04.11.2002 Feature Article

Search For A Prez Candidate: Who is "I am my own man"

Search For A Prez Candidate: Who is I am my own man
04.11.2002 LISTEN

Not until recently, I have never known that we are such gullible people. Within a twinkle of an eye, all the qualities needed in a potential president have been reduced to “Who Can Be His Own Man”. What is more disheartening is the simple meaning given to this kind of quality; to be one’s own man, one has to prove that, as a president, he or she can resist the perceived control of the former president of Ghana, Flt. Lt. J. J. Rawlings. So the press has succeeded again by setting the agenda for the NDC. From constituency to constituency, region to region and from one radio station to another, the two highly learned presidential hopefuls of the NDC are demonstrating and trying to prove that they are capable of ostracising the immediate past president of the land. As such, all the essential qualities of managing the economy of a HIPC country in a globalised world is overshadowed by one trivial issue. With notable exception, some are now gradually equating assertiveness to aggressiveness. That is where my worry is. Our political history is replete with some nasty experiences that I thought have been the best teacher. One cannot forget the situation where Mr. K. N. Arkaah of blessed memory had a lockout with his boss, nearly causing a constitutional crisis in this country. The press pushed the ‘stubborn cat’ to the extent that he started criticising cabinet from without instead of within. He explained, “when I advice them they don’t take it”. Yet, the principled thing many people thought he should have done under the circumstance was to resign; and it was against this that the press and the opposition at the time cajoled him. Consequently, he thought that was heroism until his trumpeters jettisoned him deep sea, blaming him for their political defeat. Some people may see that as a harmless drama, but one thing is undeniable. These incidents chart or re-chart our value system. In effect, the young ones turn to believe that to be assertive, one needs to be belligerent. That should not be so. I feel it is not necessary to bark and yell to hammer home a point or correct a mistake. I also feel that a wise person is someone who mends the fences without letting others hear the groaning with which he or she has succeeded. It is only these examples that can inculcate discipline in our society and prepare our youth as responsible men to take up the mantle after we have finished our bit and needed peace of mind to enjoy our labour. To the Media, I plead for responsibility. For, if the media critically criticised the NDC in the past, I thought it was meant to cleanse it for public consumption. It is therefore godly that the media would make sure they market what they have helped to build. Preparing a viable opposition to takeover the mantle of governance in case the incumbent fails is a holy duty that makes the Press the Fourth Estate of the Realm. In this light, the role of the media as the watchdog for the people’s right and liberty against all manner of encroachment by the authority cannot be overemphasised. Back to who leads the NDC in the year 2004. I think the NDC has a bright chance but they must play the card well, taking the benefit of hindsight. Meaning, if the observation that people became annoyed with the party because candidates where imposed on them in year 2000 is anything to go by, then something new must be done. I would strongly suggest that mechanisms be put in place for the votes of the five representatives from each of the constituencies to actually represent the votes of the grassroots at congress. My view is informed by the fear that the representatives could play their votes in stomach directions. Nonetheless, it would be foolhardy to advise any representative not to take money from a candidate who wanted his or her vote. In HIPC Ghana, the wise thing to do is to make do with the money but vote for the ultimate goal of choosing a candidate who is capable of winning the 2004 elections. Otherwise, the individual would only rob Peter to pay Paul. The party would still remain in opposition and the token, for sure, is meant only for that particular vote, would cease forthwith. It does not mean I am preaching dishonesty. Instead, I am prescribing a dose for it. It is therefore in the interest of the party to assess very well who is the best material for the next elections. Without bias, I would like to do some analysis. First, an analogy would do. When the Biblical Noah wanted to know whether the land was dry after the great flood, he sent out a dove. In his wisdom, he knew that if the dove did not return it implied it had found a better place to land. Lo and behold his reasoning worked. Now, Dr. Kwesi Botchwey left the NDC when he allegedly lost favour in the sight of his boss. He left with a heavy heart and frustration, later asserting that the NDC belongs to Flt. Lt. Rawlings and his wife. He suggested that the party could only become a viable one when Rawlings is no longer at the center. And getting close to the end of his lectureship program in the US he came back to Ghana with some investors. This time, many people duly hailed him as a gentleman and a resourceful citizen of the land. So, his decision to return into the Ark speaks volumes for itself. The following reasons account for my observation. Firstly, J.J. is now even at ‘the middle of the center’ of the party. Secondly, Dr. Botchwey after his program in that prestigious university in the US has become more experienced and has better insight into what is good for him and mother Ghana. Thirdly, the NDC is less attractive now that it is in opposition –a bitter place to be. Finally, he is not coming back to the party to be fed but to finance the party with his hard earned money. That the NDC has two very experienced personalities vying for its leadership position is again a feather in its cap. Perhaps, that is what makes it difficult for the party to make a choice. And the best thing is to do some SWOT analysis of the two, then adopt a balance scorecard method to determine who survives the strategies of the NPP. Already, the media that nailed the NDC in year 2000 is giving some indications of what they would be using against the party’s candidates. Considering Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, it is necessary to take the apparent support he is enjoying from known opponents of the NDC with a pinch of salt. For me, I consider it suicidal to allow your opponent to choose for you the kind of weapons you must use in a war against him. I do not mean that he belongs to them. What I foresee, rather, is the likelihood of the opponents having more negatives to use against him than against Prof. Mills. In this matter, we can learn from the NPP. Before the 1996 elections, the NPP had a very good material in person of Mr. Kwami Pianim but they feared the NDC was just biding their time to send him to court at the last minute on his previous conviction for treason to disqualify him. As such, they took him to court themselves to see his fate and that of the party. In the case of K.B. there maybe nothing to take him to a legal court on, but the media knows how to take a candidate to the people’s court in an election. And setting the agenda for the gullible electorates, they easily stymie justice and crucify their victim. So, going by the adage that a dog would never snarl at you if it had no intention to bite you, I believe that the media has given delegates to be present at the NDC congress cause to re-examine Dr. Botchwey’s flagbearership. This consideration would be in the interest of the party. About Prof. Atta-Mills, not much has come up so far against him apart from the suggestion that he would become the appendage of J.J. Rawlings. If that could happen, then thanks to the press for making it an issue now, so that both the Professor and the former president will avoid it when the time comes. Unfortunately however, this conclusion was and is drawn only on the premise that the Professor said he would consult the former president 24hrs. In castigating him, the critics make no room for the normal hyperbole we have in the English language. They take it literally, misconstrue the basic concepts of consultation, and take no account of the circumstances under which the statement was made. It is therefore essential to clear the three fallacies in their reasoning. If his statement has a literal meaning, then we need to answer the following questions: when will he sleep? When will he travel? When will he meet dignitaries? And how will he meet the tedious and time sapping demands of governance? What can we say about the concept of consultation? As input for decision-making, consultation is the act of soliciting the views and advice of others who are usually experienced individuals. So, the consultor feeds on the experiences of the consultee, but takes the decision and bears the consequences by himself. Besides, we should not suggest that there is a human being on the planet Earth who is the sole embodiment of all the knowledge one needed for governing a nation. If there is one thing we should strive as a nation to preserve, then it is the need to pass on the accumulative experiences of one government or president to another. Raymond Tettevi Website: