Feature Article of Friday, 28 September 2012
Columnist: Thompson, Kofi
By Kofi Thompson
"Read the small print" was advice one often heard growing up. Made in reference to the insurance industry, it was used to illustrate the importance of being cautious in life.
The small print in an insurance policy often contains the get-out clauses enabling the insurance company not to honour an obligation - rendering the policy more or less worthless: at precisely the moment when needed most by the policy-holder.
Ghanaians, a peace-loving people with incredibly short memories, would be wise to decipher their nation's political parties' campaign-narratives' equivalent of the insurance industry's small print, in the speeches they hear at rallies as well as on radio and television.
One of the most visible of the smaller parties, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom's Progressive Peoples Party (PPP), for example, deserves some praise for giving time-lines for the fulfilment of the promises it makes - often giving the first term of its tenure as a time-frame. It is always clear and unambiguous in that regard.
The presidential candidate and chairperson of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) also chose to be responsible politicians, when they stated on separate occasions that the transformation of the Ghanaian economy will take a minimum of ten years.
Naturally, there are the cynics amongst us, who will urge the discerning and independent-minded voter to sit up and be on the alert - as that NPP statement amounts to the issuing of what is the political equivalent of an insurance company's get-out clause.
They believe it will be referred to whenever the NPP fails to deliver any of its many promises at the end of its tenure - should it return to power again after the December presidential election.
Be that as it may, I do think that both Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo and Jake Obestebi-Lamptey, deserve to be congratulated for being so candid about the time-frame needed to transform our country's economy - to the extent that living standards for the generality of the Ghanaian people would have improved dramatically, compared to what they are today.
The question then arises, dear reader, why, if it will take a minimum of ten years to transform Ghana's national economy, for it to positively impact the quality of life of all Ghanaians, significantly, should Ghanaians vote against a party in power that already has a head-start in that minimum ten-year journey to prosperity?
And therein lies the seeds for President John Mahama's possible triumph in the December presidential polls - if he, as well as his hard-of-hearing regime members and their tone-deaf party, do what is right for the Ghana of today: instead of what will directly benefit the cynics lurking around him, who President Mills' ill-health and meek nature allowed to destroy poor humble Mills' legacy, with their prevarication and unfathomable greed.
Against the backdrop of judgement-debt payment-order scandals for example, there is no way President Mahama can win the presidential election, if he and those in his regime (and their spouses) fail to publicly publish their assets. That will put clear blue water between their party and its biggest rival, the NPP.
If that is also accompanied with a return to the cabinet by Martin Amidu as Attorney General, Ghanaians will understand clearly that indeed the regime of President Mahama will eventually retrieve all judgement-debt payment orders fraudulently obtained.
That gesture must then be followed by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) asking Interpol to put out international arrest warrants for Waterville's Tarricone's apprehension in Italy and CP's Ploetner's in Germany.
When apprehended, they must both be returned to Ghana to face prosecution for allegedly defrauding the Ghanaian nation-state.
There are many independent-minded Ghanaians, who will also say that a political party that has laid the foundation for an entrepreneurial culture to spread amongst the underclass of unemployable younger generation Ghanaians (many with little or no formal education), deserves to be returned to power to continue that noble task.
They will point to the fact that quietly and without much fanfare, through the grassroots-level Local Enterprise and Skills Development Programme (LESDEP) initiative, President Mahama's National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime is in the process of creating a more egalitarian society in Ghana - as opposed to the elite-dominated dog-eat-dog society created by President Kufuor's NPP regime, which empowered a powerful and well-connected few with greedy ambitions, to exploit our national economy for themselves and their surrogates: during the sunny days of the golden age of business for Kufuor & Co.
Clearly, as a democratic society, it is urgent that something is done about the large underclass of unemployable Ghanaians churned out annually by Ghana's atrocious educational system.
If nothing is done about it, what constitutes a societal time-bomb - the huge disparities in wealth between the fortunate middle classes and the marginalised underclass - will eventually explode (with dire consequences for every strata of Ghanaian society).
That is why in casting our votes, we must not be oblivious of the fact that the nature of the society the policies of political parties have created in the past in Ghana, resulted mostly from the uncritical "My-party-my-tribe-right-or-wrong" attitude most Ghanaians have adopted in their relationship with political parties.
Corruption is undoubtedly Ghana's number one problem. It is robbing the younger generation of its future - as billions of taxpayers' cash is siphoned into private pockets. Its eradication must be high on the list of issues influencing how Ghanaians vote in the December polls.
Ordinary people in Ghana must understand that they will continue to suffer if high-level corruption persists. How a political party deals with that issue ought to be an important consideration in how Ghanaians decide to vote.
And above all, ordinary Ghanaians must understand clearly that following a political party blindly, and voting for it without thinking of the consequences of it gaining power, can result in a life akin to hell on earth for the average voter, during the entirety of its tenure.
It is for that reason that on polling day, December 7th, 2012, Ghanaian voters must think before casting their vote! A word to the wise...
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