(By: Kwaku A. Danso)
Nana Akufo-Addo may be the most polarizing politician in Ghana but for many reasons. He has been applying for that job for a long time! Nobody is asking Ghanaian politicians to put a chicken in each man’s pot, but the last four decades of stifled socio-economic and environmental degradation of our society, wide income disparity, vanishing and degenerated middle class, plus accumulated $8.1 Billion in loans that do not deliver even water, calls for all to get involved in the art of managing our nation! I found this poll results on Ghanaweb (August 20, 2008) very interesting and thought of sharing some ideas on our GLU (Ghana Leadership Union) Forum. I want to expand the discussion to the general Internet readership public.
The polls are given below and show that of the 3,793 people who had participated, it seems Nana Akufo Addo is in a positive light. His favorable rating is almost 64% [53.7% + 9.8%], whiles his unfavorable rating is about 30%, and 6.4% undecided or neutral.
Polls are not used often in Ghana because of the cost involved in interviewing so many thousands of people. Line phones are the most cost effective, but incompetent leaders in Ghana and their administrators since the 1970s have let Ghana’s phone lines degenerate to the Stone Age, whiles quick profit motives have allowed emphasis on only cell phones in the latter years. This makes research across Ghana using phone services very difficult for scientists and pollsters. Polling is a very scientifically accepted means of predicting events using statistical projections.
During this writer’s research and projects in Ghana in the last 4 years and leadership change efforts, it was found that there is a very high level of social dissatisfaction. In many other countries, such high levels could lead to social revolutions were it not for the unique Ghanaian cultural attributes of (1) fama-Nyame (give-it-God), (2) Ebe-ye-yie (it will get better), and a third one (3) the reverence and fear of death. Let it suffice that this writer can go into details at a later date but for now, when one compares to other nations in Africa, it might be fair to suggest that our cultural attributes have held the society in cohesion far more than any attempts by our leaders to provide common services and opportunities for development. IN other words, people are suffering but the government does not care! It took 7 years before the Kufuor administration offered public phone numbers for people to call to complain about non-performing public services! . Such polls may depict one or two or many facets of Ghanaian life. It is quite possible the NPP propaganda or advertising machinery is more effective or better funded than that of the opposition parties. The questions that one might ask then are these: If this man is in a positive poll light, despite all the negatives, and he wins, what are some of the key issues you think he can deliver for Ghana? Few examples that come to mind: 1. Can he manage /supervise Ministers and actually hire local Project Managers to have water delivered to the homes of Ghanaians in this modern age? Or he will continue the tradition of relying on World Bank consultants and recommendations who have been reported by authors like John Perkins to charge naïve nations like Ghana $1,000 Million ($1 Billion) for something that should cost $25 million? 2. Will he provide open accountability of the NHIL funds collected, and not mix it in the common fund, and manage to have our hospital care system modernized and cleaned, so all can have clean hospitals and Ministers will not have to be flown to Europe, South Africa or other foreign hospitals for treatment? 3. Will Nana Akufo Addo utilize Ghanaian local and global expertise and labor, and invite foreign trained engineers and project managers to design and plan city roads that can handle traffic, or he will continue hiring World Bank experts who will sell us something for $4.2 Billion, that should cost only $50 million? (Ref. 1989 Ghana Budget calling for $4.2 Billion that never built any nation-wide highway system). 4. Will he take a leadership role to reduce some of the powers of the President as in the 1992 Constitution and help districts and regions be decentralized, allow them to have elected officials and have the people hold them responsible for the development of their towns, cities, districts and regions? He knows this is how it is done in most Western nations for a more effective democracy – question is will he give up some of the erroneously inserted Kingly powers? 5. Will he set clear open and published Goals for, and manage his Ministers to Manage projects and discipline them for non-performance?
Opinion polls are based on statistics and statistics can be tricky to interpret. However this shows a positive light for Nana Akufo Addo. One can ignore some of the negatives often debated about the man such as his style of communication some call “arrogance”, plus some of the issues of personal character and integrity too serious to mention here. There is a job for the President of Ghana very soon in November, and those who are applying know that the process of selection is by popular vote, and only perceptions determine favorability and success. Some have suggested that a candidate’s assets may lie in past glories and accolades, even old ancient glories associated with escapades with local women and multiple children that can boost antiquated traditional popularity. Others also believe in demonstrated skill-sets and competencies for the job of bringing Ghana from the disgraceful socio-economic condition we find ourselves in today after 50 years of independence, to a modern globally competitive nation. It is quite obvious to any keen and honest observer and analyst that local expertise and efforts in the last 50 years have not worked effectively. In the mean time there is enough evidence of highly skilled and trained Ghanaian professionals in various fields of knowledge, academia, health care and Western industries overseas. So what is the problem for Ghana, then? It will help if Nana could answer some of these directly to the people of Ghana, in purely non-partisan fashion, so those whose opinions are not necessarily translated and cast into concrete for votes or may not necessarily be NPP supporters can find out if he can deliver.
No man is perfect for the job of President, and there is no preparation for it. Not in America and not in Ghana. Effective leadership characteristics may vary from a range of personal assets, cognitive skills of intelligence, competencies and experience, communication styles or personal charm and charisma. A candidate like Barrack Obama in the USA may say “Yes, we can”, and in 90% of the cases, he can! Akufo Addo of Ghana can also say we can. However, it is the specific and unique Ghanaian environment and performance to the expectations made during the electoral process that determines the fate of many. The late Prof. Adu Boahene told this writer in a hotel in Los Angles in 1992, “some of you guys have the global technology and knowledge to build Ghana, but we are the ones the people know”. How do we provide a mutually beneficial merger where the envy and jealous policies translate into a joint venture of mutual gain for nation? The wisdom of the late Prof. Adu Boahene may indicate that we evaluate Nana Akufo Addo well, in a new light, and see if he wants to work with some who have the skills to provide, or he wants to continue using the same traditional systems. His recent choices for potential VP, plus his campaign team shed some light. In a recent debate on our forum one Professor questioned reports that Nana had stayed in Legon dormitory for one year before being admitted to the University when he returned from Europe in the 1960s, without paying fees, and even ate double plate food at the expense of the taxpayer. After prolonged debate I mediated by suggesting that Ghana is a forgiving society, and that if the man can deliver water through the pipes to the homes of the people of Ghana, lead and manage to have roads designed to cater for smooth traffic flow in Accra, clean up the city and cover the disgracefully stinky open gutters and curb or eliminate the mosquito as America has done, he can be forgiven for childhood pranks such as loitering and eating too much food at Legon.
What do you think?
Kwaku A. Danso (Email email@example.com)
President, Ghana Leadership Union, Inc. (NGO) Livermore, California, & East Legon, Accra, Ghana.