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Opinions of Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Columnist: Nii Okai Tetteh

Ghana’s wash and wear politics

By Nii Okai Tetteh

It is a thing most adolescent boys and girls did while in Junior or Senior High School. You never wash until it is absolutely necessary to do so which is mostly 24 or 18 hours till you need that dress badly for the (pottey) party.

For the glory of procrastination, we hurriedly wash the attire hours to d-day, then squeeze the water out with a towel, spread the dress over a chair and position it directly under the fan to blow dry it.

If the fan fails to completely the dry the attire, then sorry for the press iron whose job it will be to not only straighten it but also make sure it is absolutely dry.

I could personally spend 10-15 minutes ironing a shirt to dry up, probably this contributed to the ‘Dumsor’ we encountered. Living a wash and wear life is deeply stressing and unfortunate.

In the run-up to this year’s elections, I had lots of deja vu and nostalgic feeling that our political wheel is just as I described above, wash and wear. You do what you should have done earlier when it’s too late.

We never do a thing by planning ahead. The politicians do what they must as and when it’s necessary and when it serves none other than their own interest. Having worked in the Onua FM newsroom from the beginning of the year till June this year, I always remember the sanitation focus our news editor Joyce Midley encouraged us to pursue.

Initially, it was a sanitation report on every midday news and my colleague Auguster Boateng was assigned to this job, then as the political season heated up, sanitation report was every Friday midday news, named the ‘New Face of Accra’ series and assigned to Maxwell Otoo, a senior colleague.

The National Sanitation Day (every first Saturday of a new month) that was introduced by government was a laudable idea.

However, the continuous sanitation reports they filed indicated the survival of the initiative was hanging on a thread. The usually low traffic on such days were gone, Uncle Oko, Members of Parliament, Ministers of state and even the Vice President, who were solemnly seen outside cleaning gutters on such days, were gone.

The media hype was over. This weekend most parliamentary aspirants galvanized people and organized to clean up streets and sewage. Leading a clean up exercise is not a bad thing, however when there is an ulterior motive of winning votes, that act turns into a spat in the face of voters.

The Ghanaian voter is gradually becoming sophisticated and will soon demand their politicians to treat them as a bunch of intelligent people.

There will be no room for impromptu politically motivated local development activities when the politicians have not been on the ground for four years since winning power. There will be no need for the impromptu constructions of roads to portray development when the same roads have been left to degrade for years.

The Ghanaian voter is becoming politically complex and the quick show of commitment to community development leading to an election will no longer convince them.

In my political science class at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) I learnt a saying that goes ‘The politician will never do a positive anything unless there is a camera pointed at him or her’.

Perhaps, the onus will fall on the media to expose the wash and wear politicians who only show developmental commitment when daybreak ushers in an election day.