On the morn of 3rd April 2020, I woke up as usual with no intention of going out to town or paid a friend a visit as I obligated to the social distancing directive amidst the Covid-19, which had beset the nation. To stay clear from tedious isolation, I tried to locate something intriguing on the internet to read. It did not take me long to chance on an article by Citi FM/TV’s journalist, Afanyi Dadzie, titled, “Lockdown defiance; a sign of leadership failure, not the indiscipline of the Ghanaian.“
In the article, the writer expressed dissent towards the assertion that Ghanaians are indiscipline by nature, and that this has caused under-development in the country. He stated, “…indiscipline is not peculiar to any nationality, and it is not racial. It is a global human trait and defect exhibited by all everywhere; often, when there’s an atmosphere of laxity in law enforcement and leadership.”
He went ahead and rebuked leadership in the country for failure to put the right measures to instill discipline among citizens. According to Mr. Dadzie, states do not develop by relying on citizens’ sense of conformity to proper conduct, but governments, instilling discipline. To the writer, if our citizens in foreign countries abide by their rules; meanwhile, foreigners here extremely contempt our laws, it is an indication of the flaws in our law enforcement and leadership.
In summation, the writer postulates we cannot attribute indiscipline as an innate trait to Ghanaians. However, a certain Kofi or Ama’s act of defiance towards the lockdown directive is because our leaders have failed to put in place measures to control such excesses.
As an ardent student leader, I reflected deeply on the content of the write-up, especially when the country leadership was being questioned. I further engaged other colleagues via online platforms on the leadership bankruptcy Mr. Dadzie expressed in his article. Many interesting opinions were shared, with the majority siding with the writer, while others were of different views. Funny enough, I had to disengage the conversation as partisan arguments were gradually irrupting.
The most important thing I noted after such interactions weren’t the individual sentiments shared, but how we perceive leadership as Ghanaians. It happens that whenever I engage people in a conversation with regards to leadership in the country, it becomes evident that Ghanaians are mentally married to the notion that a leader is a certain Hon. Lydia Seyram Alhassan, representing the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency in Parliament; Or a particular Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, in the person of Professor Kwesi Yankah. As a general impression, in Ghana, a leader is one who is within the Central Government. One who holds a vital position and wields a high level of influence and prominence, and as a matter of fact, Ghanaians continually incriminate Governments for every leadership flaw. This is exactly where I take issue and will like to share my thoughts.
I do not seek to oppose any assertion that Government officials as leaders have failed Ghanaians to some extent. Neither do I try to refute the content of the above-indicated write-up. I instead write this to share my opinion on some leadership failures in the country, and why Ghanaians who blame the government for leadership faults are only blaming a section of leaders in the country.
Gary Wills, an American Journalist and historian, define a leader as “…one who mobilizes others toward a goal shared by leader and followers.” This definition lends credence to Donald McGannon’s quote,
“Leadership is not a position or a title; it is an action and example.”
Leadership is when a father can instill moral discipline and direct his children to do the right thing. It is when a teacher can impart a sense of patriotism in his or her students. Leadership, not necessarily position, is when an individual or individuals amongst a group of people are able to influence their colleagues in a group to respond to change.
I remember watching television some years ago (a very long time, I can’t recall the time and TV station) when some roadside traders were interviewed about the occurrence of flood in the country. A gutter not so distant from where their shops operated was choked, and I can recall one of the women who was interviewed complained bitterly about how their place gets flooded when it rains heavily. She added it was because of the silts in the gutters that impedes the flow of water, and further called upon the government to come to their aid.
This particular situation, indeed, is an example of leadership blemish in the nation. However, that specific situation did not necessarily call for the intervention of the MP, who may have been busily debating on the floors of parliament for a Bill to be passed. Neither did this require the attention of the President, who at that time, maybe cutting the sod for the construction of an ultra-modern hospital facility to improve health care in the country.
Instead, this situation demanded the display of leadership by one of these traders. These traders only needed at least one person in their midst who could have proposed a day they’ll all come together and get rid of the silts in the gutter in a small clean up exercise. These were people who had identified a problem, the causes, effects, and yet wanted the government to come on board before such a minor issue could be solved.
This shows that as a nation, we are gradually failing to comprehend the true meaning of leadership and, thus, have attributed leadership failure to only those who hold high offices in the country.
I personally find it appalling if an entire community can call upon the President to build toilet facilities for them. The question I ask is, “where are our traditional leaders and Local Assemblies?” What has happened to the mobilization of community members for communal services?
Or is it that our schools no longer train citizens who are inclined to such exercises? If that is so, as we tongue-lash the GES or Ministry of Education for a failed education system, we must not forget to call on the carpet of the Headteachers who have been unable to create the atmosphere to infuse such habits in their students.
We should also blame the teacher who failed to instruct students anything outside the syllabus. While doing so, we must not forget the parent who was unable to train his or her ward in that proper manner.
In 2015, the Joint Monitoring Programme report ranked Ghana as the 7th dirtiest country globally. I understand the Ministry of Sanitation and water resources have been inadequate in their efforts to improve sanitation in our country. However, whenever I enter a market engulfed in filth, I do not only see an irresponsible Sanitation Minister. I also see irresponsible individual traders and irresponsible Local Assembly.
It is precisely accurate to point accusing fingers towards the President, Ministers, MPs, MMDCEs and other Government officials for failing to bolster the law enforcement systems in the country, thus, allowing citizens and foreigners to take the laws for granted. We can equally blame them for failing to lead by example, therefore, positioning our country in an antipode to development.
But as we do that, we should do well to remember that parents have also failed to orient their wards to conform to society’s norms.
We should also remember the teacher whose student exhibited a high level of impunity whenever we spill accusations on the government for some lapses and national defects. We should not forget the Association or Union whose members disregard the right things.
It is time we see leadership beyond the person elected into office or the one with government appointment. If we fail leadership at the grass root, the leadership at the national level will fail.