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Opinions of Thursday, 19 October 2006

Columnist: Agyeman, Akwasi

In Defence Of Politicians

It is time for us to stand and cheer for the doer, the achiever, the one who recognizes the challenge and does something about it. - Vince Lombardi

On my way to my “mama’s town” recently, I stopped by the roadside to sample some palm wine – a delicacy back in the days when men were men. Three calabashes later, the palm wine seller retorts, “ Please you guys should put pressure on the contractor to finish the road since the rains are coming again oh. What Contractor? What road? I asked. Seller asked, “ So you are not an MP or a Minister? Why do you think I am either, I asked? Oh they are the ones who ride in the big cars, he retorted. Back in Accra, on a fine afternoon, I tuned in to my favorite lunchtime reggae program, Taxi Driver on happy Fm. Within a period of thirty minutes, the word “politricksians” had been used more than 15 times in reference to our dear politicians.

The story is told of a footballer who stepped up to take a penalty in the 90th Minute of a game when his side was down 1-0. He took a big swing and completely missed the ball. He turned to his astonished team mates who were searching for answers, and simply explained "bad pitch”. The fact is, no matter how bad the pitch, if you don't play the ball, but rather swing your leg and miss the ball, it doesn't matter.

This story perhaps illustrates one of the deepest Ghanaian tendencies - the seemingly inborn inclination to blame our problems on external circumstances -- on forces outside our control and on our politicians sitting in Accra and driving big cars. So much so that Kofi Manu will pour garbage in the gutter in front of his house and blame the assemblyman and MP for the choked gutters.

Years ago, we said not to trust anyone above 30, and when we realized age has got nothing to do with it, we have turned our attention to politicians. And so our once noble and all too powerful Professors, Lawyers, Teachers, Accountants and Doctors who we looked up to growing up, have all turned demons for the simple crime of entering politics. It is as if as soon as one declares himself a politician, he enters a secret dark chamber, where he is bathed in an evil portion. Not that our politicians are helping themselves either with their accusations and counter accusations of each other as corrupt, evil and liars.

The war on the challenges confronting our country is endless. If we are to retain and even attract leaders to this cause, we must recognize these unsung heroes by giving them a seat at the table and the encouragement they deserve. We should have the national sense of morality and decency to disagree on policies without resort to name calling and abuse.

Yes, we need to create accountability and force our political leaders to turn campaign promises into commitments but we must do so not just by finger pointing at who is to blame but also finger pointing the way out of it. As we carry out national projects in the areas of health, technology, roads, education, agriculture and housing, we must understand that these are problems that have accumulated not just over a period of years but also over entire decades. We must therefore build up considerable strength and resources together as one people and one nation in order to finally be able to address these problems and focus our efforts on resolving them. We must look at creating systems and structures that will stand the test of time and not just individual geniuses.

To all those who are so pessimistic about our politicians, I say: 'Don't be, they are our own brothers and sisters who taught us as teachers, treated us as doctors, and defended us as lawyers. Definitely they couldn’t be that bad!!!

Akwasi Agyeman, Accra

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.