Who would you vote for to represent your party in Ghana's presidential elections in 2008? That is, if you could. I couldn't even if I wanted to. I don't have the vote being that I reside in the United States. Thanks to political clowns, past and present, the promise of dual citizenship and the right of foreign-based Ghanaians to vote in Ghanaian elections remains what its – a promise. The subject is to Ghanaian politics what abortion is to politics in the United States. The government of the day would not fix it because it provides a convenient diversion away from real bread and butter issues for which it has no solutions. Those in opposition do not want it fixed because it must have a whipping subject when the political pendulum swings its way. So the circus goes on and dual citizenship for foreign based Ghanaians is as murky as abortion rights are in the United States.
So why should I care a cotton-picking dime about who is running or who is not? More so about the NPP, a party for whom I have serious disdain for some of its history and past traditions. Simple. Knowledge is mandatory. Ignorance and stupidity are optional.
The NPP has the most intriguing slate of candidates for the primaries. Being the party in power is a huge draw. Think about all the perks of incumbency in its favor. It is the party with the most number of primaries contestants and also the one with the most visible ethnic tint. Almost every NPP aspirant or sympathizer I run into is either Akan or close to being one. Like it or not, it is for now the grandest, the loudest, and the one most likely to return its candidate to the seat of power in Ghana. After all, the strongest opposition NDC party is broke, divided and ideologically without direction. The CPP is ideologically rock-solid but broke and as fragmented as the tracks on the tire of a truck. All the others are alphabet soup warriors.
Wading through the crowded maze of the NPP slate, you are likely to conclude that the contestants are all “Kwesi Ansah the same.” Or nearly the same. They are all men, Akan and Christian (except Aliu), college educated, suit loving and wearing, rich by Ghanaian standards, de-culturalized, have a record of some public service, are arrogant and self-conceited. But if you looked a little intently you will discover that one is less equal than all the others.
Hackman Owusu Agyeman fits that bill. He comes along with a long and very impressive record of public service. In fact, he stands head and shoulders above ALL the other contestants as far serving one's nation goes -- locally and on the international scene. It begs the issue to recount the details of Mr. Hackman's public service record. It is information that is well-documented and readily available to anyone.
I would rather worry about those intangibles, factors that point to a person's strength of character, personality and emotional soundness for a job as tough as leading a nation of millions.
More like the majority of us, he was born with no spoon, silver or wooden, in his mouth. By his own account one wonders how much education he would have had if not for luck, resolve and Kwame Nkrumah's free education programs. He lays no claim to royal birthrights, pedigree or name inheritance. The scourge of “daddy's boy” does not trail him. If you doubt what a spoilt-daddy's-boy-its-my-way-or-the-highway brat can do to a nation and the world, check out George Bush's resume in the United States! Hackman Owusu Agyeman is no “daddy's boy.”
Where many are arrogant and self-serving (even in public), Mr. Agyeman exudes a countenance of calm confidence and modesty. I read this of him during a chance encounter at a gathering in Newark, NJ. Those who know him more than I do claim that behind the scenes, he has little or no tolerance for mediocrity and duplicity. No one should anyway. Few do. This has earned him the reputation of being a “strong-willed and no nonsense” broker within the party.
The man has something in his background that tells me that he is very well trained in the art of consensus building. Presumably that is what his many years service in The UN (FAO) and as Ghana's Foreign Minister did for him. To be successful in leading a nation of extensive and expansive diversities as Ghana, one must be a masterful consensus builder.
Spending his own money to build libraries, community resource centers, job training centers, sponsoring sporting events and building a huge factory that provides employment for the folks in his home area to me is his most redeeming attribute. These are things of monstrous significance in the lives of rural folks any where in Ghana. Do they prove anything? You bet they do! The man has done things even governments cannot or have not cared to do. He's never forgotten the people who gave him a start. He's never forgotten to give back to the people who scratched the ground for him. And he's never lost sight of what it takes to put hope, a smile and a sparkle in the lives of the poor village folk.
So would I vote for Hackman Owusu Agyeman? Certainly not. I do not have a vote. If you do and plan to vote in the NPP primaries, vote for the man who, unlike all the others, has within his frame those intangibles that suggest that he will still be your man long after the ballot boxes have been tucked away.