Feature: Come On, Uncle Atukwei, Let’s Stick To Poetry – writes Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.

Let’s get this point right out of the way – the problem with our perennially and consistently lethargic presidency has absolutely nothing to do with the tenure of the President of Ghana’s being 4 years (See “Extend Presidential Tenure to Five Years – Prof. Okine [sic]” Starrfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 6/10/15). After all, Ghana’s first Fourth-Republican leader, Chairman Jerry John Rawlings “served” at the helm of our nation’s affairs for some 20 years. And today, some 15 years later, Ghanaians can hardly point to any meaningful legacy bequeathed us by our motor-mouthed, self-rghteous “revolutionary” leader.

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We must also point out that it was while he served as a lame-duck president that Mr. John Agyekum-Kufuor began to float about the funny idea of a 5-year presidential tenure. He had been to Lagos, or Abuja, I forget which, at the official invitation of then-President Olusegun Obasanjo, the former military strongman, who was himself nauseatingly toying with the zany idea of amending Nigeria’s Republican Constitution in order to allow himself the chance of a third presidential term. Indeed, I vividly recall asking in one of my columns at the time, whether Gen (Rt.) Obasanjo had spiked Mr. Kufuor’s drinks with some medicinal contrabands at the reportedly lavish banquet thrown in the honor of the then politically wistful Ghanaian leader.

But what is even more significant to point out here is that there are a significant number of countries around the world with 4-year presidential terms and far more complex problems whose leaders have been able to achieve far more than President Kufuor did in 8 years. What this means is that either the wrong characters are gunning for the presidency in Ghana, or there is something genetically remiss with the entire Ghanaian citizenry to make us keep electing the wrong people to manage our national affairs. In the cases of Messrs. John Evans Atta-Mills, late, and John Dramani Mahama, incumbent, these men had each served active apprenticeships of about four years; and so they very well appreciated what the duties of a president entailed.

And by the way, isn’t it rather curious that renowned and distinguished Ghanaians like Prof. Atukwei Okai are not also floating around the equally significant idea of a 5-year parliamentary term? To be certain, governance and nation-building are not the work of one personality known by the title of President. Rather, it is the concerted work of the three traditional branches of government, namely, the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary, plus the entire nation at large. Besides, a president with 80-percent of graduate-student deputy cabinet appointees is highly unlikely to achieve any meaningful quality-of-life improvement for the people even if he is afforded a 10-year tenure.

And so really, all this talk about presidential tenure extension is just red-herring. I was actually leaning towards the noun “hogwash.” At the mature and statesmanly age of 74, Uncle Atukwei ought to know far better. And just what does the renowned and innovative performance-poet think another two years of President Mahama would do to Ghanaians, but literally wash all of us out to sea? Add a touch of gasoline and match-stick and, of course, you know what that may mean for the entire West African sub-region.

At any rate, I far prefer an evening’s good reading of Prof. Okai’s Lorgorligi Logarithms, over roast-beef and red wine, to having the PAWA Man ill-advisedly attempt to tinker with Ghana’s Fourth-Republican Constitution. And by the way, why didn’t Uncle Atukwei step down as President of the Pan-African Writers’ Association after his first 5 years in office? Then again, what do you expect a Convention People’s Party (CPP) boy to do with the hallowed constitutional instrument of democracy? Go figure!

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