If Ghana must defeat Covid-19, it must begin with good leadership

How successful nations have been at managing the novel Coronavirus pandemic is credited largely to political leadership.

Nations led by females quickly came up in the early days of the pandemic as being more pragmatic and taking the tough decisions.

The period has also exposed leaders who are hardened denialist. Leading the pack in Africa, is the stubborn Tanzanian President Magufuli and his European and American counterparts which include former president of the United States, Donald Trump; Brazil’s Bolsonaro and Nicaragua’s, Daniel Ortega.  

In between have been leaders who either were late to act or those that had to change their stance on coming to terms with the realities of the impact of the virus. Some nations are still reeling from the impact of the virus months on due to lack or delay of decision making by their leaders.

But with the economic fallouts of some of the COVID-19 protocols and in some instances just for political convenience, some countries that took the lead in their measures of fighting the virus have lapsed.

Ghana took the lead in how it approached the fight against the virus on recording its first two cases a few days after it celebrated its 63rd Independence anniversary.  And rightly so, lot of neighboring countries emulated the country’s approach to fighting the pandemic and in other circumstances citizens referred their leaders to copy Ghana’s lead.

The president became a global celebrity overnight and was quoted around the world for his ‘We know how to bring the economy back to life. What we do not know is how to bring people back to life’ statement from one of his COVID-19 update addresses to the nation.

READ ALSO:  Ghana's economy at crossroads: E-LEVY or IMF?

The COVID-19 pandemic was a fairly well-managed situation until the peak of the political season where science and data and good reasoning that led the country’s fight against the pandemic were sacrificed for political expediency.

And it must be said the bar wasn’t just lowered by the political elite but almost every other person that leadership was expected from the corporate world to homes. According to the Ghana Health Service (GHS), there is a surge in number of work place infections. But there are others that argue strongly the lackadaisical attitude from across all sectors was largely encouraged by political leadership that seemed to show no good examples.

Ghana since it was hit by the second wave of the pandemic and new variants of the virus especially those from South Africa and the UK seem to have a not-so-coordinated management plan.  And political leadership has been but anything lackadaisical.

President and Chief Executive Officer of the African Graduate School of Management and Leadership, Prof. David Abdulai says the country started out well and along the line we dropped the ball. He says poor leadership is to blame for the consistent Ghanaian attitude of starting things well and becoming complacent along the line only to intervene with stringent approaches when things get worse

Prof. Abdulai believes leadership in the political and health sector have not been able to rise up to the challenge and one cannot but agree.

Ghana’s land borders are still closed to human traffic and persons who have returned by flight since the country started its easing of protocols are tested. Yet the country has recorded the very deadly South African and fast spreading UK variants due to community spread. How an expensive rigorous testing regime coupled with recommended isolation that found for example that in January, 15 per cent of cases at our airports were the South African strain and 45 per cent were from the UK still couldn’t get these from getting into the community is baffling.

READ ALSO:  Andrew Disqus files: The Bipolar Dilemma

Parliament, which has recorded close to 200 cases amongst staff and workers at the law-making house is still having an in-person vetting of ministerial nominees in the same chamber that has 15 positive cases and at a point in time, very recalcitrant law-makers who still came to their office despite testing positive with some only taking the test after the Speaker of Parliament threatened them.

The Chief Justice’s court room at the Supreme Court where the 2020 Election Petition is ongoing still witness an unnecessary number of individuals for a country with protocols on gatherings. The spectacle of very closely standing party bigwigs post-hearing when they address the media albeit in masks is a defeat of the country’s call for all and sundry to follow the social distancing protocols.

That non-exemplary attitude was referenced by one interviewee in a news story that aired on TV3 Network when he was questioned about his refusal to use nose masks. Apart from denying the existence and seriousness of the virus, the young man asked if there was the presence of the virus, lawmakers were seen acting the way they did when the 8th Parliament was being sworn in. The young man was citing the very disgraceful spectacle put up by law-makers during the early hours of January 7 when not only Covid-19 protocols were thrown to the dogs but the very essence and decorum of their high offices.

But these are not the only times we have seen or heard political leadership fail to provide the needed leadership during this crisis. There are reports and pictures of these key officials organizing and partaking in gatherings that only can be proof of how utopian their world and reality is to the rules from the one they tell us to live by.

READ ALSO:  Ghana lifts temporary ban on travellers from Israel

The education sector is still unable to see the pandemic as a bigger challenge than a delayed academic process. The Education Ministry and Service have refused to use the science and data available to plan a more localized approach to schools running maybe until everything breaks down and a lockdown comes into effect.

That the country is seeing a worrying surge in new infections and no clear idea when Ghana would get its first doses of vaccine coupled with very well-known age-old problems with our health sector, it would take leadership to fight this pandemic.

It would take leaders who do what they say and say what they do as Prof. Abdulai describes good leaders, to lead the country into the phase most pragmatic countries are moving their countries to post-COVID-19.

By Cyril Dogbe|3news.com|Ghana

The author is the Head of Morning Shows at Media General. Views expressed in this article are entirely the writer’s and do not in anyway represent the views of the Media General Group or its any of its stations.