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Opinions of Thursday, 5 January 2017

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

A little clarification here, Justice Crabbe

Professor Justice V.C.R.A.C. CrabbeProfessor Justice V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Addressing the quadrennial Parliamentary Training Institute, recently, Justice VCRAC Crabbe was reported to have said that newly mandated political parties would be better off sticking to the “directive principle for state policies and a national development plan,” than the tempting urge of the presidency to fulfilling campaign promises while in government” (See “Restrict Majority Influence in Parliament – VCRAC Crabbe” / 12/26/16).

I don’t suppose that Justice Crabbe meant that once voted into power and government, the ruling party needed to presume to have voted itself into power. In other words, Justice Crabbe appears to be saying that voters ought to be taken for granted, or at best be cynically envisaged as mere stepping stones or a convenient ladder by which to climb into the Flagstaff House, after which electoral victory the voters may just as well go to hell. If the preceding interpretation has validity, then I strongly beg to disagree with the venerable Justice Crabbe.

You see, democracy is about the elected doing the will of the people who offered them their legitimate mandate, not the pursuit of policies or a development agenda conceived and crafted by people whose authority was not democratically mandated. In other words, if by “directive principle of state policies and a national development plan,” the retired Justice of the Supreme Court is referring to the Mahama-inaugurated National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), headed by Drs. Kwesi Botchwey and Nii Moi Thompson, then I must strongly beg to differ.

For one, these two gentlemen and most of the members of the NDPC are diehard socialists with a decidedly different perception and perspective on development theory from the neoliberal market-economy oriented theoretical philosophers and practitioners, whose method and approach to national development informed and guided the electioneering campaign agenda of the Akufo-Addo-led incoming New Patriotic Party government.

But even more poignantly must be observed the fact that a comparative analysis of the performance of the two major ideological camps dominating the Ghanaian political landscape, clearly indicates that the Danquah-Busia-Dombo camp has been the more progressive in the country’s Fourth-Republican dispensation.

Then also, the eminent nonagenarian jurist was reported to have exhorted the members of the Legislature to perform or vote in ways that put a salutary kibosh on the tendency of any parliamentary majority to cynically and recklessly bulldoze its way through policy debates on the august floor of the House, based more on parochial partisan interests than the greater good or interests of the nation at large.

Now, this is undeniably a sound counsel, except that such constructive legislative conduct ought to be deftly and creatively balanced by the ideals of the parliamentary majority’s party for which ideals it was afforded the popular mandate.

By all means, it is incumbent on the members of the incoming New Patriotic Party’s parliamentary majority to eschew the facile tendency to the patently unwise and unproductive “herd mentality” approach to national policy.

But by the same token, the NPP parliamentary majority would do itself great service to fully recognize the fact that it aims to play the political game in ways that are geared to ensure that four years from now, the Ghanaian electorate would be so resoundingly approving of its conduct of the people’s business as to massively and unreservedly want to return it to our august National Assembly.

We shall be talking more about this subject in due course.

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