Thursday, 23 July 2015

Ghana Needs Honest Leaders With Business Nous - A Prime Example Being Paa Kwesi Nduom

For over twenty years now, some of us have advocated for Ghanaian politicians to publicly publish their assets, as well as those of their spouses, before assuming office,  and immediately after their tenures end.

We have done so consistently for so long because publicly publishing the assets of our leaders is a powerful antidote against high-level corruption. The present asset delaration law is clearly not fit for purpose - which is why our nation's politics attracts so many undesirable types presently.

It was with that in mind that when a  young university student, whom I engaged in a conversation with, recently, asked me which politician I thought it would best serve the interests of young Ghanaians, to vote for to become president in 2016, I mentioned Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom and made a number of observations.

I told my young student friend that in my view, any politician who could win the  fight against high-level corruption, would make an excellent president for Ghana - as it would result in the release of hundreds of millions of cedis annually, into the system, which could be used to modernise and expand Ghana's infrastructure, support agriculture, as well as fund public housing, education and healthcare in Ghana.

He also agreed with me that any Ghanaian politician who commits to publicly publishing his or her assets (as well as that of their spouse), before assuming office, and immediately after his or her tenure ends, as well as publicly publishing the sources of funding for the party he or she leads, is more likely to have the political will to fight high-level corruption, when in power.

It is unfortunate that it seems to escape many Ghanaians that  Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom actually publicly published his filed tax returns, and publicly published the sources of funding for his party, the Progressive People's Party (PPP), during the campaign for the 2012 elections.

Neither President Mahama nor Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo did so in 2012, and one doubts very much - given the opaque natures of the corruption-riddled parties they lead - that they will follow Nduom's example during the campaign for the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections.

If they both fail that litmus test of transparency, in the run-up to the 2016 elections, then clearly, neither of them deserves to be elected to serve as President of the Republic of Ghana.

To illustrate why Nduom is tailor-made for leading a modern 21st century Ghana, I gave that young university student I had the conversation with, examples of how as a result of his business accumen, Nduom was likely to deal with the multinational companies that rip Ghana off so callously.

A world-class entrepreneur, as president, Nduom is unlikely to exhibit  President Mahama's helplessness, conveyed in a speech he once gave at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, during which he complained that multinational gold mining companies in Ghana were refusing to agree to pay taxes on the windfall profits they made in 2010, when gold prices reached historic heights.

I also pointed out that Nduom, unlike Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, would never have caved in to Societe General in 2001, when it was obvious to many discerning minds who knew the facts of the matter, that Ghana stood a very good chance of winning the case the French bank brought against the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), in a London  law court.

Traditionally, Ghanaian politicians, such as  President Mahama and Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, have always accepted perfidious behavior by powerful multinational companies, as facts of life, which emerging nations like Ghana must learn to live with, if we want to attract investors.

In both instances mentioned above, involving President Mahama and Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, Nduom, because of his business nous, would have taken a creative approach to protecting the national interest - by getting on the phone to BlackRock's head of global corporate governance,  Ms. Michelle Edkins, for example, and persuading her to demand that the mining companies pay up.

Knowing the power and influence BlackRock wields, the multinational gold mining companies would have rushed to pay those windfall taxes pronto.

With the exception of Nduom, one doubts very much if making that move would have ever occured to any of those seeking the presidency, in the 2012 election.

Yet, BlackRock, which manages funds worth $4.8 trillion, is a global power in asset management - and owns significant stakes in virtually all the biggest listed companies in stock markets in the national economies of the West.

Ghana needs honest and incorruptible leaders, who are world-class individuals that can deal with the complexities of a globalised world, and successfully navigate the  choppy waters of the world's economy.

Simply put, Ghana needs honest leaders with business nous. Paa Kwesi Nduom is a prime example.

One hopes that when it is finally formed, a New Convention People's Party (New CPP) - in light of the inability of any of the Nkrumahist parties to win the Talensi constituency by-election - will unite the old CPP, the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), the People's National Convention (PNC), and the Progressive People's Party (PPP), will select Nduom as its presidential candidate for the 2016 election, with Samia Yaaba Nkrumah as his running mate.

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