Kufour, Your Behavior Can Teach Us ...

Wed, 28 May 2008 Source: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

Leadership And Morality: President Kufour, Your Behavior Can Teach Us More Than Chiefs.

Leadership and morality could be a lethal mix. In many instances, morality has spelled the doom of rather effective and promising leaders. Any one remembers Gary Hart? And often, what passes as morality in one culture, may be of no consequences in the other. So, while Bill Clinton was harangued and impeached for a tryst with an intern in America, such misdeeds by a minister in Ghana cannot stop him from being reappointed and holding fast to his status as a confidant of the president. Lethality notwithstanding, leaders always thread this dangerous morality path and often, at their own peril. Barbara Kellerman of Harvard University warns us to avoid the good or bad tag for leaders and instead stay with a leader’s effectiveness or ineffectiveness. In teasing out her argument, she invokes the dreaded Hitler. She claims Hitler, seen as the one of the most wicked leaders, was effective by all measures. But was he a moral one? Was he good or bad? I bet it will depend on who you talk to. The question of Hitler’s effectiveness cannot be disputed because leadership involves the mobilization of people to a shared cause. Whether the cause is good or not lies with who is judging.

Indubitably, Ghana faces a plethora of moral challenges. From corruption right on down to parenting, we can’t seem to see our way clear. Invoking morality means that there is a sense of good and bad. The morality that we are left with starts at birth. But who decides what is good and bad? Whose values reigns supreme in country Ghana? Ironically, and in most instances, our politicians haughtily and stealthily operate on the basis of legality. They continue to rob us blind but so long as they act legally, what can you do? Can you stop “legal corruption” in Ghana? Our leaders are least worried about morality when it comes to decision making. If they were, how can the NPP justify the purchase of luxury cars and planes at a time when kids are studying under trees and continue to be infested with guinea worms? If morality is such a big deal, why are the politicians seeking healthcare overseas when the people that pay their salaries are condemned to dying in the horrible local healthcare system? Why build a presidential mansion when we can do with the facilities we have? I am confident that the people of Ghana, if asked to vote on these issues, will condemn the profligacy of the Kufour led NPP. Let us not forget that it was this same morality track that forced Rawlings and his raft of military hoodlums to kill and maim innocent Ghanaians. In glaring instances, where some of the victims did everything legally, morality was used to condemn them. An example is the murdering of Col. Felli for acquiring a fifty thousand cedi loan legally. Compare that to the acquisition of loans by the Ahwoi brothers under the NDC without any repercussions or Bartels, Kufour minister who favored his daughter in obtaining loans for her business.

Ghana’s moral challenges will not be healed by Kufour’s misguided solutions. First, the president’s actions in office set a bad example for morality. His call on chiefs to teach morality is downright unfortunate. Any serious Ghanaian knows this is a big and cruel joke. What do we have to show for the morality of chiefs since the institution came to being? Human rituals, slavery or double dipping land sales? Then Kufour attempts to infest our educational system with his version of religion and whatever curricula he thinks will teach morality to our youth. Since when did teaching religion stop amoral behavior? Ghanaians are more religious than ever yet the correlation between good morals and religion is inverse. What really does Kufour have in mind when he talks about morality? So far, the President has not listed his set of values. Intriguingly, if the chiefs should outdoor their moral training centers and palatial universities, what values will pillar their morality lessons? Do we all share those values? Just imagine a chief that sold a piece of land to several people teaching these same folks about morality! Haba!

I wish Kufour will openly state the kind of values these chiefs should teach. For example, I grew up in an era where a kid had nothing sensible to contribute. The elders are to be respected and they are most invariably always right. If you ask me now, I would say respect must be earned and elders are absolutely not always right. Do we still have people out there who believe the latter is not true? Shutting kids up and denouncing them for having an opinion is what has created this less inquisitive, less creative, docile, stolid and problem solving averse society. Having kids eat last whilst the elders eat the best part just perpetrates generational and cyclical wickedness. In this day and age, where a 19 year old can become a mayor and 12 year olds are writing computer programs for adult use, should we teach the same old values to our kids? Shouldn’t we teach our youth to question authority? What did unconditional obedience to questionable authority do for us? Is it time to have a serious debate on what values we teach?

Since Kufour has so far failed to tell us what values anchor his soul, our fallback plan requires that we tease out his values from his own actions. After all, Kufour diagnosed the ailing morality of the youth from the way they behave. It is therefore not unfair and far fetched, if we use his actions to determine what values drive him. If Kufour will insistently reappoint a minister who cheated on his wife, can he tell the youth not to cheat on their wives? If Kufour will buy luxury cars and planes, when kids study under trees and drink worms infested water, can he tell our youth to be responsible and good stewards? If Kufour will keep and reappoint a bully (Baidoo Ansah) in one instance and a gun toting minister (Edumadze) in his cabinet, can he tell our youth to eschew violence and behave with decorum in public? If Kufour, instead of staying neutral in the primaries, because his own vice president was running, blatantly support his handpicked candidate and lie about it, can he tell us about morality? Why not stay above the fray Mr. President to show moral superiority? Instead you opted for your handpicked candidate who happens to be your tribesman. Your own appointed ministers who used to work for you cried foul in broad daylight. Is this what you call morality Mr. President? If Kufour can recklessly spend state funds on useless travels just to accrue enormous per diem, can he be tagged as a wise steward of our scant and limited recourses? Whatever happened to stewardship as a key tenet of leadership? Where is the president’s conscience even as he professes morality in a land of want and arrant poverty?

If Kufour cannot answer corruption allegations by Haruna Esseku, can he really tell us about zero tolerance? If Kufour did not have the mercy and grace to visit Ama Sumani, while she lay dying, can he really preach about kindness? If Kufour cannot stay in the Northern region for a few more days at a time of disaster and longing for leadership, but instead, will fly out for a meeting in Canada that has been cancelled, can he preach morality? What about Bamba the visa racketeer who was operating from the castle right under the morality sensitive nose of Kufour? What about Dr Ayittey’s account of the cars that Kufour bought in the name of the NPP without authority to do so? In the end, Dr. Ayittey called Kufour’s character into question! BTW, the title of Ayittey’s article was, “the moon shines brightly”. Was Kufour the same man that worked for the murdering PNDC? No, not just the murdering of the 3 judges when Kufour was in the employ of his then boss, Jerry Rawlings. And yes one of the judges was a nursing mother. Meanwhile, countless others were being callously sodomized, maimed, killed and having their private parts gleefully and strategically pepper bombed under the terrible PNDC regime. Did Kufour resign immediately when the judges were killed? I can go on and on but I hope you get my drift. Kufour does not have the morality soap box and the earlier he cans this morality charade and canard, the less critical some of us might be inclined to be. Save us the red ink Mr. President!

As you can see from the above narrative, my morality is certainly not that of Kufour’s. And I am confident countless others share my moral values. But I am also well aware that there are others who will swear that Kufour is a saint and they can’t wait to kiss the halo around his throbbing head. After all, he is an avid funeral attendee (funeral Maestro), he loves chieftaincy, his government has implemented the troubled school feeding program and the National Health Insurance Scheme. And guess what, we actually found oil in commercial quantities under his reign. So Kufour may not be 100% evil or amoral as some may think. Besides, we don’t expect him to be perfect, do we? At the end of the day, we may learn to disagree on the issue of morality. And if we do, where does that leave us in our morality crusade from varying perspectives? Whose morality are we going to teach? Is the case for right or wrong so lucid and easily discernable? We’ve not even discussed the atheist and the law suits they can conjure to stop religion in our schools.

The best way to teach morality, I believe, is behavior modeling. Kufour sits above all chiefs in Ghana and his behavior counts much more that any chief in Ghana. In the end, it is not so much of what we say, but what we do. A lot of Ghanaians will love to live a clean and upright life but what recourse do they have in a country where your paycheck cannot see you through a few days? How can you expect anything good when people find themselves in a caged cauldron? I have always contended that most people when dropped in the morass in Ghana, angels or not, will end up being corrupt. Yes, being poor does not mean one should be corrupt but there is something about trying to survive in a rather impossible situation that makes corruption appealing. I am not justifying corruption but rather explaining it from the need point of view. Of course there is the greed point of view that is totally unpardonable. Instead of worrying about teaching morality and releasing these morally cleansed souls into the sea of sin called Ghana, why not focus on the conditions that forces people to be amoral? Can we minimize these conditions? E.g. creating well paying jobs? How about holding all to the same laws? How about leadership by example?

The youth of today are more clever that we care to credit them for. They observe with steely eyes what their so called leaders say and act accordingly. We can preach all the virtue we want or even finance a morality college or university. It will not change a thing if they see that our espoused values are not congruent with our values in use. The youth have mastered the art of discerning the gap between what values we talk about, and what values we actually live by. The values that we actually exhibit are what define us, not what values we spout about or wish we had. So the president, operating in a power diffuse culture, stands to teach the youth more about values through his behavior than he would through chiefs, queen mothers and the imposition of curricula. Preaching virtue and practicing vice is pastime of Ghanaian leaders but a thing of the past and the youth know it. They are not buying the charade! They see how people in high places live in the lap of luxury from corruption, nepotism, cronyism, tribalism and all kinds of moral decadence and no amount of gulag type reorientation will make them simon-pure moral apostles in a “kleptocratic” (my invention) society like ours. Save us the insincere mosquito noise Mr. President! Your actions speaks volumes!

Let me end by invoking one of the more powerful assertions by Martin Luther King. Doctor King reiterates, and I am paraphrasing here, that, the character of a man shines through not where he stands in comfort but when faced with challenges or adversity. When you are faced with adversity and trying challenges what character will you exhibit? Kufour’s idea of morals as taught by chiefs in the midst of grave need or what realistically helps you to survive? Come on now! Tell the truth!

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman (Also known as the double edge sword)
Email: AKYERE@aol.com
I don’t give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think it is hell. ---- Harry Truman

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka