Amplification of the Shame of Current Nigerian Political Leadership: Ghana President’s Keynote Speech at the US Governors’ Winter Meeting


The sole reason when a country’s head of state is addressed as the “first citizen” is because whoever occupy such a post emblematize the dignity, hopes and aspirations of the nation being represented. How the number one citizen looks, speaks and comports oneself often represent the image of the nation state and its citizenry in the eyes of beholders. Being the first African head of state to be invited to deliver a keynote speech to the US National Governors Association Winter Meeting, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo did not only meet expectations, but he hit a “grand slam”.

Both Nigeria and Ghana were British colonies in West Africa and it could thus be claimed that both countries shared similar experiences, at least, under colonial rule. Founding father of the Ghanaian nation, Kwame Nkrumah, had collaborated closely with Nigeria’s Nnamdi Azikiwe during the final push that culminated in the granting of self-rule to the two former British colonies in the late 1950’s. Ghana’s Nkrumah was able to grab his country’s independence on schedule in 1957, but Nigeria’s Azikiwe and his contemporaries were compelled to wait till October 1960, another three years, due to lack of preparedness of our tardy compatriots from the Northern Region. The inertia which Northern Nigeria has constituted to the rest of the country had its roots in the colonial era. The conundrum of the modern era is that the less adept and competent compatriots from Northern Nigeria were surreptitiously prepped by the UK Government of Great Britain to become the rulers over the rest of post-Nigeria in perpetuity. The preliminary result of this grand scheme is that after half century of self-rule, Ghana has superseded Nigeria in nearly all indices of national development after differentials in land area and population size are taken into account.

While Nigeria bandies about its territorial size, immense natural resources and numerical strength, a much smaller Ghana is surely on its path to becoming the first West African nation state to host a homegrown industrialized economy among other spectacular accomplishments. It is consequential that other nations on the international stage are now seeing the differences between these two countries with similar colonial experience. Ghana has a more favorable mention when matters of consequence are being deliberated upon. One glaring example is the fact that while Accra, Ghana is fast becoming the popular international airline hub for the West African sub-region, foreign airline operators prefer to avoid Nigerian destinations like a plague. Foreign direct investment partners flock to Ghana while, at same time, those who had been in Nigeria are scheming on divesting and leaving the continent or relocate to the better climes in the sub-region. Foreign heads of state from industrialized economies willingly opt to visit Ghana at the earliest opportunity while every excuse are being leveraged to avoid such high-level visits to Nigeria, especially in the past few decades.

Understanding the Differences Between Ghana & Nigeria as Perceived by Western Economies

A careful study of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s keynote speech before the recent US Governors’ Winter Meeting shows a deliberate amplifications of the positive attributes which combine to make his country a more favorable business destination than anywhere else in the West African sub-region. As he clearly stated upfront in early part of his speech, the president touts his Ghana as “the gateway into West Africa”. He reminded his audience that Ghana has just celebrate the 25th anniversary of stable civilian democracy during which political power was peacefully transferred at end of the preceding tenures. He boasts of safety of investments and investors doing business within Ghana. Of course, the country’s infrastructure, such as electric power and clean water supply as well as air and land transportation facilities, is pitched as an enticement for all potential direct foreign investors.

Strict adherence to the imperative of democratic governance was dramatized by the revelation that five successive presidents have overseen the nation of Ghana and all were chosen via peaceful democratic elections. The freedoms guaranteed by the country’s constitution have been granted to all citizens, irrespective of ones cultural and socioeconmic background or sex. In short, President Akufo-Addo portrayed his country as a nation that respects the rule of law. Developmentally, his government gives high premium to social justice which his administrations endeavors to fulfill via provision of free secondary education and basic healthcare to the citizenry. He proclaimed the existence of an anti-corruption crusader whose task is to sanitize routine official and private transactions to assure transparency, equity and accountability.

Well-targeted Demands and Appeal

Without bamboozling his audience of top US state government executives, President Akufo-Addo nimbly unfurled his country’s pressing needs in the fields of land transportation infrastructure. He specifically mentioned the envisioned road and railway transportation networks to link up Ghana with all its neighbors in the west, north and east. He then delved into his country’s projected strategic industrial development targeted at exploitation of the abundant resources of bauxite, iron ore, manganese and crude oil/natural gas.

He then struck the melodious note that got the undivided attention of his audience. After profusely thanking America for the generous assistance in funding the country’s elections and funds for implementation of Millennium Challenge Compact I&II (MCC I&II), President Akufo-Addo shared his vision for the future which he envisages should be predicated less on aid but more on mutually beneficial collaborative private-sector-driven ventures. To accomplish this new paradigm, he solemnly pledged the readiness and willingness of his government and totality of the Ghanaian people to work in concert with all potential investors to actualize full the exploitation of his country’s immense natural resources. He reiterated Ghana’s ambition to cease being just an exporter of raw materials and importer of manufactured goods by assuring that, as integral part of future development, domestically derived products shall have value added to them before exportation.

President Akufo-Addo concluded his speech by couching Ghana’s national interests to be one and the same with those of his host country, USA. On behalf of his administration and nation of Ghana, the president pledged to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the US in the latter’s fight against terrorism and in promotion of human rights and economic development worldwide. The Ghanaian president did his country proud and also made a coherent and compelling case for a structured development of modern African states to meet their peoples’ needs without having to rely just on aids and handouts as was the case before.