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Politics | Jan 22, 2005

Me for President? Never!

Ghanaian Chronicle

Otabil dashes expectations of Christian majority

Dr. Mensah Anamuah Otabil, the Head of the International Central Gospel Church, Accra, has firmly scorched growing calls on him to run for President.

Responding to calls that he should vie for the presidency, Dr. Otabil said he had no passion for that job: "I have no passion for that and I have no energy for it. It was not in my dreams. When I dream and think, I think of different things from political life.

"I am a great son of Accra Hearts of Oak but I will never be the chairman of Hearts of Oak, neither a team manager, nor even the coach. I will never do that if I am told to do that job.

There are many things that I will not do including running for political office. It is something that I will not want to do."

He explained to Joy FM's Komla Dumor that the clergyman's effectiveness would diminish immediately he or she moves to a political arena because such a clergyman might not speak with the same vigor as he used to since the source from the written scriptures to which they all owed allegiance may vary.

"When you go out to the public arena in politics, you don't have the same conditions and so your effectiveness may be diminished. There have been clergymen who have made such transition in other parts of the world. Others could not make it and therefore I will not encourage that," he added.

He noted that it would be uncalled for, for somebody to assume that religious leaders would do better in politics, saying, "You cannot argue that once somebody is a clergyman or woman, he or she will be a great leader in a political arena. Some can get there but it could end up being disastrous for the community."

Asked who should play a major role in politics, Dr. Otabil said, "For me, the greatest person will be teachers. I say that because teachers are very instrumental in the formation of all of us. They teach us, groom us, train us and impart values in us as much as our parents influence us. Teachers are great leaders."

He continued, "My personal view about the clergymen is that, they may not be good politicians because the church is a very homogenous society."

Dr. Otabil however still asked Ghanaians not to repose much confidence in politicians let alone confer their destiny into their hands. He attributed some of society's failings to the major confidence they reposed in politicians.

"We have too much confidence in them. We have conferred our destiny into their hands. I don't think that politicians should run our lives and determine for us how we should run our lives.

I think that politicians are only referees and the citizens are the players on the pitch." He urged the electorate to refrain from depending solely on politicians since the nation's achievement is not only done by them but by the citizens.

He was critical of the proposition that Christian churches should put up a candidate to vie for the presidency, saying that it would be traumatic for any clergyman to ascend to that position.'That the transition is not favourable to them,' he noted.

According to him, the environment in which they live does not permit or encourage clergymen to live by criticisms. He said gospel ministers earned the respect of the masses, based on the basis of faith from the written scripture, which made them more powerful but they would not perform effectively in holding political offices.

"You need to have a fair minded people to hold political offices for effectiveness. You need the people to be fire-fighters to anticipate societal changes and be able to create a space for the people to flow," he said.

The general overseer of ICGC, who expressed worry about much trust reposed in politicians, said the greatest responsibility was when the citizens made politicians their gods and also made them their source of validation and achievements.

"I think that in our part of the world, we confer too much power on politicians and assign too much destiny into their hands."

To this end, he noted that clergymen might not be able to deliver effectively when given the mandate as president or to hold a public office. "Knowing what I know, I will personally not make such move and I will not encourage people to do that. One of the strengths of clergymen is the respect that people have for them and cannot criticize them too much. The environment does not encourage them to accept criticism."

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