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IntroductionAs we move closer towards the 2008 presidential election, we are seeing a flock of presidential hopefuls working tirelessly to convince their party delegates to select them flagbearers, in order to compete in the upcoming presidential election. By-and-large, it is only when the delegate selection is over, are voters given the opportunity to determine the best candidate for the presidency in a general election. Given the above, it does not take any constrained effort to determine that the current process robs voters from electing a true leader for the presidency. This writer is of the opinion that the presidential aspirants owe it to the voters to let them know their political leadership abilities in a primary electioneering campaign, to allow voters to scrutinize the candidates over a reasonable period of time, before they select the candidates of their choice to compete in the general election for the presidency. The current process all but completely prevents the constituent’s from exercising their full abilities to make a viable assessment and evaluation of presidential candidates and hence, has the propensity to forcing the voters to elect a mediocre as president. Indeed, considering the number of aspirants vying for the presidency, it is obvious that everyone can be president but, it is not every president that has the leadership capabilities to meet the challenges of the nation.
ChallengesThe challenges facing Ghana are enormous and, if things are not corrected and soon, can deprive the country from competing successfully in the twenty-first century. For example, according to the World Bank, global economic projections indicate that emerging markets are poised to see active and boisterous economic activities in the years ahead. Yet, given competition, success in this regard is predicated only on a country’s sound infrastructure developments. Consequently, the marginal, unstable condition, in Ghana renders it vulnerable to compete on equal footing. Indeed, although Ghana has made an impressive inroad into the international market place in recent years, if it is to continue as a major player in the global market, it needs to improve its local conditions to enhance its participation. Specifically, it needs to develop a solid infrastructure on all fronts and, more importantly, a good and efficient electrical power infrastructure, to help move the country from subsistence into an industrial economy.
As we all know, the bulk of the country’s water and electricity supply is from the Dansu reservoir and Akosmbo dam respectively. Both of these systems continually experience serious problems and safety issues. Most importantly, both systems have reached their maximum capacity to effectively and efficiently meet the needs of the masses. Throughout the country, electricity supply and water for that matter, are almost nonexistent given, the constant interruptions that often time disrupt industrial operations and human needs. To date, government has spent millions of dollars towards the improvement of the situation. However, both forms of energy and water supply systems have proven unable to meet today’s demands without long disruption; and, even with the increased investment, it’s doubtful these systems will be able to meet future demands; thus, indicating that investments towards the improvement strategy is not an adequate solution for the problem at hand. Consequently, the time has come for Ghana to develop an alternative water and electricity supply system that will embrace issues of safety, economic stability, national security, and environmental sustainability. To achieve these goals undeniably requires a strong and bold leadership ability of a president. Accordingly, the upcoming election presents a great opportunity for Ghanaians, to elect a president who will have the testicular fortitude to solve these problems; and it is for these reasons do I find it necessary for the presidential hopefuls to address the issues at hand more effectively for voters to know their plans vis-à-vis the solutions to the problem facing Ghana.
Voters Demands and ExpectationsConsistent with the above, Ghanaians want to know the strategic blue print a candidate may have in his leadership arsenal to tackle the problems at hand if elected president. Is the particular strategy feasible? And, can it generate results? Does the would-be president have what it takes to move Ghana from the undesirable present situation to a desirable goal of overcoming the crisis currently facing the country? In other words, Ghanaians want someone who is genetically engineered with comprehensive abilities to assessing the current situation, creating alternatives and evaluating them, selecting one or more, and implementing them. For, this is not the time to elect a president who may be popular but have no beef, but the time to elect a president who has a wider range of creative tools and techniques and greater skills to resolve the problems which, has hunted us for the longest time and, I must add that no way is the only way a weak president can handle these problems.
Therefore to ensure that we have the resource to prepare for the future, and, to address the emerging challenges to our economic security, we need a leader who will have the foresight to a more realistic and balanced assessment of our long-term crisis solving needs. We need a leader who will place greater emphasis on lasting solutions backed by the ability to swiftly defeat these old monsters once and for all, while at the same time, preserving the option for our one and ultimate objective – eradicating poverty in Ghana. This requires that we move away from the hydroelectric generation system, augmented by the so-called Thermal Power Stations (TPS), that has dominated the country's energy planning for nearly a half-century now, and adopt a capability-based strategy, one that focuses less on rain falls, that threatens us if the rains fail to come and, more on how we may get energy uninterruptedly to bolster our economy and bring economic prosperity to all Ghanaians.
So far the current administration is flirting with the idea of nuclear energy and, we hope, this is being done in conjunction with other alternative strategies, such as my suggestion recently in favor of Seawater Desalination Reverse Osmoses (SWRO). I am also sure that other well mannered Ghanaians will also come up with even better ideas, all in the interest of helping our country. Additionally, government needs to consider reducing its dominant role in the utility management business, and encourage formation of energy companies to takeover the responsibilities of power supply to the masses, as is done in most parts of the world. This will encourage competition and in so doing benefit consumers. Also, given that economic decisions are synonymous with private sector operations, efficiency in the delivery of power supply system by the private sector can be assured. What is left then is for government to set up a comprehensive and credible regulatory body to address any irregulaties “that may be associated with private sector participation and to prevent any abuse of monopoly power,” Additionally, it will need to ensure that the said body enjoys absolute independency from all stakeholders to allow it to function in the most effective manner possible.
ConclusionFinally, assuming a decision is made in favor of either of the above suggestions before the end of Mr. Kufour’s administration, the onus will be on the incoming president to see to it that the energy program decided on is effectively implemented. In this regard, voters expect the new president to give the program a high priority upon assumption of the presidency and make his transition effective and constructive for all, by implementing the energy program swiftly and effectively while, at the same time, initiating other effective measures to combat the equally deplorable situations of unemployment, health, education, transportation, arm robbery, and drug trafficking, among others.
No one expects that any president can possibly overcome these problems overnight. Notwithstanding, Ghanaians are entitled to expect their government to do its very best. They expect that officials will have realistic objectives, clear guidance, and effective organization to achieve goals for the masses. They are entitled to see some standards for performance so that they can judge, based on the candidates campaign promises. With such benchmarks, the justifications for a president’s action and voter expectation will seem limitless and voters will have a means to measure the success of their politicians and hold them accountable. Therefore in conclusion, it is only when a candidate has convincingly demonstrated to voters that he has the leadership capabilities to meet the challenges facing the country, must they consider him a presidential material worthy enough, to be voted for as president. Thank you.
Wall Street, New York, NY
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