John Mahama’s Address: He demonstrated Leadership and Virtue – Eugenia Akua Koomson (Deputy Director AWED)

Generally, virtue in a politician is demonstrated by commitment to the common good of society and of the polity: in the language of the our constitution, it is a commitment to the general welfare. We expect our political actors and political leaders to represent the interests of their people or their constituents, but also to be elected with their own moral conscience in place and with a deep concern for the society in general.

From what I have observed and witnessed the last three years, I think we have to be skeptical of politicians closely following demographic trends, employing advertising techniques and pandering to divisive public sentiment. By upholding the common good and ensuring that the interests of the greater majority of the nation are safe guarded. Politicians must also ensure the good handling of the Commonwealth and heritage of the people; eschew selfishness and self service and look at the big picture for the nation rather than serving narrow interest.

I could not watch the former President’s live conversation with the public because of internet issues. The internet continuously connected and disconnected again and again due to multiple reason. I just watched the recorded version and must admit he was absolutely fantastic. The most important virtue that a statesman can possess is prudence, combined with magnanimity and that was what I saw.

The former President has devoted every moment of his life towards bringing Ghana out of the phase of the covid-19 devastation and making it into a positive and healthy society. He has shown that hatred and negativity can never be the foundation of the country’s development.

I am confident that these milestones will not only take our politics and development to a new height, but will also strengthen the bond of friendship between the two dominant political parties.

I think the former President did his homework well and did a lot of consultations before interacting with the public and said exactly what Ghanaians wanted to hear from him. Personally, he inspired me as he spoke about his plans for the future. He was truly amazing. I never felt bored listening to his long speech.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a crisis of a completely different magnitude and one that will require a response of unprecedented scale not knee jerk reaction. Our leaders in the public and private sector must come together to respond to the immediate threats to our health systems and the long-term effects to the country’s economy. According to the forecast released by the Economist Intelligence Unit in 26 March, the global economy is expected to contract by 2.2% in 2020. These effects are expected to be more pronounced in major G20 economies, such as Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the US- all countries that are major markets for our most tradeable good. The implication is that prices of our export commodities will drop sharply which will automatically affect our revenue (generation). The depressed oil prices will also lead to strong reversal of growth. In the coming months, there can no doubt that there will be a decrease in remittances and these second degree impacts will also be felt in the country, painfully in rural Ghana, where families rely heavily on remittances for their subsistence.

More worryingly still, data from the Finance Ministry indicates that Ghana has close to 90% of workers in the informal sector. While there will be a significant impact on the livelihood of workers in the formal sector, there can be no doubt that the informal sector will be hit even harder.

Government cannot afford to be blind sided by the crucial issues and the secondary economic risks associated with this crisis the former president raised in his conversation. The fight against covid-19 cannot be carried out by the government alone. It requires an unprecedented level of coordination between the public and private at the local and international levels. The suggestions the former president raised in his address should be our interest for now. Let’s suspend the promises and the political speeches and focus on the short to medium term policies and solutions. His speech and answers to the questions were different and unique from speeches and responses of other politicians and there is no comparison to them and the speech in particular was simply an incomparable speech. We’ve got a priceless asset. The speech contained all the necessary directives and ingredients needed to bury the covid-19 pandemic and the problems it will bring.

By Eugenia Akua Koomson, (Deputy Director AWED

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