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What The President Needs   
 
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04-Jun-2013  
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I often hear the suggestion that such and such a person should advise the President. But I believe that the President has enough advisers in the form of ministers, deputy ministers and other official aides. In fact the danger is that he may be suffocated by advice.

What he needs is a plan to realise his vision with the assistance of aides committed to economic and social justice.

The President may invite persons with special knowledge and skills to meetings on particular problems or issues. The relevant members and official aides should be members of such ad hoc committees which should formulate concrete plans to deal with particular issues. The plans should be executed by the relevant ministries and institutions once the President has approved them.

There are too many problems confronting the nation which require action and not talking. Those around the President should not only explain government action to us, but also see to it that there is little to be explained. They should assist the President to make thoughtful statements, and take exemplary action. Unfortunately, some of them let the President down now and again by their actions.

I was shocked to learn that a high official in one of our diplomatic missions refused to represent the nation in a meeting as instructed. The reason was that an economy ticket was provided. Such a person, whether a political appointee or a Foreign Service officer, should be sacked immediately. Rules are rules and should be obeyed. Those who do not like the rules of office should not seek office. The President does not need such advisers.

As a matter of fact, Ambassadors and High Commissioners have been made to travel tourist in the past. This was when the economy required cuts in expenditure. Diplomacy is not promoted by false opulence. Contributions at meetings, good behaviour and promotion of the national interest establish the reputation of the diplomat who thereby promotes respect for the country and makes contacts with the decision-makers of other countries fruitful. Emptiness of mind is not hidden by outward show.

The President needs men and women who would help make his dreams for Ghana come true. Unfortunately, Party and ethnic considerations as well as current fashion make it difficult for our leaders to select the right people. But Ghana must move forward and the President should be bold enough to withstand pressures.

In the real world in which we are, and in our present circumstances, it is difficult for him to ignore Party supporters especially the big financial contributors. But he should assume that those who help to finance the Party do so to promote the Party's programme for a better Ghana, and not merely to acquire influence and wealth. The President may therefore, honour such Party members with suitable positions, and not catapult them into offices for which they are not competent.

Fashionable views are difficult to resist especially if they are widely held in Africa and the world at large. Britain recently marked the centenary of the death of the suffragette, Emily Davison. Women did not have the vote in Britain in 1913, and Emily Davison campaigned with others for the privilege to vote. The suppression of women still goes on today and measures and activities to bring this to an end are most necessary. But we should not allow sentiments to overwhelm our thinking and actions.

Britain did not have a set ratio of women in Parliament before Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister. We do our women great disservice if we promote women to political office for which they are not competent, or if we give them prominent positions, to adorn the corridors of power. Our women have shown that they are as good as the men in the learned professions such as law, medicine, engineering, accountancy, education and administration. We should not embarrass them by appointing women to a political office for which they are not so good. The President has enough competent women to consult. He does not need advice from Party faithful whose sole qualification is that they are women.

Advice is precious and good advice is not easy to come by. Fortunately, what has to be done is fairly clear and what the President needs above all else is good men and women burning with a desire to create a better Ghana. A person may have this desire but soon become corrupt when given the opportunity to move Ghana forward. We should try to find out why and how this happens and assist to stop it.

The reasons are many, but one of them is straightforward. It is difficult to encounter straightened circumstances after leaving office. A Minister, high functionary or an MP who labours tirelessly for the nation for four years and leaves office without the means to live fairy well will be considered by many Ghanaians to be a little short of foolish. We should deal with this and other problems so that corruption and abuse of power are contained. It is not only the President who should be well-provided for after leaving office. Incidentally, I think the present provisions for a retiring President are excessive.

We need to consider appropriate retirement benefits for our ministers, parliamentarians, and officials who have laboured for years for the public good. It is bad advice to the President to sanction substantial benefits to politicians while the demands and even promises to officials and workers are not met. The present labour unrest and threats of strikes stem from the feeling that advice to the President and his ministers has not been well- conceived. We the people should urge the chosen advisers to come up with that which is reasonable. Parliamentarians and politicians should not be encouraged to abuse their position.

Politicians ask for our vote to serve the people. They deserve some remuneration for their work, but it should not be at a level to gather the corrupt into high office. Unprincipled persons cannot advice the President in his quest for a better Ghana. What the President needs now is honest, dedicated patriots determined to build a better Ghana, not tomorrow, but today.
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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