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The Presidency is a Matter of Wisdom and Emotional Maturity

Mon, 24 Sep 2007 Source: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

I have been mulling Mr. Daniel Kwaku Botwe’s recent interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), during which the aspiring New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential candidate was reported to have remarked as follows: “The post of a Chief Executive Officer of Ghana, the Presidency[,] should not be considered as a retirement package. The job is [for] four years[,] and [a] possible eight years of continuous strenuous labor, which demands dynamisms[sic], vigor, resilience and tenacity to endure” (Ghanaweb.com 9/9/07).

I still can’t believe my ears; I simply cannot fathom that a former cabinet member of the Kufuor Administration could be making such a reckless and outright unimaginative remark, particularly regarding the caliber of Ghanaians who serve on the august Council-of-State, the institutional equivalent – or coordinate – of Britain’s Privy Council, the court of last resort, or even the House of Lords. And if he had bothered to conduct even a cursory profile of the caliber of Ghanaians who sit and serve on the Council-of-State, he would have readily concluded that he, Mr. Botwe, has absolutely no classmates, or peers, among the ranks of the distinguished membership of the Council-of-State.

What makes his remark more disturbing, and irredeemably unfortunate, is that Mr. Botwe, a former Information Minister and also former General Secretary of the ruling New Patriotic Party, is vying for the presidential nomination of his Party and a possible, albeit highly unlikely, election as the substantive President of Ghana.

The preceding notwithstanding, it is rather pedestrian that Mr. Botwe, like many of his competitors, would tailor the profile of his own peculiar concept of an ideal presidential candidate, and president, like the proverbial hand and glove, to suit his very own. For it goes without saying, by and large, that unlike “statesmen” and “stateswomen,” for that matter, “politicians” are a self-centered and narcissistic lot. In sum, what Ghana needs at the moment, and has, in fact, always sorely needed are statesmanlike politicians of the rarefied calibers of Drs. J. B. Danquah and Busia, Messrs. William (Paa Willie) Ofori-Atta, Ako-Adjei, Obetsebi-Lamptey and yes, even Kwame Nkrumah! For his widely remarked opportunism and all, at least Kwame Nkrumah and, of course, the entire membership of the celebrated Big Six, harbored and cultivated the kind of patriotic fervor for the collective uplift of their countrymen and women that, these days, exists largely in our history books.

Else, how could such a principal NPP player predicate his prime qualification for the Ghanaian presidency almost squarely on the outcome of the 2000 presidential election? It also staggers the foresighted, collective Ghanaian imagination how many latter-day NPP presidential aspirants would have their fellow citizens believe that the two electoral victories of the Kufuor Government have solely been due to their uniquely individual breastwork of genius.

Perhaps a more forthright fellow traveler needs to pull these political panjandrums aside and loudly and limpidly drum some native wisdom into their evidently concussed skulls.

And just exactly what does Mr. Botwe mean by his assertion that “if he were given the nod to lead [the ruling] Party, he would put [a] premium on the training of polling agents, ward chairmen and other identifiable executives on the dynamics of modern politicking and electoral systems”? What has, so far, prevented the Kufuor-wannabe from doing just that? And then, again, why had he not done so when Mr. Botwe had the prime opportunity as Ghana’s Information Minister? And, prior to the latter, as the New Patriotic Party’s General Secretary?

Maybe the man is in the wrong calling; maybe he is simply fascinated by the, admittedly, grand title of “President,” particularly vis-à-vis all the humongous perks and global recognition that go with it.

Also, perhaps, all those political popinjays need to be flatly and roundly told to the face that the electoral ousting of the so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC) was due far more to the general Ghanaian populace having gotten fed-up with the P/NDC’s ham-fisted and murderous policies than the sheer political-engineering genius of any single individual member among the teeming ranks of the erstwhile Danquah-Busia ideological opposition. Otherwise, the ruling NPP would have reduced the parliamentary strength of the Provisional National “Destroyers” Congress (P/NDC) to much less than the morally and politically unsettling 40-percent of National Assembly seats held by these impenitent “Slappocrats.”

Were he, indeed, seriously prepared to becoming the next president of Ghana, Mr. Botwe would have promptly apologized to both the august membership and the very institution of the Council-of-State, as well as all democracy-loving Ghanaians at large. For what kind of presidency could Ghanaians expect from a largely fortunate and privileged young man who has absolutely no respect for the age and wisdom of his elders?

And need one also add the fact that the “energetic diligence” of a Rawlings, totally devoid of vision and wisdom, has brought, in its trail, nothing short of abject misery and grinding poverty – both materially and spiritually – to our countrymen and women?

Indeed, it may surprise Mr. Botwe to learn that the Ghanaian presidency is, in fact, a veritable retirement package. For it took a then-62-year-old President Kufuor to midwife a battered and traumatized Ghana out of the bog-peat of diffidence, socioeconomic, political and cultural stasis; and a 42-year-old, hotheaded and pathologically idealistic Kwame Nkrumah to lead the country astray. And next year, when, at exactly 70 years old, he retires with dignity and a handsome gratuity, his would have been a far worthwhile enterprise than that of that prematurely grizzled other “John” of yesteryear, who spent the greater part of his youth terrorizing and extorting his pelf from hoodwinked and gun-whipped Ghanaians.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., teaches English and Journalism at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of “Sounds of Sirens: Essays in African Politics and Culture” (iUniverse.com, 2004). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@aol.com.

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

I have been mulling Mr. Daniel Kwaku Botwe’s recent interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), during which the aspiring New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential candidate was reported to have remarked as follows: “The post of a Chief Executive Officer of Ghana, the Presidency[,] should not be considered as a retirement package. The job is [for] four years[,] and [a] possible eight years of continuous strenuous labor, which demands dynamisms[sic], vigor, resilience and tenacity to endure” (Ghanaweb.com 9/9/07).

I still can’t believe my ears; I simply cannot fathom that a former cabinet member of the Kufuor Administration could be making such a reckless and outright unimaginative remark, particularly regarding the caliber of Ghanaians who serve on the august Council-of-State, the institutional equivalent – or coordinate – of Britain’s Privy Council, the court of last resort, or even the House of Lords. And if he had bothered to conduct even a cursory profile of the caliber of Ghanaians who sit and serve on the Council-of-State, he would have readily concluded that he, Mr. Botwe, has absolutely no classmates, or peers, among the ranks of the distinguished membership of the Council-of-State.

What makes his remark more disturbing, and irredeemably unfortunate, is that Mr. Botwe, a former Information Minister and also former General Secretary of the ruling New Patriotic Party, is vying for the presidential nomination of his Party and a possible, albeit highly unlikely, election as the substantive President of Ghana.

The preceding notwithstanding, it is rather pedestrian that Mr. Botwe, like many of his competitors, would tailor the profile of his own peculiar concept of an ideal presidential candidate, and president, like the proverbial hand and glove, to suit his very own. For it goes without saying, by and large, that unlike “statesmen” and “stateswomen,” for that matter, “politicians” are a self-centered and narcissistic lot. In sum, what Ghana needs at the moment, and has, in fact, always sorely needed are statesmanlike politicians of the rarefied calibers of Drs. J. B. Danquah and Busia, Messrs. William (Paa Willie) Ofori-Atta, Ako-Adjei, Obetsebi-Lamptey and yes, even Kwame Nkrumah! For his widely remarked opportunism and all, at least Kwame Nkrumah and, of course, the entire membership of the celebrated Big Six, harbored and cultivated the kind of patriotic fervor for the collective uplift of their countrymen and women that, these days, exists largely in our history books.

Else, how could such a principal NPP player predicate his prime qualification for the Ghanaian presidency almost squarely on the outcome of the 2000 presidential election? It also staggers the foresighted, collective Ghanaian imagination how many latter-day NPP presidential aspirants would have their fellow citizens believe that the two electoral victories of the Kufuor Government have solely been due to their uniquely individual breastwork of genius.

Perhaps a more forthright fellow traveler needs to pull these political panjandrums aside and loudly and limpidly drum some native wisdom into their evidently concussed skulls.

And just exactly what does Mr. Botwe mean by his assertion that “if he were given the nod to lead [the ruling] Party, he would put [a] premium on the training of polling agents, ward chairmen and other identifiable executives on the dynamics of modern politicking and electoral systems”? What has, so far, prevented the Kufuor-wannabe from doing just that? And then, again, why had he not done so when Mr. Botwe had the prime opportunity as Ghana’s Information Minister? And, prior to the latter, as the New Patriotic Party’s General Secretary?

Maybe the man is in the wrong calling; maybe he is simply fascinated by the, admittedly, grand title of “President,” particularly vis-à-vis all the humongous perks and global recognition that go with it.

Also, perhaps, all those political popinjays need to be flatly and roundly told to the face that the electoral ousting of the so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC) was due far more to the general Ghanaian populace having gotten fed-up with the P/NDC’s ham-fisted and murderous policies than the sheer political-engineering genius of any single individual member among the teeming ranks of the erstwhile Danquah-Busia ideological opposition. Otherwise, the ruling NPP would have reduced the parliamentary strength of the Provisional National “Destroyers” Congress (P/NDC) to much less than the morally and politically unsettling 40-percent of National Assembly seats held by these impenitent “Slappocrats.”

Were he, indeed, seriously prepared to becoming the next president of Ghana, Mr. Botwe would have promptly apologized to both the august membership and the very institution of the Council-of-State, as well as all democracy-loving Ghanaians at large. For what kind of presidency could Ghanaians expect from a largely fortunate and privileged young man who has absolutely no respect for the age and wisdom of his elders?

And need one also add the fact that the “energetic diligence” of a Rawlings, totally devoid of vision and wisdom, has brought, in its trail, nothing short of abject misery and grinding poverty – both materially and spiritually – to our countrymen and women?

Indeed, it may surprise Mr. Botwe to learn that the Ghanaian presidency is, in fact, a veritable retirement package. For it took a then-62-year-old President Kufuor to midwife a battered and traumatized Ghana out of the bog-peat of diffidence, socioeconomic, political and cultural stasis; and a 42-year-old, hotheaded and pathologically idealistic Kwame Nkrumah to lead the country astray. And next year, when, at exactly 70 years old, he retires with dignity and a handsome gratuity, his would have been a far worthwhile enterprise than that of that prematurely grizzled other “John” of yesteryear, who spent the greater part of his youth terrorizing and extorting his pelf from hoodwinked and gun-whipped Ghanaians.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., teaches English and Journalism at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of “Sounds of Sirens: Essays in African Politics and Culture” (iUniverse.com, 2004). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@aol.com.

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

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame