If Ghana were a Machiavellian Republic

Tue, 5 Jul 2011 Source: Amenga-Etego, SaCut

Everybody knows- or think they

know- what Machiavelli Nicolo the Italian political philosopher’s work is

about. He claimed that what Christopher Columbus did for geography, he’ll do

for politics. In other words, he set out to found, discover or invent a new

modern state. I set out to situate Ghana in a Machiavellian republic scenario

according to my understanding of ‘the PRINCE’, his most famous book which is

seen as the ‘BIBLE OF REAL POLITIK’ and whose words have guided and inspired

not only modern political animals, but also business men and strategists, as

the ultimate guide to winning and maintaining power in a dangerous, deceptive,

disloyal, opportunistic world- the real world.


Machiavelli grew up with parents fromthe Florentine nobility as an Italian power

under the guidance of Lorenzo de' Medici, Il Magnifico. The downfall of the

Medici in Florence occurred in 1494, bringing in the fervent and austere

Savonarola who took over the rule of Florence in which year Machiavelli entered

the public service.From 1494

to 1512, he held an official post at Florence which included diplomatic

missions to


European courts.During his official career

working with Savonarola, Florence was free under the government of a Republic,

which lasted until 1512, when the Medici returned to power, and removed

Machiavelli from his office. Savonarola’s attempt to impose a kind of THEOCRACY-

a Christian republic of virtue- on the people of Florence caused loss of power

to the Medici who again ruled Florence from 1512 until 1527, when they were

once more driven out. After several years of practice and study of statecraft,

Machiavelli has crafted the idea of the modern democratic state which many

argue is a fulfillment of his promise to do for politics what Machael Angelo

did for art or what Christopher Columbus did for geography (although Cristobal

Columbus have been found to be a liar as the Indians and other peoples had long

discovered and settled in the West indies before Columbus ever set sail).

What is the nature of the character of the

PRINCE in a Machiavellian republic? In chapter VI he makes it clear that in the

real world of politics, a prudent ruler must always follow in the footsteps of

great men who have been outstanding. If his own prowess fails to compare with

theirs, at least it has an air of greatness about it. The prudent Prince must

behave like those archers who, if they are skilful, when the target seem too

distant, know the capability of their bow and aim a good deal higher than their

objective, not in order to shoot so high but so that by aiming high they can

reach the target. Therefore, in a state where the ruler is completely a new

comer -such as president Mills of Ghana- (emphasis is mine), the difficulty he

encounters in maintaining his power is more or less serious insofar as he is

more or less able.’ By aiming and working to prove that he is his own man; not

needing to learn from those who have been outstanding such as NDC founder and former

president of Ghana, can we say that President

Mills have been prudent?. Again, I double doubt it. After all, Machiavellian republic,

the leader believes the ‘ends will justify the means’. If president Mills

discards President Rawlings his mentor to please his critics and eventually lose

power as a result, could this be considered prudent? No!

According to Machiavelli, a ruler comes to

power in a ‘constitutional principality’ either through his own prowess or good

fortune. So that if President Mills came to power on his own prowess, then he

should have no difficulty in maintaining power. However, if he came to power

through good fortune- either by the aid of the nobles or the people- both of

which classes exists in every polis, principality, republic or state with two

opposing dispositions- the people merely wants to be left alone, not to be

oppressed by the nobles whiles the nobles constantly seek to dominate and

oppress the people. ‘If the people find they cannot withstand the nobles’

Mchiavelli says in chapter nine (9) of the PRINCE, ‘they increase the standing

of one of their own, and they make him prince in order to be protected by his

authority. The nobles in the same way if they see they cannot withstand the

people, they start to increase the standing of one of their own numbers and

make him prince in order to be able to achieve their own ends under his cloak’.

If the people become hostile to the leader, he will surely be deserted. But if

the nobles become hostile to the ruler, he must fear active opposition and

resistance. Therefore, in a Machiavellian republic, the ruler must either be

with the people or with the nobles to maintain his power. The prudent ruler

will stand with the people who have the greatest power to increase or decrease

his standing at will. Where does president Mills stand? Does he stand with the

people or with the nobles? I guess he’s confused.


Machiavelli’s code of conduct for the prudent ruler, he outlines the conduct

for a leader towards subjects and friends. ‘Since it has been my intention to write

something which shall be useful

to him who apprehends it, it appears to me more appropriate to follow up the

real truth of the matter than the imagination of it; for many have pictured

republics, principalities and states such as a ‘father for all’ republic

(emphasis is mine) which in fact have never been known or seen, because how one

lives is so far distant from how one ought to live, that he who neglects what

is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his

preservation; for a man who wishes to act entirely up to his professions of

virtue soon meets with what destroys him among so much that is evil’.

So: it is necessary for a leader wishing to

hold his own, to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according

to necessity. Therefore, putting aside imaginary things concerning leaders, and

discussing those which are real, Machiavelli says that all leaders when they

are praised by the people or condemned, it is because one is reputed liberal,

another miserly, one is

reputed generous, one rapacious; one cruel, one compassionate; one faithless,

another faithful; one effeminate and cowardly, another bold and brave; one

affable, another haughty; one lascivious, another chaste; one sincere, another

cunning; one hard, another easy; one grave, another frivolous; one religious,

another unbelieving, and the like.

He goes on to say that it would be most

praiseworthy in a leader to exhibit all the above qualities that are considered

good; but because they can neither be entirely possessed nor observed, for

human conditions do not permit it, it is necessary for him to be sufficiently

prudent that he may know how to avoid the reproach of those vices which would lose

him his state; and also to keep himself, if it be possible, from those which

would not lose him it; but this not being possible, he may with less hesitation

abandon himself to them. And again, he need not make himself uneasy at

incurring a reproach for those vices without which the state can only be saved

with difficulty, for if everything is considered carefully, it will be found

that something which looks like virtue, if followed, would be his ruin;( such

as a ‘father for all’ republic) whilst something else, which looks like vice

(such as properly investigating and prosecuting killings, economic malfeasance,

etc of the immediate past NPP regime plus discriminating and satisfying party

foot soldiers in public jobs, contracts and appointments) yet, when followed

brings him security and prosperity.


effeminate but cunning has drawn much condemnation to President Mills in the

past two years. His imaginary ‘father for all’ virtue has ended up dividing the

NDC party and truncated Ghana’s progress for over two years. His insistence on

being imaginary instead of dealing with the ‘effectual truth of things’ has

left him basking in moral illusions whiles the reality draws him further away

from retaining his hold on power.

On whether or not leaders should keep their

word, Machiavelli says in the PRINCE, ‘Every one admits how praiseworthy it is

in a leader to keep faith, and to live with integrity and not with craft.

Nevertheless our experience has been that those princes who have done great

things have held good faith of little account, and have known how to circumvent

the intellect of men by craft, and in the end have overcome those who have

relied on their word. You must know there are two ways of contesting; the one

by the law, the other by force; the first method is proper to men, the second

to beasts; but because the first is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary

to have recourse to the second. Therefore it is necessary for a prince to

understand how to avail himself of the beast and the man. This has been figuratively

taught to leaders by ancient writers, who describe how Achilles and many other

princes of old were given to the Centaur Chiron (half man, half horse) to

nurse, who brought them up in his discipline; which means solely that, as they

had for a teacher one who was half beast and half man, so it is necessary for a

leader to know how to make use of both natures, and that one without the other

is not durable. A leader, therefore, being compelled knowingly to adopt the

beast, ought to choose the fox and the lion; because the lion cannot defend

himself against snares and the fox cannot defend himself against wolves.

Therefore, it is necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to

terrify the wolves. Those who rely simply on the lion do not understand what

they are about. After all, he says, there will ever be wanting to a leader

legitimate reason to excuse this non-observance. On this score, there are

questions as to whether or not president Mills has succeeded in blending very

well these twin natures of the Centaur Chiron to make him a complete leader

capable of sustaining his power. But there is certainly no question regarding

the deceiving nature of the president who has even succeeded in making people believe

he is such a ‘holy’ man when indeed, he has been unable to practically

demonstrate that virtue in his leadership.

But it

is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic, and to be a

great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and so subject to

present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who

will allow himself to be deceived. One recent example I cannot pass over in


Machiavelli asks in the PRINCE ‘Do you think anyone

can govern innocently? By trying to avoid the problem of dirty hands, a ruler

will be very naïve.’ He goes on to say that ‘those who want to enter politics

must be prepared to leave their scruples at the door.’ Therefore, going by this,

there is only one law in the game of politics- ‘the expediency of temporary


is a zero sum game. There are winners and there are losers. There is the strong

and BOLD REALIST who sees things the way they are, and the WEAK IDEALIST who

require the comfort of moral illusions. Is a ‘father for all’ republic ideal or

real? If it was real, I double doubt the NDC party and government would be in

this present quagmire. Where is the real and true leadership from president

Mills that should have averted all this present happenings in the NDC?

And can be explained by the quality of the appointees

of the President? Many believe that President Mills took for granted the all

important aspect of maintaining his power. In the PRINCE XXII, Machiavelli

says, ‘the choice of servants is of no little

importance to a leader, and they are good or not according to the discrimination

(reshuffling) of the leader. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince,

and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when

they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has

known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are

otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he

made was in choosing them.’ What does the people around president Mills tell us

about him? Are they the most capable and

intelligent or just the most loyal? ‘Because there are three classes of

intellects of people to be chosen from by the leader to serve in his government

from the nation: one which comprehends by itself; another which appreciates

what others comprehended; and a third which neither comprehends by itself nor

by the showing of others; the first is the most excellent, the second is good,

the third is useless. In my books, there are a few people from the first class

of intellect in the government of Mills. There another few people from the

second class of intellect. The majority of the appointees in Mills’ government

are in the third class which has been described above- a class which neither


neither by itself nor by the showing of others. So: a few excellent ones, a few

good, a lot of useless ones. Why then is preventing President from

discriminating or as it were, reshuffling to refine and end up with an

excellent team? Perhaps, when NANA KONADU AGYEMAN-RAWLINGS wins and assumes leadership

of the NDC, where she becomes an automatic member of cabinet- only then will

there be a proper reshuffling in this government.


and sycophants are a threat to anyone with power. They can eventually become usurpers.

Machiavelli says ‘Flatterers are a danger from which leaders are with

difficulty preserved, unless they’re very careful and discriminating, forthere is no

other way of a leader can safeguard himself from

flatterers except letting people around you understand that to tell you the

truth does not offend you; but when everyone may tell you the truth, respect

for you abates’.

There is

no doubt in my mind that flatterers have been a bane to President Mills’

leadership in the last two and a half years. He hasn’t done as Machiavelli said, ‘A


leader ought to hold a third course by choosing the wise men in his state, and

giving to them only the liberty of speaking the truth to him, and then only of

those things of which he inquires, and of none others; but he ought to question

them upon everything, and listen to their opinions, and afterwards form his own

conclusions. With these councilors, separately and collectively, he ought to

carry himself in such a way that each of them should know that, the more freely

he shall speak, the more he shall be preferred; outside of these, he should

listen to no one, pursue the thing resolved on, and be steadfast in his

resolutions. He who does otherwise is either overthrown by flatterers, or is so

often changed by varying opinions that he falls into contempt.’

There is

again no doubt in my mind that President Mills has rather chosen to give

liberty to flatterers to advise him rather than those who will tell him the


truth’ of things. Or rather, the truth

hurts president Mills so much that he prefers to be flattered. And by all

indications, these flatters and usurpers such as the Ato Ahwois, the Totobi

Kwakye’s, the Koku Anyidohos etc. etc,- who all have never run for political

office before- as well as people like Nii Lantey Vandapuye who run for NDC

national youth organizer against Haruna Iddrisu in the Bolgatanga NDC youth

congress in 2004 where he miserably lost by gaining only 16 votes despite the

party founder’s open opposition to the incumbent youth organizer in favor of

him because of his outright incompetence- all these people are flattering him

all the way to Sunyani. These ill-advisors plus other ‘hidden hands’ are so

artful at flattering that they have even managed to convince an effeminate,

non-enduring and a not exactly confident and a seemingly ailing President Mills-

that even though he has not been able to inspire the mass following of the NDC,

he has not been BOLD, principled and resolute enough to serve justice, He has

allowed the opposition NPP to continue to reign and control things, he has not

been able to hold accountable past government officials like the NPP did in

2001, he has woefully failed to unify the party after dividing it, though he

hasn’t had the endurance or will throughout this period of campaign to

personally visit all constituencies, and would be unable to withstand the ‘all

die be die’ violent tactics of the NPP in 2012- that despite all these and

mores charges against Mills’ candidature, the discerning NDC delegates will

retain him as leader in Sunyani at the risk of losing power in the next general

elections- even if president Rawlings the NDC founder refuses to campaign for

him as he has already indicated. And despite the golden opportunity the NDC

delegates have in NANA KONADU AGYEMAN-RAWLINGS the boldest candidate for the NDC

to face and defeat the NPP and Nana Akuffo Addo in 2012. The delegates have

seen the endurance in NANA KONADU during this period. They have felt her sincerity.

They have been invigorated by her charisma. They know she is the real deal.

Therefore, if Ghana were a Machiavellian Republic, the NDC Congress in Sunyani

will be the ground were the flatterers will bring President Mills to his Knees

as all indication show that the honorable NDC delegates are ready to demonstrate

resolutely their belief in the original and true ideals and values of the

AFRC/PNDC/NDC movement by overwhelmingly endorsing the credible and BOLD NANA

KONADU AGYEMAN- RAWLINGS our only true hope for a victory in the 2012 general





Youth activist

Columnist: Amenga-Etego, SaCut