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Opinions of Monday, 11 May 2015

Columnist: Sarfo, Samuel Adjei

Our Responsibility within the Democratic Dispensation

. Part I
By Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo
Attorney and Counselor at Law

The democratic dispensation makes extremely high presumptions on our people. It presumes without warrant that those who go to the polls are well informed about the intrinsic vision of a society that must move forward in progress, and advance in the national quest for equal opportunities, economic prosperity and of unity and stability. Democratic dispensation, which places sovereignty in the hands of the people, tends to believe that the masses will use the opportunity to determine their destinies in forging a progressive society clothed in the mantle of dignity and guided onto the path of prosperity, a society which will pursue the greater promises of justice and freedom, and advance the talents of our people through proper education and skills acquisition.

The foregoing presumptions must form the referential framework for our decisions as to who become leaders of our dear nation. And as we can see, the work of creating an economically viable and progressive nation whose people are enlightened and free and intelligent, has nothing to do with where who comes from and how. It has everything to do with how we tap into the potential gifts and talents within our society. So if a person comes from my own family but is not knowledgeable, capable or talented enough to advance our national goals, it should amount to a cynical and treasonable abandonment of my civil duty to vote for such. And if the person comes from the North Pole and has the ingenuity and wherewithal to create a better Ghana, I should be a virtual traitor for my country to vote for a less capable person. And so when we go to vote, we must first consider exactly what type of society we want to forge, so that we can bring into our fold of leadership the citizens with the capability to bring into being such a society. For we reap in leadership whatever we sow with our votes.

And concerning the politicians who have sold the country for a swan song: those accepting kickbacks in non- existent contract payments…..those who over invoice and under invoice and swell their own pockets with their ill-gotten wealth as if there is no tomorrow………those who invent judgment debts of over a billion dollars and lead the nation on a begging spree for a loan of under a billion dollars, those who perpetrate ill-conceived and ill executed projects like GYEEDA, SUBAH, SADA, .... who make 8.7 billion Ghana cedis over expenditure just for political expediency…… those performing vanishing acts with our oil money.... those that have amassed billions of generational debts with nothing to show for it, I must say that by our past votes, we sowed a great deal of thievery and corruption and allowed little people to persist in their evil government. And we are where we are today not because of some generational curses imposed on us on account of some undefined ancestral sins. All the sins for which we suffer as a nation, and which remain inherent in the society is as a result of the very choices we make in the selection of our leadership. When we get out to go and vote, we are often not looking at the kind of society we want to build or the vision we want to accomplish in order to select the very best of the people most qualified to perform the job. That is why for a majority of the time since our independence, we were not asking questions on people’s leadership record or their accomplishments in their personal lives, or what they have done for their societies or families before voting these people into our leadership positions. As we speak, the present government is filled with people who assumed political leadership soon after their university education and never sat in the community of elders to adjudicate the quality of palm wine, let alone govern a country. Need we then be surprised that we are in our presently unprecedented mess?

And remember that as 2016 approaches, many will still go to the polls forgetting about the duty they owe to vote into power those who are well resourced with the knowledge and talent to govern the country. These will be focusing instead on tribalism and cronyism to vote in revengeance against their perceived enemies. And remember that the governing party is aware of this weakness, and will continue to play on our petty squabbles to distract us from the main issues in which it has miserably failed. So in this democratic exercise, the masses of the people selected to elect the leadership might once again play to the gallery of the visibly inept who will reenact for them their traditional grievances in order to divide them and rule them. And the charade will continue.

Fortunately or unfortunately, hunger does not afflict only members of a particular religion or ethnicity. And darkness does not afflict only people of a certain party or class. And if the nation fails, it will fail for all Ghanaians, and not only for those who made bad judgment to vote the virtual crooks into office. If it is any consolation at all, people like us who call for a better government will live in relative comfort with our families no matter who governs the country. After all, we made it through our individual efforts and therefore are better resourced to withstand the most austere of our national circumstances without any government largesse. At the very least, we and our families will have shelter, food, clothing, cars and all the material things which we have acquired through our own sweat. But we would be fools to pretend that we do not care what happens to Ghana. As Mordecai said to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace, you will escape any more than all the other Jews.” (Esther 3:13). After all, we are all Ghanaians, and only fools believe that when the Nile turned red, the people of Israel had a lot of water to drink! How can a person live peacefully in wealth in a country where everybody else is crying in debt and dearth?

And this mindset is what informs those of us who have chosen to campaign for proper judgment on the part of our people as they go to the polls in 2016. We have been given whatever we need to discover the truth for ourselves: we know best our sufferings; we know best the corruption all around us; we know how our nation is being plundered and plunged into a bottomless pit with palpable darkness all around us. And we also know the kind of requisite skills and leadership talents that we need to make things better for us and where to find these. If we allow our petty squabbles and intrinsic hatred against a small section of congenital nitwits to mislead us to vote for those whose agenda is to fill their pockets, no amount of prayers or fasting will turn things around for us. This is because the science, keys and symbols of change are all in our own pockets, and no God will make any decision for us.

Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo is a practicing attorney in Austin, Texas, USA. You can email him at