How does it feel when you discover all of a sudden, that persons close to you had conspired to give you a pleasant surprise?
I guess the feeling is twofold- gratitude and betrayal. That’s how I felt when my colleagues did it to me on the day we had our last group discussion at GIMPA.
Members of a study group, which I led, conspired to give me a present on the day we wrote the last paper. It was in appreciation of the significant change in their grades since joining the group.
If I remember clearly, I received a Woodin shirt and an Italian made sandals. After the little ceremony that came with it, one of my mates, Sister Lucy Vivian Dumenu, a Nun, came to see me in chambers- near my car and gave me a personal present. “Eric, thank you very much” she said in a very appreciative tone.
When I opened the little parcel, the gift was a crucifix, a unique one at that. What I whispered to myself in reaction was, ‘this woman paa, mtcheew!!’
I therefore tucked it somewhere in my stuff. Close to two decades later, the crucifix emerged from where it was hidden and caught my eye. This was at a time when through preaching by Joel Olsten, Pastor Mensah Otabil, Evangelist Lawrence Tetteh and motivational messages by Uncle Ebo White and Kojo Yankson, the supremacy of God in the affairs of men had dawned on me more than ever.
I therefore took the crucifix from its ‘hideout’ and displayed it on my dressing mirror. Since then, I use it as a point of contact with God during my prayer sessions. The results have been marvelous.
Sister Lucy, thank you very much.
Our hung Parliament and leadership gap
Like my mates did to me, Ghanaians on 7th December, 2020 conspired to give Ghana a surprise- a present called Hung Parliament.
Expectedly, our politicians felt betrayed, thus the element of gratitude was missing. That’s because the present is not theirs. It is ours- we the people of Ghana. Present? Yes, a gift. The gift in there is the fact that, the leadership gap in the 8th Parliament of the Republic of Ghana, to some extent in this country, has been exposed by the novel occurrence- NPP=137, NDC=137 and Independent (IND) =1.
The general assumption is that hung parliaments are bad for government business. The reason is simple, it makes it easier for the government to be held accountable. It also ensures that policies and laws that are not in the interest of the citizenry, are not passed.
In our case, therefore it is a present. Indeed, a blessing in disguise. Already, “it has started impacting the economy, including forcing the government to cut down the number of Ministers, thereby reducing the burden on the public purse,” Senior Associate Lawyer at Fugar & Co., Mr. Martin Kpebu observed in an interview with the B&FTonline.
The notion of Minority can have its say, but the Majority will have its way, is thrown overboard by this occurrence. Justifiably so. What is happening in the case of whether or not to pass the Electronic Transactions Levy (e-levy) Bill attests to this. Whereas the NPP’s 137 plus 1 IND are for the tax, the sudden illness of the Speaker of Parliament, A.S.K. Bagbin, and the opposition to the Bill by the opposition NDC, has frustrated the attempt to pass it.
In the process, fisticuffs have occurred in the august House, to the embarrassment of all Ghanaians. This happening has caused many a Ga to ask, ‘Saayoooo, onukpa bɛjɛi lo?” To wit, is there no leadership?
Actually, there is leadership and the organogram neatly outlines the hierarchy. Rt. Hon. Speaker, Alban Sumana Kinsford Bagbin, 1st Deputy Speaker, Hon. Joseph Osei- Owusu and 2nd Deputy Speaker, Hon. Andrew Asiamah Amoako.
On the NDC side, we have Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, Minority Leader and Hon. James Klutse Avedzi, Deputy Minority Leader. The NPP boasts of Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Majority Leader and Hon. Alexander Afenyo-Markin, Deputy Majority Leader.
Beneath them, we have the Whips for the two sides. Quite equipped if you ask me. This notwithstanding, the centre does not seem to hold in the House. Clearly, because they have all allowed emotions to eat up their leadership skills.
My lecturer in Government and Business Relations at the University of Ghana, Prof. Ransford Gyampo agrees with me. In a Hotline documentary produced by JoyNews, dubbed, “Ghana’s Hung Parliament: A Blessing or a Curse, Part II,” the Political Scientist intimated that the current crop of leadership lacks what it takes to lead a hung legislature.
Why? “I think that you need a certain caliber of leadership whose language would be so conciliatory so that you will not have to bring people from outside Parliament to intervene,” he told JoyNews’ Kwesi Parker-Wilson.
And President Akufo-Addo alluded to this during his second victory speech on 10th December,2020, “Ghanaians have made it loud and clear that the two parties, the NPP and NDC, must work together especially in Parliament for the good of the country.” But alas!
Notable among the parliamentary leaders, as listed above, is the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu. I started paying attention to him over a decade ago due to his good command over the English language. One word I remember learning from him is, ‘timeously’. I knew about ‘timely’ so when he mentioned ‘timeously’, I thought it might be a slip, so I looked it up and found that it is a synonym for the former. He is very adept at using idiomatic expressions too.
However, the current hung nature of Parliament has thrown his leadership capabilities out for strong public scrutiny. In the process, the verdict does not look too good.
“A former Member of Parliament for North Dayi, George Loh has said that the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has not shown good leadership in the current dispensation. In his view, the Majority Leader displays arrogance, and that he believes, has blocked any consensus building in Parliament,” is an excerpt from a story on Ghanaweb.com
On Myjoyonline.com, this is what a legal practitioner, Edudzi Tamakloe observed, “I think the Majority Leader must begin to demonstrate leadership,” he advised. Still on arguably Ghana’s leading news portal- Myjoyonline.com, Prof. Gyampo had this to say about Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, “with respect, I think Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu may rather be living in dreamland if he doesn’t learn the rubrics of sounding conciliatory in his utterances and comments in response to provocations from Haruna Iddrisu (Minority Leader).”
He has consequently called for the leadership of the NPP in Parliament to be reshuffled. In an open letter to the Suame MP, Prof Gyampo referred to him as a hawk, “I sincerely believe that the current Parliament has no room for political hawks in its leadership and that, there are some moderate NPP MPs who can lead in Parliament to build bridges and whose utterances won’t be repulsive to genuine efforts at building consensus. That’s why I asked and I am still asking for your reshuffle.
But respectfully, you cannot continue to lead with the same hawkish tendencies when clearly, the current composition of Parliament makes the need to change leadership a categorical imperative. Without changes, government business will suffer and the effect will be more felt by we, the ordinary people.”
Over the years, I, have made similar observations of Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, hence this article.
Leadership styles and Skills
At GIMPA, one of the courses we read was, ‘Management and Organisational Behaviour’. Dr. Emmanuel Dugbenu, the lecturer, introduced us to the various definitions, concepts, styles, skills and authorities on the subject. One name that stood out for us, which we subsequently used to nick-name him, is, Henri Fayol.
It was around this time that Prof. Stephen Adei, Rector of GIMPA at the time, postulated that leadership is, “cause, everything else is effect.” In other words, leaders cause everything, whose effect we, the led, suffer. Instead of hailing, some doubted him and others even questioned Prof. Adei’s professorship.
However, over the years, the more I watch Ghanaian leaders lead, the more convinced I get that where we find ourselves today, as a country, is caused by them. Thus, Prof. Adei was influenced by his circumstances and observations to arrive at that definition of leadership.
One can make an exception of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. I did not live through his regime, but I have read enough about him to state without equivocation that he is the visionary leader his followers claim he is.
At least, the Accra-Tema Motorway and the Akosombo Dam, which are still in use, over five decades after they were built, bear witness to how forward-thinking he was.
Dr. Dugbenu told us that like many disciplines, different authors have defined leadership differently. Here are few:
- “Leadership is a process of influence between a leader and those who are followers.” – Edwin P. Hollander
- “The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind in others, the conviction and will to carry on.”- Walter Lippman
- “Leadership requires using power to influence the thoughts and actions of other people.”-
– Abraham Zaleznik
- “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”- John Maxwell
- “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”
– Kenneth Blanchard
I shall return to the last three, presently.
Various leadership styles were presented to us. They include:
Autocratic leader: They believe themselves to be the smartest persons and know more than everybody. They make all the decisions with little input from team members- “Do as I say” is their mantra.
Authoritative leader: They map the way and set expectations, while engaging and energizing followers along the way- “Follow me” is their refrain.
Pacesetting leader: They set the bar high and push their team members to run hard and fast to the finish line- “Keep up!” is their chant.
Democratic leaders: They share information that affects employees’ work responsibilities. They also seek employees’ opinions before making a final decision- “How do you see it?” is their habit.
Coaching leader: They view people as a reservoir of talent to be developed. Thus, they unlock people’s potential- “Consider this” is their approach.
Laissez-faire leader: They let people swim with the current- “How far with the job?” is how they supervise.
Affiliative leader: They pay attention to and support the emotional needs of team members– “People first” is their catchphrase.
Transactional leader: They promote compliance by followers through both rewards and punishments- “Your lunch is on me” is how they get the job done.
Situational leader: They adapt their management style to each unique situation or task to meet the needs of the team or team members. “Think outside the box” is their strategy.
Active listening, creativity, effective feedback, timely communication, team building, flexibility and risk-taking are the skills that were drummed home to us as essential for effective leadership.
My leadership style
Having been introduced to such invaluable knowledge, I decided to adopt the situational leadership style. That means using all the leadership styles, as and when necessary.
The feedback I have received from persons I have had the opportunity to lead so far, is positive. I treat them like colleagues instead of subordinates, many times, to the discomfort of my superiors. We are cool like that.
Therefore, even when I move on to other things, they invite me to outdooring, wedding, graduation ceremonies and even funerals.
Of course, there are those who will always have issues no matter how you lead them. “Mr. Ayettey, esumƆƆƆ nsane”- Mr. Ayettey doesn’t like me. I remember this statement clearly from one of my subordinates who was queried formally for being a habitual latecomer. I had to be authoritative here you know.
That notwithstanding, the key to successful leadership today, as Abraham Zaleznik, John Maxwell and Kenneth Blanchard indicated in their definitions is, influence, not authority.”
It is for this reason that if I were a leader in the Government of Ghana, i.e. Executive or Legislature, I would have led in the matter concerning the stalemate with regard to the passage or otherwise of the e-Levey Bill, situationally.
Here is how:
- Rather than withdraw the military guards of Rt. Hon. Bagbin because he is not entitled to such previledge, I will convene a meeting to be attended by; President Akufo-Addo, former Presidents John Kufuor and John Mahama, Speaker Alban Bagbin and other leaders of the House, former Speakers; Mike Aaron Ocquaye, Doe Adjaho, Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi-Hughes, Joyce Adeline Bamford-Addo, the Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, former Chief Justices; Georgina Theodora Wood, Sophia Akuffo and Chairman of the Council of State as well as all ex-chairmen and members of the current Council of State.
- The invitation letter to the meeting will plead with all parties not to come to the meeting with entrenched positions.
- The one-item agenda for the meeting will be this- what would be an acceptable rate at which the e-levy can be introduced?
- President Akufo-Addo will be given 10 minutes to recap his objective for leading the ‘Kume preku’ demonstrations against the introduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT) in 1995.
- Former President Kufuor will have 10 minutes to tell the house why he did not abolish the VAT when he took office in 2001.
- Former President Mahama will use his 10 minutes to explain why upon assumption of office in 2009, they didn’t abolish the Communication Service Tax introduced by the NPP in 2008, despite their opposition to it.
- Hon. Haruna Iddrisu will dedicate his 10 minutes to providing alternatives to the e-levy.
- Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu will use 10 minutes to list possible areas where government will be willing to cut public expenditure in order to accept a lower rate for the e-levy.
- The Chief Justices will speak from the perspective of arbiters.
- Members of the Council of State, through the Chairman, will do what they know best, advise on the way forward.
I have no doubt that after going through this session, one thing will emerge. That is, the fact that both parties are seeking the interest of Ghanaians.
Therefore, if the same citizens are telling you, through various channels, that due to ravaging effects of COVID-19, the high rate of unemployment in the country, which has led to a very high dependency ratio as well as the rising cost of petroleum products, which has resulted in very high cost of living, they cannot pay the e-levy, at the current rate now, why can’t we do something about it?
To the extent that, our honourable representatives would fight each other? Hm!!
I worry about this kind of leadership, especially because of the recent increase in coup d’etats in the West African sub-region.
One theme that runs through the cause of the overthrow of the leadership of, Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and an attempted coup in Guinea-Bissau is, purported insensitiveness of leadership towards the plight of the ordinary citizens.
Currently, the refrain on the streets of Ghana is that, ‘ɛnkƆ yie’ – the economy is in dire straits, yet a sitting government is bent on introducing a tax, at a rate, that many stakeholders consider too high. There is even a suggestion that it could be introduced at a much lower rate now with possibility of incremental jumps in the coming years. Others have even called for it to be ‘trashed’.
Yet, government appointees don’t want to hear anything about reducing the rate. And the NPP MP for Nyiaeso, Dr. Stephen Amoah, who a few years ago was videoed crying over the hardship in the country during the regime of the NDC, “Mu mma yen dwen Ɔman nu ho” – let’s have empathy for the people of Ghana, is today saying with all the strength he can muster that, “we are in power, we will pass the e-levy.” A clear resort to authority rather than influence.
As for Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, he thinks all the protests regarding the e-levy is much ado about nothing, “it is a difficulty for me when people are kicking against the e-levy when you know that in the adoption of the motion to approve the budget, we approved of that. So, it means that the first step has already been surmounted. The e-levy has been factored into the various estimates that we have approved for all the sectors. That is the second thing we did. The third step is when we encapsulated everything into the Appropriation Bill and passed the Bill unanimously. What does it mean? You have approved of the e-levy,” he is reported to have said.
He therefore decided to celebrate his 65th birthday with an ‘E-LEVY’-designed cake.
Newsfile, the radio academy
If you are not listening or watching Newsfile on JoyNews on Saturdays, mehhnnn! You are missing.
At the cost of just a few units of electricity, you get to learn at the feet of knowledgeable Lawyers, Lecturers, Policy Analysts and Security Experts who serve as resource persons every now and then.
One of them, is the Senior Vice President of IMANI Ghana, Mr. Kofi Bentil. Like me, he has been observing the current leadership of the country. In his opinion, the country is on a downward political spiral- when a situation gets worse and is difficult to control because one bad event causes another.
He attributes this to the fact that our leaders have become tone-deaf – (of a person) unable to perceive differences of musical pitch accurately.
Another, is the Director of the Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Prof. Kwesi Aning. In one of the editions of the show, he predicted a couple of coup d’etats in the West African Region if the regional bloc, ECOWAS and the African Union (AU) do not urgently resolve the insecurity threats in the region.
This, he said, is a result of “the trajectory of extreme violence and the toxicity in politics such as excessive corruption, unemployment, poor educational system and other underlying factors of political instability, present in most West African countries.”
It’s time to go
The old adage goes thus, ‘if a blind person tells you that he will pelt you with a stone, he knows what is under his foot.’
Clearly, Prof. Aning is not blind. He is a Security Analyst, therefore if he predicts “a couple of coups in the West African Region,” it bears asking, is Ghana situated in West Africa?
If it is, then situational leadership skills, characterised by the use of influence, rather than authority, are needed, urgently, to avert any such calamitous situation.
Hajoghutyun- That’s goodbye in Armenian.
Let God Lead. Follow Him directly, not through any human.
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