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Opinions of Saturday, 20 December 2008

Columnist: Ahenkro Osei

Fool Me Once Shame On You ...

...Fool Me Twice Shame On Me


Ghanaians have conducted an election without violence and we are patting ourselves on the back and congratulating each other. Thank God for that. We have proved to the world that our democracy is growing and Ghana has redeemed the image of Africa. By the way, I was of the impression that Ghana has had many violent free elections previously. Anyway, as much as I am grateful that the election passed without any violence, Ghanaians should not be jubilant. I thought the objective was not to hold a violence free election, but to have an election where the party with the best policies for the development of Ghana would be voted in. However, I believe this is not what happened in the first round of the elections.

How can a portion of Ghanaians vote for a party that has been accused under oath in a Norwegian court of taking bribes from Ghacem officials and selling off our national assets on the cheap. Is that what we call change? Ghanaians always think of short term gains. We should be thinking of short term pains for long term gains. Everyone is thinking about what is in it for themselves and no one is willing to make sacrifices that will help Ghana progress. When the people in Liverpool in the United Kingdom for instance vote, they do not do so because of what the party promises to do for the people of Liverpool but because of the policies of the party to help the country as a whole. How come Ghanaians are content on copying how to speak, dress and eat like the Whiteman but not what makes his country progressive and attractive for Ghanaians to go and study and live there. We should learn the way they abhor corruption, a lack of integrity and a lack of leadership and implement it in our politics and use it to better ourselves. You will not find an ex-president who is hiding behind his immunity from prosecution preach about freedom and justice in any other country. What about justice for all the people he caused injustice to. What about Nana Konadu running around in Ghana talking about the plight of the people. Is this not same woman who left power with her husband with the Gihoc cannery in her back pocket. Why not share her business plan with all Ghanaians and make it into a profitable state company if she cares so much about us. This shows she is more interested in her personal gain at the expense of Ghanaians. And please don’t say 31st December is an NGO. If so, what is she doing on the platform of the NDC calling for a change of government. Maybe, so she can get to keep her stolen company if the NDC gets back into power. Yet some Ghanaians cheer her on and call for a change to the NDC. When will we learn? The Gihoc Cannery belonged to Ghanaians. If we think the NPP has not solved all our problems, surely you cannot tell me the solution to our problems is the NDC. It goes beyond any logical thinking or common sense. Are we saying we do not demand any integrity from our Leaders?

Today we have political pundits in Ghana praising our political maturity. What Maturity? Can we not demand more from our leaders? When the ex-Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife were found to have made money at the expense of the people of Thailand, they were chased out of Thailand and are now unable to go back. But in Ghana we have been cheering Nana Konadu and Rawlings, even though it is clear that they ripped Ghanaians off in their acquisition of Caridern cannery and the sale of Ghacem. What this tells me is that the voters are not voting on policies, issues or in the interest of the state. I can hear some people calling for my head by accusing me of saying this because the voting did not go the way I wanted it to go. Well I have this to say to you, even after messing up the economy of Zimbabwe with inflation of over 10,000%. Mr Mugabe got more than 40% of the votes in his country’s election. This shows that most Africans use other reasons to vote politicians into power other than progressive policies and the interests of their countries. This is because no one in his right mind should be voting for Mr Mugabe because it is clear that that he does not want the best for all his people anymore. But some still do. Anyway back to Ghana, it is as if there is a force field around Ghana that makes Ghanaians change whenever they leave or enter the country. Most Ghanaians who have lived or travelled outside the country see how things are done in the developed countries we try to emulate yet when they come back into Ghana, they revert to type and fail to educate and enlighten the people, we cannot let ignorance stop our development and progress. We throw rubbish into the street and blame the government for the filth in Accra, We build without planning permission and accuse the government of insensitivity when we are told to demolish such structures. We make illegal water connection and we blame the government for lack of water. Where do we suppose the government will get the revenue to maintain the old pipes when we do not pay our bills. Now we have some Ghanaians crying for change. Yes we need change; change from having bad time keeping skills; change for only coping the trappings of Development like “i’m aware dressing” and not how to manufacture our own clothes; change from buying second hand panties when we have people who can sew in Ghana; change from importing toothpicks from china when we have loads of bamboo in Ghana and change from waiting for people to fail rather than encouraging and supporting them. We have a lot we have to change to improve ourselves and haul ourselves from poverty, but changing government from NPP to NDC is not progressive change.

The NPP has not covered itself in glory either. I think they missed an opportunity to use the Ghana at 50 celebrations to launch Ghana as a tourist destination and I also think they should have purchased 4wd’s rather than luxury saloons that would then be distributed to all the Government Ministeries and Departments which needed them after the celebrations thus saving the Government money through the depreciation of the value of the cars when sold at auction. I also think they should have communicated with the masses more effectively thus not creating a void which could be interpreted as not caring about the plight of the man on the street. President Kufour creating an Award for himself did not help as it made him look self gratifying and arrogant. But all in all, I think he has done an excellent job. His foreign trips that was constantly criticised by the NDC and his interactions with Governments and business leaders around the world got us a lot of foreign aid and investment. Let us not look at the Awards and invitations he got and be jealous but rather appreciate the cordial relationships he has established for Ghana that will benefit the next president.

On the law and order and cocaine problem, it is vital that we increase the number of our police force to reflect the growth in our population. The police should be well trained and well equipped as well as well paid to allow them to carry out their duties without the temptation of bribes. The Law should be implemented without fear or favour. The cocaine problem is not the making of any government. Even America which has probably the biggest budget in fighting drugs has not eradicated the drug menace within its borders. There was cocaine Under Rawlings, there is cocaine under Kufour and there will be cocaine under whoever is our next president. Cocaine money is in every economy in the world including Britain and the United States of America .What we should do is to improve our security along the coast line and improve our intelligence. Also anyone caught should be dealt with by the law. It is good to know the DEA is in Ghana helping to train our security forces in detection methods.

On job creation in Ghana, I think the only party in Ghana which understands this problem and can stimulate the creation of jobs in Ghana is the NPP. No Government in the world can create jobs for its people through the public sector alone. You need to encourage private investment in the economy and encourage the small and medium enterprises to grow. This requires both local and foreign entrepreneurs coming into the economy and creating jobs. Today in Ghana you can see the entrepreneurial spirit of Ghanaians coming back. But in the NDC, we have a party which has always persecuted local entrepreneurs from B.M KUFFFOUR, SIAW, KWAME ASANTE, DKC and quite recently ex-president Rawlings mounting a platform and telling Ghanaians not to buy the products of APPIAH MENKAH’S company because he supported the NPP, not concerned that his company created employment for the people and revenue for the government through Taxation and that facilitating its demise would hurt Ghanaians. We cannot go back to the era when the government in power rather than encourage and support Ghanaian entrepreneurs, persecuted them because of their political affiliations. We need to look beyond politics when it comes to national interest and I do not think the NDC is capable of doing this. If you make a mosquito your pet, it will still bite you because it is in its nature to bite. It is the same with the NDC. As the old saying goes, “if you study a man’s past, you can predict his future”.

Now, we are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. On one hand we have the NPP party, a party accused of arrogance, nepotism hand corruption. And on the other hand we have the NDC, a party that has been certified to be Corrupt, Tribalistic, Divisive and lacking any Integrity. Who should we trust with our future? This is not a question we can run away from. So come December 28th I hope Ghanaians will look at records and policies and vote on this and nothing else. The Ministers, so called honourables and their nearest and dearest will benefit more directly from been in power than me writing this article or you the reader, so if you cast your votes based on records and policies alone then Ghana will at least get something out of it and we will not be completely shafted.

We should not congratulate ourselves on breaking the current trends of violent elections in Africa although we are thankful for it, but we should reflect on the path our Democracy is taking. Our judgement has exposed us as lacking the capacity to or refusing to make decisions based on Integrity, common sense and logical thinking. Our predicament will never change if we do not change our mindset.

Ahenkro Osei