Do We Have “Leadership Selection” Problem In Ghana?

This is a question a friend posted on facebook and I thought it is worth looking at to stimulate debate, as we prepare for next year’s general election.

In primary school and Junior Secondary School (JSS), where prefects are often selected (appointed), as well as some Senior High Schools (SHS) and here permit to say Bishop Herman College, my alma mater, we never get to elect prefects, I hope the practice has changed, the senior school prefects are most often, the most intelligent and gentle boy or girl in the senior class.

No leadership ability assessment is done and ironically, even in the first or junior year, we all know who the school prefects would be, when we enter the senior year and so we are never surprised when the announcement is made.

We have lived and accepted this practice at the stage of our lives, where we are supposed to learn the values of leadership and which qualities a leader must possess. The values and democracy, is supposed to be imbibed in us, at the development stage of our lives, so that when we grow and we are faced with national choice, we are able to separate the chaff from the wheat.

Fast forward to the tertiary institution and to the national stage, leaders are elected based on popularity. Since 1992, that ushered in the 1992 dispensation our elections, from the District Level election, to the election of Members of Parliament (MPs), to the highest post of the land, the Presidency, what we engage in, is not contest of ideas, but popularity contest.

No assessment whatsoever is done on any of the aspirants at any level, you just need to identify with a political party, be popular in your area, Constituency or have a national appeal, and you are on your way to leading the people.

There is no basic requirements, sometimes not even common sense, determines who gets to lead us. We are witnesses to kind of garbage some of our elected leaders unleash on us; a political party elects executives to lead them, what comes out of their mouths only poisons the atmosphere and leaves the nation more divided. We hail them, giving them more impetus to continue on the path of destroying this nation.

Since 1992, 23 years of multi-party democracy, where we are as a nation is not the best, we are a nation blessed with more human and natural resources, we should be a beacon of hope for the rest of the continent, but our problems are our leaders at all the levels of our national lives.

When a President announces the names of his ministerial nominees, parliament is required to vet them, what we have seen the Appointments Committee of Parliament do, is a charade. Even those of us watching or listening at home, can tell who qualifies to serve in government and who does not based on their performance at the vetting and qualification, but what happens, so far it is only a Constitutional requirement that must be met.

We do not have a leadership problem, what we have unfortunately is a leadership selection problem, we do not have any effective assessment system, that ensures that only those fit to occupy or hold public office, get elected or selected.

We throw up anybody, because we think it is their time, because it is their birth right, we do not critically assess them, before we vote for them or appoint them to take up positions of responsibility.

Another consideration that is gradually rearing its ugly head in the selection process of leaders is what is known as ‘monecracy’, where money determines, who gets elected. The sad truth is that, you do not elect a bad and ineffective leader and expect him or her to perform, garbage in, garbage out, is a popular maxim that we all hear and repeat at the slightest opportunity.

We expect miracles from our leaders, we expect them to perform beyond and above their capabilities and capacities, but that is not possible. When God chooses you for a task, he does not give you what you cannot handle, what it means is that, we need to choose leaders, after carefully assessing their strength and abilities.

Are their responsibilities well defined? No. what is the consequence if and when they fail to perform? None.

Next year, we will be going to the polls to elect the President and our representatives, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), have already decided on the candidates for both the Executive and Legislature. We are all living witnesses to what transpired in the election of parliamentary hopefuls and the Presidential candidate, the elections were at best popularity contest and who the delegates think could win the 2016 election, not who has the ability to deliver. A lot of experience hands in the August House lost to people who do not have what it takes to bring about any change, why because they appear to be more popular than the Sitting MPs.

How the candidate were selected through vetting to eventually go on to win the primaries, leaves much to be desired.

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has also blown the whistle for the party’s primaries to begin. A timetable has been released to signal the start of what is looking like an interesting contest. Names have started making the rounds, candidates launching their campaigns, but will anybody stop to assess the various candidates before casting his or her votes.

Although, the Electoral College has been expanded to include all card bearing members, money and goodies is largely going to determine who wins what and where.

It is about time we select and elect our leaders based on competence, track record, ability, capacity and the passion to serve.

But because no proper consideration is given to who we elect, they come into office without the requisite knowledge of who a leader is and what is required of him or her. No wonder they say and do anything and feel we should rather serve them.