But of course you know that you are not, and thank God for that. How can such a foul-mouthed wretch of a maverick from Saltpond be President?
But even though this is not a constitutional right, why not leave me free to daydream until such an act becomes classified as a subversive or treasonable act. Please allow me to daydream.
In any case, the Lord be praised, Hallelujah, that you are not President or even made of presidential material.
It doesn’t really matter, since we can have only one President at a
time. Meanwhile, let us go on with my sweet daydreaming and declare as follows:
If I were President, I’d start by being God-fearing and God-loving at
the same time for I’ll get it into my head that if I hold the Bible and swear an oath before him to respect, uphold, protect and defend the Constitution, I shall do so to the best of my ability. I shall not violate and rape the Constitution or just ignore it, and I shall have it at the back of my head that if I perjure myself and renege on the oath, the people will have the right to exact the necessary sanctions before the good Lord takes his turn. I shall still make the Constitution part of my daily reading, part of my morning and evening prayers and read and study it before, during and after all activities.
At least, I should be very conversant with it, even if I intend not to respect it.
As President, I would also be very cautious and circumspect in nominating people for appointment. I shall do my homework thoroughly first and screen the background of my nominees. This way I will avoid the embarrassment of nominating unworthy persons who may be lewd and lustful rustic Don Juans who are reputed to be full of guile and moral turpitude while professionally they are also adjudged incompetent. If I were President I would advise the candidate to find some face-saving manner to withdraw and decline the offer honourably. If he doesn’t oblige and continues to embarrass me, I shall withdraw the offer and leave him in the lurch to wallow in filth, and nobody can accuse me of abandoning a good friend.
He is otherwise a jolly good fellow but if I had known of the lecherous
amorous proclivities, I would certainly not have nominated him.
Still on appointments, while not showing ingratitude or disloyalty to my erstwhile fellow travellers and revolutionary companions and comrades-in- arms, I shall not turn the Castle into a transit lounge, employment bureau or social welfare centre. I shall ensure that I help them to get resettled, but the Castle will not become a recruitment centre under any circumstances.
Also, I will make sure that in addition to moral probity and transparency, I shall look for excellence and competence, going beyond the average and mediocre level. A low-cost cabinet can be a serious handicap to governance, and God knows the work ahead calls for the highest talents and industry and assiduity, a bill that can’t be filled by people of just average ability.
I would also get more women into my cabinet, even if I don’t go so far
as to establish a Ministry for Women’s Affairs, which in the final analysis can be patronising and paternalistic even if it is motivated by good intentions. After all, isn’t the road to hell paved with good intentions, according to St. John Chrysostom? Even positive indiscrimination in favour of women can have a boomerang effect. In any case, I shall do all in my power to ensure that women’s rights are not in any way threatened or violated, and for-this I shall recruit and mobilize the capable services of my beloved and splendid
Women have been at the receiving end of discrimination and it is time we give them the necessary compensation and opportunities.
If in fact I were to be President, I would also insist on decorum in
matters of dressing. I shall not court or encourage informality, casualness unorthodox or non-conformism in matters of dress. Psychologically, the way a person dresses helps create an appropriate mood and environment.
This is the objective of uniforms and other regulation dressing. As for the military, for both regular and ceremonial occasions, for judges and lawyers for choristers and singing bands’ and asafo groups, I shall not be too casual, especially since we have all graduated over the last eleven years from batakari or fugu or Afro Moses or Charlie Wote to Saville Row, Pierre Cardin suits and Bally shoes. I shall encourage the maintenance of the highest standards in dressing by personal example. If I do so, at best I can save a hopeless MP from the embarrassment of being chided for being improperly or inadequately dressed because he had a necktie but no jacket.
In a presidential role, I shall also show some courtesy and respect for my parliamentarians. I shall display no haughtiness or arrogance towards them, implying and even saying explicitly that they are where they are because of me, so they shouldn’t feel too important and arrogant. I shall respect their human dignity and show gratitude for all the campaign they did to get me elected through what some people consider “free and fair elections while others see it as rigged and fraudulent. In any case, I shall not become too pompous or swollen headed. I shall be very polite, friendly and courteous to all the parliamentarians, and indeed to all citizens, high or low.
I shall also try to be careful about praise-singers, flatterers or courtly fobs and other sycophants because those crying Hosanna today are the same that will shout “Crucify” or worse still, “Castrate him” tomorrow.
I shall therefore keep my ears to the ground, make a supreme effort to absorb criticism from the press, however bitter and painful, so that I can put things in order as and when they go wrong, instead of living in cozy and blissful ignorance or a fool’s paradise, erroneously believing that my people have never had it so good or that all was for the best in the best possible of worlds. I shall be very down-to-earth, remembering that things are not easy, especially since I am not ruling by decree but by the will of the people, at least theoretically.
To make sure that the truth gets to me unalloyed, non-treated, undistorted, unprocessed or in any way manipulated before transmission, I shall allow freedom of the press and even recognise the establishment of private radio stations all over the place to ensure unimpeded flow of information. Sorry, on this last point, it is not within my power to decide whether there shall be private radio or not, because the Constitution guarantees that to citizens as of right, so there is nothing I can do about it.
Except, of course, I elect to flout or ignore the Constitution, which God forbid. On this same point, I shall move fast to establish the National Media Commission as a matter of urgency and priority, not waiting for the end of six months.
But while waiting, I shall resist the temptation of making any appointments that may be against the spirit of the constitutional provision which takes precedence over PNDC Law 299 which appears to have been smuggled by some clever and zealous bootlickers and sycophants.
As President, there is certainly one thing that I shall do to show my
respect for the people who have given me a mandate. I shall eschew the
haughty and supercilious attitude of Emperor Frederick of Prussia who
operated on the following perverse and cynical principle: “I shall allow the people to say what they like, provided they allow me to do what I like.” Nor will I adopt the equally arrogant attitude that can be inferred from R.E.G. Armattoe’s cynical definition of one-person-one-vote democracy as. “the counting of heads minus the contents” so that you bypass the grassroots and listen to the elite whose heads hold valuable contents. This arrogant attitude will I avoid.
I shall not court cheap popularity through base cynicism, demagoguery or cheap rabble-rousing, but shall keep my ears to the ground and seriously read the private weeklies closely to get to know exactly what is really going on in the Republic, even if some allowance has to be made for some slight exaggeration, embellishment or sensationalising on the part of what one irresponsible, pompous, self-anointed media guru has baptised as latter-day mini-tabloids. I shall give a monthly press conference to keep in regular touch with the people, and I shall direct my Minister of Information to hold a weekly press conference after each cabinet meeting to keep the public informed through journalists about the state of the nation’s business.
To ensure an equitable distribution of the nation’s resources and close or eliminate the disparity in amenities and facilities between the urban and rural areas, I shall encourage decentralisation as much as possible. I shall encourage regional or even district autonomy and self-reliance.
But given the disparities in the distribution of natural resources among the various regions, things will have to be co-ordinated and subsidies from central government given where necessary. To this end, I shall establish a Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development as a co-ordinating body to ensure an equitable distribution of national resources in the name of social justice. I shall make sure that there is real autonomy at the district and regional level and those organs are set up to secure for citizens the right to participate in the decision-making process right from the beginning when ideas are floated for discussion.
I shall encourage the district assemblies to go beyond the KVIP racket or syndrome and think of more important issues; for example, on how to create job opportunities and arrest the drift to urban areas by the youth.
If I were President, which thank God I am not, I would have a full
agenda and do all sorts of things; for example in dissolving the CDOs and CDRs and disarming or demobilising the militiamen and commandos. I would also re-establish the National Council for Higher Education to demonstrate how seriously we consider tertiary education and not the comic farce it has been reduced to for the past decade.
I would re-organise the national service to achieve greater effectiveness, especially for its potential impact on non-formal education, and I would try and correct the inexplicable and obvious anomaly of non-TUC representation on the National Media Commission.
I have a very tall shopping list, but for the meantime, what I have
to offer is the hope that I shall have the opportunity soon of sharing some of my other abstract ideas and dreams with you. But for the meantime, the objective fact is that I am not President. As they say, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Some horse and some rider indeed!
Perhaps, I am oversimplifying the issues from the vantage point of a
decrepit and dilapidated ivory tower abstract-minded professor, but as they say, those who didn’t take part in the combat behave as if there was no real fighting. Similarly, those who are not part of the maritime expedition tend to feel that the sea is calm. This is what the old Stratford-upon-Avon bard expressed beautifully when he wrote: “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men’s cottage princes’ palaces.”
Can you beat that, Mr. President Osimesi to-have-been?
Source: Prof P.A.V. Ansah - The article was made available by the Paul A. V. Ansah Memorial Foundation. Email: [email protected]
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