17.01.2011 Feature Article

A leadership Paralysis in Ghana

A leadership Paralysis in Ghana
17.01.2011 LISTEN

The New Patriotic Party joins the majority of Ghanaians in expressing our increasing worry over the country's leadership paralysis under President John Evans Atta Mills.

In the face of mounting problems, from carnage on our roads, through increasing economic hardships, to political violence and crisis in Cote d'Ivoire whenever Ghanaians approach their leader for answers all that he can offer them is either to urge them to pray or blame the NPP for his own inaction, indecision or incompetence. President Mills has chosen to live in “la la” land, cut off from the realities on the ground and cocooned from the concerns of ordinary Ghanaians.  

Prayers are, of course, very necessary, but we are also praying that our Head of State can begin showing real leadership. If God has empowered you to lead his people, you cannot choose to disappoint him by folding your arms behind your back, minding your own business. Act like a leader!

Carnage on our roads

When BBC correspondent David Amanor asked the President last Friday to comment on the disturbing carnage on our roads our President could only preach on, lecture on. He could only urge drivers to be careful on the roads. Whatever happened to the responsibility of a president to introduce policies to solve problems?   The President showed that he has no clue about how to make our roads safer. He has no idea about how to lead a nation. He believes his responsibility as President is to preach a sermon to road users. Unfortunately, it is difficult to believe a man who does not even practise what he preaches. Rather than addressing the concerns of Ghanaians with honest and constructive changes, Professor Mills would only lecture to us.

Just this week, there have been several reports of fatal road accidents across the country, like the Takoradi tragedy, which claimed the lives of four children. Yet, the President, who admits 'There is no doubt there is increasing lawlessness, not only on our roads ”, is yet to introduce a single measure to make our roads safer. Not even the law about the wearing of seatbelts, introduced by the NPP, has been enforced two into the Mills-Mahama administration. We are calling on the President to act with urgency to help bring some sanity on our roads and save Ghanaian lives. His leadership paralysis is killing people.

This week's banning of Ghana from the International Olympic Committee is just the latest in a string of hopeless and incompetent decisions from the Mills-Mahama administration that has led to Ghana's international image sinking and sinking. Some of the faux pas, like the moves to impose his own people at local committees of international organisations like IOC and FIFA, are driven by little more than the kind of political vindictiveness that has led to the sacking of the female head of the Ghana Immigration Service.

In Mills, Ghanaians have a President who promised to be 'father for all' and yet believes that anybody who was not appointed by him (or the others making appointments on his blind side but in his 'devalued' name) and was appointed before him is with the NPP and, therefore, does not deserve his or her job.

Dzi Wo Fie Asem Foreign Policy

We wish to draw the President's attention to the fact that he is reducing Ghana to international ridicule. Within one week, the President of Ghana has been able to undermine a crucial ECOWAS decision to which he was a signatory, and redefined over fifty years of Ghana's foreign policy from one of proactive leadership on our continent to a new provincial foreign policy, which he has termed, Dzi Wo Fie Asem (Mind your own business).

It should be placed on record that the President is using the Dzi Wo Fie Asem policy not for the benefit of Ghana and Ghanaians but for the benefit of his personal relationship with Laurent Gbagbo and whatever personal or partisan benefits he has had from that relationship. He cannot put his personal or party-political interest above the national and regional interest. It is a betrayal of his oath of office.

The answer that President Mills gave to journalists last Friday did not only exposed his lack of understanding of international politics, it also isolated Ghana from the international community with the potential consequence of putting at risk the lives of the many Ghanaians in la Cote d'Ivoire.

Who is in charge?

The kind of confusion exhibited by the President last Friday underlines the leadership crisis that Ghana is facing under him. Ghanaians just don't know who is in charge. The one who is supposed to be in charge is suffering from a huge weight of indecision.

For example, after saying that he agreed and signed up to the two ECOWAS communiqués supporting Alassane Ouattara as the legitimately elected leader of la Cote d'Ivoire and that Gbagbo should hand over or be compelled to go even if by the use of 'legitimate force', President Mills tells the public that "It is not for Ghana to choose a leader for Cote d'Ivoire. As a person I don't think this military option is going to bring peace to the nation. I don't want to be saddled with a problem we can't settle.”

Confused Disciple of Nkrumah

He went on to say that we should mind our own business as Ghanaians and, in other words, leave our neighbours to burn. These were the words of the Asomdwehene. This is the thinking of but a confused disciple of the avowed Pan-Africanist, Kwame Nkrumah.

We are happy that none of his last two predecessors decided to mind their own business when trouble brewed in Liberia, Sierra Leone and La Cote d'Ivoire. They chose to build and enhance Ghana's international reputation as a peacemaker and peacekeeper.

To us, the fundamental faux pas of the President is in his decision publicly to undermine the collective decision of ECOWAS on the question of ruling in the option of legitimate force to get the legitimate will of the majority of the Ivorian people respected by former President Laurent Gbagbo.

While we are not in a position to argue against the claim by Ghana's Commander-in-Chief that Ghana's military, which recently saw the return home of more than 500 troops from the UN mission in Chad, “is already over stretched,” we are, nonetheless, not convinced about the legitimacy and relevance of this public claim. It appeared more designed to undermine the efforts of the international community to persuade Prof Gbagbo to quit than to state the capacity of our armed forces.

Nobody is praying for a war in Cote d'Ivoire, but we also know that the threat of force can itself facilitate the process of peaceful negotiations.

Our message to Professor Mills is that he should not use his one term in office to devalue decades of excellent international reputation that Ghana has built for herself in international peacekeeping.  

His Friday statement which contradicted his earlier decision to append his signature to the December 24 ECOWAS communiqué was most unfortunate. It was a dishounarable act by the leader of a nation that has a life-time reputation of leading the African cause. It is a pity that Ghana, by the actions of its leader, a self-proclaimed devotee of Nkrumah, is being isolated and condemned in Africa.

Devaluation of Ghana's name

When the President lamented that his name had been devalued he should have been bold enough to admit who was responsible. Worse still, is the ultimate devaluation of Ghana's sovereign name. President Mills, we beg of you, please stop devaluing Ghana's leadership role in our region, on our continent and across the world. Millions of people in la Cote d'Ivoire are looking up to us and the other ECOWAS states to act together to bring a peaceful end to the crisis. It can be done but let us not seek to achieve that by discrediting ourselves and undermining collective responsibility and leadership in the process.

The Ivorian people are not asking Ghanaians to choose their leader for them. No, Mr President! They are only asking us to help them put into office the leader that they themselves have democratically chosen, a choice that the international community has wholeheartedly welcomed.

Let us be bold and responsible in showing that we are fully behind the democratic choice of the people of la Cote d'Ivoire. The mind your own business kind of foreign policy that Mills wants to introduce to Ghana is the policy of non-interference in the affairs of other African states and the very attitude that undermined the credibility of the erstwhile unlamented OAU, and led to the welcome establishment of the African Union (AU), which is based on the principle that we are each other's keeper.

Ironically, while preaching non-interference, he is also interfering in the work of certain institutions which he should not. Just last month, Ghana faced the risk of being banned by FIFA on the basis of government interference in the workings of the Ghana Football association   (GFA).

When the President was asked by journalists to explain why he has appointed four Sports Ministers in two years, his answer was pathetic: “I send each of them there to execute a particular programme.”

Muntaka's execution of Chinchinga programme

We are calling on the President to provide Ghanaians with the details of the 'particular programmes' that each of them was sent there to execute. Was Muntaka sent there to spend state resources on chinchinga (khebabs) and pampers? Was Pelpuo sent there to prepare the grounds for the IOC to ban Ghana? Was Akua Densua sent there to get Ghana banned from FIFA and since she failed to achieve that is that the same particular task given to her successor to try and execute?

By saying it takes one Minister per six months to execute a particular programme that is not discernable, the President has only proved to Ghanaians that his appointees lack the full complement of competence.

President Mills continues to convince the vast majority of Ghanaians that the NDC should not be given another four years to run down the affairs of the nation. And, they are getting better and better in running down the affairs of the country with excuses, blame-shifting, incompetence, hypocrisy, deceit, broken promises, and weak leadership. It has been two bad years and Ghanaians cannot be looking forward to the last two.

In other words, TWO YEARS SO FAR TOO BAD.

Very soon, after we have finished compiling the sampling results from our researchers across the country, we will present a full report of why the people of Ghana have judged the first half of the Mills-Mahama administration as two wasted years, as two years of broken promises.

President Mills used his meeting with the press last week to confirm that he has really lost touch with the concerns of ordinary Ghanaians. He used that talk-show to confirm to Ghanaians the hypocrisy, lies, dishonesty, vindictiveness and arrogance that have defined the first two years of his government and appear likely to define the final two years.

It takes an arrogant president to stand in front of the whole country to say, just less than one week after increasing fuel prices by a whopping 30 percent that he has nothing for which to apologise to the people of Ghana. The President has even lost touch with his own promise that not only would he reduce fuel prices drastically but that he would go on to reduce it further after the NPP reduced fuel prices twice in December 2008 alone.

His message today is that 'Read my lips, I never mean what I say.'

We wish to take this opportunity to advise the President to examine himself a bit, from the time that he was Vice President and head of Economic Management Team throughout his opposition days to date before thinking of condemning others next time. The NPP did not only fix the mess that he and his team left behind in 2000, we also built significantly on what we met. We certainly did not do it all but please, let President Mills stop complaining and get down to doing some real work for a change. President Mills, please do something before you go! We want him to close the gap between what he says he is and what he does. We need to bring back the credibility in political promises.

We had hoped that, at least, President Mills would have learnt by being hypocritical. That, after pretending to be sincere he would, eventually, become sincere. That he would begin to let the hypocrisy make him a more sincere leader. How wrong we were!

Candidate Mills promised to care for Ghanaians. President Mills cannot care less.

We wish to advise President Mills to take some humility lessons from the man he borrowed the 'Change' slogan from, President Barrack Obama. Obama, at his own midterm crisis, was courageous and humble enough to apologize to Americans for some of his policies which have not brought them economic relief.

Mills is a talented hypocrite

President Mills, who styled himself in opposition as the epitome of humility, 'a President you can trust' was his campaign slogan, has now been exposed by his own deeds as dishonest. That is why the perception is growing that Mills is a talented hypocrite; a malignant hypocrite.

In the mind of President Mills he has done no wrong by inflicting a sudden 30% increase in fuel prices on the people of Ghana. He wants the party that was rejected in 2008 to apologise for his policies in 2012. We wish to state without any apology that President Mills LIED to Ghanaians when he said the NPP must be blamed for the recent 30% increase in fuel prices. According to the NPA, only 5.13% of the 30% increase has to do with the TOR Debt Recovery Levy. So even if the NPP must offer a 5.13% apology, what happens to the other 94.87%?

President Mills cannot go on blaming the NPP for his growing incompetence, which is eating into his administration like a malignant cancer. He should not continue to blame the NPP for his broken promises. He should respect Ghanaians and begin 'fixing' the economy that he claimed in 2008 was in 'total paralysis'.

In conclusion, our message to President John Mills, Vice President John Mahama and the rest of the 'Better Ghana' team is that, please put your creed into your deed. Start practicing what you preached because in the last analysis you will be judged by what you do and not by what you say you believe.   As Shakespeare said, it is a good divine that follows his own instructions.  


Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie

General Secretary

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