to do something! Grippers, complainers, self-proclaimed leaders and armchair quarterbacks abound. It is easy to analyze, scrutinize, and talk about all the problems in Ghana. But we really need people who will not just discuss a situation but who will do something about it! Gandhi saw a problem and he was distressed. Martin Luther King, Jr. saw a problem and he was distressed. Nelson Mandela saw a problem and he was distressed. Instead of complaining or wallowing in self-pity and grief, they took action. We all know that we need to motivate Ghanaians to rebuild Ghana. Each of the individuals identified above saw the need to rebuild their countries so they did what was needed to be done. Their efforts were not without opposition though. They were fearful and weary yet they persevered and set their eyes more on the VISION.

We may not need to leave and go home today but we can start or speed up the preparations. We need to organize ourselves, encourage ourselves, confront injustices and keep on going forward towards the goal, the building of Ghana from Third World to First.

We cannot build Ghana with insults and ridicule, threats or sabotage. Our STRATEGY must be to frustrate the enemy; encourage one another, be on guard duty and consolidate our resources. We, (I mean each one of us) must bring whatever he/she has. One way would be to support the cause of GLU (Ghana Leadership Union) and GIC (Ghana Investment Club) with our money. Each of these movements believes the destiny of Ghana rests with Ghanaians not Outside Forces. At least, it begins with Ghanaians themselves.

At this juncture, there is the need to call for self reflection besides the call to renew our minds as a new breed of Ghanaians who are hungry for change; that our sail will catch some wind to fly or float (not sink). It takes ACTION not wishful thinking to build a nation or to save Ghana. We will not get anywhere if we, diasporans who not only claim to have the solutions to Ghana's problems but in deed, would spend the time either proving our point or dragging our feet... (or what have you).

Let us leave the lip service behind and take some action; anything that works, anything that would put some hope in the remnants. It is time for national revival and the revival must come from the Diaspora. What we need to do is to educate ourselves and the remnants back home to stop depending on government and empower ourselves as well as the people we have left behind so that the government would rather depend on us. Hopefully by depending on us they would be accountable to us. After all they were elected to serve us not for us to serve them.

It is worth repeating that Ghana's solution rests with all Ghanaians. We have all it takes except for the LOVE (and UNITY); and once we get this we are through. As DIASPORANS we have been appointed by divine providence to go and produce fruit that will last even as we have contributed to our countries of residence. History would prove me right.

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Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.