It is rather a pity what some of those who aspire to be managers of our national affairs and destiny take Ghanaians for. I was thus not the least bit surprised, albeit visibly irritated, to hear Prof. Nii Noi Dowuona “predict” that “character” will be the deciding factor “of who wins the presidency in 2012” (See “President Mills Will Be Unbeatable In 2012[,] Unless…- Prof. Dowuona” Modernghana.com 3/4/11).
Somebody ought to have alerted the former General-Secretary of the rump-Convention People’s Party (CPP) and Head of the Soil Science Department at the University of Ghana that it is results-producing leadership that is definitely bound to light up the practical imagination of the Ghanaian voter come Election 2012.
What the foregoing also implies is that Prof. Dowuona would do himself and the rest of us great good by sticking to his daytime job at the J. B. Danquah Academy.
Indeed, while character remains front and center of Ghanaian culture, often those who would have the rest of us recognize them as experts of what constitutes ideal leadership caliber have absolutely no worthwhile idea of what they are talking about. For instance, what does the stentorian CPP hack mean by almost totally predicating the political appeal of President John Evans Atta-Mills on the fact of his largely face-saving and belated invitation of former President John Agyekum-Kufuor to the Castle for a tête-à-tête in the wake of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s long overdue call for New Patriotic Party activists, members, supporters and sympathizers to vigorously defend themselves against seasonal and routine unprovoked physical assaults by hired NDC Rottweilers?
Maybe we had better enlighten the Legon soil scientist about what actually constitutes “good leadership caliber.” And on the latter score must be highlighted the far more relevant opinion of NPP’s Mr. Kwabena Sarpong who, on the same “Alhaji and Alhaji” radio talk-show wittily highlighted the fact that President Mills has been direly and woefully wanting whenever a situation crying for competent leadership has arisen (See “Mills Is Selfish: Credit Must Go To Kufuor For Castle Meeting – Kwabena Sarpong” Modernghana.com 3/4/11).
Striking examples of leadership failure, according to Mr. Sarpong, includes the shockingly gaping presidential silence that greeted the criminal chucking out of former President Kufuor’s official documents and other personal belongings by thugs hired by the leadership of the so-called National Democratic Congress from a government-owned building in the Osu district of Accra.
What was even more shocking was the glaringly abject “tribalization” of a pure and simple flagrant act of political vindictiveness, by having youths of largely Ga-Adangbe ethnicity and evidently full of anti-Asante/-Akan venom throw out the personal belongings of Mr. Kufuor!
Needless to say, the situation gave the rather primitive impression of the Kumasi-born Mr. Kufuor being an illegal encroacher or squatter on Ga-Adangbe-owned prime real estate. If this is the kind of emulative “character” that Prof. Dowuona supposes would capture the decently reflective imagination of the Ghanaian voter come Election 2012, then, indeed, the former rump-CPP chief scribe must be living in a fool’s paradise.
And neither is it a creditable demonstration of fetching leadership when in answer to Nana Akufo-Addo’s call for measured self-defense against NDC-sponsored atrocities – “All-Die-Be-Die” – rather than arrange a frank and mature tête-à-tête with his most formidable political opponent in Election 2008, President Mills, rather jejunely, chose the solemn occasion of his third “State-of-the-Nation Address” to wash the proverbial dirty cloth of Ghana before a gathering of the international community, represented by the diplomatic corps, whose significant presence the President appeared to lack even the most common decency to recognize.
Indeed, there is another aspect of President Mills’ personal invitation to former President Kufuor which almost no Ghanaian media pundit seems to have taken remarkable cognizance of. And it is the patently insulting message that it appeared to send Nana Akufo-Addo and the entire leadership of the New Patriotic Party; and the latter may well have motivated Nana Akomea’s call for President Mills to extend a similar invitation to the NPP Presidential Candidate for Election 2012 and former Abuakwa-South Member of Parliament, Justice and Foreign minister.
The subtext here, of course, was the implicit suggestion by President Mills that, somehow, Nana Akufo-Addo does not deserve his hard-earned status and reputation as Ghana’s main opposition leader.
It goes without saying that those who understand “character” and “leadership” often have in mind, the kind of leadership that is forthright, responsible, responsive, reflective and conciliatory. And on the preceding score, the name of Nana Akufo-Addo musters cache, whereas that of President Atta-Mills luridly relies on “Okraman Ahobere Ase” (“Canine Humility”).
In 2012, it is the contents of the Ghanaian voter’s wallet and dining table that is apt to determine who gets to govern for the next four years. And on both counts, I don’t see President Mills defying the rules of economic reality.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and author of “The Obama Serenades” (Lulu.com, 2011).