It’s Our Leaders’ Integrity-- That Matters Most-- Stupid!

Sun, 1 Apr 2012 Source: Berko, George

May I begin by rendering my apology to the reader for captioning this article the way I did. At this time when Politics of insults has come under sharp focus for condemnation by most decent Ghanaians, a caption like this could be so repulsive to many that they would not like to read the article itself. But let the reader hold his or her horses. I don’t mean to insult or offend anyone by the caption. I chose the caption after James Carville’s popular electioneering phrase for USA former President Clinton’s campaign in 1991, which said: “It’s the Economy Stupid!”

As most may recognize, James Carville happened to be the shrew, formidable advisor for the former US President’s campaign. And Mr. Carville coined the phrase to bring public attention to the state of the US Economy at the time, when Mr. Clinton’s opponent, the incumbent US President, George Herbert Walker Bush, was enjoying a massive lead in the polls from his handling of US Foreign issues.

Why our leaders’ integrity, and not our Economy? You may ask. Well, my attention was drawn to the euphoria of mostly NPP supporters that Dr. Bawumia had been finally chosen by the Party’s Flagbearer as his running mate for the second time. We all know that there was a long wait by the Flagbearer, Nana Akufo Addo, to announce who his running mate might be. People were very anxious, not knowing who among the four suggested candidates Mr. Akufo Addo would choose. Ironically, the NDC seems to be concerned about the possible impact of Dr. Bawumia’s outstanding credentials on the Elections and has therefore countered his nomination by saying he doesn’t own the best Economic brains in Ghana.

Dr. Bawumia, in both the first time, in 2008, and now, was largely preferred for the position because of his Academic and Professional prowess. Both the NPP Presidential nominee and most of the Party’s supporters have been counting on Dr. Bawumia’s Expertise in Economics and his rich enviable experience in various prominent positions around the World to attract votes all across the Nation. This hope is in addition to one that his being a Northerner would help attract more of the Northern votes, to help Nana win the Presidency. In fact, I am one of those who have all along seen Dr. Bawumia’s professional credentials as a great potential asset for any President to capitalize on for improving our Economy.

However, the amount of exhilaration that seems to be oozing to enshroud Dr. Bawumia’s choice for the NPP VP slot kept me wondering if people thought that was all there need to be for Nana Akufo Addo’s Presidency to succeed and help pull Ghana out of its protracted misery. I realize how we all sometimes get too much carried away by one fulfillment and forget about an ultimate goal to our detriment. So, I feel compelled to call folks back to the reality that in Ghana’s particular case, at this point in time, it is the integrity of our leadership that matters more for achieving our goals than anything else.

The problem with our Nation has not been much of lack of expertise of our leaders in various fields, especially Economics, but rather of our leaders’ integrity. It is therefore most crucial for us to recognize that even if Dr. Bawumia were the best Economist that ever walked the face of the Earth, it is more of his integrity than his Technical expertise that could help change the course of our Nation's Economy and Development for the better or worse.

I really hope that should the NPP win, Dr. Bawumia's expertise would not be easily hijacked for more nefarious Economic activities that could be more efficiently hidden from our eyes. It takes a genius to plot the most diabolical of crimes without being caught. And if the integrity of the NPP Presidential duo could be found inadequate, we would have jumped for jubilation much too early. It is an undeniable fact that Corruption has been invigorated and refined, as it intrudes into the top echelons of our Political landscape. We all have now known of a list of very sophisticated incidence of Corruption against the Nation that only the very sharp legal and Business brains could plot and execute. Those folks involved in these crimes included people we proudly trusted for their various Academic and Social pre-eminence among us.

So, we can gloat all we want over Dr. Bawumia's expertise. But it is how he is able to use it that matters most. He could only utilize his expertise for the best interest of the Nation if he is allowed to do so by his boss, or he could effectively repel any undue negative pressure from the same to misuse or not use his expertise.

If Mr. Akufo Addo became the President and chose to play the same old, decrepit game of vengeful Politics, egomaniacal wealth grabbing, and crony Capitalism, while the ordinary Ghanaian suffered, and his Vice went along with it, there would not be much good that Dr. Bawumia’s expertise could do for us. Right now, I see Dr. Bawumia as a brand new cog in an old, poorly maintained Political Engine. If that cog would make any productive impact, it would need the full cooperation of the major parts of the Machinery. That is the more reason why I, for one, wished Dr. Bawumia should have teamed up with the likes of Dr. Frimpong Boateng for the NPP's ticket.

Nana Akufo Addo has been close to the Presidency before. As the Attorney General his performance left the mouths of most decent Ghanaians sour. In view of much of what passed under the bridge on Nana’s watch as the Nation’s top Attorney, one can’t quit worrying about Nana’s Presidency that has no immediate, vigorous and strong self-pruning mechanism that could help keep the President in line. If Dr. Bawumia lacks the necessary moral courage and will to stand up to any potential untoward activity initiated or planned by the President, the current euphoria would all sound like a lamentation in replay. With all the widespread rumors of Nana’s little regard for other’s opinion, alleged arrogance and reported laisser-faire attitude in watching his friends get away with illicit stuff that others might not be allowed to, it should not be out of place for the Electorate to hope that his Vice would have the guts and conscience to help keep him away from fulfilling those fears the rumors have been spreading about Nana. Besides, the pressures are humongous on both to produce for the exclusive satiation of the “Old Guards” what they had lost with the advent of President Mill’s NDC Administration. It is not implausible that the Oil and Gas Revenues have always been at the center of the Corrupt Politicians quest for Power and access to our Treasury in these recent years. Much therefore is at stake in the next Elections.

As much as I expect all NPP members or supporters to hope the Party's nominee wins the Elections, it is the fate of our Nation and the danger of having more of Ya Naa's and Mobila Murder episodes and extremely questionable neglect of accountability as in the case of Tarzan paying Contractors, without paper trail, in cash stashed in brown paper bags, etc., during the Ghana@50 preparations, that I wish the Party had made the determining factor in choosing the Flagbearer. But if we have missed that opportunity, and gotten NPP choose Nana for the Party’s Flagbearer, his VP ought to be one that has what it takes to ensure a viable balance at the Presidency to most effectively help steer the Country to a better place. A better place for Ghana would be one that has the least possible Corruption associated with it, one that has our priorities right and reasonably attended to, one that has wisdom to pull all of us along with no Tribalism and destructive Partisanship.

I therefore fervently hope that Dr. Bawumia would not feel overly indebted to Nana Akufo Addo for his choice as the VP to simply fall in line with everything that the President might wish. And deserving equal important attention is the danger of Dr. Bawumia over-playing his role to prove he is his own man—a lesson President Mills wasn’t lucky to apply or even be privy of and which cost him to lose his Party, NDC’s cohesion. To succeed, then, Nana Akufo Addo would have to count more on the integrity of Dr. Bawumia’s than his Technical expertise.

There is a huge albatross of skepticism hanging around Nana’s neck that he could do anything different from either the NDC’s current Administration or that of Kufuor’s Regime, which Dr. Bawumia is expected to help take off. Both have from now till the Elections to reassure the Electorate that Dr. Bawumia’s choice for the VP is not only to attract the Northern votes to help Nana win the Presidency but more importantly to fully tap into the former’s integrity and expertise to help reconstruct our Economy and Public trust in our leadership. Dr. Bawumia’s expertise would only be useful only when he has a well- protected integrity upon which he can utilize it fully appropriately. I can’ t remind myself and others enough that it’s his integrity, stupid.

Long Live Ghana!!!

Columnist: Berko, George