Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Is Atta-Mills surrounded by “Yes Men”?

The downfall of many presidents in this world has been their inability to separate loyalty from competence and surrounding themselves with sycophants and “yes men” who sing praises all the way to their banks.

Two questions come to mind here: are the president’s men so scared to criticize him or are they sycophantic “yes men”?

When Ghanaians voted for President Mills in December 2008, they had no doubt that he was poised to deliver a better Ghana but recent occurrences in the country have really turned all hopes into despair. I agree that the president has been in office for 11 months but like the old African saying goes,” you can tell a good game from its onset”. Within the eleven months, all we have seen is lot of management faux-pas and no policy direction for us to have some hope for the better Ghana promised.

Behind every successful president is a mentor or two plus blunt and efficient lieutenants who offer positive criticisms. Atta- Mills needs such people for his relentless pursuit to deliver a better Ghana. He needs the services of men/women who would be willing to tell him he's wrong. If he did, he would not be doing the things that are making him lose the support that propelled him into power.

You would have thought that as learned and politically experienced as Mills is, he would know when to listen and who to listen to. Being the third president in the fourth republic means that he has a wealth of resources to consult. For the first time in our history, a sitting president has two former presidents who are alive to offer the necessary inputs into nation building.

This in theory should have been happening but practically, well, it has not been working that that way because the NDC founder complains endlessly about the presidents refusal to heed to advice and for former president Kufour, I don’t think the president in his wisdom thinks he needs him because he is perceived by the present administration to have mismanaged the country so bad that he is the cause of all our current problems.

Besides these two, the president is surrounded by various advisors, his learned friends and associates mostly in academia, the council of state and above all his spouse to offer advice and direction.
The question is why does he make the elementary mistakes he keeps making with all the people around him?

My thinking is that, the president is either not listening or has scared those around him from offering constructive criticisms or those around him are just “yes men” who do not care if he succeeds as a president or the country moves forward.

I strongly believe the whole truth is that the castle has been taken by “Yes men” (or “yes-women”, for that matter) who are worthless to the presidency, period. The most competent and successful presidents are those who have men of integrity who aren’t afraid to advice them, even when it means telling them something they don’t want to hear but need to- even if it will cost them their jobs.

Think about it. What was the president thinking when he ordered his spokesperson to address a press conference to the effect that his appointees should open their doors for NDC foot- soldiers? The first question I ask is, who were those present at the meeting and how did the deliberations go. Did they ask the right questions but were ignored?

You do not need to be a rocket scientist- but if you were present at the said decision-making meeting and you cared about the presidency, here are a few questions you could have asked.

Mr. President, with all due respect, what happens to the over four million eligible voters who voted against you and the many others in the country? How will the directive be implemented? That is, do we set up a desk to register party members who come to see the appointees and ask them to show party cards etc?, Mr. President, don’t you think party functionaries will flood the offices and prevent your officials from carrying out their mandated duties for which they are paid? More importantly, Your Excellency, you promised to be a father for all so why only NDC functionaries now?

And above all what was Ayariga thinking churning that out irresponsibly? He should have asked the right questions or sugar-coated that nonsense at the very least.
I have really been wondering why some high-ranking persons in the NDC are complaining, is there a communication breakdown between the NDC as a party and the Mills Government, are there really greedy bastards in the party who are fighting the altruistic ones?, is the former president justified in his outbursts or the president has just surrounded himself with sycophantic “Yes Men” who are ready to tell him one-plus-one is equal to three.

There are people at the presidency who are quick to attack and insult anyone within or outside the party who dares offer constructive criticism of the Mills administration.

They claim there are channels for redress but if they did and access was easily available, I do not think that persons no less than the founder of the NDC, the Majority Leader in parliament and Dr. Spio Garbrah will resort to the media to address their issues. All of a sudden anyone who disagrees with the state of affairs becomes a villain and the “yes men” who have formed a brick wall around the president rain insults on them.

These are the people the president should be wary of. There are those hovering around the presidency who believe that they can transition overnight from being mere tramps yesterday into political celebrities on account of being praise poets and repositories of flattery. Mills must be very careful of these political vultures and sycophants masquerading as party fanatics and loyalists who would do anything and everything in their interest to win his support for personal enrichment.

As the seemingly wide- gap between the presidency and the NDC party widens, more vultures and sharks will be coming to the castle.

They will come from different forms: rejected politicians, false prophets, failed and successful business persons, professional bootlickers, and block-headed individuals among others who are playing the game of the stomach. All these people will pretend to love Mills; they will sing praise songs in chorus.

Some will shout on top of their voices and call every radio station and other media houses and boast how much they believe in him.

They will tell him how well and fast the better Ghana agenda is moving when they know word from Axim to Keta and from Paga to Accra is that the country is running too slow and the masses are suffering.
It will be only wise for the president to stay alert and listen to dissenting views within the NDC and even from well meaning Ghanaians if he really wants to deliver a better Ghana.

By. Ouborr Kutando

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