View Full Version : Is This Mayor of Accra Really American-Trained Or Faking It?

4th May 2011, 11:13 PM
It is sad to see an appointed mayor or city chief executive who has become so controversial as mayor Dr. Alfred Vanderpuije. When I was in Ghana in the latter part of 2010, I heard many things about the man,, and most of them are not nice to repeat.

It appears the man wants a clean city devoid of signs of poverty, but for some reasons, he is not able to find the right formula. Everybody wants a nice city; but the question is if one can get rid of population growth through an edict when our city inspectors and planners are all dead on the job! When I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, being British or American-trained was a major marketing asset and depicted a higher level of competency! Even hairdressers would paint their signboards "BRITISH TRAINED" and it was an attraction.

Today, can we really say that being American-trained or British-trained is an asset? Or the American and British-trained are only joining the Ghanaian corrupt political gravy train to serve themselves?

Perception, like prejudice, creates an entry barrier for those behind. Other American and British or shall we say Western or foreign-trained professionals lose the luster as a few of them show poor or insensitive performance. Are these people in politics disgracing us American and British-trained? Is there something we can do about it but subtle and overt confrontation? Mayor Vanderpuije seems totally insensitive to such subtle prodding. It thus looks like our American-trained former-School superintendent-made-Mayor missed some of the classes on Leadership. The first one characteristic I personally admire in a leader and many in Ghana want is (1) Individualized Consideration for the suffering people, according to the 4 Is of Transformational Leadership [Influencing change, Intellectual stimulation, Inspired motivation, Individualized consideration] as defined by Prof. Bass & Steidlmeier (in Danso, K.A., 2007,57).

The nice bearded mayor may have good intentions, but his lack of problem-solving skills and personal consideration has made him falter too many times, unable to solve the problems, and alienated many people n the city of Accra. When a team of GLU members tried to meet with him in September-October 2010, he shunned us. Our friend Larry A., who knows the man personally, tried to make an appointment, and the Mayor gave him the running around and kept dodging him. I once drove to Larry's office at Osu form Madina, through 5-6pm time traffic, anxiety level all high, only to find the man did not want to talk to us on phone or give us an appointment, not even picking up his phone at the time he told Larry to call. Who the heck does this man think he is! (Americans may say). Or shall we say "Who born dog"!

I am not known to forgive such nonsense. If the man does not act in the way we were trained in American culture to serve the constituents, then I don't mind saying the President made a mistake in appointing him. Of course that is a reflection on the President himself who has not been able to get his electricians to work on electricity in 2 years!! I have seen Ministers driving with a siren in 5pm traffic and going over the middle dividers in order to take advantage. Why the heck can't these men in leadership redesign and widen the roads! Why is the taxpayer paying for such incompetence in Ghana!!

Not to be personal but anybody who cannot see that the building of modern open gutters with iron rods and cement is not cost effective and lacks long term vision to see that open gutters breeds mosquitoes that cause malaria killing over 55,000 per year, lacks something, in my view. For some strange fate, the mayors of Accra seem to lack vision and it hurts that the President, who they report to also, seem to not exhibit his core vision expressed in some speeches. They are not leaving any positive mark on the city of Accra and that reflects badly on the whole nation. It will be nice to see a President and/or Mayor who can eliminate the ugly smell and squalor that persists with no solution after half a century of just building houses in Accra with no plans and some roads after the buildings are erected. I may be biased, but it is hard to imagine an American-trained person behave this way. However, results are all we can see and judge from.

Ghana has many transportation engineers overseas. Designing a city with highways and traffic corridors, zoning for small strip malls and shopping malls and even providing financing for real estate developers to create zones for small businesses, is all part of planning work of a leader. Every such project creates jobs. President Mills' administration started collecting road and bridge tolls - which I personally had been writing about for years. The government has however failed to give accounts.

However using a simple engineering assessment on the Motorway and Kaasoa toll booths alone, one can guesstimate more than $50,000 per day collected, or about $1.5 million per month. At 10% interest for 10 year loan term, the city could generate an additional $238,000 monthly for their operational expenses by lending this to small businesses. That is how money is used to generate money and create jobs. It is very disappointing that our American-trained mayor and British and American-trained President don't seem to possess some of these savvy understanding of the use of money! Begging from outside all the time does not bring any respect for our nation nor for the black man on earth!

A confused or hopeless City Planning Commission and department, added to a possibly insensitive and visionless Mayor, does not speak well for the people of Accra and people of Ghana. It also reflects badly on our President.

Source: Kwaku A. Danso