"A sound mind is in a sound body". This wise saying has stood the test of time simply because it is has always proved to be true, good and right throughout every human civilization. Civilizations around the globe have always sought to choose leaders primarily based on their physical fitness and sound minds. Societies, since the cradle of civilization, through to the Roman empire, and up to modern day democracies, monarchies, theocracies and you name it, have all adhered strictly to this common sense principle in choosing their leaders.
The reasons why societies stick faithfully to such a principle in selecting their leaders are not far-fetched. First, leaders are needed to, sometimes, make a split-second decision to defend, protect, and control their people. Thus, they are expected to be up-and-doing at a moment's notice, for the good of the people whose mandate they carry without any excuses whatsoever. Secondly, leaders are expected to present very confident, admirable and firm personae to the outside world to reflect the pride and greatness of the people they represent. Thirdly, social leadership requires tight and rigorous daily routines as well as many unscheduled eventualities. However, leaders must meet all such demands without reneging on any of their mandates to serve their people. Fourthly, because leaders perform multiple tasks almost everyday, they must be people with strong wills who possess certain level of mental capabilities strong enough to help them stay fit all the time. Excuses are not acceptable and mistakes are not expected, yet leaders must deliver to the letter. There are several other reasons why people and societies first consider physical fitness as something of paramount importance and which one must look out for in people contesting leadership positions. It is therefore appropriate and wise that leaders possess and demonstrate adequate physical strength and energy in carrying out their duties as a way to assuring their people that they are dependable.
I am writing this article in direct reference to the publication online by VibeGhana.com on May 26, 2011, headlined "President Mills Is Blind, Ato Ahwoi Is Running Government." In the said publication, Hon. Teye Nyaunu and Nana Konadu A. Rawlings, (our former First Lady), were alleged to have made this revelation when the two addressed some NDC delegates of Ablekuma North, South and Central at Mataheko in Accra on Monday May 23, 2011. The Enquirer Newspaper was reported to have been the first to publish such 'revelation.' I know that during multi-party electioneering campaigns there can be some 'political witch-hunting.' However, that is not the direction of this article. Let me state emphatically here that I don't belong to, don't advocate for and don't want to be part of any political party. What concerns me is the supreme good of mother Ghana. It is the love for my country and my sense of patriotism, and looking, retrospectively, at the public performances as well as internet and the print media images of President Mills that motivate me to inquire about this allegation.
Let me take readers back to during the 2008 political campaigns which eventually ushered in the Mills' administration. During those campaigns, rumors were rife nationwide about the capabilities of then Professor Mills due, allegedly, to his failing health and therefore his fitness. There were also rumors that the once ebullient Professor of law and former vice president of Ghana was in poor health condition. In fact, the same rumor trail had it that Professor Mills could not hear properly nor see clearly. To all these allegations Professor Mills, now Professor President Mills flatly denied during a campaign trail in Elmina when he spoke to a group of fishermen. During the 2008 campaigns, the billboards showed a healthy-looking image of Professor Mills. However, during his swearing-in ceremony as the president of Ghana, I saw a completely different personality of Professor Mills. He looked very sick and aged. He could not repeat after the Chief Justice when he was swearing the oath of allegiance to the Nation. In fact he said things completely different from what was being read to him. That, to me, was very pathetic because it cast a wrong image on the entire Nation of over 23 million people. During one of his early day speeches on the state of the national economy, President Mills simply made mockery of himself when it became apparently clear that he could not see and read the fine print in front of him.
Let readers get me right that I am not making any fun of the President nor am I taking any credit away from his academic or political accomplishments. No! I humbly respect and honor what Professor President Mills has achieved in history. His academic records and political experience must be the envy of any well-meaning Ghanaian. My point here is that no matter what President Mills has accomplished in history, he is not condemned to be the President of Ghana if his health is failing. We want a leader no just a mere representative of Ghana. If one analyses all the instances I have cited that allude to President Mills' ill-health, and the fact that some inner-circle members of his own party have come out to talk about the same issue in public, one doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to be able to 'cross the "ts" and dot the "is" before one can know what is going on with the President.
I know there are many Ghanaians out there who have had similar misgivings about President Mills’ physical fitness and public performances. And now that the cat is let out of the bag I think it is time the President comes clean about this. Democratic system is no one person’s prerogative. Rather, it emanates from the wills of the people and nothing is ordained but only the will of the people. Ghanaians, like all in other civilizations, want able bodies to champion the course of their destiny. We are now over 23 million people; too many to be led by anybody or people whose physical impairments may compromise our pride and or national security. The doubts surrounding President Mills’ physical fitness are simply too overwhelming to skip comments and questions.
I challenge President Mills to prove me wrong and I hope he is able to do that; because I consider it a serious breach of national trust and criminal for the President to hide his health records and feigned good health just to take advantage of over 23 million people whose only crime was to trust in the President’s earlier public records. Secondly, I challenge Parliament to come out with laws that will make it obligatory for all aspiring candidates to national offices, especially the office of the president, to make public all their health records. To all political parties and independent groups who vie for the presidential and other national offices, please rise up above your parochial interests in selecting candidates for the nation. We just don’t need people to fill a vacuum; rather, we want people whose physical fitness and mental alertness can help move the nation forward.
If indeed the President has poor eyesight and hearing impairment as been speculated or as he seems to portray in his public appearances, then he owes it a civic duty, and for the sake of the good of Ghana, to resign honorably and quietly. If on the contrary those allegations are mere political witch-hunt, the President still owes it a duty to make public his health records to clear the dust. Ghana needs President Mills as her patriotic child but Ghana can do without him if the worse comes to worse. The supreme interest of the Nation supersedes all other things. Let us set a precedent that posterity can be proud of when we are long gone. Mr. President, prove me wrong. God help Ghana!
By: Owoahene Acheampong
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