Kow Abaka Essuman is Legal Counsel to the President of Ghana. He is an entrepreneur, author, and public speaker known for his expertise in corporate and commercial law, intellectual property law, and technology law. He is also known for his advocacy work in promoting human rights and social justice in Ghana and across Africa and has been involved in initiatives to promote good governance, democracy, and the rule of law.
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How would you describe your political path?
Despite what people might have expected, politics was not on my radar as a career choice growing up. I certainly wasn't the apple that fell close to the tree, as my father had made a name for himself in the political sphere. But life has a way of surprising us, and for me, the turning point was when I pursued an LLM degree at Cornell University, New York. There, my interests shifted toward the governance of my home country, Ghana. I took on the challenge of managing social media campaigns for the opposition political party and leader, now the President of Ghana. It was a bumpy ride, as we faced two unsuccessful electoral campaigns in 2008 and 2012. However, the third time was indeed the charm, as we claimed victory in the 2016 general elections. As a result, the President extended the invitation for me to become his Legal Counsel, a role that has been both a privilege and a challenge.
What are the most useful lessons you’ve learnt on the way?
In my current role, working closely with the President has been a priceless education, one that I often jest is equivalent to an honors degree from the University of People. Dealing with individuals from all walks of life has shown me the importance of treating each matter with the weight it deserves. I have discovered that consulting broadly is a powerful tool, given that political power derives from the people. Therefore, carrying the people along with every decision is paramount. Additionally, I have learned to craft laws, policies, and programs with clarity so that they remain intelligible even years after I am out of office. That way, successors can seamlessly follow through with the intended course of action.
What are the top three things that could be done to get courageous, ethical and trusted politicians in your area?
In many parts of the world, politics has unfortunately earned a reputation as a dirty game, reserved only for the unscrupulous. This is a shame, as politics has the potential to be a powerful tool for national development when it is practiced with courage, ethics, and trustworthiness. To achieve this, there are several key steps that can be taken. Firstly, we need to change the perception of politics from a game of personal gain to one of national development. When everyone plays their part with efficiency and dedication, politics can become a force for good in our communities and nations. Secondly, it is essential that we celebrate and reward politicians who demonstrate courage, ethics, and trustworthiness. This sends a strong message that these qualities are not only desirable but necessary for success in politics. Conversely, corrupt politicians must be held accountable for their actions and punished accordingly. Finally, we need to prioritize mentoring and coaching for individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in politics. Experienced and respected politicians should take on the role of mentor, passing on their knowledge and expertise to the next generation. This will help to build a political culture that values integrity, patriotism, and hard work. With these measures in place, we can build a more ethical and trusted political environment that can drive real change for the benefit of all citizens.
“…we need to change the perception of politics from a game of personal gain to one of national development. When everyone plays their part with efficiency and dedication, politics can become a force for good in our communities and nations.”
What ideas and/or people are inspiring you at the moment?
Considering current global events, I am motivated by the prospect of taking a deep introspective look into my home country's economic state. This moment serves as a pivotal opportunity for us to critically analyze and reform the very foundation of our economy, ultimately leading to a sustainable and diversified economy. Through this, we can draw significant investment that will meet the trade demands not just of Africa, but also beyond its borders. I am also inspired by the fact that God has a purpose for each and every one of us in the world and that in every generation, we each have to fulfill that purpose of God for our lives.
What story do you want communities to tell about politicians?
Behind the scenes of every successful community, there are diligent politicians who work tirelessly to improve the lives of their constituents. They are the unsung heroes who, despite the odds stacked against them, continue to put in tremendous effort and make significant sacrifices to effect positive change in their communities. Unfortunately, their hard work often goes unnoticed by the very people they are trying to help. Now more than ever, in these uncertain times, it is crucial to provide hope and encouragement, to reflect on the successes we have achieved together, and to believe that we can persevere through the current challenges, just as we have done before. That is the story that I want communities to tell about their politicians.
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