Opinions Sat, 13 Oct 2007

Ghana: Reflections on Leadership

“Few people prepare or volunteer themselves for leadership. To me, it is a calling”, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori-Panyin, Okyehene, Public Lecture at KNUST 2004.

On the 6th of March 1957, Ghanaians jubilated over the proclamation that their beloved country was “free forever”. We had very high hopes and a tall list of high expectations, great expectations!. We looked forward to meeting the basic needs of our people and the enjoyment of freedom we so much longed for. We felt the urge of being able to speak our minds without being victimized and the hope of leading and steering our own development ship.

It was not long ago when we celebrated our 50 years of existence as an independent nation and 47 years of being a republic. Nevertheless, how come the numerous aspirations of Ghanaians have not been met, not even by the least of standards for all these 5 decades of independence and self-determination? Ghana, needless to say is endowed with invaluable natural resources of great diversity. Gold, diamond, bauxite, iron and other precious minerals rest firmly in the bowls of the earth in Ghana. We have very rich and fertile soils. Talk of a diversity of vegetations and you will be amazed at Ghana’s inventory. Oil-the black Gold- was recently discovered in commercial quantities and add up to our inventory of rich natural resources. As chronicled by David Lamb, Africa has 40 percent of the world’s potential hydroelectric power supply; the bulk of the world’s diamonds and chromium; 30 percent of uranium in the non-communist world;50 percent of the world gold; 90 percent of cobalt; 50 percent of phosphate;40 percent of its platinum;7.5 percent of its coal; 8 percent of its known petroleum reserves,12 percent of its natural gas;3 percent of its iron ores and millions upon millions of acres of untilled land

In addition, Lamb states that Africa is known to have 70 percent of the world’s cocoa: 60 percent of its coffee and 50 percent of its oil palm. He then sums it up in these words that “..there is not another continent blessed with such abundance and diversity”. If there is one nation in Africa which best fits David Lamb’s description of riches, look no further because Ghana is a true example.

The mind-boggling question is how could Ghana be relegated near to the bottom of the development table in spite of the abundant endowment of resources? Upon a careful and thoughtful analysis, the problem has got to do with leadership-an imperative for meaningful development. Leadership creates vision to direct the course of national development through policy formulation and implementation. Leadership directs the flow of resources and these flows ultimately create change for sustainable development. Leadership rallies citizens around common aspirations and objectives. It determines the major players of the development game and creates the enabling environment for economic growth and national development. It is a combination of fear and courage, hatred and love, hope with despair. Fear in the sense that we cannot afford the possibility of failure and hatred in the sense that one must be provoked by the unacceptable levels of debilitating and grinding poverty and underdevelopment we are engulfed in. Leadership must be dissatisfied with our present circumstance to be able to turn things around for the betterment of our nation Ghana. Leadership, as summed up by Prof. Stephen Adei, Rector of GIMPA, is “cause and all other things are effects”.

It is in this light that I wish you journey with me in the subsequent paragraphs to do a thought-provoking and detailed analysis and reflections on the political leadership of Ghana.

The first republic led by Osgayefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah laid a very strong foundation for the Ghanaian economy. The establishment of notable and strategic national assets such as the Akosombo Dam, the Tema Oil Refinery, the Tema Port and Tema Harbour, the Kumasi Jute Factory, the Pawlugu Tomato Factory and many others were no mean achievements. However, the over-posturing of the state regarding running the economy left a lot to be desired. Individual ownership was discouraged and the state did little or nothing to develop and nurture indigenous entrepreneurs. The creativity of Ghanaians therefore was to a very large extent stifled and truncated to oblivion. The development of the state at the expense of individuals who, together, constituted the state was therefore a great impediment to Ghana’s development process.

No one doubts the achievements of Nkrumah, especially his high reputation in international politics. He was an orator and writer of no mean stature. He instilled confidence in Ghanaians and Africans at large and made them believe they were capable of managing their own affairs .His philosophy of “seek ye first the political kingdom and all other things shall be added” was exemplified by his unwavering commitment to the liberation of African people from the shackles of colonialism and neo-colonialism. His overthrow was a deadly setback to the pan-africanism agenda, though some Ghanaians celebrated same with the argument that Nkrumah suppressed individual freedom and liberties as epitomized in his one party-state policy.

Ghana then went through the tortuous journey of rotating military-civilian governments until 1992 when multi-party democracy was restored.

Many were those who doubted the capacity of the opposition, especially the largest, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to form and run a successful government. However, it is clear to even the inexperienced observer, that no one political party is indispensable. The NPP has performed creditably well as a government under President JA Kufuor. However, it has had its fair share of successes and challenges as governments are human institutions.

Nevertheless, the big issue on the minds of many Ghanaians is who then succeeds President Kufuor when he lives office in 2009?

As a leader, President Kufuor has distinguished himself as a democratic icon among his peers in Africa. As he said recently at the Castle, it is very important as Ghanaians we continue to give thanks to God for all that His done for our nation instead of us being pessimistic about every issue. JAK has raised standard requirements for ascension to the seat of the President of our dear nation. This, in my considered opinion, is due to his leadership style and his steadfast adherence to the rule of law.

It is important to point out some major achievements that distinguish him as a democratic icon among his African peers. He has made himself accessible to Ghanaians through the People’s Assembly he initiated when he assumed the role of the President. He also instituted the Meet the Press Series which ensured that his team members were open to Ghanaians, regarding their performances, in their respectively challenging roles. JAK also appointed the first female Chief Justice in the history of Ghana. In addition, he set up the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs to give a true and realistic meaning to women empowerment as well the protection of those in whom the future of our nation is engrafted.

He has a big heart for the freedom of expression and tolerates dissenting views, especially; from the opposition. From 2001 to date, infrastructural and staff capacity development of the various higher institutions of learning have been unprecedented. This is wholly due to the judiciously use and application, to the greatest sense, of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFUND).

At the continental front, he subjected Ghana to African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) process, which set the tone for the peer review of other countries. Under his leadership, Ghana qualified for the first time ever to the FIFA Men’s World Cup and assumed the Chairmanship of the African Union. It was an honour bestowed on Ghana when all African presidents and heads of state represented their respective countries enthusiastically at the 9th AU Summit held in Accra. Another historic feat of achievement was Ghana’s successful bid to host the CAN 2008 on our soil. The less mention I make of the sports stadia that have been built, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the Free Compulsory and Universal Basic Education (FCUBE), the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) and still counting…the better!

On monetary policy, JAK was bold in taking a calculated risk when he signed Ghana up to the Highly Indebted and Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. At the end, he has proven his skeptics wrong and liberated Ghana from the heavy albatross of debt-servicing.

Such is the stature of an astute personality and politician by name John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor, who, at the age of 27, set a national record by securing the slot as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. JAK has brought honour not only to his party, but Ghana and the entire African continent through his visionary and exemplary leadership.

I guess you would bear me out now, when I dare to echo the words of the learned professor that “Leadership is cause, and all other things are effects!”. The next leader of Ghana must be one who demonstrates his or her commitment to the basic tenets of democracy, rule of law and good governance. Above all, the individual must possess vision and have a hallmark of integrity.

P.O.Box 9, Ho.

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

Columnist: Dake, Selorm Kofi