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I Disagree With President Obama
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I make reference to President Obama’s statement, “Africa doesn’t need Strong Men, it needs Strong Institutions” , made to Ghana’s Parliament, during his visit to our country, on the 11th of July,2009.

On the face value of this statement, Barack Hussein Obama, may be right, but I disagree with some aspect of the statement, respectfully. In my practice, a Medical Practitioner may help her/his patient by first taking a HISTORY, followed by PHYSICAL EXAMINATION, ANCILLARY INVESTIGATION(S), and then institute a TREATMENT PLAN which will largely influence the PROGNOSIS (literally, the predictable outcome) of the patient’s condition. Practitioners may differ on treatment plans but all aim at helping the patient.

President Obama pointed to the obvious PROGNOSIS that, without strong institutions Africa will soon slip into oblivion; and did so without prescribing the ‘right’ TREATMENT for the African viral strain of underdevelopment. Indeed while his prognosis was spot on, he failed to appreciate, in my considered opinion, that the critical missing link in the African Treatment Regimen is ‘Strong Men with Strong Leadership skills’, who will help first to build ‘strong institutions’!

I am absolutely clear in my mind that, at this stage of our development, Africa does need very Strong Leaders…in order to build Strong Institutions! Perhaps, President Obama might recall that in his own backyard, some years ago; it took strong leadership and advocacy, and at some time sheer sacrifice, for the United State of America to abolish Slavery and Racial Segregation, to quell Civil Strife and put the US unto a path of rapid and focused Socio-Economic Development(Lincoln, FDR, Clinton and Dr King Jnr on my mind).

Here though, I do concede that the American People deserve their own commendation for the willingness of heart and strength of mind to go along with their strong Leaders!

In the intended context, I refer to Strong African Leadership with Tenacity to Purpose and the Pursuit of Conviction, to fight corruption and poverty aggressively, while empowering State Institutions to deliver on their core mandate without fear or favour. It is my submission that Strong Leaders who are able to resist the temptation of ‘meddling’ in the ‘lawful’ activities of State Institutions, and instead firm them up by implementing their recommendations, invariably embolden these Institutions to work independently.

Strength is not only shown by being ‘Brute’ and ‘Destructive’, but also by resisting the temptation to exhibit same. Consider having a delicate egg in one’s hand; would you say one is ‘strong’ by easily ‘crushing’ the egg, or by ‘resisting’ the temptation of ‘breaking’ the rather delicate egg ? Yours to judge.

Coming home to Ghana, I want to use the 2012 Electoral Contest to discuss what I perceive to be ‘Strong Leadership’ shown by some of the main actors, which potentially strengthens some Institutions.

Not in any prejudicial order, I start with Nana Akufo-Addo. This gentleman has been an Officer of the Court for over 20 years, and it may logically follow that he very well may be privy to the strengths and weaknesses of the Judiciary; yet he chose not the ‘unconstitutional’ option of hitting the street for redress. He chose to put his faith in the Supreme Court as demanded of him as a law abiding citizen, and so doing instilling confidence once again in the Judiciary, whose repute had been on the decline due largely to unfair perceptual bastardization, mainly by Political Adventurers.

We have since seen the Supreme Court/Judiciary finding its voice once again to remind all and sundry that, it is vested with the ‘Power of the State’ and that if it so was minded it could ‘crack the whip’ on ‘errant citizen contemnors’! Uncle Obama, I am suggesting to you, on the face of the pink sheet that, this singular act alone has helped to raise the moral of the Judiciary in dealing with such a high profile case, as that of contest for the PRESIDENCY of GHANA. Nana Addo must also be commended for the maturity shown, in refraining from public commentary on the petition, throughout its hearing; even to the extent of refusing a BBC interview on the subject matter! This may have given the Supreme Court, the unuttered assurance that he (Nana Addo) had confidence in the Bench, and as such would rather defer commentary to their Ruling.

Uncle Obama, no ?

President John Dramani Mahama deserves his fair share of commendation, for showing strength in leadership. This gentleman did not hide behind the constitutional provision that indemnifies a sitting President from civil and/criminal suits. I can guess one out there thinking “…but the gentleman had no choice because the law said he was to be jointly sued with the 2nd respondent!”. Before your thought winds through its full cycle, I should like to quickly remind you that Nana Akufo-Addo also was enjoined by the constitution to ‘go to court’.

When I consider the argument that has been put forward that President Mahama would have shot himself in the foot, if he had decided not to go to court, and assuming the judgment went against him; all I can say here is that, at least the President did not stay out of court and hide behind his supporters to disrupt the hearing of the petition; an option he could have chosen…though unlawful. His decision to use the Apex Court to defend his declaration as President, in my opinion, adds some volts to the confidence in the Judiciary…Uncle Obama.

In fact I just might add that, President Mahama earlier, in the round up to the 2012 Election, had been ‘strong’ to defy his party, and even the ‘War General ‘Mosquito’, to attend the IEA Presidential Debates; a move that arguably seemed to have curtailed the then prevailing endless circus of ‘sitting Presidents’ not attending the widely endorsed programme, and may have given some impetus to the Institute of Economic Affairs to immediately announce, post debate, the prospective exclusion of Political Parties not making the 5% mark in future elections.

I may not be interested in your ‘nagging’ thought that the gentleman needed the IEA Platform to sell himself, for he had only 39 days left for the election.

Now going on to the Supreme Court Arena; one may not have been a fan of some of the Justices because of her/his own biases and leanings, but at least one can largely agree that Atuguba JSC(and his bench) handled the petition hearing with MATURITY, TACT and HUMOUR too. I have no doubt in my mind that the conduct thus far of the Supreme Court Bench, has raised public confidence in their adjudicature, making me take the view that the citizenry may be more willing now than before, to resort to the Courts to settle differences. You see, Uncle Obama?

And oh, I come across nowadays, many a young student dreaming of becoming a ‘Lawyer’; thanks to the ‘dazzling’ courtroom drama by Counsel of the ‘Bar’, and the ‘Administrative Intervention’ by Chief Justice Wood to have the proceedings telecast live! Kudos to all of you! My only wish of the 9 justices, is that they should seek the face of God and deliver a sound and fair judgment, that will trickle down to the lower courts, and further deepen our democratic credentials and build a stronger JUDICIARY. Uncle Obama is with me on this one.

I will take this self sought opportunity, to urge both ‘winner’ and ‘loser’ on the 29th of August, 2013, to respect the decision of the Supreme Court, and choose civility and lawfulness over constitutional lawlessness, even if they disagree with all/some aspect of the Ruling.

I am convinced that President Obama will join hands with me in encouraging all Ghanaians to help our institutions to remain strong, once built so, by eschewing BRIBERY and CORRUPTION, as well as taking the SHORT-CUT approach when seeking services from these ‘strengthened’ Institutions.

Uncle Obama, yes Africa needs strong Institutions, but I disagree with your prescription for arriving at the Strong Institutions!

Long live American-Ghanaian FRIENDSHIP and PARTNERSHIP!

God Bless Our Homeland Ghana !
Source: Ernest K.P. Kwarko(MD,MPH) ([email protected])

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