Has the President grown bigger again?

“If power is for sale, sell your mother to buy it. You can always buy her back again”—Arabian Proverb.

“I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”–Thomas Jefferson, Third President of the United States of America.  

He is a big man. Literally. I wonder how His Excellency fits into his clothes. The President is growing fat and somebody has to tell him. His doctor and cook need to examine him again and revise his menu. If he requires a dietician, we can recommend one of those brilliant ladies on social media. At his age, President Akufo-Addo needs a lot of green tea, some cinnamon and regular exercise. He surely needs to lose some weight to be fit enough to carry the full weight of the office. The demands can be very weighty.

Team 111

The President has grown bigger in another way. He has a big team made up of some 111 men and women appointed to fill old portfolios and some new roles. He came with 110 and people screamed at the highest decibels, crying that the number was the highest they had seen since independence. To their surprise and utmost discomfiture, the number of appointees increased after the President’s first reshuffle. Those who saw how big Nana Addo had grown found the addition very charitable. It could have been more.

But the President grew even bigger; this time in power and stature. The reshuffle had been preceded by the removal from office of my personal friend and mentor, Boakye Kyeremanteng Agyarko, the Energy Minister. The President’s sacking of one the NPP’s finest brains surprised even the most brutish political connoisseurs and historians. Did Ameri have so much in its belly that we didn’t know beyond what was in the public domain? And did the President have so much power to let go a competent founding member who had disembowelled all there was in him for the love of party and country?

He is President; he has absolute powers (only restrained by the constitution) and he is powerful enough to exercise them absolutely. But power must be used with a sense of proportion, often tamed by familial spirits. Two of Akufo-Addo’s appointees conveyed this sentiment when they resigned from his government. The former Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Otiko Afisah Djaba and a Deputy Regional Minister, walked out for reasons that subtly spoke to the President’s powers.

Nourish to flourish

The President polished up his appearance after this. He changed his trademark Ghandi-shaped spectacles for a trendier pair. But if you have noticed, they look a little less Ghandier than the previous spectacles. That was, perhaps, to communicate to his lovers and detractors that his government was not a spectacle to behold. He has also added some fine clothes to his wardrobe and he has a spring in his steps. Nana looks more handsome these days and he doesn’t dose in public anymore.

Has Nana grown in character after winning the historic 2016 elections? Is Nana Addo the candidate the same person as Nana Addo the President? Those who are close to him say he has a jovial side but I see a very stern person whose no nonsense approach has bought him a seemingly unfriendly disposition. I have often joked that if President Akufo-Addo ever offered me a position in his government, I would not accept it because I would have fires in my belly. I will feel dispensable because he could sack me anytime.

Has President Akufo-Addo matured over the period? Well, you would say he came already mature and quite prepared for the high office of president. It had been a long journey conceived in the womb of time since J.B. Danquah. He had nourished himself politically to flourish, but he has also made time to smell the roses on the way. He may not be a political thoroughbred but he sure knows his craft and has perfected it through hard, honest, service to country and party. Even his enemies and frenemies know he has earned the presidency. He worked for it, fought for it and won it by a million votes.

National Cathedral

Those on the soft sides of religion have also asked whether the President has grown spiritually.  He doesn’t wax God like JEA Mills, so you are tempted to wonder whether he is a freethinker. He may be spiritual but it doesn’t show. He comes across a man of conviction who has a free spirit. Frankly, we knew he was not talking about total devotion to God when he declared: The battle is the Lord’s. Presently, we are not sure what is driving the construction of a national cathedral in Accra. It may not be the President’s spiritual side. Is it the most important thing to do at this crucial time?

Nearly two years after winning power, what has President Akufo-Addo done for the people? Depending on who you are talking to, the government has delivered convincingly on their promises, or failed woefully while hiding behind slogans and mantras to compensate for those failures. The free SHS has been delivered successfully, but must that singular achievement be deployed as the glorified answer to every question?

Where are the factories? Where are the dams? Where are the railway lines? Where is the $1Million for every constituency? Where is the private sector-led prosperity? What happened to the Digital Address system? Did we receive the National Identification cards (Ghana Cards)? Did we get the jobs we were promised?  Did our lives get better?

These are not rhetorical questions; Ghanaians are looking for answers, not messianic proclamations or enchanting narratives. Where are the timelines or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators? Are we getting the leadership response we need to address the challenges? Is Nana big enough to get things done? Yes he is. Has he got what it takes to do it? Yes he does. Can he do it? Yes he can. Will it be done? Ask John Mahama.

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