The crisis of leadership in the country has once again been exposed- this time on account of the coronavirus pandemic. More needs to be done to reassure the nation in this difficult times than just messages of assurance, and calling for prayers. The decision to address Ghanaians through video link only serves to trivialise an extremely serious situation that requires a far more prudent approach.
The President has yet again failed “the leadership in a crisis” test. Instead of leading from the front, the President has so far taken a back seat as the country faces on of its worst crises in recent years. One is not sure whether it is incompetence or apathy or a combination of both. Understating the number of cases and downplaying the severity of the pandemic is not going to help.
Despite the fact that the warning signs were there for a long time, the President and his government responded slowly.
Ghana recorded its first two cases before the President met his Security and health team to discuss the crisis. He finally addressed the nation and lied to the people of Ghana that his finance minister had made available $100 million to handle the crisis. Primarily, it is the responsibility of government to take the lead and formulate a national response to the crisis. Despite the increase in the number of cases, there is still no effective coordination between the government and our health experts. Even the figures are disputed. And still there is no coherent policy to deal with the enormous challenges that lie ahead. It is not just about stopping the spread of the virus, but also the long-term economic and social impact of the crisis, one that has global dimension. The President only copy measures taken by his colleagues in other countries and put them out via his video link as core measures of his government. Understating the numbers and downplaying the severity of the pandemic is not going to help. It is true there is no need to push the panic button, but apathy is more dangerous. Transparency and reporting the facts helps in dealing with the challenge more effectively. It is understandable that with limited facilities for screening available in the country it is not easy to get a clear picture, but there is no point in understating the facts before us.
A national crisis requires a collective response. The President should transcend political difference and provide leadership. Why did the President allow the NIA to embark on its registration exercise in the Eastern Region. The President needs to show statesmanship in this time of national crisis and take all political forces with him.
Leaders of most nations facing the coronavirus crisis have directly joined the fight, but it is not the case here. Leaders create platforms for the media to ask them critical questions, but the case is not the same here. The President’s communication team always record his voice and play it to the public as if selling herbal medicine. Has the President met our regional ministers and regional health directors to find out how they dealing with the situation in the regions, districts, and villages? What is more pitiable at this stage than the lack of consensus and coordination between the government and our health personnel on the ground. This rude awakening with no concrete measures to handle the situation is not helping matters. We’ve only gone from zero to anxiety ridden hoarding and social isolation. The sloppy reaction by this President and his populist regime reveals how managerially incompetent and civically damaging its nativist playbook is in times of crisis, all the while widening the chasm of governance in an age of insularity. The President’s inaccurate figures and his information department’s attempts to hide the real facts from the public strongly suggest that public health information is being politicised.
The confusing, teeth-less and insufficient measures announced by the President lack decisive and decisions needed in the present situation. The President and his team simply read out measures taken by other heads of state much like a public relations officer giving out press release without understanding it. The announcements and statements by the President contained almost no decisions of their own. Leadership is not copy pasting measures of your colleagues but to take courageous and prudent decisions based on happenings in your country and information fed you.
The poor leadership and performance by the government incited several memes in the social media, among others a video clip of the President lying to the people of Ghana that his minister had made available $100 million to combat the Covid-19 spread. The wait and see strategy government took initially, compounded the problem. We all knew that the virus was coming to Ghana when countries close to us started recording cases, why didn’t the government and the health authorities try to stop the epidemic with decisive measures before it lands in the country. Government wasted everybody’s time doing propaganda with our students in China and ended up releasing $2.5 million for the anti coronavirus fight. It is amazing that despite clear indication and obvious examples of how the disease spread, Ghana was caught almost unprepared for the spread and what comes with it. Instead of facilitating isolation of the elderly and the chronically ill as being done in some countries, our government is recalling retired health personnel to support join the front line fight.
In the face of the challenges and the uncertain set of risks, the President should be concerned about how the country will be affected and what his government can do next. I recognize that countries are in different phases of dealing with the outbreak, and therefore the impact vary by geography etc. But regardless of the extent of the virus’s impact on the country, there are certain fundamental qualities of resilient leadership that distinguishes leaders as they guide their countries through the Covid-19 crisis. Our President lacks these fundamental qualities.
Source: Ohenenana Obonti Krow