President of the Central University, Prof. Kwesi Yankah, has poured out his heart lamenting that the value of self-denial is largely missing in Ghanaian leadership.
Professor Yankah who experienced the independence era believed to be a high point for patriotism in Ghana’s history, reminisced, “I miss patriotism…I really miss patriotism”.
He was in the Joy FM studio for SpringBoard, a motivational programme for the youth, discussing ‘My Ideal Ghana’.
The vastly experienced intellectual could not help but look back for examples of selfless leadership – a value believed to be extinct in contemporary Ghana.
Picking up on Dr. Hilla Limann’s short-lived presidency, he said a look at Liman’s major assets after his 1981 overthrow, showed he owned a 3-bedroom house and a 20-year old Mercedes-Benz.
The house, located at Teshie Nungua was acquired while Limann was working at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the President of the Central University College referred to a biography written by Prof Ivan Addae-Mensah.
“What did Limann have?…and look at what you can imagine is happening in Ghana now?” the soft-spoken Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences compared.
The academician also referred to an incident where Prof Harry Sawyerr during negotiations for a new fleet of airplanes asked the management of the selling company “What do you have for me?”
“That was a very tricky question and it sounded as if he was looking for something”, Prof. Yankah, the Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Private Universities found in the book.
After the management agreed on a 15% kickback for Harry Sawyerr, the politician told the suppliers to reduce the cost of the aircraft by 15 percent.
“If you could reduce the cost of this plane by 15% and still get a profit it simply means that the cost of the plane can easily be reduced by 15% and you can still get a profit..let’s go ahead and reduce the cost of the plane”.
Prof. Yankah prayed for leaders who will negotiate deals on behalf of the country and be motivated by love for the national interest, rather than personal interest.
Without referencing any specific example of current happenings, Prof. Yankah noted that “we have abandoned a commitment to self-denial in leadership. We have put a much big emphasis on ‘what can I benefit as an individual’”.
The Indiana University Ph.D. holder is also sad about the death of thinking through problems.
He said there are too many pen-pushing leaders who find it almost impossible to sit down to comprehensively think through problems.
“We just run our mouth and run the nation without funding these on any principles…it sounds as if when people are appointed they are so busy there is no time for thinking.”
Professor Kwesi Yankah warned that progress is not a happenstance, but a carefully charted course fueled by deep thinking.
“We think without thinking, we can act rationally,” he said.