Ghanaian Politics: A Good Scholar, But a Bad President – By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Mr. John Agyekum-Kufuor cannot be more accurate, and even statesmanlike, when the former president tersely and poignantly observes that his great personal achievements call for a solemn celebration of the passing of President John Evans Atta-Mills, at 68, on July 24, 2012 (See “Let’s Celebrate Mills for His was a Life Well-Lived – Kufuor” 7/26/12).

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Still, as to whether such achievements ought to be blindly celebrated is another question altogether and, indeed, one that calls for utmost sobriety across the land. Mr. Kufuor’s rather cursory measurement of “success” must also be put in perspective. Needless to say, with the general lackluster caliber of leadership in Fourth-Republican Ghana, the mere fact of one’s having assumed the presidential reins of governance does not necessarily equate with an enviable achievement. For, other than personal ego-boosting for those who reckon their stature and status in society with the presidency, the demands, responsibilities and public expectations that go with the position makes it all the more humbling and daunting, in both the continental African and global scheme of things.

Mr. Kufuor, incidentally, happens to have fairly well distinguished himself in this direction. But as to whether the now-late President John Evans Atta-Mills could equally and personally have made the same claim may yet be determined by historians, students, critics and scholars of Ghanaian politics in the near future. In sum, even as we heartily celebrate his remarkably scholastic achievements, it also bears reminding ourselves of the fact that the late president cut a clearly avoidable tragic figure on the Ghanaian and African political landscape, precisely because in the practice of national leadership, my beloved Uncle Tarkwa-Atta was clearly out of his league.

For me as a professional educator, also, Prof. Mills’ impact on the generally decadent quality of our national educational system, policy-wise, left much to be desired, and this is only putting matters rather mildly and diplomatically. For, the mere provision of a Procrustean-type of uniforms for our elementary-school children, does not make a great educational policy. And it is not clear to me whether the new MahamaArthur administration will be able to remarkably turn around the Ghanaian educational system, especially curricular-wise, in the barely four months leading to Election 2012.

And on the preceding score also, is the imperative need to promptly point out that both Messrs. Mahama and Arthur are not new faces and/or hands on Ghana’s political landscape; and, to be certain, the two gentlemen have been fully complicit in both the “revolutionary” phase of the Rawlings dictatorship and its subsequent nominally democratic dispensation. Thus quite frankly speaking, the admittedly tragic passing of President Mills may yet presage the epic need for Ghanaians to change ideological direction at least for the next four years.

That the late President Mills was a likable personality, even as former President Kufuor aptly observed in the wake of the former’s passing, does little by way of Ghana’s dire need for creative leadership geared towards the wise, frugal and constructive appropriation of our scarce national resources. This is where the spotlight of Election 2012 ought to be squarely focused.

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 Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Ghanaian Politics Today” (, 2008). E-mail:

The opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or have the endorsement of the Editorial Board of and