Many traditions and cultures across the world shine a spotlight on diverse form of leadership styles, mainly positive varieties for which a society can development and elevate itself economically among other contemporaries. Far away in sands of time, renowned leaders like Genghis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Mobutu Sese Seko, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Gaddafi, vehemently upheld and elaborated on the fundamental principles of extreme autocratic and undemocratic leadership styles, for which they all fell short from their untouchable glory and ultimately suffered the consequences thereof through failure and or termination of office. Learning from precedence of yesterday’s histories, several parts of the world mainly the West, have learnt to adopt and adapt new genre of leadership which is more liberal, transparent and tolerant, devoid of any form of corruption, nepotism and leadership inconsistency, unlike Africa.
Africa has over the years experienced hundreds of major civil and ethnic wars all on the altar of bad leadership. Corruption has become order of the African day. Leaders having usurped office on the ticket of party politics pays more allegiance to their identical political mammoths than the electorates for whose thumb-power crowned such leaders with their self-acclaim untouchable glory. They tend to embezzlement of state’s funds and hoard unfathomable amount of wealth in Western banks as a form of provision to finance subsequent elections to stay longer in power, mercy! Their families become classic class of godlike nobles riding in finest saloon cars and V8s to the taunt of poor citizens. If this is our perception of success as leaders by engaging incorruptible acts to enrich families, friends and political allies, why will Africa not be Underdeveloped?
These same leaders, due to the glory they clad themselves in and their unholy wealth thereof, tend to be power-drunk with their term of office so much that, even when they have to successfully step down after losing elections, they tend to manipulate the constitutions in their favour or resolve to the barrel of the gun just to prolong their forceful leadership in satisfying their parochial interest. This happened in many Africa countries such in the case of Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, Blaise Campoare of Burkina Faso, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Maummar Gaddafi of Libya, Yahya Jammeh of Gambia, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Charles Taylor of Liberia, all of whom were either forcibly ousted from office, or had to tragically end their terms to the detriment of they and their families. Some even go as far as emptying the national coffers in acts of corruption before exiting.
Strategically in the name of party politics, a country whose leader take shade in a particular political party, having contested and decide to accept the result of a lost election, most often end up borrowing billions of loans from Western Banks and International Monetary Fund (IMF) which will then be paid by the upcoming governments. This ultimately becomes burden on any new government since the newly sworn in leaders will have to spend almost all their term of office paying loans treacherously procured by their predecessors which unabatedly indebt the country. Africa, how then do we aspire to progress as a continent while our political leaders are so corrupt and obviously stand for nothing but re-election and satisfying their parochial interest? Mercy!
The infamous Chinese warrior, Sun Tsu, in his book “The Art of War”, said “If orders of Generals are clear, then the blame of a defeated army should not be put on the warriors, but rather, the Generals (Sun Tsu, Art of War). This means that, leadership and for that matter leaders of every society has the willpower to lead a society in the right direction towards achievement of collective goal, regardless of whatever. In any situation, where society does not perform to expectation, the leaders are to be blamed and hanged on the gallows of societal criticism. In any case, without whatever shade of excuse, leaders in Africa are to be blamed for the continental underdevelopment. If Africa so aspire to rise above its contemporary state of affairs and nonetheless predicament, then we must strengthen and correct all the erroneous perception of the African way of leadership. Leaders must know unequivocally that they are in power to serve and not to be served. That, it is not about satisfying parochial interest through corruption and nepotism, but striving for shared interest where countries within the continent are ruled on fairgrounds towards achievement of common good attestable by all citizens.
The most devastating aspect of African leadership is party politics. How I wish African countries will adopt the tenets of monarchical government just like the United Kingdom, even though in my subtle opinion, America’s democracy vehemently rooted in party politics should not be the rationale, and for that matter, be blamed for Africa’s underdevelopment. To justify my claim, I will set a typical example of such scenario in my very own country Ghana where projects are executed on party basis and most projects are terminated and left to their fate of destruction upon exit of a leader associated to a notable political party.
The two major political parties in Ghana will have to play this political game to the detriment of poor citizens whose standard of living is declining day by day. Once a government leave office through lost at the polls, its ongoing projects are abandoned by the new government with the aged-old rhetoric of “who will take the credit”? This newly sworn in government will terminate old and ongoing projects of her predecessor and embark on entirely new projects, living such previous projects to devastate dramatically. Somebody should remind African leaders that the iconic Burj khalifa and other much venerated developments in Dubai was not built in the rot of a day, but by dedication, commitment and hard work of visionary leaders who has the country at heart, and are willing to do whatever they have to, to make their country attain the highest height of enviable success. What should then prevent African leaders from doing same?
In Africa, getting jobs are always on party basis. One will have to adorn himself in an identical political cloak or associate himself to a particular political party in government before job applications are accepted. One will have to be connected to the political mammoths of the day to keep his job, with fear of transfer or losing job entirely. This is Africa where favours are rendered to persons of similar political identity and jobs given to friends and family without any foreseeable knowledge and skill relating to the field of job offer; where farmers become bank managers and street hawkers become international business tycoons all in the name of mere change of government, mercy.
To the best of my knowledge, the major premise for Africa’s underdevelopment can be attributed to no other reason than inappropriate governance and bad leadership style in the respective countries across the continent. That, if we as a nation, vehemently uphold that conviction to prosper beyond our curse, then we must endeavour to change our understanding, perception and approach towards leadership. Like Paul Kagame of Rwanda, leaders of all other African countries can also embark on positive leadership tour today to lead the continent into future enviable developments. Ubuntu; Africa is, because we are.
RICHARD ASUMAH KWAKU TETTEH
YOUTH AND PAN-AFRICAN ACTIVIST