By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
December 2, 2009
Ghana’s leadership crisis is disturbing. The problem with us in Ghana is that our national leaders haven’t acquitted themselves properly to confirm that they are the type that the country needs. The mark of a good leader is not how much physical presence he establishes on the national political landscape but how much of his good leadership qualities he has infused in those working with him and those to succeed him. In several respects, almost all of our leaders have fallen far short of the mark. Sadly, the institutions of state that should have helped them improve their leadership skills have also failed to do so.
Added to this problem, there is no credible well-established national think-tank to provide the foolproof development ideas that the government needs. Institutions parading as such are more of pressure groups than think-tanks whose functions are expected to be devoid of partisan (political) interests. They are reactive instead of being proactive. Who will rely on such institutions for anything?
Take for instance, Dr. Joe Abbey’s Center for Policy Analysis (CEPA), the CODEO, or CDD, which are reactive in their operations and often betray their partisan political identities. Dr. Joe Abbey was one of those who provided the intellectual input to validate Jerry Rawlings’ Revolution and the PNDC’s Economic Recovery Programme. At the end of the day, the economy stagnated. What will his CEPA offer now to make the difference? Yet, it issues periodic after-the-fact statements on its assessment of the economy. That effort is ineffectual because it amounts to locking the stable doors after the horses have run out (and away).
Another major problem is that the so-called intellectuals whose input should enhance national development efforts appear to be more interested in jumping on the political gravy train for personal gains than ensuring genuine national development. Beginning from the National Liberation Council through the NDC2 administration, these intellectuals have not given us any concrete example of what they have been able to do to make the difference.
Particularly, lecturers at the universities who have joined the various governments have seen politics as the panacea to their chronic personal economic problems and do all they can to lick boots so as to remain in office to reap where they haven’t sown anything. Cast your eyes round and it shouldn’t be difficult for you to know who they are. They may deceive themselves that they are smart opportunists but to many people, they are disappointing. They provide no admirable leadership qualities for emulation.
A good leader ensures that others in his political camp are groomed to take over from him to ensure continuity in the implementation of his government’s good policies, assuming that the electorate appreciate his capable leadership and retain his party in power. Such a leader paves the way for smooth succession within his own party and ensures that those on whose shoulders the burden has fallen to lead the country do so in consonance with national aspirations (which may be reflected in the party’s ideals, granted that such a party seeks to promote national interests). These new leaders know what the party stands for and should emulate his good leadership capabilities, not subvert them and distort the line of administration.
Not only have our leaders failed to provide inspiration but they have also killed it. Instead of supporting and facilitating the grooming of anybody with leadership qualities who surfaces from the party’s ranks, the incumbent leader sees him as a threat and does everything possible to hound him out of contention. In most cases, spurious allegations are trumped up against such a promising person and the state security apparatus used to torment his life until he recoils into his shell to live in obscurity. The country loses.
Capable people who would otherwise have been in positions of trust shy away because they consider Ghanaian politics as dirty and don’t want their hard-earned reputation to be toyed with and dragged in the mud. Others who put everything aside and enter mainstream politics don’t take long to be tainted by the fermented wine in the old wine bottle.
Those with the expertise to contribute to national development but have no place in the system have found themselves going abroad, where they put in every effort to make it in life. Ghanaian professionals working in the Americas and Europe are there because of unfavorable conditions at home. While the various governments have consistently decried the impact of the brain-drain on the country, they haven’t done anything concrete to reverse the trend. Thus, Ghanaian professionals continue to support other systems while their own country suffers.
There are numerous Ghanaian academics teaching in institutions of higher learning elsewhere because they don’t want to be hounded should they find themselves in those institutions in their own country. Meanwhile, the country needs their services. Under the Kufuor government, the only time Ghanaians in the diaspora deserved any official attention was when the need arose for publicity to be made about the impact of their remittances on the Ghanaian economy. Kufuor was so carried away at a point to say that the billions of dollars sent home were the result of his government’s good policies!! A huge travesty!
Institutional capacity-building and leadership training exists mostly in the rhetoric of officialdom. What is GIMPA worth if it can’t prepare credible leaders for the country? The National Youth Council is a mere empty shell just as its so-called Leadership Training Center at Afienya is. Kwame Nkrumah had the foresight on building capacity for leadership even though his Ideological Institute could have been lifted above its self-serving scope. Two products of that Institute (Gen. Acheampong and Professor Mills) have risen to become Heads of State even if question marks hang over their leadership styles.
Institutions and programmes that have the potential to serve national (and not partisan political party) interests should be clearly identified and resourced to function effectively. In contemporary times, those established by Rawlings’ P/NDC governments and not abolished by the Kufuor government (the NADMO, for instance) should be retooled. Then, others like the NHIS, School Feeding Programme, Metro Transport, etc. should be depoliticized and used to maximum advantage. Others like the National Youth Employment Programme should be re-oriented toward becoming self-sustaining instead of depending on the Consolidated Fund. The National Service Scheme has been infiltrated by political interests and seems to be losing its bearing. The government has to depoliticize it and bring it back on track to serve only the country’s interests. The political parties should have their own pool of human resources and stop meddling in the affairs of state and para-statal institutions and corrupting the youth being prepared for future leadership roles. Other institutions that exist because of constitutional requirements (the SFO, CHRAJ, Electoral Commission, and the NCCE) should be revamped to serve Ghana’s interests. The time has come for the government to stop paying lip-service to serious national issues. The Annual New Year School and its Easter version have become institutionalized rituals that churn out communiqués on national development agenda, which are pooh-poohed by officialdom and end up on shelves to gather dust.
We need leadership by example. In times when our leaders abuse their offices to amass wealth at the expense of the national economy, they will not inspire any Ghanaian to serve the country conscientiously. Our leaders have to do more than they’ve been doing so far. Ghanaians need leaders who will inspire them to build the country. The country has all it takes to develop and our leaders need to complement the efforts of the ordinary Ghanaian tax-payer whose sacrifices are the lifeblood of officialdom. The time has come for them too to enjoy the benefits of their sweat, tears, and blood. They can do so only if our leaders provide the requisite leadership that will improve living conditions. How long must we wait in agony?