Dan Botwe, the Next President of Ghana, Part 2

Tue, 23 Oct 2007 Source: Gyebi, Daniel

This is Part 2 of my article that was published on Ghanaweb on October 3, 2007. I would like to emphasize on character, leadership and experience. I am making the case that Daniel Kweku Botwe has the character, leadership skills, and experience to become the next president of Ghana.

In one of my homecomings in 1998, I visited Botwe at the Kokomlemle office of NPP. This was before he became General Secretary. I told him I was worried about his decision to abandon his promising career with the Cocoa Marketing Board to take a lowly-paid, full-time party position. He responded that someone had to sacrifice for the good of the party and country. He said that leadership is about service and sacrifice; it is about putting the party and country over and above one’s own interests. I must admit that at that time I failed to appreciate the depths of his loyalty and commitment to the party and Ghana.

The party office looked desolate. NPP had lost two general elections in a roll. Morale at the office was low. Botwe, however, was very optimistic that with few changes and the right kind of leadership, the party would be victorious. Even though I am an optimist, I could not share his optimism. Realism overcame my optimism. Where I saw despair, he saw hope, and where I envisioned defeat, he envisioned victory. He turned out to be right. He became General Secretary, initiated necessary changes, and contributed greatly to the parties’ two electoral victories. A more dynamic, visionary, and change-oriented leader than Botwe would be hard to find in Ghana today.

Someone has said that the only thing constant in this world is change. A good leader is an agent of change -- a person who does not accept the status quo, but who constantly challenges himself and others to achieve bigger, better and beneficial results. Botwe is bent on changing the way leaders are perceived in the eyes of the public. For him, character matters. Accountability counts. Honesty pays. These intangible qualities define a person and make for a successful leader. These qualities must be seen in a leader before we begin to talk about experience and other qualifications. It takes courage, integrity, and determination for a person to hold himself to this high standard. And that is Botwe for you.

Botwe is ready to change the unsubstantiated perception that the leadership and experience required to be an effective president of Ghana are measured by the number and years of ministerial or other government appointments a person has held. While all of us should commend all Ghanaians, past and present, who have played excellent ministerial or high level government roles in moving the country forward, we should also recognize that some ministers and high government officials may have nothing concrete to show for the time they occupied their positions. Historically, if many of our ministers and high government officials had served Ghana well, the country would have progressed and advanced much further than where we are today. Some simply used their positions to inflate their resumes or CVs. In fact, if we were to perform cost-benefit analyses on people who have held ministerial or high level government positions (taking into account salaries, allowances, cars, housing and other perks), we may find that, for some of them, the cost substantially outweighs the benefit to Ghana and Ghanaians. Added to that is the opportunity cost of depriving results-achieving leaders from serving in those same positions. Therefore, ministerial or high level government appointments, in and of themselves, do not necessarily provide leadership skills and experience required to become president of Ghana.

There is diversity in leadership. Leaders come from all areas, including academia, business, industry, clergy, and politics. Let’s look at some of our leaders who have won general elections in Ghana. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah had not held any ministerial appointment before he won his first general election. Similarly, Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia and Dr. Hilla Limann had not held any ministerial appointments prior to winning their general elections. Or, let’s look at our current leader, President John Agyekum Kufuor. He served about two years as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and about seven months as Secretary of Local Government. Yet, that little ministerial experience has not stopped him from becoming the best leader Ghana has had in a very long time! From the examples of these leaders, we can conclude that people’s perception of, and emphasis on, ministerial experience as a prerequisite for the presidency are woefully misplaced. Ministerial experience may be one way of assessing a candidate, but its importance should not be overemphasized.

The fact is that some people confuse management with leadership. Management is a subset of leadership. They may overlap in some areas, but in general there are managers, and there are leaders. The presidency is about leadership. Those who have held many ministerial or high level government positions and have performed superbly may be, at best, good managers and technocrats. Ghana needs good managers and technocrats in our ministries and other institutions. More importantly, Ghana needs leaders at the presidency. We need leaders at the presidency who can mobilize, inspire and motivate all Ghanaians, including the managers and technocrats, to perform at their best.

Leadership is about people – how to lead people to achieve desired outcomes. It is about carrying people along. It is about vision. It is about thinking ahead of one’s peers and taking them to heights beyond their imaginations. A leader organizes, motivates, and leads people to achieve beneficial results. A leader makes what seems impossible, possible, and what seems possible, feasible. A leader creates a suitable environment for people to excel. The leader achieves these by working cooperatively with others who may sometimes know more about the issues than him or her. Botwe is an excellent organizer, motivator and achiever. He knows that it takes people and teamwork to achieve any meaningful results. He has done more than his fair share of carrying NPP on his shoulders.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, part of Botwe’s strength lies in the fact that, unlike some of the others, he has not occupied ministerial positions long enough to be detached from the people. Nor has he allowed the trappings of power to go into his head. He has not lost touch with the people and is not immune to the sufferings of the majority of Ghanaians. A person who is detached from, and out of touch with, the people prior to becoming president, will be almost invisible upon becoming president. We cannot afford an armchair president at this stage of our development; we need a dynamic leader. Because Botwe was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he identifies strongly with the ordinary people. He is a man of the people and for the people. And that is leadership!

We need a man of the people with vision who will lead our country through the technological changes of our times. For example, the information and communications technologies (“(ICT”) revolution requires a person like Botwe who envisioned the importance of these emerging technologies and equipped himself in the 1980s with a computer science degree from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and an IT career with the Cocoa Marketing Board. Botwe is well- positioned to be our ICT president, a leader who will champion the use of various technologies to link our schools, businesses, industries, hospitals, ministries, and the people. This is the forward-thinking, “GPS experience” to which I referred in Part 1 of this article.

Botwe has the hallmark of a great and effective leader. His leadership and experience are not based on glorified government appointments devoid of measurable, beneficial results. They are based on character, vision, service, sacrifice, honesty, and on personally and directly initiating changes at the grassroots that transformed a one-time defeated party to a now vibrant and victorious party. Party politics is about service, loyalty, leadership, and electability. The General has excelled in all these areas. The 2008 General Elections would be a closely contested one, but NPP would be in good hands with the General. He is dependable. He is a winner. With the General as NPP flagbearer, it would be tantamount to passing the ball to our best striker in a 2008 African Cup of Nations’ soccer final match where Ghana is in a tie game and there is only one minute remaining. If NPP delegates pass the ball to him, Daniel Kweku Botwe will run with it and score the winning goal for NPP and Ghana. I rest my case. Thank you very much.

Dr. Daniel Gyebi
Attorney-at-Law, Texas USA

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

Columnist: Gyebi, Daniel