From Atta-Mills to Nana Addo: Is it a Frying Pan to Fire Proposal?

Fri, 4 May 2012 Source: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

Imagine that you are an independent voter. Also, conjure the reality that you can research the leading candidates of the NDC and NPP in the forthcoming presidential elections. Both candidates have a lot of history in public office that lends to thorough review. Overall, your search, is to objectively, as much as possible, pick the best candidate for country Ghana. Think Ghana! You want to pick a candidate who puts country over tribe, is relatively honest, has great vision for country, results driven, not divisive, not vindictive, able to stand up to his own party members, de-emphasizes chieftaincy and tribal politics, emphasizes nationality, peace loving, great steward of our resources, can influence others to act positively and lastly, has high moral character.

Alongside the above listed attributes of great leadership, the candidate for president must have the following priorities, among others, for our development: 1) Fully create and implement a national address system, 2) Effectively enhance and significantly sustain a health care system for all, 3) Create, implement and sustain a national sewer and waste management system, 4) Provide free education geared towards our development needs 5) Significantly enhance and sustain clean and portable water 6) Significantly enhance and sustain electricity generation and distribution, 7) Build and maintain a national network of roads linking up the entire country. The theme here is simple: A healthy individual, family, group, village or town, in a conducive and enabling environment, has no excuse to remain unproductive. The role of government is to create an enabling economic, social and secure political environment to inspire productivity. I vote for a private-public partnership!

Given all the above, which candidate, given the NDC and NPP, is the better choice? I realize there are other candidates running. I also acknowledge that candidates like Dr. Nduom may be more competent than both Mills and Nana Addo but will not get a fair shake because he is not in a dominant political party. Surely consider a viable third party! However, I limit my analysis to the more plausible candidates. Which of the two candidates, Mills and Addo, will best run the state of affairs going forward? While some will agree that both are bad choices for Ghana, and I share this sentiment fully, I realize, that, most well meaning Ghanaians will have to make a lesser of two evils choice. For those who are wedded to these two parties tribally, the choice is pristine and abundantly clear. My appeal is more to the independents who are likely to make their choice based on a modicum of reason and passion as opposed to raw passion and other irrelevant, anti-nation-pro-tribal factors.

We know Mills served under Rawlings and was very compliant during his tenure as VP. Under Rawlings, Mills showed no significant leadership ability whatsoever. Indeed, a case can be made that, the choice of Mills as president, was more a protest vote against the rampant corruption and sand-castle economy that Kufour left in place. After 8yrs of incessant travels and tribal politics, Ghanaians were fed-up and could not stand the sight of a president pimping himself with gold medals created outside the erstwhile gold coast. With the slightest of margins, a frail Atta-Mills was given the opportunity to tackle the challenges facing Ghana. Was that move a huge mistake?

Mills, finally, was rewarded by voters for his placid and compromising demeanor. But, did Ghana need a can do leader or an affable yet insouciant leader? It is fair to say that Atta-Mills has not lived up to expectation. Leadership has become praying and worshipping instead of planning and acting backed by prayer. His docile and non-combative approach envelops weak and ineffective leadership. Under Mills, raging corruption has taken an upward swing and the economy continues to be on a respirator. Some of thugs in the NDC continue to bully and misbehave without any demand of accountability from the president. Though some of the vital economic statistics portend good news, the tipping point has not been breached and the state of economy and political flux, breed more anxiety than it does hope, oil find notwithstanding. The opposition is frustrated and rightfully so but it must be reminded of its own recent past and lack of accountability while in office.

Nana Addo was a key part of Kufour’s government. He served as the Attorney General as well as the foreign minister. His claim to power is more of an appeasement to the Akyem faction of the NPP Akan coalition. The leadership musical chairs that rotate, for now, between the Asantes and Akyems within the NPP, clearly shows that it is the turn of the Akyems to lead. Any attempt to scuffle or deviate from this high stakes arrangement will spell the demise of the NPP. The Akyem threat to bolt, reminiscent of Paa Willie, is a stern reminder to NPP party leadership. An earlier fight between Nana Addo and Alan “cash” Kyerematen, mediated by Asantehene, a closet patron of the NPP, is clear evidence of the arrangement I allude to.

Nana Addo’s term as Attorney General was marked by a catastrophic increase in corruption and lack of prosecution for obvious crimes. A case in point is the arrest of 3 women from Dzorwolu who were drug dealers. These women were never prosecuted and apparently still roam free because of alleged missing dockets. In addition, there is speculation that an in-law of Nana Addo, Asem Darke, a known drug dealer, got his property unfrozen under Nana’s watch. Never mind the jumbo cocaine volcano that saw NPP stalwarts and royals running for cover. Overall, Nana’s tenure as Attorney general did not show any promising leadership or significant improvement. What it does show from objective analysis is the prosecution and in some cases harassment of opposition party members even as the NPP itself was engaged in wildfire corruption. Indeed, an NPP party chairman, Haruna Esseku, at one time, reminded Ghanaians that Kufour has turned the castle into a money laundering enclave. The fact that no one got prosecuted over the Ghana@50 orgy is great testament to Nana’s ineptitude and unproven leadership. Never once did Nana Addo, unlike MP Ofori, raise a finger within the NPP about the misdeeds and corruption. Nana went along ho-hum in the NPP and now gives us bunkum about a nirvana of Ghana he intends to create. Can we trust him?

It was under the same NPP that the then gun toting Central Regional minister (Isaac Edumadze of Ajumako) robbed a cab driver in Suhum at gun point. Why didn’t Nana prosecute this buffoon and thug? Why Nana? Not even the moans and groans to president Kufour about blatant corruption could convince Nana Addo to act. The NPP, it appears, operates with the notion that, once you are not caught red-handed, everything is fair game. The least said about Nana Addo’s role as foreign minister the better. Instead of revamping our Foreign Service and bringing it into the 21st century, Nana Addo just plugged in as usual and enjoyed the perks without again separating himself as an exemplary performer. It is true that exemplary performance is rare in Ghana but anyone seeking the presidency cannot be left off the hook for not performing when given a glorious opportunity. If Nana could not show us visionary leadership then, can he lead us to the promise land now? All I ask for, is a legitimate visionary leader to get us past the tipping point.

The NPP has been shrill about the performance of president Mills. And to be fair, president Mills has been a huge disappointment. The heightened state of tribal hate mongering without effective leadership response is evidence of such disappointment. Now, I don’t believe president Mills has been anymore of a disappointment than Kufour. We surely do have a leadership crisis in Ghana. So, even if you buy into NPP’s shriek, can we safely say that Akufo Addo will do better than Mills? The latest event that bends the curve towards the negative for Nana Addo is his eerie silence during the Ken Agyapong’s tribal hate kerfuffle. Where was Nana Addo in this tribal hate tsunami? Perhaps mindful of his own irresponsible tribal and pro-violence effusions, Nana decided to walk. Let us keep in mind that Nana Addo was also missing in action during the corruption melee under Kufour’s regime. If Nana cannot show courage now, like Obama did during the Rev. Wright brouhaha, how can we trust him to lead courageously? Why should we trade one missing in action president for another?

I want Mills to be given the boot but I am not convinced that Nana Addo is the replacement we want. He has never led when given the opportunity. If he, Nana Addo, thinks the presidency is an entitlement owed him, like chieftaincy, then he can surely forget it. We can’t continue to elect presidents based on empty and vaunted promises. We must dissect their record and see through the smoke screens. Nana Addo’s first coming, better not be the reincarnation of Kufour. Nooo! We are fed up with Mills for sure but is it worth replacing him with another do nothing brat? I dread going back to those Kufour chieftaincy days! Ghana does not need another de facto chief as president. Are we better off continuing with Mills or giving Nana Addo the opportunity? At least with Mills, there is no de facto chief roaming as president of Ghana.

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