-O B AMOAH tells presidential aspirants
The list of people dreaming to succeed President John Agyekum Kufuor, at least as candidate for the ruling party in 2008 is still growing. The list includes Aliu Mahama, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, Kwame Addo-Kufuor, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Alan Kyerematen, Mike Oquaye, Kofi Konadu Apraku, Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey, Hawa Yakubu, Frimpong Boateng, and others, some of whom, like Felix Owusu-Adjapong and Papa Owusu-Ankomah, are still testing the temperature.
But, Deputy Minister in charge of Sports, O B Amoah, has advised the line of pretenders to President Kufuor's time-barred stool to “have a long, dispassionate and critical look within yourself to answer the question whether or not you have what it really takes to take the baton after President Kufuor and run successfully with it.”
His reasons are two: “First, the test for what constitutes a leader of Ghana is no longer defined by the mediocre standards set by former President Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings.”
In his view, former President Rawlings lowered standards so much that it became tempting for any politician with a healthy imagination to say, “I can do it, too.”
But, that no longer pertains as Mr Amoah explains his second reason: “President Kufuor has taken the expectations and performance of the presidency to unprecedented heights and, after setting such a refreshing precedent, the least Ghanaians should demand of his successor is to match up and build up. That means the next leader must come with his or her own valuable additions to the standards set.”
The Deputy Minister, a dedicated party loyalist and a keen and respected strategist of the New Patriotic Party, believes several of the names making the rounds as potential contestants to lead the ruling party may not necessarily contest once the nominations open.
Indeed, some have even started advocating for the filing fee to be put at ¢2 billion to frighten off the pretenders. The argument is that if you could not convince a few people to help you raise ¢2 billion, how could you be trusted to convince the whole nation about your readiness to rule?
In the Deputy Minister's view, President Kufuor is the most successful leader for the Danquah-Busia family, a point made by Foreign Minister Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last year.
Mr Amoah predicts, “It would not be strange to hear in the near future the Danquah-Kufuor tradition. Dr J B Danquah's position as the intellectual force that created the party is permanent. Dr Busia showed remarkable leadership as opposition leader and showed a lot of promise under the Second Republic. “But the mark of a great leader is actually put to test when in power. This is where President Kufuor towers above several others.”
He is Ghana's most successful leader, Mr Amoah says of the current President. “He has undertaken the social infrastructural projects, like building schools, roads, hospitals, etc, sensibly embarked upon by Ghana's first elected leader. But, beyond that President Kufuor is relentless in his pursuit to empower the local private sector. He has won a lot of credit and friends for Ghana without necessarily making any other nation unhappy.
“But, above all,” stresses Mr Amoah, “President Kufuor has managed to undertake all these progressive projects in record time while remaining unyieldingly tolerant of dissent, however provocative. He is accelerating development and simultaneously widening the frontiers of freedom and participatory democracy. This is because, thankfully, he believes and practices good governance as a necessary pillar to development.”
The Deputy Minister argues that despite his busy schedule President Kufuor has made himself accessible to all, receiving visitors in his house around the clock. “He is a good listener, a deep thinker, a rounded strategist, with a very deep reservoir of tolerance.”
Mr Amoah could not resist a comparative dig at Kufuor's successor: “After decades of buga-buga leadership which ended us in some sort of economic trough and a nation that had lost its self-confidence, the choice of Kufuor for President was God-sent. It shows the maturing nature of our politics in Ghana.” Mr Amoah rebuts the assertion that President Kufuor has ridden on luck and goodwill. “It is 99 percent hard work. Let us not assume that the international and national goodwill just fell from the skies as unmerited gifts. The President has led the nation to work for all that has inured to us. After all, even to be lucky one needs to work ones way to a position close enough for Lady Luck to be able to see and smile at.”
He reminds Ghanaians that the Constitution of the Fourth Republic puts enormous powers in the hands of the President which can be easily and recklessly abused. Mr Amoah cites, for example, the appointment powers of the President. From the Chief Justice, through the Electoral Commissioners to 30 percent of the members of District Assemblies, the President has the power to appoint, even if in consultation with others.
“President Kufuor has given complete leadership and not at the expense of Ghanaians' freedom or the nation's development. He has exercised restraint where necessary and authority where preferable.”