Opinions Wed, 23 Oct 2002

Let's Support Embattled Kumasi Mayor

News reports that the former Chief Executive of Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) Nana Akwasi Agyeman "stormed [into] a meeting of the KMA at the Prempeh Assembly Hall",

(‘The Statesman', as reported on http://www.ghanaweb.com/, October 16, 2002); must raise concern for anyone with even a passing interest in the smooth running of affairs at KMA

It is becoming evident that the former Chairman is interfering in the affairs of the KMA, now under a new administration headed by Mr. Maxwell Jumah. By attempting to inject himself into the daily running of KMA, Nana Akwasi Agyeman is doing a lot of harm to the citizens and taxpayers of Kumasi who deserve a more responsible, and accountable administration than the one he headed for nearly 20 years.

After initially staying behind the scenes, while trying to manipulate some members of the KMA into frustrating the agenda of the new Chief Executive, Nana Akwasi Agyeman now feels emboldened to take the front lines himself. Since leaving office, and luckily escaping a possible mob lynching, Nana Akwasi has carefully orchestrated his return to the Kumasi limelight. He did so by dropping hints that he was now more predisposed to serving under his "brother", president Kuffour, rather than keeping his lot with his "friend" ex-president Jerry Rawlings in the moribund National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Two weeks ago, Nana Akwasi made it official by jumping the ‘sinking ship' of the NDC, into his newly-beloved National Patriotic Party (NPP). At the same time, Nana Akwasi sought to preempt charges of being branded a sell-out, by challenging his would-be accusers to ‘go hang'! With his deep pockets (amassed after years as mayor of Kumasi), which once earned him the sobriquet "World Bank", Nana Akwasi is perfectly placed to cause havoc for not only his successor at KMA, but also members of the NPP hierarchy in Kumasi, as well; most of whom were tormented by Nana Akwasi when he ruled the NDC roost in Oseikrom.
Will it be too hard for the president to suggest to his "brother" Nana Akwasi Agyeman, that the NPP does things differently from the political culture he embraced for the past twenty years. Shouldn't the president strongly advise his "brother" that the NPP has a tradition of openness and respect for dissenting views, which the newly-carded NPP member may find difficult to accept, given the political tradition he recently vacated.
Mr. Maxwell Jumah is doing quite well as Chief Executive of KMA, by introducing innovative policies and programs to help in the development of Kumasi, after years of official corruption and mismanagement, with reports that some funds collected and intended for the development of Kumasi, were diverted to NDC national coffers. As expected, the reforms being introduced by Maxwell Jumah has brought complains and criticisms because they strike at the very heart of those whose main interest is the continuation of corruption and mismanagement at KMA.
The opposition to Maxwell Jumah has crystalized into calls to president Kufour to sack him. The president of Ghana must do well to treat such calls with the utter contempt that they deserve. It is not difficult to understand why Maxwell Jumah is seen as a threat to the corrupt status quo, that he has taken on.
The president of Ghana has called on Ghanaians living abroad to come home and assist in the development of Ghana. Those answering the call, (one of whom is Maxwell Jumah) are imbued with more than a sense of patriotism. These Ghanaian "returnees"want to make a difference. Some of them want to vacate the age-old Ghanaian mentality of ‘business as usual'; to a new condition of ‘business as must, and should be done', to uplift our country Ghana.
Most of these ‘returnees' spent years in the West, and are imbued with new and workable ideas that they learnt and observed abroad, and which they wish to introduce onto the Ghana management culture (not unlike the foreign experts whom African governments employ at enormous financial expense, for similar purposes!). These ideas do not run counter to the public policy goals of the government, nor the customs of Ghana. In fact, the NPP government's avowed aim of "Positive Change", requires a change not only in the way we do things, but in the way we think about doing things!
There is bound to be clashes, because the establishment would much rather continue with what makes them comfortable at the expense of the general development of Ghana. I am certainly proud of the efforts made by our ‘stay at home" compatriots; and applaud the huge sacrifices they made in that effort. I approach any discussion of the subject with utmost humility, lest I would be branded as insulting or plain arrogant. But even they agree that the Ghanaian way of doing things is rather antiquated and ineffective. Sadly, such progressive thinking, conflict with the laid-back, unworkable Ghanaian public policy mentality enshrined in the words "that is how we do our things".
It is this negative mentality that is assailing the reformist ideas that administrators like Maxwell Jumah wish to put in place in Kumasi. Hence, the opposition to the mayor from people who for selfish reasons must oppose him at every turn. Perhaps some people in Kumasi feel affronted by the mayor's style of leadership. There are claims that Mr. Jumah cannot get along with people. That is usually euphemism used by people afraid to accept change. However, if such claims are the case, the mayor can be advised to tone down on some of his more controversial public statements; and leadership style that seems to affront a more traditional and sedate Kumasi. But to rise up in opposition, and appeal to the president to fire Maxwell Jumah amounts to proverbially throwing away the baby with the bath water.
Should the malcontents in Kumasi understand that the ultimate goal is for the development of Oseikrom, and indeed Ghana; they will come to the realization that Maxwell Jumah is indeed a trailblazer who is attempting to put in place the modalities for the development of Kumasi into the modern metropolis that her founders dreamed of.
Furthermore, in appealing to Ghanaians in the diaspora to return, as he did in the state of Utah, USA recently, president Kufour would need to support the reformist and workable agenda of these individuals; ideas which are ultimately in line with his own government's programs. Except that the returnees have the courage, conviction, and less baggage to propose progressive reforms. The president should not allow a few misguided malcontents to jettison the development agenda of progressive officials who have taken the call for "Positive Change", to heart.

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

Columnist: Ellison, Kofi