A Timid Akufo Addo to Follow Inept Mills?

Tue, 8 May 2012 Source: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

: The Time to Lead is now!!

I was frankly blown away when I read the news item about Akufo Addo’s call on President Mills to lead the way so that he, Akufo Addo, can follow. The news item in question, titled, “Mills lead the way and I will follow—Akuffo Addo”, was published by Ghanaweb on the 4th of May, 2012. My first instinct was to question why Akufo Addo cannot lead so Mills may follow. What if Mills does not lead? Who will Nana Addo follow? A challenger must always prove to voters that he or she can top the incumbent. If the challenger looks, acts, and follows the incumbent, why change? Leaders lead and followers follow! So, is Akufo Addo a leader or a follower? I believe his stance could be catastrophic for an opposition leader facing an incumbent. Oh how I wish a discerning Ghanaian public on these over glorified so called leaders! I mean all of them!!

If Nana Addo is making the claim that he can’t lead because he is not the president then he does not deserve to be president. We want a would-be president, to show potential now. Nana continues to punt the ball when given a glorious opportunity. How can we trust him to lead when in power? As far as I am concerned, this is a peach of an opportunity for Nana to distinguish himself from the president. If the president is not going to lead, Nana should show Oman Ghana what leadership looks like. The danger here for Nana is that he is pushing himself to lead at or below the level of the president. What if the president does not lead? Where does that leave Nana? Does anyone remember Fela Kuti’s song titled, “Mr. follow follow”? Check Youtube.com to get a good whiff of the song I am referring to.

Nana is committing leadership suicide. Why can’t Nana go to bat for the tribes that were earmarked for slaughter? Is Nana running to lead the whole country or just the Akans? If Nana Addo assumes that, Ken Agyapong and the NPP, are more important than Ga and Ewe folks, then how can he expect these tribes to not only vote for him but support him while in office? It represents the ultimate insult that, Nana Addo, will skirt the real issues on the table and continuing making puerile and bland excuses. He is not going to fool anyone with such skittish remarks.

Nana Addo’s political advisors must be doing a terrible job. Even if you look at his statement from a contextual standpoint of pushing the president to act, it still does not bode well for the challenger who professes to be a better leader. Are we still talking leadership here? Why wait on a president you consider ineffective and unable to lead? Show the way Nana! Show the nation what you will do, if you were in the chair and an NDC member of parliament makes such earth shattering tribal hate statements. Will you react to the opposition’s call or rise above the fray and blaze the trail? How would you handle the dizzying ascension of tribal hate mongering in Ghana? I would love to learn more about Nana Addo’s idea of leadership. So far, I am frankly not impressed. If Nana Addo cannot react to crisis fomented by his party member, what can he do as president? This is quite baffling and worrisome to say the least. I sure don’t want Ghana to buy a pig in a poke! Caveat emptor (buyer be careful)!!!

I can infer from Nana Addo’s call that he strictly sees or assumes that leadership is a top-down, power-driven assignment. While I believe some Ghanaians may share his slant on leadership, I am afraid to report that, the top-down-power-driven leadership paradigm, as the only way to lead, is seriously dated. The notion that one cannot lead without power/formal position is pure fallacy. Of course we know people with power who cannot lead. So, while power can be helpful in leading, it is not necessary to effectuate leadership. I believe, and the literature shows, that, one can lead without power. This is why the issue of influence is red hot in leadership discussions. For me, leading without power or position, is top class leadership. It serves notice of what one can do if they have power. Liken it to one who can manage well without resources. All things being equal, that same person can manage extremely well, should resources become plentiful? No?

Leadership is not solely about what power you wield or position you occupy. Leadership is also about influencing your followers and peers to act in a manner consistent with the rules, policies, norms, laws and ethics of society. One can influence without occupying any position or having power. It gets worse because in Nana Addo’s case, he does have power as the head of the NPP. I think we need to disabuse the minds of our people and politicians especially, that, power is always needed to lead. Indeed, the mindset of not being able to lead without power, accounts for the ineffectiveness of the opposition. This is why our democracy is reduced to 4yr voting cycles. What about leading during or between the four years of opposition? If you can influence someone, you can lead. You don’t have to beat anyone on the head with a sledgehammer to lead them. You surely do not need permission or cues from your opponents to lead. We need more influence style leadership in Ghana, than we do; swashbuckling, power-drunk-bossy---I-am-your-savior, style.

I know this may be hard for some Ghanaians to digest given our culture but I am here to share the good news. Anyone can lead effectively without having power. Role modeling, influencing, ethical behavior, coaching, mentoring, and activism are all forms of leadership that does not require power. This is one more reason why straddling the fence is no longer acceptable. We can all lead in our own small way. Think about it! What formal power did mother Theresa or Ghandi have? What formal power did Nkrumah or Mandela have while in prison? Yet all these individuals are considered leaders right?

Nana could have led by condemning Ken Agyapong’s gassy effusions and setting the direction for his party. It is true that he will come off as a hypocrite doing that because he has his own baggage. He is reported to have made clannish and tribalistic statements at the same time as he threatens mayhem on Ghanaians if the NDC plays foul with him. Could it be that Ken Agyapong took a clue from Nana’s regrettable statements? To say that he is bottling all comments on the Ken Agyapong’s ethno-gate scandal is sheer hypocrisy. This won’t be the first time he has commented on a matter in court, would it? And please don’t tell me that Nana cannot make a speech detailing his concerns about Atta Mills, at the same time as he condemns the genocidal tribal call by a key and leading member of the NPP. How can the healing start if the NPP leaders continue to dig their feeble heels in? They either support Ken Agyapong or condemn him! No excuses!

Nana should take a cue from president Obama when the Rev. Wright scandal erupted. Obama could have buried his head in the sand and wished away the fracas. We can report now that tackling the issue head on saved Obama’s bid for presidency. Leaders lead in times of crisis! They don’t cower and cringe, while floating in a sea of bubbling excuses. Ghana does not need another follower who gets weak kneed in times of crisis. Tolerating Mills in that office is enough headache. Replacing Mills with another Mills in the name of Akufo Addo will be too much to swallow. Ghana needs visionary and decisive leadership. We need a leader who will act when need be not a follower who waits for others to act so he can follow. We have enough followers! Lead Nana!! Lead!!

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman (Also dubbed the double edge sword)

I don’t give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think it is hell---Harry Truman

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka