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Opinions of Thursday, 14 July 2016

Columnist: James Kofi Annan

Montie FM goes to Rawlings

Former President John Rawlings Former President John Rawlings

In my last week’s article titled “Grass root gold”, I explored how young people in this country risk themselves to defend politicians for favors. Political fanaticism and patronage are about to plunge Ghana into destruction.

All of us, including the president, the police, all state institutions who are supposed to be able to do something, seem to have lost the ability to do anything to stop the self-destructive attiude.

As the 2016 elections get closer, the political atmosphere is getting hotter, and as usual the hawks are feeding on the temperature. The first to fire at the tail end of the month of June was Kennedy Agyapong. He thinks the president has previously been sexually active with the Electoral Commissioner, Charlotte Osei, and therefore her appointment was a compromise.

Last week a young man, Alistair Tairo Nelson, sitting as a panelist on Montie FM, issued a threat to Ghana’s Supreme Court, warning to kill them if they messed with the Electoral Commission. This young man spoke with such arrogance and impunity, that at one point I felt he was an immortal God.

Both issues are getting interesting. Elsewhere, or if the police were potent enough, Alistair would have been arrested before he completed his threats, and Kennedy Agyapong would have been in court by now, to answer civil claims.

Nearly one week since Alistair Tairo Nelson issued the threat, I just received information that the BNI has detained him, Richard Asante-Yeboah has sued him for contempt, and Mrs Charlotte Osei is yet to sue Kennedy Agyapong for defamation.

The threat Alistair issued is just in the same taste as a threat to kill our president, or to kill the speaker of Parliament. The weight of this threat is potentially treasonable enough to warrant high security concerns across all of our security agencies.

It appears to me that people resort to insults, threats and abuse when they feel deficient in being able to contribute constructively to national debates. The poverty of knowledge and analysis in this country is getting out of hands. And people with such deficiencies hide behind partisan insults and threats to run away from their own thought deficiencies.

Kweku Baako will continue to be one of my heroes in this country. This is somebody who is supposed to be a member of CPP, but whose contribution to public discourse is so rich, so analytical, and so inspiring, so objective, fearless in expressing issues, and always avoiding personality attacks and threats.

I’m told Kweku Baako does not have even a first degree. I have a number of degrees. But I wish to get to half of the depth of the intellectual capacity held by Kweku Baako.

He is what I will call a self-educated personality, well read, and informed. I look forward to seeing most of our university and college students growing to become the likes of Kweku Baako, strategic thinking, potent analysts, matured statesmen and women who put Ghana first before their partisan sympathies.

If we have self-confident people in this country, so many people would never have been elected into governance. If we had independent thinkers filling our schools, voting in this country will be violence-free, and people would have taken wiser decisions than we are seeing presently.

The world has become a very complex market. Transactions have become very technical. Contracts are emerging in such impeccable technical details, and analysis, that people who sign these documents themselves needs to be extremely analytical in order to follow proceedings, and in order to vote.

We need a self-reliant mindset in order to make informed decisions, and to be able to put the interest of Ghana first. We need well read individuals, we need critical thinkers, people with serious attention to detail, to govern, and to make laws for Ghana.

I have said in a previous article that education is not only the passing of examinations. Education is not only the collection of knowledge. Education also includes a thorough personality, a square confidence of the self and of the predictive future. Education includes the adaptive abilities of the individual to provide and propose solutions to problems regardless of the circumstances.

I have a lot of fears for Ghana. Sometimes I have wondered if we know we are just about destroying this country. We have all become so selfish, to the extent that we do not care about the future implications of any of our actions or inactions. We are only thinking about ourselves, and the political parties we belong to.

There have been very powerful people in this country who have now gone into oblivion. Kwesi Botwe, Kwame Salah Mensah, Kwame Peprah, PV Obeng, J. H. Mensah, were all once very powerful people who inspired great respect. They earned their respect through superior intellectual discourse, and strategic thinking, not abuse and threats.

Who thought Rawlings could be so powerless, so much so that Kofi Adams, his own former spokesperson, could tell Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, in her face, that she is not God? Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings of 31st December Women’s Movement? The then, virtually, Vice-President of Ghana? Receiving such vociferous attacks from some members of her husband’s own NDC?

It is because these once very powerful people are no longer in charge. They no longer control the army, the police, and they no longer control the state resources. We do have to take lessons from this, that power is as transient as human life itself.

This is simple. There is a government in power. That government has the mandate to govern the country. There is an opposition party legitimately trying to win back power. What we need is for the government in power to state what they have been able to achieve with respect to what they promised Ghanaians.

And I believe the current government has been able to state what they believe they have achieved, in their Green Book. Going forward they will have to prove their achievements, and they will have to tell us what more they can do if their mandate is renewed.

If you don’t believe the Green Book, you should feel free to expose it. In this case, it is up to the opposition party to criticize the government’s achievements, and to offer alternatives, as to tell us what they will do differently if elected into government. In doing so they have to offer hope beyond what exists presently, and guarantee that what they are proposing is achievable.

We don’t need threats on the Supreme Court, we don’t need personality attacks. We don’t need any violence. Whether Nana Akufo-Addo is too short or President John Mahama has 15 children is not part of the governance of Ghana. Those who use these for a debate are intellectually very poor.

On the other hand if you think the Electoral Commission is not acting properly, or if you think the Electoral Commissioner is a potential compromise, and therefore might give unfair advantage to the incumbent government, the right thing to do is what Abu Ramadan has done; go to court, argue your case out, and if there are any violations, the court will grant your reliefs. If another person does not agree with the court rulings, there is another civilized avenue to seek redress. That person also goes back to court; you don’t threaten the court!

All these are happening because we depend too much on political patronage. Our former President Jerry John Rawlings once said, people get appointments in government when they become star of insults on him. So was he encouraging more people to insult him, so that they could attract more political appointments?

How do you make a good minister if you insulted your way into office? How do you make good laws if the reason you were elected a law maker was because your competencies are in threatening of your opponents?

This is exactly the point. If our youth are powerful, and are not allowing themselves to be polluted by these same politics, we will be able to ensure that there is a transparent processes in recruiting high caliber non partisan police persons into the Ghana Police Service. We will be able to ensure that the Ghana Armed Forces recruit people who are effective and loyal only to the state of Ghana. We will be able to ensure that the Attorney General is non-biased.

If the youth are powerful we will hold government accountable. There will be more transparency in the recruitment of the staff of the Auditor-General’s Department. We will ensure that there is a truly independent Judiciary. In this way, public corruption will be rooted out. There will be fairness, and the resources of the state will be distributed equitably.

If the youth are guaranteed a predictable future, and they can fairly predict judicial justice, and a reward for hard work, the quest for political patronage and abuse will stop.

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