Our leaders are selfish, they openly engage in corruption – Dr Kobina Kennedy

Physician, Author and Politician, Dr Arthur Kobina Kennedy has lashed out at leaders who have come into governance and those who are currently in governance.

Speaking on JoyNews’ Newsfile Change Speaker Series VI on Saturday, December 15, Dr Kennedy outlined prevailing narratives and dissected the core issues facing Ghana. 

He disagreed with the popular calls for constitutional reforms, asserting that the crux of the nation’s challenges did not lie in the constitution itself or the lack of ideas, but rather in the execution of those ideas.

“I’ve heard a lot of Ghanaians, including some of your speakers, talk about constitutional reforms. Unfortunately, our problem is not constitutional reforms or ideas. Indeed, when you talk about ideas from Nkrumah’s seven-year development plan up to now, we’ve had ideas. The problem is execution. Our problem, therefore, is not our Constitution,” he said.

Dismissing the notion that the old men at the helm of leadership are responsible for the country’s disappointing lack of developmental progress, Dr Kennedy said our developmental failings have nothing to do with the age of the leaders but everything to do with their lack of competence, and the vindictive nature of politics in Ghana.

Dr. Arthur Kennedy also disagreed with the perception that Ghanaians have an inherently flawed character. Drawing attention to the global diaspora of Ghanaians who have exhibited discipline and adherence to rules abroad, he stated that the problem is due to the systemic issues within Ghana’s structures. 

“People say we have a bad character as Ghanaians. Not true. Every year thousands of Ghanaians get on planes and travel all around the world. When they get there the next year, they show up to work on time. They obey the rules, they drive within speed limits. The problem is not the Ghanaian, it is the systems that we are running,” he said.

Dr Kennedy contended that the nation has weak institutions.

“I think we have weak institutions and let me give you just a couple of examples. Our Electoral Commission was weakened by the removal of charges of some of its members with the appointment of partisans to take their place. Our Auditor General, Domelevo, was blatantly removed by the president with the shameful connivance of our own Supreme Court,” he stressed.

Enumerating various issues, from the absence of meritocracy in appointments to the side-lining of the diasporan community and non-inclusive governance, Dr Kennedy said the nation is grappling with deep-rooted challenges.

He emphasised that there is bad leadership, characterised by vindictiveness, nepotism, and policies lacking in equity and compassion.

“Then, of course, there is the bad leadership, which is the elephant in the room. We have vindictive leadership. Then there is non-inclusive governance. We have policies devoid of equity and compassion, allowing a newborn mother who is bleeding to death to die because she cannot buy fuel for an ambulance. It’s not the policy of a compassionate government allowing people to die because they cannot get dialysis, and the dialysis unit owes a few million cedis in debt when we can spend $400 million putting up a Cathedral, it’s not what a compassionate government should do,” he said.

“We have selfish leaders. Indeed, in the old days, people used to be ashamed of corruption, so they practiced it secretly. Now they do it blatantly. Our leaders are bad, but we are unpatriotic citizens. We accept bribes in order to vote. We defend our party leaders regardless of what they do.”

Transitioning from the delineation of problems to a visionary discussion of solutions, Dr Kennedy advocated for the building of robust institutions, citing examples from history and contemporary politics. 

Transparency in asset declaration, political party reforms, and the probing of past officeholders were among the proposed measures.

He also emphasised the power of public sentiment in shaping governance, pointing to instances where public opprobrium had influenced positive change. 

Calling for meritocracy and civic responsibility, the activist urged citizens to call out bad leaders, support individuals of integrity, fulfill their civic duties, and vote patriotically.

About Dr. Arthur Kobina Kennedy

  • Dr. Arthur Kobina Kennedy is Family Physician, author and activist.
  • Dr Kennedy was first seen on the Ghanaian political scene as a young student leader during the economic crisis in the 1980s when he had runs with the Rawlings led PNDC military junta about the way the country was being governed.
  • As a result he was forced into exile (United States) where he completed his medical studies.
  • In 2008, Mr Kennedy became the Chair of the Communications Committee of 2008 NPP Campaign team.
  • Mr Kennedy is also a one-time presidential aspirant for the New Patriotic Party. He is the author of 2 books including “Chasing the Elephant Into the Bush” and has over 100 publications.

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