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Sylvester Mensah: A chip from an old block

BY: Gladson Eduwodzi Kpejoh
Sylvester Mensah
Sylvester Mensah

It is early days yet, but from the look of things this year’s battle for the flagbearership of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is going to be very tough and not the onesided it has experienced in the past.

One person who is warming himself into the hearts of the party faithful as a credible candidate to lead the party to victory in the 2020 presidential election is Mr Sylvester Adinam Mensah, a known activist, cadre and dedicated party member.

With wellhoned administrative and management skills, longstanding public service, demonstrable finance expertise, Mr Mensah, known in party circles as Sly, could be the golden key to
unlock his party’s fortunes in 2020.

Passion

Passionate, self-driven and determined, Mr Mensah is a man whose life has straddled the world of public service and private enterprise.

He embodies the efficiency of the private sector and the selflessness of the public sector. These values were not attained by chance. At a young age, he saw the spirit of national sacrifice and public service evidenced not from the distance of television screens or uncertainty of hearsay but the surety of personal experience from the life of a father who pledged his life and career to the national cause, even at his peril.

You will be right to describe him as a chip from an old block. Mr Mensah’s father was Mr Lovelace P.C. Mensah, a former diplomat and public servant par excellence who put himself up for the service of his country and his President at the time, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah.

President Nkrumah often sought his views on critical national issues. It was from the life of a nationalist and Pan-Africanist father committed to the development of his nation and continent that young Mensah saw and imbibed the values of selflessness, patriotism and national service.

Narration
There was an episode worth narrating for the records. In November 1960, President Nkrumah sent the senior Mensah with a special message to Patrice Lumumba of Congo, who was under house arrest in Leopoldville.

However, Diplomat Mensah was arrested by soldiers guarding Lumumba, blindfolded, his arms and feet tied and gravely tormented. Mr Mensah was never the same again after that horrendous ordeal. He risked his life in his service to his nation.

On hindsight, it seems these interminable genes of selfsacrifice and public service were transferred to his son. The young Sylvester Mensah learned at close range the values of patriotism, selflessness and sacrifice. These are the values he grew up imbibing. These values continue to remain at the fulcrum of his persona and constitute the enduring totems of his public and private career.

Our country is at a crucial moment in its growth and development. We have just ousted a government which was largely accused of widespread corruption, incompetence, increasing despair, dwindling economy and general malaise in government. The new government, despite its best efforts, is facing grave difficulties.

At this point, what we need is not a president who will outsource the economy to personal interest seekers.

We need a president who is business minded, has considerable private sector experience and is well steeped in the management of the economy.

Expertise

With extensive financial expertise, gravitas in political economy and wellblended forays in the private and public sectors, Sylvester Mensah is the man for this duty call. We may remember him in contemporary times as former Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).

We may also remember the controversy and allegations surrounding his service at the NHIA. What many do not know is that those allegations of corruption and malfeasance were never true. What remains clouded in obscurity was the reform, stability and progress he brought to the NHIA.

As a testament to his efforts, he won an award for public sector leadership as the Best Public Sector Chief Executive in Ghana in 2014 from no mean an organisation than well-respected and highly regarded IMANI Centre for Policy and Education.

For Sylvester Mensah, it has always been about the opportunity to serve, to make positive difference and to impact lives. It has always been about the opportunity to contribute his quota for the nation, for communities and for people.

His financial and strategic management expertise will be good for the economy, his managerial skills will be good for the nation and his affability, open-mindedness and humanity will be good for the citizenry.