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Opinions of Saturday, 29 November 2008

Columnist: Kuyini, Ahmed Bawa

Does the NPP need morality or political astuteness to rule Ghana effectively?

The title of this article is a response to a comment by a regular commentator on the Ghanaweb. One Afua wrote: ‘We Ghanaians do not want a religious and /or moral president because we are not voting for a Pope. We need a well versed politician who knows how to govern’.

The biggest problem with having a president who is not religious and/or moral is that ordinary Human Reason on its own is dangerous because it is value neutral. The famous philosopher David Hume made a powerful observation about the weakness of human reason when he wrote: ‘It is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the entire world to scratching of one’s little finger’. In other words, human reason is egocentric and cannot think of other people’s needs. The only time human reason turns towards societal good is when it is guided by morality.

And believe me, it may not be contrary to the reasoning of a greedy, immoral and unconscionable president to prefer that he and his family own the entire Bank of Ghana, and see all others crying for a drop of water, a grain of rice or a tablet of paracetamol.

An immoral president will choose the anti-God ways and the only reason why he will not choose the path of keeping the Bank of Ghana in his family’s hands or neglecting the cries of suffering people is when he is guided by the morality about the good of fellow Ghanaians.

The notion that we don’t need a president who is moral but one who can govern, may seem logical to some Ghanaians, but does it work?

President Kuffour has been on Ghana’s political scene for over 45 years and therefore has all the experiences of local and international politics. In spite of this glory of political experience, can anyone say with absolute certainty or without wavering that he governed Ghana well? If he did, has his actions over the last 8 years brought NPP the massive public endorsement that it needs to win this year’s elections hands down? Your guess is as good as mine. Well, if a substantial section of the Ghanaian population which voted for NPP in 2004 does not want to vote NPP in 2008, is it because of the president/ NPP’s politics or their morals?

To my mind, the Ghanaian people judge the NPP and Kuffour’s administration on both their politics and morals. However, I judge them more on their morals than on the politics, because I do not believe that NPP and Kufffour are naïve in any form, politically. Consistently, the NPP / Kuffour’s failures and mistakes (including shameful levels of nepotism, corruption, and building a presidential palace rather a first class hospital to save the Finance Minster’s life) are down to narrow self interests, which hinge on lack of morals or refusal to do the right thing.

President Kuffour attends church and is expected to be moral but he irresponsibly spends the nation’s resources on frivolous things against providing basic needs for other poor praying Ghanaians. Who tells you that God has ever descended onto the earth to place money in the hands of a man praying in a church or a mosque? The prayer of hungry man is answered by a moral president who sees reason to create the right conditions for all praying people to have something to eat. Thus any time a moral president has to spend our meagre resources on a frivolous travel or luxurious palace, he will think about the people of Bimbila who need less than 10,000 dollars to fix the Community water pump /machine or the Korlebu Hospital which did not have a the right equipment to help the late finance minister. In all seriousness, who cares about the aesthetics of an ancient Egyptian or Pharaoh-style palace if he/she is hungry or sick? And for heavens sake, a 33, 000 pound gold chain award for a 70 year old man; on what great occasion will he wear this and for what purpose? Perhaps to a Beauty Contest for old wrinkled-skin contestants? Any way, its easy to melt and sell for cash.

Ghanaians do not need an astute politician who plays hide and seek with God’s ways. We are believers in God and trust that the president and politicians will do the right thing as prescribed by God and our society. The laws created by our parliament are the laws of God, by extension. These laws (that our politicians violate with impunity) are an embodiment of our collective interests and desires about how our country should be run, which millions of us utter in our daily prayers in the churches, mosques and shrines. Whoever goes against them goes against God’s and our collective wishes.

The preference for an astute president to a moral president will be short sighted especially in the context of Ghana for two reasons. Firstly almost every Ghanaian is a believer of some type of holy being (God, Allah, Nawuni, Mawu etc) and secondly, our politicians are not bound by public laws around accountability because no one can enforce these laws. Thus morals remain the only framework that can positively guide their behaviour and mode of governing. If the president is not moral then the people will emulate his example. Dagombas say that if a village chief gets an improper haircut, then all the young men in town will go for a more improper haircut and then run amok. We need a moral president who can be an example for our society (Read my articles on Religion Politics and Development on the Ghanaweb)

Now let me bite the bullet here and say that President Kuffour is a good example of how a president’s choice of values and/or immorality can make living a hell in our country. While Europeans cherish the philosophy that ‘The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit’ (Nelson Henderson), Ghanaians only want to plant trees under whose shade they MUST sit. Some Ghanaians are prepared to destroy such trees if they know they would have no opportunity to enjoy the shade. Just imagine Kuffour’s dogged desire to move into that useless Pharaoh-like self-glorifying edifice called Presidential palace. He fits perfectly, in my view, the African’s lack understanding of the meaning of life as echoed in Nelson Henderson’s wise saying above. Kuffour must sit under all the trees he plants. The truth is that greed and lack of morals will not allow Kuffour and his administration to spare us the extra cost of moving in and out of that ancient Pharoah house. He is prepared to milk our economy to the very last. And no one can stop him, not even God’s word that he reads everyday in church. Only God Himself can stop him. If the NPP and for that matter NDC, CPP etc politicians are moral, they would realise that every pesewa from our national coffers is important because it is someone’s only chance to life, either in the form of food, water or medicine. To hell with decorating yourselves with 33,000 pounds of Gold, to be worn on your old wrinkly skins that will soon be rotting away. People just need water, food or medicine to be able to smile on a God-given sunny day.

I have written in my article Religion, Politics and Development that the erosion of our moral values explains why we Africans only succeed creating Kingdoms of Hell with our million prayers for our people, while Europeans have created Kingdoms of God without Prayer for their people. If the NPP or any political party seriously want to rule Ghana effectively, then they must lift their game in terms of complimenting their political skills with moral considerations. And come to think of it; God’s reward and recognition is above all other awards.

Dr. Ahmed Bawa Kuyini For CEVS-Ghana, Tamale