Feature Article of Sunday, 25 November 2012
Columnist: Twumasi, Patrick
*The Bandwagon of Hopeful Leaders for Ghana – How Genuine*
It is said that of the number of prophets, the house of Israel has the highest. This interprets that, no nation on earth has ever felt the direction of God than Israel. Same applies to Ghana, when multi-party democracy was reintroduced in 1992; countless citizens have always stepped forward to lead the country.
In the upcoming general elections scheduled for December, 2012, ten political parties had the intent to run for various offices. Namely, the National Democracy Congress (NDC), the incumbent, the largest opposition party in parliament the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the Convention People’s Party (CPP). The rest are the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), and the People’s National Convention (PNC). There is also the Independent People’s Party (IPP), the United Front Party (UFP), and the embattled New Vision Party (NVP). Others include the Ghana Freedom Party (GFP) and the disqualified National Democratic Party (NDP) of the former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings.
This vividly depicts the hunger of citizens to lead mother Ghana. Out of all these eight political parties are given the pass to contest the general elections by the Electoral Commission. These are the NDC, PPP, NPP and CPP. Others include PNC, GCPP, UFP and the GCPP. Are these supposed leaders true to their aspirations and intents or just lacing their boots to feather their nest at the expense of the already suffering and poor Ghanaian?
The quest of the tall list of citizens hoping to preside over the nation, sometimes is interesting and on the other hand, worrying. Interesting, for the fact that, leadership in some countries is considered as self-imposed slavery, this translates that, the supposed leader is a servant to the people, who is at the beck and call of the nation to make the lives of the citizens better. Take note that leadership is public transaction with history. When citizens dream the night away, the expectation is that, the leader is to remain visionary and deliver the goodies as expected of him or her. Is this the case? The answer remains with you.
Again, worrying because, leadership in Africa and for that matter Ghana still remains personalities centered not the people. Many a citizen ascends to the Presidency and in no time acquires an immeasurable wealth, which reduces leadership in our part of the world to self-enrichment. This is not implied, but an open secret. Again, this does not apply only to the Presidents, Ministers of State or Members of Parliament (MPs), but political party functionaries. Do not forget we live in the communities with these politicians. The country and her citizens wallow in abject poverty while these supposed leaders promise heaven on earth. What have they achieved for Ghana so far? Just look around you. Education is in shambles, health sector strikes and medical facilities without the needed gadgets to operate with. Do we need this kind of leadership? Dear reader, please do not misconstrue the above, if there is anything good of leadership below or up what we presently have as leaders, then let Ghana go for it.
In the well-developed democracies like the United States of America, United Kingdom and France, there are minor political parties, but when major elections comes up, they merge to present two or three contesting candidates. This reduces the headache of choosing from the mass choir of self-seekers, pretending to be working for the people. It also makes light their promises to the ears of the electorate to comprehend. The current situation is similar to a boom box hard to listen to one before the other rushes in also seeking attention. It is affecting effective identification of the right leaders for this great nation of ours. However, the freedom of association as spelt in the constitution has open the flood gate for political parties whose life span only starts from few months before, during and fades to the backdrop right after elections. Examples worth noting are, in Ethiopia during the 2010 parliamentary elections, there were 92 opposition parties to contest the late PM Meles Zenawi, there were 50 presidential and 200 parliamentary candidates respectively in Cameroon’s 2011 elections and Zimbabwe also had 23 opposition candidates as well to challenge good old boy, Uncle Bob Mugabe. Are these politicians genuine and truly have their nations at heart or they are hungry? This is a clear case of hunger and the turning of politics in to an employment avenue and a means of getting rich quick. Pure and simple. Additionally, can you contend this is democracy in Angola under Eduardo dos Santos, where basic items are imported from South Africa and poor sanitation or Equatorial Guinea?
Visionary leaders of some nations, who began self-rule at the same time as Ghana, have been able to propel their countries to self-sustaining economies, which has become envy of many. Malaysia, Singapore, and recently Botswana are examples of nations Ghana could be compared with. What is holding us down or back? What kind of leadership is Ghana expecting, the type who sees the country as a cash cow or the nepotistic individual? The current state is uninspiring.
Currently, the incredible number of presidential hopefuls is gradually reducing the presidency into an ordinary office, ridicule and mockery. The standard and quality of the personalities vying for the seat of government sometimes brings home a lot of questions such as, is the presidency now open to any one irrespective of the track record? Again, the citizens who have stepped forward to assume office of the president cannot be faulted any way. This is for the reason that, the so called presidents that have entered the office in recent times have not been able to stir the affairs of the country as expected. Promises of mountain building are espoused, upon assumption of office they fail to produce anti hills. These and other low sides give the impetus to everyone to conceive the idea he or she can also lead the country. These are some of the 2012 political party promises, free Senior High School and health care, the establishment of a university in each of the regions, mechanization of Agriculture, jobs, development, stability etc. Various avenues of sources of funding have been put forward. But could this not have been done years ago?
You will be shocked to know that, Article 71 office holders have received an upward adjustment to their salaries. If the Prof. Ewurama Addy Committee report is approved, the President and Vice-President would each receive GH?12, 000.00 and GH ? 10,500.00 respectively. Again, Ministers and deputies would as well take home GH? 9,000 and GH? 8,000 correspondingly. Members of Parliament (MPs) have had GH? 7,200 monthly salary recently approved by the President. Is this the case of I scratch your back you scratch back? According to the Daily Graphic report of Monday, November 5, 2012, number 18990, page 3, the President before the Prof. Ewurama Addy Committee Report, is reported to be pocketing GH? 8,331. Civil Servants could work all their lives in some vital areas of the economy such as education-teaching- but they might retire after forty years without earning anything close to what a politician will amass in just a quarter of the years. You will be amazed that in this instance both the incumbent National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party including the Independent Members colluded to pocket these huge sums of money. Once again, the question is are these so called leaders there to fill their bellies or to genuinely serve this nation?
Dear reader, you will care to know that the President and the Veep virtually buy nothing and pays nothing like utility bills. All these rest on the shoulders of the poor Ghanaian tax payer. Why then the quest for such an exorbitant salary rise. Besides, it has been back dated to 2009. This is an eye sore. These are the very people promising heaven on earth. The President is said to have ordered for a second look at the recommendations of the report. Let cross our fingers to see what the outcome will be.
In order for the country to deal with this issue effectively and efficiently, there should be an Act of Parliament which will establish a permanent Standing Committee that is tasked to review salaries and End of Service Benefits for Article 71 office holders, while holding the post and when departing from office. This will stop the greed of some politicians who want to still be living fat on the poor tax payer while out of office. Because, when Mr. Rawlings was leaving office, he brought in the Green Street Report, which came up with all sorts of emoluments for the former President. Then was the Chinery-Hesse Report also recommending what should be given to the former President Kuffour, when his term ends. In 2012, it is Prof. Ewurama Addy Report during the tenure of President Mahama, though; the Committee was set up by the late President Prof. Mills. Let us try to prevent these never satisfied politicians from seeing the national coffers as a gold mine that has no custodians.
It will also surprise you to know that, when a Labour Consultant was interviewed on Joy FM an Accra based radio station, he claimed that the politicians have let their lucrative jobs and are in contract for four years with the electorate, therefore, the need to pay them well. Objection to that statement, which is sustainable for it, lacks merit. These Politicians sees politics as a free money zone, where they come to enrich themselves. Do not forget that we live with these Politicians, who some are jobless. The Legal Practitioners, except the corporate ones’ the majority depend on their client releases to them to survive. So where are the lucrative employments these no mercy politicians abound? After all, who do they work for but, votes, which will keep them in power.
Let Ghanaians be as wise as the serpent, and opt the apt leader for this suffering country of ours. Weep not Ghana; it’s your children who are cruel.