Ghana: Loyalty, Regional Balance and Political Appointments

Ghana Jubilates12376 Ghana is the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain total independence

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 Source: Osei, Nana Yaw


I have been struggling to catch the drift of the burgeoning concept; “loyalty” in our social and political discourse. I believe loyalty is a necessary evil. The loyalty concept is lenient to autocracy, dictatorship and totalitarianism (a system of government whereby every aspect of citizen’s life is controlled by the state).

On the other hand, it is inimical to democracy and diverse opinions. Loyalty is not needed in all situations. We are told of a story in which King David of Israel greedily killed Uriah after having a carnal knowledge of his wife, Bathsheda (2 Samuel 11). Uriah lost his life because of his unadulterated and silly loyalty to King David.

I was told an anecdote of a Ghanaian who died in one of the Arab countries in Africa. This guy had sexual intimacy with an Arab woman without knowing that she was married.

This woman appeared to recognize a heightened level of sexual pleasure, feeling and fantasy about this Ghanaian guy for his meticulous and outstanding sexual stamina to the extent that she inadvertently told the husband during sexual intercourse to do it as Ghanaians do it. This man took a gun and murdered the Ghanaian he had previously seen talking with the wife. So you see! Loyalty to sexual fantasies claimed the life of somebody’s innocent son.

History bears unfavorable testimony to loyalty. Loyalty is a bogus concept in politics. For example, United States of America is now a super power in the world partly because they pervasively became disloyal to Great Britain who heretofore colonized them. Those who believe in loyalty are themselves not predictable. Loyalty could be switched in the moments of uncertainties. Peter denied Jesus three times (Luke 22:54-57). In The Gambia for example, the soldiers of Yahya Jammeh became disloyal to him upon sensing danger from ECOWAS. The War of Spanish Succession is another prime example of uncertain loyalty.

The Spanish Succession War was fought between1701-1714. The War was caused by the death of Charles II of Spain in 1700. He died without a direct successor from Spain. In his will, he bequeathed the throne to Prince Philip of Anjou who was a French. Philip’s grandfather, Louis XIV proclaimed Philip as a king of Spain and announced that France and Spain would unite.

France was a fearful dominant political power in Europe and the union between the above two kingdoms was destined to threaten other giants. England, Prussia, Holland and Austria formed a formidable grand alliance to prevent Phillip from becoming a king of Spain. The favorite of the grand alliance was archduke Charles of Austria. In theatres of war that ensued, France was defeated on many occasions.

The hope of France resurrected in 1711 with the demise of Emperor Joseph I of Austria. His death meant that archduke Charles, penciled to rule Spain might also be the Emperor of Austria. The union between Spain and Austria appeared to be more dangerous than that of France and Spain. Thus, the loyalty to archdulke Charles was jettisoned.

In a treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the warring parties agreed for Prince Phillip of France to rule Spain without the union of the two kingdoms. Louis XIV upon whose diplomacy Phillip became Spanish Monarch cautioned him “be a good Spaniard: That is your first duty; but remember that you were born French in order to preserve the unity between both nations, this is the way to make them both happy and to preserve the peace of Europe.

The politicians in Ghana are expected to love those who were loyal to them while in opposition but must remember, they were not only born as Ghanaians but are equally elected to serve the interest of Ghana not their party apparatchiks. I personally wrote an article to remind ex-president John Dramani Mahama (JDM) on the dangers of appointing a lot of northerners in his government.

I received a severe backlash from that publication. Professor Stephen Addai also advised JDM on that same issue. Professor Addai was vilified and bastardized. Individuals he could not only teach but give birth to, described him as irresponsible. JDM and his National Democratic Congress (NDC) lost the 2016 presidential and general elections partly because his government alienated the Akan majority, The Ga-Adangbes and the Ewes.

President Akufu-Addo had appointed many people from Eastern Region (ER). For example, Nana Asante Bediatuo, Madam Gloria Akufu, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful (an impeccable attorney, MP) and Messrs Dan Botwe (MP), Yaw Osafo-Marfo, Samuel Atta Akyea (A good Lawyer, MP), Kwasi Amoako-Attah (MP for Atiwa), Boakye Kyeremanteng Agyarko (MP and partly from Kroboland) and Ken Ofori-Attah all from the Eastern Region. Madam, Otiko Afisa Djaba is also partly from Eastern Region.

This writer is from Brong Ahafo and Ashanti Regions by virtue of paternity and maternity respectively. Eastern Region is my third region because throughout my job history in Ghana, I worked in the region. Eastern people are wonderful. I have more friends in ER than any part of Ghana. Nevertheless, having more ministers from Eastern Region is not healthy for national integration.

It is also not healthy for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) as a political organization. President Akufu-Addo like his predecessor, JDM probably appointed people he could trust.

Some people have argued that a leader needs people he could trust.

For example, when I published my article captioned, “Political Appointments on Ethnic and Tribal line: A Subliminal Meta-dehumanization” published on the prestigious Ethiopian webpage with the following link http://www.eppf.net/9652/appointments-on-ethnic-and-tribal-line-a-subliminal-meta-dehumanization-case-of-failed-state-ethiopia/ , my friend who is leadership expert and Masters level faculty member (Lecturer) of Grand Canyon University, Arizona, Kennedy Amofa (PhD) called me and underscored the imperative need for loyalty in leadership.

Loyalty is very important in leadership. We must distinguish patriotism from loyalty to individuals. What type of loyalty are we looking here? Is it personal or national loyalty? Arm Robbers and other criminals have people who are loyal to them. Is it possible that individuals were loyal to President Akufu-Addo out of altruism?

Knowing Nana Addo as a potential president could compromise people’s attitudes toward him. Trusting people too much breeds ineffective supervision. Are these people loyal to Ghana or president Akufu-Addo? Loyalty of appointees alone cannot suffice as an antidote for bad governance. The framers of the 1992 constitution of Ghana envisaged the importance of regional balance and national development.

Available data from 2010 population census in Ghana indicated that “population density for the country had increased from 79 per cent in 2000 to 103 per cent in 2010 and that whiles the Ashanti Region had the highest population of 4,780,380 representing 19.4 per cent followed by Greater Accra Region with 4,010,054 representing 16.3 per cent, the Upper West Region had the lowest population of 702,110 with a growth rate of 1.9 per cent.

The breakdown of the current population figures are, Eastern Region, 2,633,154 representing 10.7 per cent; Northern Region, 2,479,461 representing 10.1 per cent; Western Region, 2,376,021 representing 9.6 per cent; Brong Ahafo Region, 2,310,983 representing 9.4 per cent; Central Region, 2, 201,863 representing 8.9; Volta Region, 2,118, 252 representing 8.6 per cent; and Upper East Region, 1,046,545 representing 4.2 per cent” (Source: Ghananaweb.com, June 1, 2012).

This means that political appointments must be based on population and not only geographical considerations. Appointments must be proportional to the population. It will be unfair to have two ministers from Upper West Region and two from The Northern Region.

Another way of ensuring proper regional balance is the idea of a nation. A nation is a group of people with a common language, cultural heritage and ancestry. A nation is not necessarily defined by geographical boundaries. Ghana becomes a nation when we consider all Ghanaians irrespective of their geographical locations on earth. Our ancestors are part of Ghana as a nation. Other examples are, Asanti, Akyem, Anlo and Krobo nations.

These include Asantes, Anlos, Akyems and Krobos in dispersion. For example, notwithstanding the fact that Mrs. Ursula Owusu Ekuful is a member of parliament for Ablekuma West Constituency in the Greater Accra region, she is a native of Akyem. Definitely, she adds up to the number of Akyems in government per the nation concept. Although managing electoral success is somewhat difficult than being in opposition, the nation concept must be factored into political appointments to assure Ghanaians of regional/ethnic balance.

Ghana is a unitary state with socially preposterous system of centralization and bureaucratic bottleneck. The son of Mr. Kofi Akote of Akwapem Guan and Madam Naa Atwee of Ga lineage, Kwadwo Adi, living in the Bumprugu Yoyoo area must definitely know some big men in Accra, before his passport or birth certificate could be fast-tracked.

A Cocoa Farmer in the Western Region or Brong Ahafo Region must come all the way to Tema Port for the purpose of clearing his/her goods. Not until the impractical system of centralization in Ghana is abandoned, every region needs a big man in Accra. Certain sectors like security require individuals who are loyal to the president. Apart from that regional balance and competence must be prioritized in national appointments.

Patriotism and competence must be raised above loyalty to the president. Loyalty promotes sycophancy, mediocrity and incompetence in governance. It is a tool dictators use to safeguard and sustain their inordinate and uncompromising political and social ambitions. Must we be loyal to our leaders when they are wrong? Assuming The Gambian army had been loyal to Yahya Jammeh, it would have had a calamitous implication on innocent Gambians.

I think President Akufu-Addo’s government has not totally taken off yet. It will be a sort of bigotry to start criticizing him. However, as Plato observed “For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories.” It is based on this assertion that I think there are many appointees from ER. ER is made up of The Akyem, The Akwamu, The Akuapem, The Kwahu, The Asante and The Krobo.

What is particularly lamentable is that the Akyems appeared to be dominating in the list of appointees from ER.

Looking for individuals loyal to a leader is not a bad idea in its entirety. Nonetheless, loyalty cannot guarantee an excellent job performance. When we go to hospital, we don’t look for physicians who are loyal to us.

This means that competence and appropriate regional balance not only loyalty are needed to transform our beloved motherland. The famous saying, “no taxation without representation” in the history of the USA must goad our leaders to prioritize regional balance in political appointments. Loyalty is a necessary evil.

God Bless Our Homeland Ghana And Make Us Cherish Fearless Honesty.

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Nana Yaw Osei (Padigo), USA

Email: n_yawosei@hotmail.com.

Columnist: Osei, Nana Yaw