### African Journal ofPolitical Science and International Relations

• Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
• Language: English
• ISSN: 1996-0832
• DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
• Start Year: 2007
• Published Articles: 383

## Political Leadership in Ghana: 1957 to 2010

##### Kwasi Dartey-Baah
• Kwasi Dartey-Baah
• Department of Organization and Human Resource Management, University of Ghana Business School (UGBS), University of Ghana.

•  Accepted: 24 December 2014
•  Published: 28 February 2015

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION

Prior to the advent of colonization, Ghana, then Gold Coast, did not have any notable political leader because it was not unified as a single country with one leader. To explain this further, Buah (1998) contends that the region was made up of states and kingdoms, which were independent of each other.

At the head of each kingdom was the supreme ruler who secured and consolidated his position through hereditary succession, either maternally or paternally; and also through a due consideration by elders of certain traits possessed by the person. For example, Odotei and Awedoba (2006) revealed that the Kasena-Nankana, Kusasi and Bulsa chieftaincy successions are paternally based; and the personality traits that qualified a successor among others were eloquence, charisma, intelligence, courage and physical fitness. As Buah noted, once installed as a king, the ruler assumed the executive, legislative and judicial powers of the kingdom. Odotei and Awedoba also assert that the chief wielded social, political, religious and economic authority by virtue of his position. Thus, such was the leadership responsibility then.

However, the declaration of the Gold Coast as a colonial administrative unit under the British Empire introduced a system of leadership that was new to the natives. This system of leadership which was constructed based on the western style of governance had very little appreciation of traditional institutions, customs and values, which the people of the Gold Coast were familiar with (Buah, 1998). Thus, as stated by Odotei and Awedoba (2006), the sovereignty of the people was undermined as a result. In that, the rights of the natives to rule themselves and make decisions that is in line with their customs and beliefs, devoid of external influence, was taken away from them.

Since Ghana’s political independence in 1957, reforming the administrative state inherited from the colonial authorities became the country’s major quest for development. Various governments, military or civilian, have made reforms a major priority on their developmental agenda and have, therefore, expended significant resources, both human and financial, in these efforts. This primary objective may have accounted for some of the leaders the nation has had at her political helm of affairs. The preoccupation with reform stems from the belief that the effectiveness of the political system, and therefore even the viability of the regime itself depended to a substantial extent on effective leadership in implementing the regime’s policy (March and Olsen, 1983). The journey to developing a better administrative state capable of meeting the needs of citizens is the reason for the 57 years of changes in leaders and political systems that Ghana has experienced. This paper examines the performance of political leadership in Ghana from 1957-2010, on a 4-dimensional model; personality, values, roles, and setting.

Leadership is a universally recognized concept. However, the practice and interpretation of it is culturally framed. It has a plethora of definitions with no single definition as the generally accepted one. For the purpose of this paper, Kotter’s (1988) definition of leadership is adopted. He states:

creating a vision of the future that takes into account the legitimate long-term interests of the parties involved; of developing a rational strategy for moving towards that vision; of enlisting the support of key power centers whose cooperation, compliance or teamwork is necessary to produce that movement; and motivating the people whose actions are central to implementing the strategy (pp. 25-26).

Contrary to the above, other authors through a theoretical and empirical assessment of the two theories have found some augmenting or supplementary role existing between the two (Bass and Avolio, 1994; Howell and Avolio, 1993; Lowe et al., 1996; Rowold, 2006; Bass et al., 2003; Stone, 1992; Chan and Chan, 2005). They emphasized how transformational leadership augments the transactional leadership in enhancing individual, team and organizational effectiveness. This means that neither transformational leadership nor transactional leadership alone can ensure the effectiveness of a group to the optimum. On the contrary, a leader who can combine both styles of leadership, well, is most likely to be successful in ensuring group effectiveness and goal attainment.

The Context of Political Leadership in Ghana

Aryee (as cited in Boafo-Arthur, 2007) argued that leadership goes to the heart of politics, that is, the capacity of a people to act together on their shared concerns.

Ghana’s post-independence history has been characterized by long periods of military rule, marked by gross human rights abuses (Abdulai, 2008). With the exception of the first republic under Nkrumah (1960-1966), the interludes of civilian governments under the second (1969-1972) and third (1979-1981) republics have been short-lived, unable to survive for up to three years without coup d’états (Abdulai and Quantson, 2008). In the late 1980s, after nearly one decade of quasi–military rule under the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), strong internal and external pressures on the government led to the promulgation of a liberal constitution in 1992; and the reinstatement of multi-party democracy in the same year, thus, ushering Ghana into the Fourth Republic.

Since 1992, Ghana has held five successful multiparty democratic elections. The peaceful transfer of power from the government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) following national elections in December 2000 clearly demonstrates how far Ghana has travelled towards democratic consolidation over the past decade. Beyond successful elections, Ghana has made appreciable progress in institutionalizing multiparty democratic governance within the framework of the 1992 Constitution. To date, there is considerable evidence of political liberalization, which allows Ghanaians to enjoy a much wider range of rights and liberties, as well as the emergence of a vibrant civil society and a free and independent media that increasingly hold government accountable on behalf of citizens. Indeed, with these significant developments, Ghana’s democratization has been touted as one of the political success stories in Africa (Gyimah-Boadi, 2008; Whitfield and Jones, 2009).

In the words of Ayee (1994), the context of political leadership in Ghana is influenced by four factors; the challenges that face all political leaders (such as the poor state of the economy, unemployment, among others); the neoliberal economic environment with which the leaders work; culture; and the media. Leaders are faced with a myriad of problems including the almost insurmountable challenge of meeting expectations with meager resources; the need to grapple with the continued dependence on an unfavourable international economic order; the need to incorporate a diverse population into a workable whole; and to establish the guidelines for a distinctive Ghanaian path of not only constructive change but also socio-economic development (Pellow and Chazan, 1986).

These challenges to political leadership, among others, have not only affected the performance of the Rawlings and Kufuor regimes as indicated by Ayee (1994); but also the previous governments of Nkrumah, Busia and Limann, as well as the Mills’ led administration. The poor state of the Ghanaian economy, coupled with poor administrative reforms, human rights issues and unemployment have been key election issues in the political history of Ghana. For instance, in 2000 and 2008, the poor state of the economy and the perception of corruption were contributory factors that led to the NDC and NPP losing the elections respectively. As indicated by Abdulai (2008), the long periods of military rule, marked by gross human rights abuses in the post-independence era was the result of the quest for effective leadership for the nation.

Since the inception of the fourth republic, Ghana has pursued a neoliberal ideology. This ideology places emphasis on rolling back or shrinking the frontiers or role of the state; privatization and deregulation; trade and financial liberalization; and encouraging foreign direct investment. The 1992 Constitution buttresses the neoliberal environment with the following provisions:

i) Establishing and strengthening a democratic state, based on the ideals and principles of freedom, equality, regional and gender balance, justice, probity, accountability, transparency and competence.

ii) Eradication of corrupt practices and the abuse of power.

iii) Institution-building and reforms.

iv) Decentralization of administrative and financial machinery of government to the regions and districts.

v) Development of ‘value for money’ public services (Republic of Ghana Constitution, 1992, chapter 6, article 35).

The neoliberal environment, complemented strongly by the constitutional arrangements, has rendered some advantages to the country. One major advantage is that it has helped Ghana strengthen democratic principles such as freedom, accountability and transparency which hitherto was minimal in the country. For instance, before the fourth republic, freedom of speech and press freedom were not very popular in practice in the country as compared to the Kuffour, Mills and present Mahama’s administrations. Contrarily, the country’s attempt to establish a neoliberal environment has not aided her much in terms of economic and sustainable development.

A factor also influencing political leadership is the media. Political leadership lost its monopoly of the flow of information on governmental issues due to the influx of private media houses in the country since the advent of the fourth republic. The media provide an alternative outlet for minority parties and groups to criticize political leadership. This is largely at variance with the state-owned media, whose coverage of leadership activities is sometimes skewed in favour of the government in power. According to Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, former first lady, “the state-owned media is supposed to support the government because it is paid from government resources” (Boafo-Arthur, 2007, p. 160).

Furthermore, another factor impacting on political leadership is the cultural underpinnings of the nation, such as kinship and ethnicity. Although the Ghanaian culture emphasizes attributes such as good character, kinship and ethnicity, it has tended to have a largely negative influence on the political leadership in Ghana. In the words of Sandbrook and Oelbaum (1999), the Ghanaian culture of promoting patronage has reinforced the view that, “when a society’s impersonal legal guarantees of physical security, status, and wealth are relatively weak or non-existent, individuals seek personal substitutes by attaching themselves to ‘big-men’ capable of producing protection and even advancement” (p. 109). Consequently, the Ghanaian culture has a view of politics that has generated patronage, which is essentially extractive. The political arena is seen as an avenue for wealth creation; hence, in its broadest sense, the reward for successful engagement. Chazan (1983) opined that this kind of thinking by politicians and the electorate has encouraged a vicious cycle of competition for access to and control over national resources. The interplay of the challenges facing political leaders, the neoliberal economic environment, culture and the media, have exposed the peculiarity and distinctiveness of leadership challenges and performance in Ghana. Consequently, they provide important bases upon which one can understand and evaluate political leadership in Ghana.

CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

An objective analysis of the leadership performance of a particular administrative system cannot be conducted in isolation. In line with this assertion, four variables are outlined and discussed as the basis of fathoming the leadership performance under the various political regimes. The variables, however, do overlap and interact cohesively throughout a leader’s policy or decision- making processes. To justify this, the author is of the view that the call to leadership and how leaders lead is influenced by who they are as individuals, their unique characteristics as well as what they have in common with other members of society (personality) which has some impact on what they do and the part they play at the echelons of power (role). Furthermore, as individuals, leaders have ideals, standards, beliefs and wishes they uphold (values) are largely influenced operationally by the environment within which they operate (setting).

Personality

It is the characteristics that identify an individual and encompasses qualities that may be shared with other members of the society. Since leaders are human beings, the study of their personalities is essential to grasp the totality of each one’s behaviour and attitude towards certain conditions. The development of an individual’s personality begins from childhood and evolves with time as one interacts more with his/her kins, as well as with other surrounding social units (Paige, n.d as cited in Hilmi, 1990).

Role

It is a set of socially defined expectations of behaviour independent of personality. Leaders such as Kings, Presidents, and military leaders, usually occupy the highest managerial posts in the echelon of the administrative hierarchy (Seligman, 1980). It is imperative here, to distinguish the nature of the executive’s position per se from the matrix of the leader’s personality. The subordinates expect from their leaders to execute certain policies, which are basically entitled to them as being the true holders of the official administrative offices.

Values

They are the ideas that concern desirable conditions of affairs and preferable means for the attainment of those ideas. Concepts of values are vital for the study of administrative leadership. Actions which are carried out by the executives are viewed as valid. They act in such a manner because their values and beliefs are legitimate and have been accepted on the part of their subordinates (Hilmi, 1990). Values are mirrors that reflect the visions and the manners of leaders, as well as their actual behaviour. Value analysis is supposed to accomplish certain assignments (Lacouture, 1978). First, is the exploration of operative values as related to administrative leadership behaviour both within and across cultures? Second, value analysis is required to explain the origins and patterns of change of leadership related values. Third, the value analysis might lead to the identification of new values implied within the realm of leadership behaviour.

Settings

It can be defined as the physical, technological, economic, social and cultural features of the environment of behaviour. The main idea of the concept of setting indicates that administrative leadership behaviour is formulated in an environment that includes human-made and natural components. It is assumed that leadership behaviour is affected by influences of the environment either directly or indirectly (Wilner, 1981).

However, it is well understandable to contend that the executive’s behaviour takes shape in a certain organizational setting. Subsequently, the organization influences the leader’s behaviour and vice versa. Apparently, there are four major interdisciplinary factors that seem to characterize human behaviour, that is to say power, affection, instrumentality and association (Boafo-Arthur, 2007). Power is the actual or attempted control of one part over another in a defined system. The concept of affection implies the feelings and emotions of individuals. Also, instrumentality refers to the problem-solving techniques; and association means the structure that links various parts of a behavioural aggregative system and enhances its operational function.

In brief, the conceptual framework in Figure 1 which is composed of the four variables illustrates the collective interdependence flow of the process that formulates the leadership style of the executive, be it a democratically elected or military-based.

ANALYSIS OF LEADERSHIP PERFORMANCE UNDER THE CIVILIAN REGIME

So far, an objective analysis of the variables for administrative leadership has been previously presented extensively in this paper. Here the conceptual model is applied to the study of the leadership styles for six democratically elected leaders in Ghana within the period under study; Kwame Nkrumah, Kofi Abrefa Busia, Hilla Limann, Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor, and John Evans Atta Mills.

Kwame Nkrumah: 1957-1966

His leadership task for the new state was faced with dual realities. First, he realized independent Ghana will be better off economically and socially through adopting the drive of scientific socialism (Dzirasa, 1979). This advocacy can be traced back to Nkrumah’s presence in the United States. During his graduate studies, he was affected by the writings of Marx and Lenin. Although he was interested in the adoption of the Marxist ideologies to solving Ghana’s severe economic problems, he emphasized the importance of fitting socialism into the African context. The newly elected president recognized that useful application of socialism to the African soil should take into consideration African unique conditions. According to Trevor (1976), his leadership style vis-a-vis his personality made him to be viewed by many as the catalyst of the ultimate authority in Ghana.

The other major concern of Nkrumah was the strife for the achievement of African unity. Nkrumah had an all-African unified perspective. In view of this, he tried enthusiastically to unite the fragmented African states through channels of economic, political and defense cooperation (Dennis, 1975). On the other hand, the charismatic personality of Nkrumah and the prominent role he played in the solidification and the development of Ghana helped sustain his rule for a certain period.

However, judging from the conceptual framework, it is fair to state that, Nkrumah’s leadership did have an impact on Ghana in particular and on the African region. But nevertheless, Nkrumah had not really proved to be successful in building strong socialist Ghana or provide a remarkable solution to unify fragmented Africa. He had some challenges establishing a balance between realities and wishes either at home or abroad (Hilmi, 1990). This is described by some scholars as the reason for his sudden overthrow in 1966 through a coup d’état. For instance, Hilmi further writes that the ineffectiveness of planning, had later, contributed to the downfall of his regime. Moreover, Nkrumah had paid less attention to create permanent roots among the Ghanaian masses (Hilmi, 1990).

Assessing the political journey of Nkrumah and his influence in the attainment of Ghana’s political independence, it will not be far-fetched to say that Kwame Nkrumah was a servant-leader at the initial stages of the fight for political independence where he created a self-government-immediately awareness. However, after becoming the first politically elected leader of Gold Coast, his passing of bills such as the Avoidance of Discrimination Act of 1957 and the Preventive Detention Act (PDA) of 1958 indicated traces of authoritarian leadership in his government. By 1964, Nkrumah had become a constitutional dictator after he passed a bill to declare Ghana a one-party state by law.

Kofi Abrefa Busia: 1969-1972

Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia by virtue of the 1950 constitution became a member of the Legislative Assembly, and his journey into “full time and serious politics” begun (Danso-Boafo, 1996, p. 37). Busia may not have begun as a fully-fledged politician, but he made his intentions clear when he introduced his old party the United Party under the new name the Progress Party in May 2, 1969. According to Ofori-Atta (1978), the formation of the Progress Party brought Busia close to his political dream of forming a democratic government that could replace Nkrumah’s government.

The second republic administration of Ghana fell into the leadership arms of Busia when the National Liberation Council (NLC) handed over power to him. The NLC was the junta that ruled Ghana after Nkrumah was ousted in the 1966 coup d’état led by Colonel E. K. Kotoka and General A. A. Afrifa. Busia’s role as the prime minister ensured that attempts were made towards the pursuit of a democratic and liberal state as democratic agenda of Busia manifested itself through the various policies and development plans. It is not out of place to assume therefore, that Busia, when he first assumed office, upheld liberal values such as free society as well as egalitarian principles. For instance, the general good of the populace was thought of in the policy of ‘The Aliens Compliance Order of 18th November, 1969’, which was introduced as a result of the huge economic crises that plagued the economy, and also to create employment for the masses.

Though Busia started as a democratic leader, he veered more towards authoritarian leadership approach getting to the end of his leadership journey. He undertook a major shakeup in the Ghana Armed Forces in a bid to stamp his authority according to Danso-Boafo (1996). Busia made the following statements:

My government will exercise its right to employ only persons whom it wishes to employ. No court can enforce…I wish to make myself perfectly clear (p. 37).

According to Danso-Boafo (1996), the Busia administration as at 1971 was described by the popular Nigerian journalist, Olajide Aluko, in the following lines;

Not only was it unable to cope with the unemployment problem and inflation…the unwise devaluation of the Cedi by about 44 percent on December 27, 1971…led to the overthrow of his Progress Party government (p. 65).

Busia’s struggle in handling issues of human rights, economic development and international relations appeared to have largely accounted for his overthrown in the 1972 coup d’état led by Col. I.K. Acheampong (Danso-Boafo, 1996).

Hilla Limann: 1979-1981

Dr. Hilla Limann was a democratic leader who was elected into office on the 24th of September 1979. Dr. Hilla Limann was one Ghanaian leader who had much respect for the tenets of democracy. He was also seen as an honest person and a gentleman who was more of a diplomat than a politician.

He espoused the virtues of morality, had a great respect for good governance and abhorred corruption, selfishness and greed (Banamini, 2010). For instance, as president he personally wrote a letter to all his appointees reminding them of the code of conduct and beseeched them to shun ostentatious life-styles, but rather to live moderate lives. Limann was also seen by many as a ‘powerful man without power’ meaning that even though he had power as the president of Ghana he did not put it to effective use - Laissez-faire leadership style (Amamoo, 2007). With a great compliment of a diplomat, coupled with his democratic leadership style, Limann initiated a judicious and healthy foreign policy drive with neighbouring countries and the rest of the world (Banamini, 2010).

Amidst the harsh economic conditions he inherited, he advanced policies that supported farmers by giving them incentives in the form of fair producer prices, machinery and expertise during his administration. Food became more available on the market and long queues for food disappeared within a year of taking power. Again, despite the fact that his government, together with Busia’s, were the shortest administrations lived in the history of Ghana’s politics, he was able to change the direction of foreign policy programmes that favoured the Communist agenda to ones that embraced the Capitalist orientation. He revitalized this policy, which had been advanced by the military junta of Colonel Acheampong (Amamoo, 2007). Again, to improve relations with the international community and to undo the blockage against the country due to the AFRC’s (Armed Forces Revolutionary Council) excesses, more especially its human right abuses, Limann travelled throughout Western Europe, Africa and parts of the Far East not only to renew ties, but also to search for funds to improve the country’s shattered economy. This endeavour yielded a positive result as Nigeria, for instance, resumed oil deliveries to Ghana and presented the country with a grant, a non-repayable amount to help Ghana deal with her economic problems.

His democratic leadership style made him to uphold freedom of speech of the people and of the press. Fundamental human rights were on the whole respected, as people expressed their opinions openly without the fear of harassment at the hands of security agents. Hilla Limann was in office for 27 months as his administration was truncated by another coup led by Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings. However, the latter part of the 27 months of Limann’s administration experienced a lot of hardships, and this led to the military overthrowing his government. For instance, the issues of brain drain as a result of poor economic performance under the Limann administration made the country lose a number of its manpower resources (Amamoo, 2007). Even though the Hilla Limann administration was an assuring one, it was not able to fully accomplish its task as an effective government because of the short time it had in power. However, on the whole, Limann’s government broadly performed favourably well regarding issues of human rights, economic development and international relations.

Jerry John Rawlings: 1993-2000

Jerry John Rawlings, Ghana’s democratically elected leader from 1993 until the 2000 elections, was a Flight Lieutenant in the Air Force and a militant populist when he led the June 4, 1979 coup that overthrew the regime of General Frederick William Kwasi Akuffo.

According to Chazan (1983), Ghana would not have survived the Economic Recovery Programmes without the strength of character and unwavering determination of Mr. Rawlings. He saw part of his role as the head of state to be that of a ‘watch dog’ for the people. In that role, it was not unusual for him to speak his mind and intervene in issues whenever he saw what he considered an injustice, corruption or gross incompetence. In September 1999, Rawlings reflected on his 18 years at the helm of affairs in Ghana, in an interview with the Reverend Jesse Jackson on CNN; among other things he stated:

“…I saw my stewardship as an unusual opportunity; I presided over regimes that instituted authoritarian rule, engaged in political and economic reforms, and encouraged an administration that engendered multi-party democracy in Africa” (Adedeji, 2001, p. 20).

Rawlings’ leadership was a mixture of populism and authoritarianism, sometimes marked by controversial pronouncements. He had the capacity to pull crowds and appealed to the ordinary man on the streets (Shillington, 1992). According to Prof. Ali Mazrui as cited in Agyeman-Duah (2006), “…the supreme achievement of Rawlings was his remarkable transition from military despotism to a peaceful democratic succession” (p. xiii).

Also, in response to a question as to whether he regarded himself as a visionary leader, he responded unequivocally “yes”. At the risk of sounding immodest, he said, “Ghana would not have been brought out of the political abyss of 1981 without a visionary leader” (Adedeji, 2001, p. 20). Besides the drawbacks in the area of human rights abuse, corruption, and media phobia relation, Mr. Rawlings is seen as a visionary leader. Again, his charisma and won him the support of the populace. No wonder many writers such as (Krause, 1987; Shillington, 1992; Adedeji, 2001) describe him as a populist.

According to Shillington (1992), Rawlings seized the rare opportunity of guiding the affairs of his country; saw it through several political and economic transitions in the 1980s and 1990s; alienated political and social groups by employing authoritarian means; obtained financial aid from institutional donors to implement the various recovery programmes; entrenched an economy that is growing through long-term structural adjustment; and sustained a democracy that is not only a work-in-progress but an institutionalized political system. Although, one may argue otherwise, it is of no doubt that Rawlings left a legacy in which Ghanaians as a people and society, have the enviable opportunity to enjoy the quality of life and also to reap the benefits of a systemic development in an ever-changing global, political and economic environment.

Furthermore, Rawlings also brought some simplicity to the presidency and trumpeted anti-corruption ideals shrouded in pronouncements like probity, justice and accountability during his leadership. Thus, the leadership journey of Rawlings could well be described as starting from a servant-leader, where he stood for the interests of the masses and worked closely with those at the grassroots, to an authoritarian leader and finally to a democratic leader.

John Agyekum Kufuor: 2001-2008

John Agyekum Kufuor was a lawyer and a private businessman and had been deputy minister of foreign affairs under the Busia regime, as well as secretary for local government under the PNDC in 1983. He later resigned because of the PNDC’s poor human right record. According to Ali Mazrui as cited in Agyeman-Duah (2006);

...Kwame Nkrumah remains the most prolific presidential writer in Africa’s post-colonial history. Kofi Busia remains one of the best-educated Africans to become Head of States. Dr. Limann brought new expertise to the highest ranks of governance in Ghana...and now President J.A. Kufuor has brought legal and constitutional sophistication to the highest political office in the land (p. xii).

Kufuor symbolized a new dawn in Ghana. He played the role as the first Ghanaian President of the 21st century, the first of the new millennium and he brought fresh ideas of nation-building and new energy in the pursuit of development. He is known as the ‘gentle giant’ because of his calm and unruffled demeanour. His liberal values and his general composure, demeanour and public speaking brought some respect, nobility and dignity to the office of the president. As quoted by Professor Ali Mazrui;

Kwame Nkrumah was the first African to become a member of Her Majesty’s Privy Council in Britain. William Abraham was the first African to be elected fellow of All Soul’s College, Oxford. Kofi Annan was the first Black man to become Secretary-General of the United Nations. And now J.A. Kufuor is the first African legal mind to be entrusted with the Rule of Law in an African country in this millennium (Agyeman-Duah, 2006, p. xii).

Kufuor’s relationship with the business community and the media was cordial. No wonder he declared in his sessional address to parliament on his re-election that 2004 was going to be a ‘business-friendly year’. On the basis of the framework for analysis, it is not unreasonable to say that in all, Mr. Kufuor was largely transformational in his style of leadership advancing policies that were mindful of the needy and putting in place social interventions that help the poor and disadvantaged in society. Additionally, he scored high marks with respect to his foreign policy, having attracted the biggest financial aid in the history of Ghana – Millennium Development Fund. Economic-wise, his government was able to stabilize the macro economy and had moderate achievements on human right issues (Agyeman-Duah, 2006).

John Evans Atta Mills: 2009-2012

John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills, popularly known as “asomdwehene” literally translated as the “king of peace” served as Ghana’s Vice President from 1997 to 2001 in the administration of former president Jerry John Rawlings (National Democratic Congress, n.d).

In his article entitled, ‘Leadership style of President John Atta-Mills’, Dr. William Addai observed that Mills ability to solve problems in a reactive and team-oriented manner as well as his ability to be unconstructive and avoid confrontations makes him stand out as a real team player (Addai, 2009). Like his predecessor, Mills’ general composure, patience, modesty and demeanour brought some respect, nobility and dignity to the office of the president. In analyzing the specific talents and behaviour of President Mills, it becomes obvious that he is indeed a servant-leader. His posture, patience and demeanour are attributes that characterizes a servant-leader. No wonder Addai (2009) opined that the specific talents and behaviour of president Mills to his job such as dependable manager, comprehensive in problem solving, service-oriented, objective, proficient and skilled in technical specialty, as well as maintenance of standards identify his value to the political position he occupied.

In conclusion, one can argue that the personal qualities of Presidents Mills no doubt portray him as a servant leader, even though along the line he exhibited traces of laissez-faire leadership styles before his demise on 24th July 2012 and before the end of his tenure – making him the first sitting president to die in office. Thus far, it appears that the application of the proposed conceptual framework of leadership to Atta Mills serves quite properly even though one cannot preempt what the end of his turnover would have been.

ANALYSIS OF LEADERSHIP PERFORMANCE UNDER THE MILITARY REGIME

Here, this paper focuses on the leadership styles of three military leaders who through coup d’états assumed leadership in Ghana. This part of the study is devoted to the analysis of the leadership performance of Gen. J.A. Ankrah, Col. I.K. Acheampong, and Flt. Lt. J.J. Rawlings.

General J.A. Ankrah: 1966-1969

Early in 1966, the political situation in Ghana grew complicated because Nkrumah’s grip on power seemed solid with a dictatorship that had very little resemblance with democratic governance. This led to his overthrow by the NLC, whose chairman was Lt. Gen. J.A. Ankrah. To win the confidence of the populace and the outside world, the NLC chaired by Lt. Gen. Ankrah affirmed Ghana’s commitment to international bodies such as the United Nations, the Organisation of African Unity, and the non-aligned family of nations. Thus, the military-police regime gained wider recognition though it had come to power through an undemocratic method (Petchenkine, 1993).

At home to justify the military intervention, the NLC took steps designed to relieve the people from the economic hardship, which prevailed towards the end of Nkrumah’s administration. Unlike the latter period of Nkrumah’s administration, Ankrah’s NLC brought freedom to the press and freedom of speech was largely restored (Buah, 1980, 1998). Again, all persons held in custody under the Preventive Detention Act of 1958 were released and traditional rulers who had been removed from office because of their overt demonstration against the government were restored to replace those installed apparently because of their loyalty to the government of the day.

According to Awoonor (1990), though the government saw the urgency of a new drive to promote agriculture and undertake other economic activities, the poor economic and fiscal policies the government adopted brought deterioration in the balance of payment for the country. This resulted in serious inflationary trends and increased hardship for most people. Thus, Awoonor asserts that half-way through the NLC administration; it became increasingly clear that the performance of the military-police government could not fully justify their removal of the previous government. In sum, even though the leadership qualities exhibited by Ankrah was effective and disciplined to some degree, he was seen later as a transactional and autocratic leader in the discharge of his administrative role.

Col. I.K. Acheampong: 1972-1978

On 13th January 1972, Colonel Acheampong (later became General I.K. Acheampong) led a bloodless coup d’état that overthrew the democratically elected government of Dr. Busia and became the Head of State in Ghana. The main reason for staging the coup was the currency devaluations that were undertaken by the progress party under Dr. Busia’s regime.

His leadership attitude brought into the limelight the popular agricultural programme dubbed “Operation Feed Yourself”. According to Amamoo (2007), the programme caught on quite well with Ghanaians as backyard gardens began to attract the attention of even the urban dwellers and all categories of professionals. In 1975, the government launched the phase two of its programme “Operation Feed Your Industries”, as a follow-up to the Operation Feed Yourself. The emphasis was to produce selected industrial and cash crops such as rubber, sugarcane, cotton, groundnut and cashew among the likes for export (Amamoo, 2007).

To address the issue of the cedi devaluation which led to Busia’s overthrow, Pobee (1987) postulate that Acheampong revalued the cedi by 42.0% and removed surcharges on imports. In an effort to encourage farmers to produce more goods for export, he rewarded them with an increase in the producer price of cocoa from £8.00 to £10.00 per ton. Workers also had the benefit of the repeal of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act, 1971 (Act 383), an increment in the minimum wage from £0.75 to £1.00 and the abolition of the National Development Levy.

Another major economic contribution made by General Acheampong was commissioning the Togo-Dahomey transmission line which made it possible for the two countries to enjoy electricity supply from the Akosombo hydro-electric dam (Pobee, 1987). To augment the power supply from Akosombo to meet the increasing demand for electricity, General Acheampong’s National Redemption Council (NRC) proposed to construct Ghana’s second hydro-electric dam. In the field of education, facilities were improved for elementary schools. This led to an increase in enrolment in 1972-73 by more than 38,500 over that of 1971-72. Another major policy implemented by General Acheampong was “Operation Keep Right”- The changeover from driving on the left to the right which occurred in August 4, 1974.

However, the leadership style of Acheampong was that of authoritarian. He refused to accept sound professional advice on economic and fiscal policies which led to awful inflationary figures under his regime as a result of rising budget deficit which stood at US $154.9 million in 1974 and US$781 million in 1977 (Amamoo, 2007).

Jerry John Rawlings: 1979-1992

Jerry John Rawlings, Ghana’s military leader since the December 31, 1981 coup until the transition into a Constitutional government in 1992, was a Flight Lieutenant in the Air Force and a militant populist when he led the first coup of June 4, 1979, that overthrew the regime of General Frederick Akuffo, who had, in turn, deposed his predecessor, General Acheampong in a palace coup. After the 1979 coup, Rawlings helped to restore the country to constitutional rule which brought Limann’s administration into power. However, Rawlings staged another coup to overthrow Limann in 1981 where the country was plunged into another military regime that lasted till the fourth republic of 1992. According to Shillington (1992), Rawlings was convinced that after one year of the Akuffo regime, nothing had been changed and the coup amounted to a “waste of time” and “it was then up to him to change not only the status quo, but also to put the country back on track”.

Adedeji (2001) argues that Rawlings, unlike many other leaders in Ghana’s history, subsequently led the country through the difficult years of economic recovery. Chazan (1983) observed that without Rawlings’ strength of character and unwavering determination, Ghana would not have survived the Economic Recovery Programmes (ERPs) of the 1980s put in place by the ruling Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC).

Rawlings also instituted a transition from authoritarianism to multi-party democracy by attempting to decentralize the functions of government from the capital (Accra) to other parts of the country (Ayee, 1994, 1999). In fact, in the words of Shillington (1992), without the transformational leadership qualities exhibited by Rawlings in the 1980s, the shift in political ideology (a free market approach) would have led to tension by government and its previous allies, such as labour unions and student organisations.

In his book entitled, ‘Staying Poor: Ghana’s Political Economy, 1950-1990’, Rimmer (1992) observed that the radical left, including the militant sections of students, workers, soldiers as well as organized movements, such as the June Fourth Movement (JFM), New Democratic Movement (NDM) and the African Youth Movement (AYM), ascribed poor economic conditions in Ghana to exploitation by foreign capitalists who were assisted by a ‘comprador bourgeoisie’. He asserts that they preferred direct national control of economic activities rather than Ghana’s integration into an international market.

In theory, the process of political change started by Rawlings and the PNDC in 1982 was a “bottom-up” strategy to ensure the involvement of citizens in nation building. Thus, the leadership qualities (that is, effective, visionary and sometimes authoritarian) championed by Rawlings, coupled with both internal pressures (activities of civil societies and pressure groups) and external pressures (pressure from IMF), started a political system in Ghana that has lasted for more than two decades.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

The study established a conceptual framework of analysis for the objective variables used to fathom the phenomenon of administrative leadership performance. These variables are personality, role, values and setting. The study demonstrates the precise behaviour in the process of decision-making for six civilian and three military regimes. The civilian regimes were made up of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Dr. K.A. Busia, Dr. Hilla Limann, Flt. Lt. J.J. Rawlings, Mr. J. A. Kufuor and Prof. J. E. Atta Mills. However, the military leaders discussed in the study are Gen. J.A. Ankrah, Col. I.K. Acheampong and Flt. Lt. J.J. Rawlings.

It is worth concluding that the four dimensional framework namely personality, role, values and setting to some degree influenced the leadership style of the democratically elected leaders in Ghana. Their personalities has to do with who they are, their unique characteristics as well as those characteristics they have in common with others; their roles has to do with what they do and the part they played in Ghana’s political journey; their values has to do with the ideals that they believed in and the settings has to do with their environment including the physical, economic, social and above all political, that had influences on them as leaders. This is obvious from the analysis of Flt. Lt. J.J. Rawlings, Mr. J.A. Kufuor and Prof. J. E. Atta Mills to mention but a few. However, the study also acknowledged that the political context of a nation such as the challenges that face all political leaders (for instance the poor state of the economy, unemployment, among others), the neoliberal economic environment within which the leaders function, the culture as well as the media, may to a larger extent influence the leadership styles exhibited by a leader at a particular point in time.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

The author has not declared any conflict of interests.

REFERENCES