A Letter to President John Dramani Mahama

Posted by By at 16 January, at 14 : 17 PM Print

A Letter to President John Dramani Mahama


Your Excellency,
Accept my hearty congratulations on your investiture as the president of our great nation.

Your responsibilities are great, your tasks onerous, so I can only hope that you find the time to read my little pieces of advices to you, with the hope that they shall find favour in your esteem.

Your rise to the presidency amply demonstrated your knowledge, wisdom and intellectual capabilities.

The only thing I will wish the gods to grant you now is COURAGE. Your Excellency, I did not mean this to say that you are a coward.

It is just that, your ascendancy to the presidency clearly demonstrated your possession of the other attributes; courage remain the single attribute you will require to make yours an outstanding presidency, and write your name solidly in the sand of times.

We, your compatriots, today remember our founding President Kwame Nkrumah with great fondness.

The reason that made us loved the Osagyefo was that he dazzled us with the brilliance of the architecture of his visions.

Despite his shortcomings as a human being, Kwame Nkrumah left legacies that made him the most outstanding African of last Millennium.

It was not for nothing that Africans voted him the greatest African of the modern times.

We remain eternally grateful for the immense contribution he made to our nation’s development.

Ghana, indeed the whole of Africa, yearns for a new leader in the mold of Nkrumah.

Our people cry out for purposeful, selfless, courageous and patriotic leaders to demonstrate to the world that we Africans, indeed, are capable of managing our own affairs.

Your Excellency, it is only courage that would enable you to rise above partisan politics, transcend religious, ethnic or tribal divisions, and become a truly great leader which generations will remember with deep admiration.

Your Excellency, I repeat here what I have written many times that the gods cannot be blamed for our woes in Ghana, indeed in Africa.

Having enriched us with immense natural wealth; the gods have done their best parts for us.

It is how we manage these resources that will determine how far we go as a people.

It is our ability to use these resources most effectively that will determine the future of our nation.

Sir, the times call for very bold and radical steps to transform this country.

What we sorely need at this juncture of our history is a very bold and courageous leader to lead the radical transformation our country badly need.

All your predecessors that came after Nkrumah can be said to have done their best, but they all were handicapped by their lack of vision.

Yes, sir, it is the VISION thing!
What type of Ghana do you intend to leave behind?
Would you leave us with a vibrant and confident Ghana that is on an unstoppable industrialization trajectory, or would you leave us with a diffident, confused and neo-colonial Ghana that still import tooth-pick and mosquito coils and begs for ‘donor’ support every time?

Time is not on our side, Your Excellency: We no longer can afford to conduct our national affairs with the same lackadaisical attitudes of the post-Nkrumah years.

A year or so ago, I wrote an article to castigate your immediate predecessor when he gave a speech at the UN and touted the elimination of schools under trees and the provision of school uniforms as great national achievements.

Sir, we live in the 21st century and we no longer ought to be thrilled by such pedestrian ‘achievements’ in our national life. Our ambitions should be made of sterner stuffs.

We should not in this age be gratified by pictures of our president commissioning bore-holes and KVIP toilets; Sir, you should be seen commissioning dams and industrial plants.

Korea started life about the same time as our nation, but today Korean firms like Samsung, Hyundai and LG dazzle us with the brilliance of their electronics, scientific and engineering feats.

Modern China started life in 1949, just about eight years before we regain our own independence.

Today, China leads the world in many areas of science and engineering. So phenomenal is the Chinese Miracle that today the Chinese are readying a man to send to the moon in a few years.

You have travelled extensively in China, so I need not tell you how far the Chinese have progressed in terms of development.

History recorded that the Chinese made the transformation within a single generation.

The Chinese miracle did not happen per chance; it was a deliberate, courageous move made by the Chinese leaders to break with the past and transform their nation through their own efforts.

The Chinese were probably guided by the simple historical fact that foreigners, however benevolent, have never developed any country.

It is the citizens of any given nation that develop their countries. This is precisely where boldness and courage come in.

At this juncture in our national life, we no longer can afford to be counted among the under-achievers.

History beckons us to make the 21st Century the African Century.

But this will not happen by mere wishful thinking; it will come into being by conscious efforts by African leaders to lead their people into the Promised Land.

It gladdens my heart enormously to see how comfortable you look using your iPad. It shows clearly that you are abreast of scientific innovations.

Sir, I do not intend to be impetuous by offering you advices, but I will suggest that you, as a matter of utmost urgency, do everything within your power to reconcile the country.

Let no hawk within your party tells you that the opposition can go to hell; the margin of your victory suggests that a sizable numbers of Ghanaians did not share in either your political philosophy or your ideology.

Our disgruntled compatriots needed to be appeased and brought aboard.

Magnanimity is one of the hallmarks of great leaders.

Of course the main opposition party has behaved rather badly since the election results were announced, but that is where you should allow your wisdom and courage to shine through.

Our elders say that if children behave like children, the adult should behave like adult.

The nature of our politics makes the opposition stance predictable and understandable. Allow them time to lick their wounds, and then find the means to bring them aboard in the supreme interest of mother Ghana.

A house divided cannot achieve much; national development is impossible sans national peace, stability and cohesion.

As you focus on your Better Ghana Agenda, you simply do not need the distraction of an embittered opposition.

I suggest that you make national reconciliation your first priority and pursue it with vigour.

Another area you should address as a matter of urgency is the issue of the Ghanaian Diaspora.

For years, successive governments have paid lip services to how to tap into this huge pool of talents.

Your Excellency, in the course of my television interview programme, I have interacted with quite a number of highly qualified and hugely talented Ghanaian professionals, who perform at the highest levels of finance, governments and industry across Europe. I am told that a bigger pool exist in North America.

Almost to a man and a woman, they all burn with great desires to come and contribute their quota to nation-building. They all burn with the ambitions to see Ghana transformed into a modern, self-sufficient, industrialized nation as fast as possible.

These are not dreaming utopians, but men and women with the requisite qualifications to realize their dreams and ambitions if given the opportunity.

These our compatriots do their best wherever they find themselves, but they feel alienated and unwanted by alien societies, blinded by too much crass racism, to recognize their contributions.

I hope that you will make it top priority to find a way to bring Diasporan Ghanaians home and make them part of your agenda to transform the country.

Courage implies self-confidence; no nation has developed where the people doubt their own abilities.

Sir, you must be bold and courageous to lead a crusade to make us jettison our age-old colonial-mentality and neo-colonial mindsets.

Your best efforts will be retarded unless you can carry our people along. And it’d be difficult to carry them along if many of us continue with the mindsets that things cannot be done unless we take dictation from foreigners, especially white ones.

After over half a century of self-government, there is no reason why we cannot begin to do most things for ourselves.

Your Excellency, I wrote somewhere that the only difference between us and the countries we called developed is the quality of education they give their citizens.

My reading of history tells me that every single nation that became developed first made conscious efforts to develop its education sector.

That was the reason I asked before the elections that whoever wins must give top billing to the provision of quality education.

Sir, what is called for is a total transformation of our education from the current chew-and-pour system.

We need an educational system that allows and encourages pupils and students to think, to experiment and to innovate.

I see our current system as one colossal waste, because we continue to pour great resources into graduating people who are not sufficiently trained to think and solve problem.

Your Excellency, your main remit to your new education minister should be to revamp our education curricular within six months to a year, and come up with a system whereby children go through a thoroughly holistic education that includes civic responsibilities, culture, basic technical abilities and entrepreneurship.

Our education system should shift emphasis from the arts to the teaching of mathematics and the science.

History also teaches us that countries become developed only when governments repose enough confidence in the citizens to challenge them to solve problems and produce things for themselves.

Let me give a concrete example: we spend a good chunk of our budget on defence, as we rightly should.

The problem I see here is that we continue to think of defence only in terms of the acquisition of foreign armaments that other people have discarded.

Common sense alone ought to tell us that no one will sell us armaments for which they have not developed adequate counter-measures, just in case we get into a fight with them.

Our defence policy should be anchored solidly on home grown defence industries that could provide us with our own indigenously-designed and built weapon systems.

Sir, I do not know whether to laugh or cry whenever I see our bemedalled officials making speeches at the launch of acquired armaments.

If we begin with light arms, there is no reason why Ghana Armed Forces cannot be equipped with Made-in-Ghana arms within a year or two.

Experienced gunsmiths abound aplenty in the Volta Region, and all that they need is official sponsorship.

Sadly, our colonial mindsets made us criminalized artisans we should have called upon to aid our industrialization.

The Russians didn’t jail Mr. Kalashnikov when he designed and built the AK-47; rather they encouraged him and gave him official recognition and helped him with government’s contracts.

The US Army helped Mr. Smith when he designed the gun that bears his name.

Your Excellency, there are very important lessons we could learn here; one is that we need to shed our neo-colonial mentality and start to believe in ourselves.

Sir, countries are developed by leaders throwing a challenge to the people.

A prime example is President John Kennedy asking American scientists to send a man to the moon and bring him back within a decade.

Americans scientists took up the challenge and achieved the feat with ample time to spare.

We need not go to the moon but you, as a leader, can challenge our leading universities to come up with solutions to some of the challenges that we face.

Here are some examples I have in mind:
1. You can ask the University of Ghana at Legon to come up with ideas on how to clean up the Odaw River in Accra, and create a masterpiece that could be used for transportation, pleasure, tourist attraction, fishing etc, etc.

2. Challenge the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to come up with affordable Solar-powered lamp that could be used to lighten up our homes, streets and roads.

3. Challenge the University at Winneba to come up with Civic and Cultural papers that would enable us take back some of the cultural traits we have lost.

We can begin with these three ideas.
And while we are at it, you can also challenge us to dream about how to link our two major cities, Accra and Kumasi, with a Canal?

You may consider this a legacy worth bestowing to us. Future generations will regard it with awe?

If our ancestors in Nubia and Egypt could build the Great Pyramids thousands of years ago without mechanic machines, there is no reason why the building of a canal should be deemed impossible.

We are handicapped only by the limits we place on our visions.

Sir, it is time we in Ghana also join the rest of humanity in dreaming big ideas.

The future, they say, belongs to those that believe in the beauty of their dreams.

Rather than keep waiting for help and assistance from foreigners, we can begin to generate ideas and look for indigenous solutions to our problems.

The experiences we will build up will help as we begin to tackle the myriad of challenges that we face. Successful implementation of our own ideas will also bolster our self-confidence.

Sir, I also think that you should be bold and courageous enough to tell us some bitter truths. Principal among this is that we are not a very productive people. Many of us are lax and lazy.

Many of our compatriots still go through life expecting manna to fall from heaven. They still expect to sleep for twenty hours a day, pray for the rest four hours and expect everything to be provided for them on a platter.

You must have the courage to tell us the simple truth that no nation of indolent gadabouts has ever prospered.

We cannot go about boozing up, refuse to read and expect our nation to prosper.

We cannot spend our days and night praying and sleeping and expect miracles to transform us and our land.

Your Excellency, as the first president of our blessed republic who appears to be hip and technologically-savvy, I sincerely hope that you will spend more time with our Engineers and our Scientists rather than parlaying with Priests.

I wish also that Your Excellency will be bold enough to tell our people that religion is strictly a personal matter between a person and his god, and should not be part of national affairs.

Your Excellency, the choice before us is stark and it is, put simply, this: do we want to continue with our hit-and-miss approach to development or do we make a clean, decisive break, jettison old prejudices, become bold and make bold, if painful, decisions about our future?

Sir, I wish you great successes.

yours Sincerely,

Femi Akomolafe


About the Author

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and Correspondent for the New African magazine. Femi lives in both Europe and Africa, and writes regularly on Africa-related issues for various newspapers and magazines.

Femi was the producer of the FOCUS ON AFRICANS TV Interview programme for the MultiTV Station.

He is also the CEO of Alaye Dot Biz Limited Dot Biz, a Kasoa-based Multimedia organisation that specialises in Audio and Video Production. He loves to shoot and edit video documentaries.

His highly-acclaimed books (“Africa: Destroyed by the gods,” “Africa: It shall be well,” “18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories” and “Ghana: Basic Facts + More”) are now available for sales at the following bookshops/offices:

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18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories https://goo.gl/Skohtn

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Africa: It shall be well: https://goo.gl/KIMcIm


Africa: it shall be well

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Africa: Destroyed by the gods

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Femi Akomolafe



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