LESSONS FROM AMELICA

I heard someone say the other day that ‘are our people taking any lessons from Amelica’. The dude had apparently watched some of the debates and heard the issues that defined the campaign and like many of us, he wished we could learn a thing or two from the world’s leading democracy.
I had wanted to dedicate my time this week to discussing the Vice Presidential Debate but I honestly lost interest due to the fact that Vice President Amissah-Arthur failed to show up and the two women aspirants from the CPP and PNC did not seem to offer much. Mahamudu Bawumia clearly ‘meant’ the debate and he made the rest of the field look mediocre and unprepared for the role they say they want to occupy.
I appreciate the fact that we are all not blessed with the gift of oratory. I however believe that the aspirants should all be able to have what it takes to express what it is that they say they will do. I am not expecting an Obama-like, Martin Luther-King-like or Nkrumah-like sort of delivery. But I expect that the person who wants to be the second lady or gentleman of the land should be able to tell me what he or she wants to do for me on a variety of issues.
 
Amissah-Arthur
 
 After a very impressive start, he went to bed and never woke up. Even on the issue of economy where I expected him to come in strong, the NPP’s Bawumia made mince meat of Amissah-Arthur’s arguments and for long spells, Bawumia seemed to have taken the former central bank governor back to the classroom. I can forgive the Veep if he is not the public speaking type and all. But when he makes arguments and suggestions that are ‘off’, then it goes beyond oratory skills and edges towards the realm of competency. Again, the Veep seemed bereft of ideas when issues of tourism, solutions to the challenges at the ports, etc were mentioned. I believe that the occupier of the second most important seat in Ghana should exude confidence and be able to articulate his thoughts. I didn’t see that in Amissah-Arthur. In fact, if our debates were known to have had serious impact on our elections, I would confidently have said that his performance on Tuesday would have greatly indented his party’s success at the polls.
 
Cherita Sarpong Kumankuma & Helen Sanorita Dzatugbe Matrevi 
 
Most people predicted rather easily that the two women running mates were just going to be ‘passing through’. No disrespect to women but I think the two women did not quite cut it. Madam Cherita of the CPP may have been eloquent and forceful in her delivery, but surely it does take a lot more than that to be Veep. Matrevi on the other hand began by reading extensively from prepared scripts, and even the ideas she spoke to were dry, shallow, and did not reflect plans for a nation of 25 million people. A friend remarked that “as women if we want to be taken seriously in this country affirmative action should be tied to competency. Playing the gender card alone is never enough and please let us stop the victim role play. We are strong and intelligent and competent”. I absolutely agree with her. The role of a Vice President is a very big deal. It is a big job that requires competency as a core attribute. If for nothing at all the sad events of July 24th should serve as a perpetual reminder of how important the position of a Vice President is.
 
Bawumia
 
Bawumia is a smart, young man. You should be smart to have been deputy governor of the central bank, and to have tasted Harvard education and have the sort of experience Bawumia has. He was articulate and he topped it up with a delivery that was full of content and cut through to the bare understanding of dummies like myself. “If your wife comes home from the market to tell you prices of item have gone up and you tell her she is confused because inflation is at a single digit, then there is s serious problem”, that was a classic analogy from an academic who is trying to reach out to people he knows may not understand economics up to the doctorate level he is. I think he was outstanding. Of course my friends in the NDC do not think so. They say Amissah-Arthur won the night, and I say to them please take off your political hood before it suffocates you.
 
Amelica
 
Indeed we can’t compare ourselves to them but I think since we are aspiring to be like them, we should make an effort to learn from them. The lessons are numerous. For example, the elections were issue based and Romney and Obama both said just how they were going to do what. At the end of the day, the electorate there voted based on whose policies they liked.
The issue of political funding is also much clearer in the US than it is in Ghana. We have no idea how the NDC is financing its several billboards dotted across the coutry. We don’t also know how they are financing all the i10s and Mahindra pick-ups and the rest of them. We don’t also know how Nana Addo and the NPP are financing their campaign. Nduom seems to have a lot of money too; where he got it from, we don’t know. May be we should for once get serious and discuss political party funding. The NDC may not be interested in that discussion now (just as the NPP were not in 2004 and 2008).

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About Kwame Gyan

Kwame Gyan is a trained journalist who has taken a break to practice corporate communications but still has an eye on the profession he loves most. He started writing in junior secondary school whiles his broadcasting career started at Radio Univers whiles a student at the University of Ghana in 2001 and has gone on to have stints with Joy FM and CITI FM. He was a columnist in The Globe, an Accra-based freely-distributed newspaper. His articles cutting across entertainment, politics, sports and pure fiction are featured in some other newspapers and blogs. He may be reached via Kwame.Gyan@gmail.com.
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