Opinions Sat, 6 Dec 2014
By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK December 5, 2014Speaking at National Thanksgiving Service of the NPP to express appreciation to God for the successful election of party officers and the Flagbearer for the 2016 general elections held at the Wesley Methodist Cathedral, Accra on Sunday November 30, 2014, the 2016 presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo promised to be a Bishop. This was in response to an admonition by the Most Rev. Professor Daniel Yinkah-Sarfo, Anglican Bishop of Kumasi, that he should have a big heart like that of a Bishop as he leads the party in the 2016 elections. “I promise also be a Bishop”. Nana Akufo-Addo was reported to have told the teaming supporters and leadership of the party who had assembled at the church auditorium (see “I promise to be Bishop – Akufo-Addo”, Daily Guide/Ghanaweb, December 2, 2014). This article to analyse the potential risks of such campaign promises.
There is no problem if Nana Akufo-Addo wants to change course in his political career at this mature age in his life, robbed himself in cassock and turn to pulpit to preach the gospel to his congregation. However, there is everything problematic with his promise of being a Bishop if that also applies to ruling Ghana as a Bishop and not as President. Whilst I appreciate that not only was Nana responding to a specific request but also speaking the language of the environment he found himself, Nana Akufo-Addo should remember or be reminded that Ghana is not and cannot be a church to be led by a Bishop. In any case, Ghana has already had a Bishop or even Cardinal President in the person of the late Prof Attah Mills, who according to reports turned the Castle into a church. For that reason and others to be discussed Ghana does not need another Bishop President.
One of the problems or reasons why the late President Attah Mills could not chalk successes in the fight against corruption was his failure to hold accountable public officers who had committed acts of corruption. That failure also encouraged corrupt acts such as the Woyomegate and Isofoton. The “Fama Nyame” approach by the Mills administration was in the spirit of the Christian doctrine or teaching based on the sermon Jesus gave on the Mount as reported in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 5 verses 38 to 48 including, “if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him/her the other also”. This doctrine is still being practiced by the Mahama government and has resulted in more acts of corruption by public officials and individuals such as SADA, GYEEDA, SUBAH, World Cup and others as well as the failure of the government to conduct effective trials of those involved and recover the stolen money, even when ordered by the Supreme Court.
Some Ghanaians have totally misunderstood, misinterpreted and misapplied the scripture as recorded by Apostle Matthew. Such approach to governance and accountability has resulted in billions of public funds stolen by individuals for their personal gain at the expense of the many. Yet, despite uncontested evidence of theft and daylight robbery in Ghana, very little is done to punish the culprits in the name of some sermon given at a time when crime and corruption was less pervasive in society and when society was less sophisticated.
Nana Akufo-Addo should be made aware that if he is serious about becoming the president of Ghana, then Ghanaians want a president and not a Bishop. A president who will crack the whip by investigating all allegations of corruption and individuals such Betty Mould Iddrisu for causing financial loss to the state by making dubious judgement debt payments to Woyome, Mr Barton Oduro who claimed the state had no case, Mr Samuel Neequaye-Tetteh the State Attorney who recommended the payment, all others who played a role in the dubious judgement debt payments and hold such people accountable through trials and imprisonment when found guilty. The accountability should not be restricted to the NDC period of government but extensive, including investigations into how Mr Ken Ofori-Attah designed a fraudulent scheme and packaged it as a viable business proposal and sold it to SSNIT to raise cheap capital for Databank only to turn round to buy the shares cheaply, a few years later.
It is also disturbing why Nana Akufo-Addo wants to lead like a Bishop. Religious leaders are often inflexible because they are led by a script handed over thousands or millions of years ago. They are also under the direction of a supreme religious leader and cannot deviate from the doctrine of the faith. Ghana’s presidency and governance is subject to a modern constitution that is a living document as it is from time to time, interpreted by the Judiciary as well amended as and when necessary. It is therefore impossible to be a Bishop and President at the same time under a constitutional democracy.
In recent times, religious leaders both in Ghana and the world at large have not been the good examples they used to be and not many aspire to be Bishop these days unless for personal gains. So I do not really see the attractions in one becoming a Bishop. Christian leaders in the developed world have been besieged by allegations of paedophilia and in Ghana by sexual impropriety, lies, abuse of the weak and vulnerable, false prophecy, get rich attitude and arrogance such as Bishosp Obinim, Ducan Williams. Of course, there are honest and genuine Bishops and other religious leaders. However, they are not made to rule but to shepherd the flock by preaching the gospel for the spiritual realm.
Ghana’s development needs and problems are real and very demanding that require urgent actions from whoever is president. A president who will hold officials and people to account for their actions and omissions past, present and future but not turn the left cheek for a second slap in the name of “fama nyame”. A president who will check and end the ghost names on the public pay roll, bribe to custom officials to avoid the payment of taxes at the ports, etc. A president who will respect, obey and apply the rule of the law to the letter and without favour, irrespective of one’s position, status, political, religious or ethnic affiliations. That is only way the pervasive corruption, wanton dissipation of scarce resources, the societal indiscipline and lawless could be checked. That is not the work for a faint-hearted Bishop. In any case, Ghana is not only Christian but mosaic of different religions and the president must be president for all and for only Christians as a Bishop.
Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK
Columnist: Ata, Kofi