By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
April 17, 2011
One of our main problems in this country is the slipshod manner in which we approach matters of leadership at all levels. Bluntly put, we are not serious about propping up our democracy with good leadership for it to grow at the pace and quality that will instill confidence in Ghanaians that the sacrifices they continue to make are not in vain. We seem not to know how to do things for our democracy to mature. We are still stuck on trial-and-error mechanisms that lead to nothing but disaster.
There is a gaping hole in the mechanisms we have for replacing one political leader with another because there is no credible institution or mechanism for grooming our future leaders. I have already expressed serious concerns about this lapse in our national life but want to repeat that cry here within the context of new developments that portend crisis and political instability. It is not only when there is any threat of a military coup that we must be alarmed; we should be concerned when some happenings in the civilian sector also threaten our democracy.
The current in-fighting in the NDC and the intrusion of Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings into the process for choosing the ruling party’s Presidential candidate for the 2012 elections brings to the fore the major factor that has continued to cause leadership crisis in our country. This factor is the lack of mechanisms for grooming the various political parties’ members for responsible leadership roles (including those associated with the Presidency). What we see unfolding in the NDC is the direct result of this inadequacy.
If we are resolved to sustain our democracy, why shouldn’t we do all that is required to create the favourable conditions for the smooth transition from one phase to the other (whether in terms of the change of batons from one hand to the other or the institutions that will supervise such a change)?
The deadly zeal with which Nana Konadu is pursuing her ambition amid the concerns that many people have expressed against the negative impact of that pursuit on the NDC’s chances of retaining power at the 2012 elections gives me to understand that the inability of the party (and all the others) to provide opportunities for grooming of their future national office holders is a major hindrance to smooth succession. It is a strong recipe for disaster as we can infer from what is unfolding in the NDC.
If there were opportunities for grooming future leaders, there would be no need for someone like Nana Konadu to recycle herself and want to torpedo President Mills’s incumbency. In effect, Nana Konadu seems to be buoyed by the realization that the party doesn’t have those who can overshadow her, having already been in the limelight since her husband shot his way into office.
This mantra of “Rawlings go, Rawlings come” must not be tolerated, in any case. But the overarching concern is about the absence of well-groomed youthful leaders in the party to be given the baton of succession. In that sense, then, anybody who thinks that he/she can test the waters will emerge to create confusion. That’s what Nana Konadu is taking advantage of. Where are the new faces in the NDC?
Ghana has reached a stage where it must look for fresh blood to handle its affairs, not return to the dark days of trial-and-error. Countries that seek to develop don’t do things this way. Those who return to the political stables there must have added some new values to themselves to recommend them. But in our case, it is the exact opposite. We continue to be bothered by people whose only asset is the amount of venom they have stored in their hulk to spit on their critics and political opponents as they bulldoze their way through the political terrain for personal gains. That’s not what Ghana needs in this century to develop. Those with nothing but their huge political fangs to cause havoc are not needed in office.
That’s why the need for the political parties to groom their young members for future leadership roles has become paramount. What will it take away from the NDC’s coffers if it establishes its own training institute to equip its ardent followers with the requisite leadership skills to uplift standards? Instead of leaving them to cultivate habits of mind that perpetuate the negative things that we abhor in our national life, why not create the appropriate avenues to sharpen their rough edges and prepare them to take over from the “old folks” in a smooth manner other than what Nana Konadu is kicking dust about? The future certainly belongs to the youth and they must be integrated into our political parties’ mainstream, not sidelined as has been the case all these years.
President Mills has tried to raise the bar by appointing the party’s youth to responsible positions as Ministers or Deputy Ministers; but that’s not enough. These appointees seem not to have been sufficiently prepared to perform better than the “old folks.” They have already been incapacitated by the corruption bug, which has infected them and is eating deep into their moral fabric. These are not potential leaders.
Furthermore, they are inexperienced and have allowed their youthful exuberance to take the better part of them. Already puffed up with the perks of their offices, they’ve begun misconducting themselves in the public domain. Some of them rush to make unguarded and impolitic utterances, which indicates a clear lack of political maturity. Such people easily commit blunders that discredit the government and anger the citizens into rejecting the government. By such incontinence, they endanger their own future and the political fortunes of their parties, which invariably affects the country too.
The absence of credible institutions for grooming the party functionaries isn’t good for our democracy. So also is the lack of continuity in the enunciation and implementation of effectual policies, which seems to be a major factor in the zigzag and haphazard manner in which national development is undertaken. The NPP seems to have an edge, at least, if the Danquah Institute is to be considered as its incubator for future leaders of that political front. I have some doubts, however, whether the Danquah Institute is firmly designed for that purpose. It seems to be functioning as a think tank in one sense only to emerge as a pressure group representing the NPP’s interests and also as an instrument for perpetuating the Danquah-Busia-Dombo ideology (as a mere propaganda tool, then).
It is in the performance of the Institute in the latter sense that is not likely to invest it with the kind of party-functionary grooming role that I envisage. In other words, serving as a mere ideological institute isn’t enough to make the Danquah Institute a potent instrument for grooming future leaders. Such an institute isn’t well-cut-out enough to perform the heavy duty of equipping the NPP’s youth with the requisite skills they need to participate effectively in governance. There are too many ventriloquists at the Danquah Institute, which detracts from its worth as a leadership-training institute, in any case. As it currently is constituted and resourced, the Danquah Institute may be useful mostly as an avenue for devising propaganda strategies and materials, political theories, and political sloganeering. Using the NPP’s youth to perform such functions may be sapping their energies for the wrong cause. That’s why the brains behind this Danquah Institute need to look for other opportunities to streamline the Institute’s operations and to redefine its scope and strategies for conducting credible political discourse.
More importantly, the Institute has to be redesigned and retooled to take on more relevant responsibilities that will involve the incubation of the party’s future leaders. I have given thought (and attention) to this Institute because it is the only one in the country at the moment that is built around a specific political culture that undergirds the politicking being done by the Danquah-Busia-Dombo party (the NPP). It has as inkling of a leadership grooming mechanism if properly re-organized as such.
The other political parties seem not to know their left from right when it comes to establishing the valid political and ideological superstructure to ensure their relevance far into the future. They seem to be fixated on the NOW and easily betray their real intentions. Granted that the defunct Nkrumah version of the CPP had the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute at Winneba, one might want to give praise to that political tradition for blazing the trail.
Of course, that Institute served useful purposes in conscientizing the followers of Nkrumah and his ideology of Nkrumahism. But this Institute wasn’t really designed to prepare the young to take over from Nkrumah (having already declared himself the Life President of Ghana). No one knew what was to happen after his death. Had this Institute gone beyond instilling the theories of Nkrumahism in its students, it might have given Ghana better leaders out of its products. It turned out to be a mere propaganda instrument to tout Nkrumah’s ideals.
Some beneficiaries of the Institute’s training, however, found their way to the highest office of the land. I have been given to know that the late General I.K. Acheampong attended that Institute; but we all know how his intervention in politics promoted moral decadence, economic stagnation, and political instability. His self-perpetration blunders through the Union Government ideal finally accounted for his doom.
Another product, I hear, is President J.E.A. Mills. We can tell from the manner in which he is ruling and the scathing criticism of his leadership style by his opponents whether his training at the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute is an asset or a liability. Of course, he is still in power and must be given the benefit of the doubt.
What is happening in the NDC is a pace-setter to be wary of. If we don’t find any lasting antidote to this leadership crisis, we shouldn’t turn round to complain if our democracy fails to mature. We must not forget that there are some cunning citizens who will always look for loopholes to exploit to our blind side and disadvantage.
This recycling of Nana Konadu for her to attempt re-entering the corridors of power is a clear example of how such a manipulation can be done. Firmly supported by her husband, she can’t enter office and do things without input from him. The common saying may be reversed to give us: “Behind every successful woman is a man.” That man may confirm fears that “Rawlings go, Rawlings come.” That is the threat that we must work hard to eliminate before it materializes to harm us beyond repair.