The Leadership debate:
This question was first posed by Bonna Oykere (13TH June 2005) about the qualities that the Ghanaian people would required from the man who will replace President Kufuor. The President that Ghanaians elect in 2008 will be the man who will supervise our ?take off? or ?turn around?. This writer wrote a rejoinder in support of Bonna?s criteria and intend to turn this into series to promote those men and women who can help Ghana move forward.
The guiding principle for this series will be based on the test Bonna set: Our Republic must not be looked upon as chiefdom any longer. It must be viewed as the fountain of accountability, justice and responsibility for all Ghanaians. A responsible, accountable, hard working President will produce the same citizenry.
In an earlier essay ?Can Papa Owusu Ankomah emulate the Asian Tigers??, this writer argue passionately for the Minister for Home Affairs to be nominated as the NPP flag bearer, and the reason why the King makers of the NPP should look be able to look beyond their personal and self interests and support a candidate who can unify the country and push for growth, encourage job creation and set clear policies to eradicate poverty.
This writer opted for Papa Owusu Ankomah for the very reasons stated above and the anti-corruption stance taken by the honourable member from Sekondi since he entered government.
In an article relating to Ghana?s Structural Adjustment by Kimberley Louis, ? The Lament of a Nation: Ghana?s SAP Experience? she raised 4 very fundamental issues that neatly ties in with the question Bonna posed in his essay - POVERTY, UNEMPLOYMENT, INEQUALITY AND LEADERSHIP.
The issue of leadership has been the Achilles heels of many African countries since they came out of colonial rule. Apart from ex- Presidents Dr Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Nasser of Egypt, ex-President Rawlings of Ghana, ex-President Chissamo of Mozambique, President Paul Kalama of Rwanda, President Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Kufuor of Ghana the continent has been dominated by leaders whose interest was mainly to use brute force to loot the wealth of their country. This has left the continent poorer and its people have become the poorest of the poor in any continent. The only solution that can solve the problem of corruption and encourage the cherish development that Ghanaians and for that matter Africans are crying for is good, confident and visionary leadership.
In West Africa, the current crop of emerging leaders witnessed the notorious butchering of their fellow citizens in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ivory Coast during the civil wars in those countries and the religious mass murder in Northern Nigeria and the Ogoni land butchering by the Abacha military junta in Nigeria. In Nigeria, Ken Sara Wiwa Junior (son of late Ken Sara Wiwa of Ogoniland) and others are forging unity that would enable them to mount a challenge to the leadership. In Liberia, ex- World Football Player for 3 consecutive terms George Oppon Weah is running for his country?s Presidency. In Ghana three young leaders with clear visions of where they want their country to be have emerged. They are Papa Owusu Ankomah of the New Patriotic Party, John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress and Dr Sekou Nkrumah of the Convention Peoples Party. Although none of these 3 leaders have explicitly declared their intention to seek the highest office in the land, but their qualities and their determination to see poverty eradicated from the land of their birth and their stand on poverty is what makes them unique. Together with Ken Sara Wiwa Junior of Nigeria and George Oppon Weah of Liberia, this crop of young leaders emerging from West Africa, but with vast international exposure is exciting. The next decade would determine the future of the region, a region that boast of enormous wealth and talent but due to mismanagement of its resources the majority of the citizens are poor, illiterate and most of her children are malnourished. As the region push towards integration, the quality of leaders at the helm of affairs will determine how successful the project becomes. Fighting corruption and creating jobs for the citizens of the sub-region is now paramount. The set up of the region is such that prosperity in one country automatically attracts citizens from sister countries. Migration within and out migration from West Africa has been going on for over 200 years and still goes on unabated. Over 90% of the Black diasporas in North and South America and the Caribbean are from West Africa. Despite this loss the region remains the most integrated region in sub-Saharan Africa where tribes overlap into neighbouring sister countries. The current migration involves skill labour from the region to Europe and North America This is having a very negative effect on the region?s ability to develop the vital human capital that would enable her to push for growth. Also any disturbances that occurs in one part of the region have ramifications across the whole entire region. It is under the backdrop of this stabilisation that the leadership issue in Ghana becomes very important. The leadership crisis in Ivory Coast and Togo which are still ongoing is a classic example of what can go wrong.
Some might ask what has the leadership issue in Ghana got to do with the problems of the sub-region. Since the crisis in Liberia spread to encompass most of the countries in the region (Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone) vital resources and time has been wasted to try and stabilised the region. It was in the light of this instabilities that Presidents Kufour and Obasanjo of Ghana and Nigeria respectively have been holding regular consultations with their peers to stabilised the region and encourage development. Cross border trading is common in West Africa. In most border towns children cross one country to go to school in another and vice versa. The vacuum created by the death of Eyadema and the disturbances that ensued also brought back the painful tragic memories that engulf our sister countries in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The crises had a dramatic effect on the whole sub-region The timely intervention by Presidents Obasanjo and Kufuor in Togo brought the situation under control. Faure Eyadema has to personally go to Abuja to explain the situation in Togo to the ECOWAS head of states. That is what leadership is all about. Same as the crisis in Ivory Coast which is being hampered by logistics and inability of the various leaders in that country to reason. This fool headedness is having a drastic effect on the Ivory Coast economy. Its cocoa industry is near to total collapse and its economy is in free fall, yet neighbouring Ghana is becoming a beacon of hope??. A sharp contrast in leadership style.
Having outlined the problems that would face any future leader to succeed President Kufuor, the next in the series will look at the strategies that Papa Owusu Ankomah, John Mahama and perhaps Dr Sekou Nkrumah might have to adopt to reduce poverty, create jobs and close the inequality gap. By creating more middle classes with real savings and spending power that a country can look forward to successful take off. Research and development do play vital part in this development, thus the upgrading of the nations 4 Polytechnics in Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi and Ho becomes pressing and imperative. It is important to invest more in the nations 5 leading universities (University of Ghana Legon, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, University of Cape Coast, University of Education, Winneba and University for Development Studies, Tamale) to enable them conduct research in agriculture and other opportunistic diseases such as Malaria, Guinea Worms, Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS. Papa Owusu Ankomah, John Dramani Mahama and Dr Sekou Nkrumah knows the monumental tasks that faces the country. For the love of their motherland and betterment of their fellow citizens these 3 unique leaders are dedicating themselves to the cause of Ghana. In their own separate ways but linked together by the call of duty these emerging leaders are setting different examples by condemning corruption, calling for free education for every Ghanaian child of school going age, accountability and job creation for their fellow citizens.
God Bless Homeland Ghana.
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