Feature Article of Friday, 19 August 2011

Columnist: Akyeampong, Prince

Lies Galore; Our Politicians Are Treading On Dangerous Grounds!

Lies, lies and more lies! Wow, that appears to be the gospel according to the Ghana politician. Freedom of speech appears to have been given a different perception by our "team B" politicians; it's now - FREEDOM TO LIE. Ghanaian politicians have apparently, largely become adherents of the Machiavellian theory - the end justifies the means. These die-hard politicians would do anything, including concocting stories and untruths just to look good in the eyes of the electorate. Is it any wonder that the average Ghanaian views our national politics as being synonymous with lies and deceit? It must however be noted that this penchant for deception and lies cuts across both sides of the political aisle.

It's as if both the government and opposition are engaged in a free-for-all lying contest, with each side desperately trying to outdo the other, in order to gain political points. How else could one explain Tuesday's news headlines in which Koku Anyidoho, the President's Director of Communication initially confirmed in an interview with Peace FM news, that President Mills was in possession of a new mansion on Spintex Road, a supposed "gift" from Regimanuel Grey Estate Ltd. After an equally nebulous explanation by one Regina Botwe, a director of the company, Mr. Anyidoho, in a bid to set the records straight, came out again to announce that the place in question was being developed for Mills to rent for his guards; and that it was primarily to serve as a place of convenience. After a rather comical back-and-fourth newsflash, I, like most folks, found myself left with more questions than answers. Once again, the lying prowess of a politician had me asking myself: when are these politicians going to separate lies from politics?

Recently, a prominent Chief in the Volta Region angrily retorted that residents were becoming impatient with the government for failing to fulfill most of the promises it made in 2008. He said that the site where President Mills recently cut the sod for the construction of an allied Health Science-based University had now become a habitat for wild animals. In another apparent political hoodwinking, Mr. Albin Bagbin, Minister of Water resources, Works and Housing is yet to offer a tangible explanation as to why more than eleven months after THE LOAN had been "approved," and more than six months after Mills cut the sod for work to begin, construction work on the controversial $1.5 billion STX housing project has still not began. Of course, trust good old Bagbin to soon come out with another lie to allay the fears of Ghanaians.

The opposition, as stated earlier, have also done their fair share of lying. In one such instance, recently, Nana Akomeah, NPP communication director and MP for Okaikoi South, is said to have spearheaded a press conference alleging that Baba Jamal, deputy Minister for Information under the aegis of government plans to use funds to induce journalists to enhance the party's (NDC) chances ahead of the 2012 elections; a charge that was found to be misleading. Instead of critically observing areas where the government has fallen short and offering good advice by way of constructive criticism, the opposition bigwigs have now become detractors and doomsday soothsayers whose ultimate objective appears to be to search for the most damaging and scandalous stories about the incumbency. In other words, the NPP opposition members are busy playing the role of SPOILERS through smear campaigns and lies.

However, this destroy-them-by-all-means attitude exhibited by the opposition NPP is by no means peculiar to them. The NDC were no better when they happened to be in opposition. They similarly wasted precious time witch-hunting and digging for scandals involving the then NPP government instead of taking them to task in a constructive manner. Slowly but surely, this is becoming the norm; the party in power lies to the electorate at will and priority situations are never tackled. Yet, people are constantly made to believe that progress is actually being made even though the "improved living standards'" never reflect in the pockets of the average Ghanaian - talk about a mirage. This is where one expects the opposition to justify the numerous allowances they earn as MPs and remunerations they receive serving in other capacities within their party, by keeping those at the helm of affairs on their toes in a persistently constructive manner; not by witch-hunting and vicious lies.

This do-me-I-do-you or tit-for-tat politics is eventually going to render our young democracy unworkable. It's nothing but a vicious cycle which tends to stagnate development. The losers are almost invariably the electorate. When the government in power and the opposition view each other as bitter enemies instead of political opponents, the end result is disastrous. Instead of working hand-in-hand, they tend to focus on tearing each other apart. Strangely enough, most of the electorate consciously or unconsciously play right into the hands of these political big wigs and dance to their tunes. The result? Most of us get caught up in the politics of lies and deception just like our leaders, thus distracting us from the real crucial issues affecting our progress; and this is exactly what the crooked politician wants. While we foolishly spend out time endorsing inter-party insults and hurl invectives at each other, our corrupt politicians conveniently take advantage of these distractions and continue with their nefarious activities on the quiet.

Surely, our shady politicians are treading on dangerous grounds; and so are we! In the U.S., when it comes to serious issues affecting the well-being of the nation, partisan politics is relegated to the background and members on both sides of the political divide join hands in a show of solidarity and patriotism. On the contrary, in Ghana, the politician places his selfish ambitions above that of the nation's interest; and that is what invariably culminates in the politics of lies and deception. In view of the Mills "mansion" scandal, whether the Bible-toting Mills is "incorruptible" as the Deputy Minister of Tourism (James Agyenim Boateng) claimed, is yet to be determined. Posterity will never forgive these lying politicians if they continue to hoodwink us with lies and deceitful practices! God bless mother Ghana!

Prince Akyeampong, Washington D.C. e-mail: desavagist@gmail.com