Studies of the practice of democratic governance throughout history have discovered three conditions for a democracy to flourish and endure. The first is the presence of strong institutions; second is a citizenry body educated on the principles of democracy; third is the existence of high-quality leadership. However, in challenging moments, the third condition is the most important and can compensate for the failing of the other two.
This is why it is often in the period of crisis that the caliber of leadership a nation possesses is uncovered. Some leaders rise to the occasion, uniting their countries in the face of adversity, while others falter, perpetuating divisions and exacerbating the disaster; Nana Akuffo Addo ranks high in the latter.
Since his election to the presidency of Ghana, Akufo-Addo’s name has become synonymous with several awful incidents. He is on record to have plagiarized his inaugural speech. He is known as the “mother serpent of corruption” (Martin Amidu). His government has borrowed more money—under dubious pretenses—than all previous administrations combined but has no meaningful national development project to show for it.
The President’s one district one dam (1D1F) initiative is a spectacular disaster, for its failure to materialize. His free senior high school policy has ruined the country’s proud education system. His Jubilee House – with 1,048 staff at the beginning of this year – is now derided by some in the media with the well-deserved pun “Julorbi House” (literally a den of thieves). He has successfully run a healthy national economy he inherited aground.
In brief, President Akufo Addo has been the greatest failure in the history of Ghana.
But none of these descriptions is more revealing of the nature of the man than his heart- wrenching remarks to victims of the flood disaster caused by the spillage of the Akosombo and Kpong dams. Injecting political polemics into his remarks to a people rendered homeless and helpless overnight by an act of a government agency was heartless. Frankly speaking, the President is insensitive and shameless! Like a petulant child dragged to a sacred place against his will, he could not temper his inner vindictiveness in the presence of people who, in his mind, disagree with him.
First and foremost, the President's response was slow and lacked the urgency demanded by the crisis. His speech to the victims of the tragedy about their voting patterns was reckless, pathetic, and divisive. Instead of declaring a state of emergency and rallying the nation for moral and material support for the flood victims, the President told the helpless citizens in the North Tongu district of the Volta Region that if it was a question of counting who voted for him and who did not, he would not have visited the disaster area because they did not vote for him.
In this moment, the president should have been the sympathizer-in-chief (president for all), consoling families for the loss of property and sources of livelihood, and giving them hope, rather than his display of gross insensitivity. The president missed an opportunity of using the crisis as a teachable moment to draw attention to the harmful economic and ecological impacts that communities in the Lower Volta River basin continue to bear to enable the continued production of the nation's hydropower. Instead, he rubbed salt into their wounds with insults.
Completed in 1965, the Akosombo dam created the largest man-made lake in the world, covering a surface area of about 8,500 km and holding roughly 148 km of water at maximum capacity. Together the Akosombo and Kpong dams produce about 1,200 MW at full range. The relative progress of the country would not have been realized without the construction of these dams. But sadly, the local-national economic disparity from this strategic national resource is outrageous. Such could have been the focus of the president’s remarks, instead of his vindictiveness.
In essence, Akufo Addo’s statement, as Albert Einstein would put it, is quite revealing of “a man who has striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or less lost hope of succeeding.” Indeed, the president has lost hope of accomplishing anything worthy for the past seven years in office and has failed spectacularly to attain a semblance of balance within himself.
Ghana deserves high-quality leadership. A leadership that can provide the special vision needed to anchor the democratic institutions and a citizenry soaked in civic virtue for the democratic state to hold.
President John Mahama’s demonstration of grace, magnanimity, empathy for his fellow Ghanaians and, above all, unity during and after his presidency are too familiar and fresh in the minds of Ghanaians to require evoking here as proof. Clearly, come 2024, a democrat, a peacemaker, a visionary, an educator, a crisis manager, John Dramani Mahanama, aka Pericles, would be a lone candidate.
NDC USA Chapter Communications Bereau
Hajia Rukaya Abubakari
Chairman of communication and Research Committee and writter
Dr. Mark Agana- writer
All Communications and Research Committee Members
NDC USA Chapter.