By Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr., London
Democracy is not a garden of roses, neither is it for the faint hearted. It is a very difficult contact sport, and, as such, spineless people should not contemplate getting any closer. Therefore, when you decide to take the plunge, you should be prepared to battle the waves. Not just the surfable waves, but even the tsunamis that separate the men from the boys. In effect, if you are a lily-livered bleeding heart politician, you don’t go anywhere near the corridors of power.
I can understand when during the election campaign the National Democratic congress (NDC) sold President Mahama as a good man. Though the electorate refused to buy it, they are still pushing the same narrative, irrespective of all the evidence to the contrary. I am not sure whether they are preparing him for pole position in 2020, nevertheless, it looks as if that is what it is. He might be a good man in private life, yet, public life is what we all know him for. I don’t think I will be asking too much if he is judged, based on his public life.
It’s even weird that independent political analysts are ready to give him a pass. Politics is not an arena of wonderful platitudes, but an avenue where serious things get done to change the lives of the citizenry. What sort of goodness is there when you fail to punish your own appointed ministers who steal blatantly from the national kitty? What virtue can he tout when he bends to pressure from his constituents when irresponsible members of his party voiced frightening threats to sitting Supreme Court judges?
The hallmark of a good leader is the one who takes unpopular decisions for the good of posterity. President Mahama couldn’t stand the heat in the kitchen, and he had to be led out by the voters. How in God’s name can he be described with such a noble phrase? People die in hospital when he looks the other way for funds to be misappropriated, and people confer the accolade – a good man – on him. People should not take things for granted; you cannot let your cake roll smoothly on your palate and still have it.
In the early 90s, the Finance Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, took a decision for the interest of his country, though it was very unpopular with the electorate. He knew it will cost his Congress Party the national election. But he was convinced that it was the right thing to do. That decision extricated the Indian economy from its antiquated government-dominated economy for which they are now benefiting from its exponential growth.
A typical good man in leadership is like a doctor taking decisions on a battle field full of wounded soldiers. The doctor will have to make assessments and determination based on the conditions of his numerous patients. He has to quickly decide which of them he has to allocate his precious time to save. The unpalatable reality is some of them will be near death, and nothing practically can be done to stabilise them. There are those whose wounds are not life-threatening, and, therefore, can survive without any care from the doctor who is pressed for time. So, the doctor will have to apportion his time judiciously to save those that are worth saving. If you are a person bathed in emotions, you cannot make that determination, and you end up making things worse. Your attention will be on wounded soldiers crying the most, yet will die anyway, and leave those who can survive with the slightest help to perish for lack of care.
If you are a leader and you don’t have that kind of steeliness in your spine you don’t have any job going close to the presidency. If you think you are too decent to throw your lieutenants under the bus, you don’t have any business in politics, because you are not given the power of state to act like a wimp. Like the Montie three, for decency and in the interest of our democracy, President Mahama should have allowed them to rot in prison. This is just me going over the top. After all, it was just four months of incarceration; it couldn’t have changed their lives in any significant way. On the other hand, if he had mastered courage to let them serve the full term, that could have deterred future generations from espousing such vile and uncivilised rhetoric in our society. So, if you’ve got brains and very decent, I will suggest that you go and study medicine. And even that, I don’t think branching into the military is prudent.