Addison International Centre for Emotional Intelligence (AICEI), otherwise known as Addison International, has held a summit on Emotional Intelligence (EI).
Dubbed ‘Emotional Intelligence Africa Summit 2020’, it took place in Accra last Thursday on the theme ‘Practicing and Maintaining Ghana’s Democracy in Tranquility for Posterity’.
Setting the stage for the various speakers to make presentations at the one-day summit, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AICEI, Mr James Kwesi Addison, spoke on the purpose of the third-edition event.
He said EI had become very significant in every aspect of our life today, including the handling of elections to ensure peace before, during and after them.
Speaking on the sub-theme ‘Emotional Intelligence and Democratic Dispensation’, Mr Addison said within its 28 years so far, Ghana’s Fourth Republic had witnessed politics characterised by acrimony, disrespect, dishonesty, and rivalry, among others.
He called for the need to ensure that “Ghanaians practice a democracy in decency and good attitude, so we can hand a good political legacy over to the next generation.
“This is where emotional intelligence becomes very important, for this is the ability to manage your emotions and those of others so you can relate well with others,” he said.
He said democracy thrived very well in peace and “emotional intelligence is critical for cultivating a culture of peace.”
The AICEI CEO listed some strategies to solidify one’s EI as listening, trust, independence (ability to be self-directed and self-controlled in your thinking and actions and be free from emotional dependency); dealing with the possibility that other nations or individuals will disagree with us); confidence in self and abilities; empathy and compassion; supportiveness; confidence in ourselves as individuals and as a nation; and balanced media reporting.
“One of the means of practicing and maintaining our democracy for the benefit of posterity is to ensure we don’t plunge our country into war. To do that effectively means we should be able to make sound decisions when emotions are very high,” he said.
Political parties, therefore, ought to start offering solutions relevant to responding to public apathy and dissatisfaction in order to boost its democratic legitimacy.
“Politicians and institutions of state should become more emotionally intelligent about how they handle societal needs,” Mr Addison said.
A counsellor, Mrs Sika Coleman, appealed to Ghanaian to see themselves as members of one cohesive society irrespective of their political and ethnic affiliations so they could avoid violence in the 2020 elections.
Using families as the basic units that constituted the larger society, Mrs Coleman said once these families came together, challenges would arise due to their differences but there should be a way to resolve those problems for peace and unity to prevail.
She was speaking on the family perspective of the theme, for the summit. She stressed the importance of the upbringing of the child to fit into the Ghanaian society as a whole.
“How do we raise our young generation and guide the youth to preserve our democracy?” she asked.
“If you save something for posterity, you’re hoping that years later, people will appreciate it as a timely capsule,” the counsellor said.
“We don’t train an adult. So it is imperative that we train children to be guided even in the absence of a superior person,” she said.
Mrs Coleman said it would take such training to guide the child when he has become a youth or adult, to accept norms like tolerance that would help him/her to accept democracy and all its tenets like raising and discussing issues rather than taking to violence in seeking political office.
Madam Eva Gyina Bediako, a Deputy Director of Ghana Education Service, focusing on the role women played in ensuring peace in society, said now that society had changed for women to venture into leadership positions, including political office, society should give particular opportunity to them to acquire good education, including emotional intelligence.
Quoting Kwegyir Aggrey, she said educated women helped more in raising children to imbibe principles that ensured peaceful co-existence.
“Peaceful co-existence is a norm that underpins democracy in order for us to avoid electoral conflicts, which affects women and children more seriously than others,” she said.
Rev Dr Joseph Kofi Antwi, Clerk of Ga West Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, said emotions and how to handle them are biblical and that in the discipline of psychology, that is described as Emotional Intelligence.
He said political leaders needed to apply EI in governing the people, adding that “such leaders become resistant to emotional or psychological burnout.”
He said politicians must incorporate education on how to handle negative emoticons to assuage tension and anger while they are working to meet the needs of the people.
The Reverend said emotions were the basis of behaviour and so there was the need to tame negative emotions and encourage the positive ones to ensure peace in society.
Rev Antwi said crises were bound to come and “it is during a crisis that EI is needed most.”
Using Covid-19 as an example, Rev Antwi said nothing was unprecedented, because pandemics had been happening ever since.
He, therefore, said there were historical precedents that could give valuable insights to guide the responses to crises.
Giving the impression that by their nature, elections were crisis and most difficult times to lead, leaders could make a difference with EI.
“Crisis demands new patterns of EI, resulting in new ways of solving societal problems.
He said political parties ought to start offering solutions to problems faced by Ghanaians.
“Politicians and institutions, especially public ones, should become more emotionally intelligent about how they engage the public, not just by showing that they sympathize, but by making incremental changes, no matter how small it may be to the life of the people.
Rev Antwi said electoral violence could be avoided if the needs of the people were met, otherwise people would continue to show postures smacking of violence. He said crisis times were the most difficult times to lead, but leaders could make a difference for a new vision.
“Crisis demands new patterns of EI, resulting in new ways of solving societal problems.”
Rev Antwi said Ghanaians today expected better quality of service, tangible personal gains, and more responsiveness to the economy, and efficient public services.
Looking at Ghana’s political dispensation from the financial point of view, Mr Emmanuel Dankwah, a banker and personal finance coach and Co-Founder of West Africa Microfinance Training Institute, condemned the use of money by politicians to corrupt the electoral process from the local level through to the national, including election of party executives, parliamentarians, and the president.
“It’s very worrying that our democracy is becoming more of “monecracy”. “Politics is therefore seen as the avenue to make quick money and has become a do or die affair. “This, in the end, breeds corruption,” he said.
Mr Dankwah said a report by West Minister Foundation for Democracy and CDD Ghana indicates a 59% increase in the cost of running for political office in Ghana between 2012 and 2016.
He said, “As our youth are exposed to this phenomenon, they tend to align themselves to political actors for money as their source of livelihood and become prey to the evil intentions of some political actors to perpetuate violence for the interest of their paymasters.
“To protect and maintain our growing democracy, we must focus on the economic empowerment of the youth.
“When people get engaged economically and become financially stable, they will not offer themselves to be used to perpetrate violence,” Mr Dankwah said.
The chairman for the occasion was Alex Ekow Otoo-Arthur, a Director of Janelex International School, in Kpone Katamanso Municipality, and also the Tuofohene of Gomoa Mumford in the Central Region of Ghana. Nana was very grateful to Addison International and called for peace before, during and after the December 7, 2020 elections.