Can Any Good Thing Come Out of Ghana?

Sat, 5 Oct 2013 Source: Pryce, Daniel K.

In December 2016, Ghanaians will have the opportunity to choose a new president. But can Ghanaian citizens look beyond party affiliation and select a selfless and forward-thinking leader? Although a tall order, as the embryo of our democratic governance is still evolving, Ghanaians can learn to discard their predictable patterns of voting – mainly along party lines. The way to achieve this “sacrosanct” objective is to educate the voting public to distinguish between a selfless leader and a narcissistic one, between the politician with an enduring plan for political stability and economic growth and the one with myopic plans that promote division and narrow-mindedness.

Good leadership is not a heritable phenomenon. There is a maxim that people are born leaders, but I believe that anyone with enough dedication and the willingness to learn can become a good leader – perhaps, even president of Ghana. A good leader is one who places the needs of the people above personal aspirations and pursuits. An individual who desires to lead a nation certainly has great ambition, but if the principal goal is to place self ahead of the masses, then such an individual will never exhibit the attributes of a good leader. A good president formulates cathartic resolutions, devolves authority to capable lieutenants, promotes participatory democracy, galvanizes the citizenry, rejects ethnocentric proclivities, and preaches patriotism. Identifying, choosing, and supporting such a leader are sacred responsibilities that voting citizens must embrace.

Long before the idea of good leadership became widespread, most leaders were tyrants, and a perfunctory look at historical figures corroborates this point. The Persians and the Greeks had used crucifixion to punish their adversaries – and fellow citizens – long before conquering Roman armies imitated the practice. Taking a lesson from modern history, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were some of the 20th century’s most despicable leaders, whose poor leadership qualities wrecked their own lives and transmogrified their nations’ previously venerated identities. Leadership in Africa had been just as poor – a plethora of unelected governments across the continent embodied this degeneracy – although the smog of doom has been dissipating in recent years. My contention is that getting the right man for Ghana’s top job can either make or mar our nation, because the effects of bad decisions can last a generation or longer. Thus, choosing the right man for the Ghanaian presidency is a moral responsibility.

In advanced democracies, such as the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, citizens tend to cross over to elect a leader from a rival party, if that individual has the right qualifications and temperament to govern. Can we find such an individual in contemporary Ghana? Can any good thing come out of Ghana? We need a leader who can clip the wings of divisiveness. We need a patriot and a unifier, one whose avowed stance is that all Ghanaians are created equal, with an inviolable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of opportunity. Ghana needs a president who will curb cronyism, curtail nepotism, and sever the fangs of ethnocentrism in our body politic. Unless we elect an altruistic president to spearhead our collective efforts to halt this gallop into degeneracy, the nation’s primordial fabric of togetherness will eventually come apart at the seams.

Ghana’s next president must be a visionary, a man capable of setting long-term goals. Ghana has lately been borrowing money excessively from loan sharks, such as the IMF and the World Bank, and unless we make an unwavering effort to curtail this gross dependency on foreign loans, national growth will remain a mirage for decades to come. For its size and income per capita, Ghana has too much debt. With vast amounts of natural resources, Ghana should be earning enough foreign capital to trim down her burgeoning debt, but our leaders continue to mismanage the nation’s resources.

Our penchant for importing every household good is inimical to economic growth. And while the choice of buying from either foreign producers or local entrepreneurs is generally based on profitability, the government, led by a president with foresight, can create a congenial economic terrain for local entrepreneurs, by lowering taxes on made-in-Ghana goods. For example, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, with all the great minds on its engineering faculty, is capable of manufacturing some of our most basic scientific and agricultural products, but our incompetent politicians will rather purchase these goods from overseas and benefit illegally from the transactions. Today, South Korea has become very competitive in the automobile market, with its car manufacturers – Hyundai, Kia, and Daewoo (now GM Korea) – giving traditional automobile-making powerhouses a run for their money. If South Korea, which was at war with its northern neighbor just a few decades ago, can make such tremendous progress in such a short time, then Ghanaian leaders have no more excuses for the nation’s lack of technological and economic advancement.

The English people once referred to India as a nation incapable of governing itself. But India overcame that label and is now an economic and nuclear powerhouse, capable of deterring foreign aggression. Indian professionals now dominate the field of computer technology worldwide. For instance, if large numbers of these Indian professionals were to leave the United States suddenly, the business world, including Silicon Valley and Wall Street, will suffer a crippling interruption. Ghanaians can also distinguish themselves in a relevant field, but we cannot make progress unless the government creates a congenial atmosphere for technology to flourish. Training students in science and technology without the infrastructure to convert knowledge to practical use is just a waste of the mind. Indeed, we need a president who both understands and embraces a world that is experiencing rapid technological change.

The presidency is a noble undertaking, albeit a demanding one. Thus, Ghanaians deserve only the best to lead them. A selfless president leads by example, fosters unity, promotes the culture of free speech, respects the rule of law, and encourages free enterprise. In essence, Ghana deserves a great leader to lead the country after Election 2016. The New Patriotic Party’s post-Election 2012 petition, a veritable silver lining, will certainly galvanize all political parties to be more vigilant and better prepared to uncover irregularities at future polls, so Ghanaians should expect an improved voting process in 2016. In other words, we are likely to see the next president elected primarily on merit.

We cannot afford to elect a vindictive, megalomaniacal, and grumpy personality in 2016. We cannot afford to elect one who thinks that he has scores to settle, as the nation will simply retrogress socio-politically. Our nation’s very survival is at stake, and Ghanaians ought to vote for the right candidate in Election 2016 – irrespective of party affiliation. If any good thing is going to come out of Ghana in Election 2016, then Ghanaians must select their next president based largely on the candidate’s character and achievements. Indeed, it is not too early to call on Ghanaian citizens to start thinking about the direction of their country post-Election 2016, as serious people everywhere understand the essence of planning and looking ahead.

© All rights reserved. The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, can be reached at dpryce@cox.net. He may be followed on Twitter: @DanielKPryce. He invites the reader to join the pressure group “Good Governance in Ghana” on Facebook.com, which he superintends. “Good Governance in Ghana” is a group that emphasizes the preservation of democracy, justice, equity, and law and order in Ghana.

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.