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Opinions of Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Columnist: Afful-Dadzie, Anthony

NDC, NPP and Mr. E.C, don’t come knock on my door again!

What do you three groups take me for, a fool?

You Mr. E.C, why do you ask me to vote for one and only one candidate and by so doing create an enmity between me and a winning party I didn’t vote for? Why don’t you allow me to vote for all of them? Are you not aware that in Ghana only those who vote for the winning party are guaranteed of a job, scholarship and promotion?

You political leaders of Ghana in particular that of NDC and NPP, why did you craft such a constitution that forbids me from joining or voting for more than one party? Before you came knocking on my door I already had a secured job. Besides if I can vote for only one of you, why then do you throw me out of my job or deny me a fair share of the national cake simply because I didn’t vote for your party?

Mr. E.C, can you ask the NDC and the NPP whether it is a crime for me to make a choice from the candidates you present to me?
Hey you NDC and NPP, after you came knocking on my door for almost a year -actually even more than that- begging me to vote for you, I now have to come begging you too, right? Why create a wedge between me and my friends and also cost me my job simply because I voted against your party?
These are some of the questions many discerning Ghanaians would like to ask the two main political parties of NDC and NPP. The political direction this country has taken is fast dividing families, friends, neighbours and even towns and villages. If a town or a village dare vote against an eventual winner of an election, that town or village will perhaps see no developmental project for four years even if a sizable number of them voted for the winning party. This punishment may not be obvious in our towns, but in the villages it is very clear to see.
Today, individuals are being lumped together for harsh punishment as their return for obeying the constitution to join only one party and vote for one and only one candidate. Many competent people both in high and lesser positions who are genuinely hardworking and not politically biased, who have no interest in sabotaging the ruling government, who have fought hard to get to where they are today, who are obedient and law abiding citizens, are becoming victims of political vindictiveness and selectiveness popularly called ‘winner takes all’, the reason being that they openly associate themselves with an opposition party. The agony and pain political association in Ghana is having on families and societies is fast reaching a level never seen before in this country. The electorates are at the crossroad in the tick of the crossfire raging between the NDC and the NPP. You only need to listen to the fm stations to confirm this disturbing unfolding culture. Will this winner takes all politics ever happen if we had only one party as practiced, for instance in China?
That leads me to ask this basic yet important question. Why the need for the formation of many political parties and a government in the first place? Is the purpose for tearing us apart, enriching only a few, or for the good of the populace? Let me repeat, why the need for a government and opposition parties? I offer here my simple understanding. I will come to the latter but let me start with the former.
I will direct you to the very first four pages of the renowned American, Thomas Paine’s book COMMON SENSE for a vivid answer to why the need for the formation of government. And I quote the first paragraph on page four: Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of the moral virtue to govern the world; here too is the design and end of government, viz., freedom and security. And however our eyes may be dazzled with show, or our ears deceived with sounds; however prejudice may warp our wills, or interest darken our understanding; the simple voice of nature and reason will say, it is right.
In short, Thomas Paine explains that if our societies were smaller, if the size of our country were truly like that of a small village, if it was not the need to administer justice and keep peace in our societies, if it was not the need to have someone look over the resources that nature has given to all of us and not only one person, if it was not the need to have someone solely in charge of protecting our freedom and security while we go about our day to day activities, we wouldn’t have need for government.
And he continuous to suggest by saying that the best form of catering to these needs at the least cost to society (and in our case country) is to nominate some few people among us whose sole job will be to do exactly what we can do but for the sake of time and distance, has to be entrusted into their care. For, was it not for the sake of time, distance and inconvenience, we could all assemble at one location when need be to deliberate upon issues that concerns our country, regions, towns, villages, neighbourhoods and which is of supreme importance to our welfare. And he concludes by implicitly saying that, however fearful we may feel for ceding our powers to the government, nature and reason will say, it is right.
In our modern time, we have come to rely on democracy which Abraham Lincoln tacitly declared as ‘the government of the People, by the People, for the People’, as a tool for the selection of our prospective employee or government. Underneath this famous expression then is the whole meaning of government: one that is of the people, by the people, for the people. In a crude and simple term, the government is the people’s employee.
Therefore, (and kindly permit me to rhyme here) if a government is supposed to be an employee of the People, selected by the People, for the People, and not lord of the People, why does the government decides to cater for some of the People and neglect a section of the People simply because that section of the People felt a different party could do the job better? Why should the People rather become a beggar of the government who is employed by the People? How could the government use the same security apparatus meant for the protection of the People to intimidate the People? While the People have no place to lay their heads, the employee of the People uses the People’s own money to build castles and forts not for the People but for her own comfort, the government. While children of the People go to school under trees the employee of the People uses the People’s money to build new presidential mansions. While the People cannot afford even a bicycle the employee of the People is asking the People for more than two vehicles and presidential jets. And we are not just saying this for saying sake; it is indeed the fact on the ground.
As an employer, we provide our employee, the government, with everything it needs. We provide them free cars that come with free fuel, free foods and services, free accommodation and security, almost everything free to the extent the head of state is exempted from taxes. Why then should such an employee loot our national coffers, provide themselves extra houses and cars and neglect us, the employers? The government we have in Ghana and Africa are not the one advocated by Thomas Paine and Abraham Lincoln. Government in America and Europe are servants of the people and security men for the people. Ours are servants turned lords, our security men turned enemies.
On the other hand, the other groups of future employees, the opposition parties whom we have given the chance to prove to us that they will be good custodians of our freedom and justice by keeping in check the government, are even worse than the government itself.
Of parties, why not just one (since they are causing more harm than good in Ghana)?
First, opposition parties in a democratic political system are not really meant to be an opposition. Many of them are representatives of a section of the people in parliament and are supposed to serve the same role as advocated by Thomas Paine. That is, in some communities the best person deemed fit to represent the people may (unfortunately) be found in an opposition party. Second, we needed more than one party so that the other(s) will serve as a check on the government. Here then lies the wisdom for the creation of opposition parties and where it ends, viz., to be the mouthpiece of the people in their respective communities in case they are elected as parliamentarians, and to provide constructive criticisms and objective analysis of the government’s policies that represents the highest form of ability to govern when giving the chance. This is all that is demanded of them, nothing more!
Instead, the opposition we have in Ghana (whether it is NDC or NPP)though made up of highly learned intellectuals, are like the ones described by Mao Tse Tung as “ Swollen in head, weak in legs, sharp in tongue but empty in belly”. To them there is nothing good in what the government does neither will they offer any good alternative suggestions for the progress of the country. They only prefer walking out of parliament, holding needless press conferences, shouting at the top of their voices from one radio station to another, and in the end succeed in dividing the populace along sharp political lines. While the populace wished the government succeeds in bettering their life, the opposition wished the government fails because that is the easiest way for them to come to power. While the people pray for happiness, they on the other hand pray for bitterness for the people just so they can play on their feelings to win power. Really are we not reaping the opposite of what we expected of the opposition parties? Is it because their name derives from the word opposition so they have to oppose everything? Then we better finds them a new name.
Unlike in America and elsewhere, I am yet to hear the first parliamentarian in Ghana who has held a town hall meeting on important but costly issue as the recent STX-Korea housing saga to get a general view of the people he or she is representing, and not towing along party lines. You will be surprised on many occasions the view held by their people will be different from that of the party. Instead of voting in parliament based on the wishes of their people, they vote based on the wish of their party. Take. P.C Appiah-Ofori out, who among the present NPP parliamentarians don’t vote along party lines?
Politicians in Ghana have succeeded in making politics our daily bread. That is very unfortunate. Today one is either an NDC or an NPP. You are either for the government or for the opposition, and one is not fairly assured of a job unless he or she is a registered member of the ruling government. Is this really what we meant to achieve by forming political parties and government in the first place? When common sense dictates that the politicians be accountable to the people, the people are rather at the mercy of the politicians.
It is time the electorates resist being used as a tool by the politicians to further their hidden agenda. They are gradually turning us into our own enemies the end result of which may not be different from what happened in Rwanda, Burundi, and not so long ago in Kenya. After that glimpse of hope given to us by Nkrumah, we have instead been successively plundered by the military, cowed into submission in the past by the NDC, thought how to steal ‘wa wa’ from the national coffers in recent times by the NPP, turned our own enemies by our partisan fm stations and the print media, and in the end ridiculed by our neighbouring countries that Ghanaians ‘eat’ politics. If I were you I will never attend a political rally in this day of mass media scattered everywhere in Ghana. I will instead sit comfortably in my house, mind my business but critically analyze their message on the radio and TV, form my opinion, and on the morning of the day of the election walk gently to the booth to cast my ballot.
Truly, isn’t it a waste of time to go for political rallies? I never saw one in the U.K during their general election yet alone attend. Even in America where politics receives much attention, rallies are few and are sensibly done and carried out within a very short timeframe agreed upon by all parties. Why waste your time and energy then to openly identify yourself and lose your job in the end? Just imagine how the NDC and NPP are fighting each other on the radio every single day! Do you really think they care about you and me? Have you ever heard any of them in the heat of their argument say, this is what the people in my constituency feels should be done? It is their power and businesses they are protecting and not us. Don’t you see how in the process of protecting their interest they are fighting for control over the judiciary? Don’t you realize how they are flaming the conflict in Bawku for their own selfish gains? Lest I forget, did you know today the NDC have their own designated military called foot soldiers and the NPP are also preparing their version to be named head soldiers or air soldiers?
Well, I don’t know about you but this will be my formula come the electioneering campaign time, viz., I am going to buy my popcorn, get a walky-talky beside me, and tell the NDC and the NPP to better stop knocking on my door. But if you cannot do this, why don’t you learn from Lebron James, the American Basketball superstar by having the presidential and parliamentary candidates come to your doorstep to sell you their message instead of following them to those useless rallies. At least from that point you will get the chance to look deep in their eyes and make your choice.

Ooh how I wish the Electoral Commissioner will prefer I vote through the post without wasting my time to stay in that long queue only to be deceived and cheated by the very people I am wasting my energy and time to endorse.
The NDC and the NPP of today are only playing games with us using the Mr. Electoral Commissioner as the referee and I am not going to allow myself to be fooled again by dancing to their rhythm.

You know what folks, I better rush to attend to other business, but I wish you too could adopt my formula which is in your hands to decide anyway. Whenever you make up your mind, just give me a call and I will gladly buy you popcorn and a walky-talky to help you relax in your home instead of going for those life-threatening political rallies. We need to teach these politicians that we are the employers and they are the employees. I have had enough from these so called politicians!

By Anthony Afful-Dadzie :The Ohio State University (