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Opinions of Sunday, 4 January 2009

Columnist: Boateng, E. K.

God Bless Our Homeland Ghana

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all Ghanaians for showing sense of maturity in casting their votes and managing their electoral system in a more peaceful manner. In my view, seeking peace is one of the sources of our national strength. It is integral to our children's education, it is in our songs, in our literature and poetry and in the speeches not just of our politicians but of our army generals. A peace with security because security is not an empty word or an excuse, just as peace is not only a piece of paper. Peace and security must be seen on the ground. And we will continue to make Ghana a better place to live, because it is our home. We are proud of it and we love it. This is our own responsibility and we cannot share this responsibility with anyone else.

In this transition period, I would like to ask the leaders of all political parties, the media to respect our aspiration to make peace in the right way, in a real way a peace that would last for generations to come by telling this truth stated below to the whole Ghanaian populace.

As voters assess the candidates competing visions, they must also weigh how likely either man would be to follow through on his promises. There is this myth that politicians will say anything to get elected, but that generally is not the case. They make these promissory public statements seriously forgetting that they are going to be held accountable by the same people who voted for them, the media and the opposition.

In studying party platforms in presidential elections from 1992-2008, I found that presidents converted about 70 percent of their party's promises into policy. Yet, it's the broken promises that people often remember. Public cynicism is a real response to the gap between promises and performance. Promises have gotten larger and more extensive and from the point of view of the public, the achievements haven't been there. All of us running for president will travel around the country offering million plans and making grand speeches. All of us will trumpet those qualities we believe make us uniquely qualified to lead the country, but too many times, after the election is over, and the confetti is swept away, all those promises fade from memory, and the lobbyists and the special interests move in, and people turn away, disappointed as before, left to struggle on their own.

In many cases, however, politicians made promises in good faith but ran into insurmountable obstacles. The institutional setting is a big complication in fulfilling promises. You may have every intention of fulfilling a promise, but if the other party is present in parliament it will be very difficult for elected president to follow through on that. I would attribute some of the public's cynicism about political promises to the way that candidates portray themselves. They campaign as if they could themselves direct that change, when the best they can do is nudge and bargain and facilitate that change in parliament. Voters simultaneously want a president who is larger than life but has the common touch, someone who is a commanding force but flexible.

Voters also seem to want candidates who have integrity yet promise more than they can reasonably expect to deliver. Today, there are thousands of citizen-journalists all across the country that keeps track of what candidates say. If a presidential candidate doesn't keep his promises but the times are good, it's not going to matter. But if a presidential candidate keeps his promises but they don't work, it sure as hell will matter.

Those ministers, parliamentarians, district chief executives and directors who will be selected are also to be checked since they are the main obstacle to the progress of the economy. They tend to enrich their pockets and pay up their debts with state funds. They undermine government policies, engage in all sort of things that brings the government into disrepute.Please,do well to re-define their roles and responsibilities to them once again.

I would want to take this opportunity to appeal to the media and the information ministry to start telling the people about the current state of world economy and its implication on us. Today as I am writing, the world is at war with depression and recession. Jobs are being cut off, companies and factories are folding up, banks and other financial institution are facing huge problems and many others that will seriously affect man.Please, stop the promises, politics, propagandas, unfruitful arguments and all the things that would not bring peace to us and rather educate the electorate or the people of Ghana that they should not expect manner to fall when their choice comes to power.

The economy may be worse than they see now or little stable for a while. Please, do not raise their hopes too much. I am begging you all at this period that the world is undergoing hard times to stay away from promises of your leaders and just hope for the better in future. Families, friends and lovers may not be able to send remittance to you on a regular basis or as before and the reasons are, most of them are no more having stable jobs or have lost their jobs. Many are facing hard times with their business.

I am aware that foreign remittance contributes certain percentage to the Ghana’s earnings and if you ask the financial sector of the trend now, you will notice a drastic change. Abroad as you may call it, is not like before and so please, give them this advice and let them rather work hard to make a living than depending on government policies to bring them manner from heaven.

We are proud of our achievements. Thank you. E.K.Boateng.