Visionless and ineffective leadership has been the bane of the underdevelopment of the country and the Northern Region in particular, Mr. Hippolyt Pul, Coordinator of the All Africa Peace Building Initiatives of the Catholic Relief Services (AAPI/CRS), has observed.
He said the situation had been made worse by the over-politicisation of almost everything in our body politic, to such an extent that no meaningful consensus could be reached for the implementation of important national issues.
Mr. Pul said these when he delivered a paper on 'Leadership – the missing link in the politics of development' at the third Cardinal Dery Memorial Lectures in Tamale at the weekend.
The late Peter Cardinal Porekuu Dery was ordained into the priesthood in 1951 and posted to Nandom, where he served as curate and local manager of schools. In 1957 he was appointed the first African parish priest of the Kaleo parish.
Cardinal Dery was ordained bishop on May 8, 1960 by Pope John XXXIII, and shortly after was promoted to Archbishop. On June 30, 1994, he retired as Archbishop of Tamale, and on March 24, 2006 Archbishop Dery was appointed Cardinal Deacon by Pope Benedict XVI, in recognition of the great contribution he made to the life of the church in Ghana, and to society as a whole.
The Cardinal passed away on March 6th 2007, during the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Ghana's independence.
Mr. Pul observed that instead of visionary and courageous leadership, the nation had been burdened with selfish, unpatriotic and corrupt leaders, who, unlike leaders in the Asian countries, had failed to draw up strategic national development plans to motivate their people to buy into their visions for the rapid development of their countries.
He said the propensity to politicise and 'partisanise' any issue of public interest was so deep that we were incapable of holding any dispassionate and objective discussion on anything without trading accusations, and noted that it was sad that our political leaders were fanning such behaviour.
Mr. Pul said the inability to dispassionately debate and agree on issues had contributed to the lack of national agendas on anything, and as a result, policies and programmes change as frequently as governments change.
'Nations that have broken the chains of poverty and sustained the development of their citizens have done so on the basis of commonly agreed agendas. Political debates in such nations are not about what is to be done in any sector, but how best what has to be done could be done,' he said.
Unfortunately, in this respect, the AAPI Coordinator said, Ghana might still be in search of her political Moses, a strong visionary leader, who could create and champion processes for the creation of national consensus on what needed to be done, and then mobilise people of all political and partisan persuasions to accept the vision.
Mr. Pul said the educational system, the chieftaincy institution and certain cultural beliefs in the country had also contributed to a large extent to the underdevelopment and poverty, in the midst of the numerous natural resources the country has.
He said, for instance, one of the things that the Asian countries, especially Singapore, under the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew did, was to make strategic and sustained investment in human resource development, through high quality education.
He said in contrast, Ghana's educational system had been so politicised that successive governments have continued to tinker with the educational system so much that 'our children never know what kind of education they will be asked to get into from one year to the other.'
To remedy the situation and pave the way for the development of the country, Mr. Pul recommended that political parties and other stakeholders such as traditional authorities should invest in grooming future leaders of their interest groups, through formal and on the job development of their capacities.
The leadership training and screening process should inculcate into all aspirants of political office, the virtues of honesty, probity, accountability and a commitment to the national cause.
He also suggested to political parties to change the way they select candidates for leadership positions in the state, saying that participation in party or stakeholder congresses, and the ability to meet financial requirements for candidature, should not be the only instruments for selecting presidential and parliamentary candidates.
He said it should rather be a requirement that prospective candidates must have undergone some form of leadership and ideological training, commensurate with exposures and capacities required for effective performance at the level at which they seek political office. – GNA