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Opinions of Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Columnist: Okofo-Dartey, Samuel

Political Rhetoric In Ghana: Verbal Abuse Or Potent Policies

If there is ever the golden opportunity for Ghanaians to develop and take a commanding height among those who call the shot when it pertains to economic power, the time is now. Since independence, Ghanaians of yesterday and today have been nursing the hope of a rapid economic transformation in the country but it appears this once formidable hope is gradually ebbing into thin air. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the illustrious son of Ghana and Africa, started the drive for accelerated national development in every segment of the country after independence. (See Dark Days in Ghana by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah)
The infrastructural, educational and industrial reforms he engineered with the help of foreign allies and the citizenry are monumental achievements evident for all to see. It has been argued severally by some political pundits that but for his overthrow, Ghana would have been an economic haven as compared with the currents of poverty and the never ending appetite for loans sweeping over the country.
Recently, some political events in the country have seemingly taken the semblance of chaos. The two major political parties, namely the New Patriotic Party (N.P.P.) and the National Democratic Congress (N.D.C.) appear to be at each other’s throat. Their ultimate goal without doubt is to annex political power. Sincerely, their interest in political power is a noble course. For power is a blunt force without being exercised.
But their mode of late in seeking this political mandate from us the kingmakers is somewhat appalling. The water is even made muddier by some of the so called political activists and verbally uncouth social commentators who only bark at the behest of their political overlords. They tend to forget that if one learns to respect himself, he in turn will be respected and that words sent forth with the utmost pedigree of circumspection and decorum, return in equal measure.

In fact, the pioneers of democracy with America as its beacon were able to deduce that in order for democracy to achieve its intended purpose, there was the need for the stakeholders to go past mere rhetoric. They were of the view that political rhetoric was principally to be backed by concrete, viable and development policies that will serve the interest of the present and the generations yet unborn.
However, it appears the political ambience in Ghana is quite the contrary in our emulation of those whose democratic credentials are unparalleled. There is this tendency of more talk less action on the part of leadership. What can be more worrying are the unsavoury remarks by some of our political commentators who are only interested in gaining political capital while they unjustifiably drag their opponents in the mud. We should be careful of what we wish for or against someone for in no time we become victims of the traps that ensnare our opponents.
It therefore did not go down well with certain key figures in the government’s outfit when an N.P.P. activist’s statement on a radio station seemed to associate homosexuality with the president. This inordinate impression created about the president was an offshoot of a malicious cocktail of cheap propaganda and defamation directed at the flag bearer of the N.P.P.
The perpetrators sought to associate illicit drug trade and usage with the flag bearer in an attempt to make him unpopular while they projected the president as being humble, God fearing, and a caring father for all Ghanaians. An N.D.C. activist in a news item on taunted the N.P.P. flag bearer as being bereft of humility just as the chicken is bereft of urine. Unfortunately, the commentator I believe forget to assess himself first to be sure whether he had no tinge of blunder in his character.
The latest in terms of politics of insults that I can recall readily happened on Joy fm’s informative programme, newsfile. It happened that the panel member representing the N.P.P. felt that his colleague representing the N.D.C. has insulted his intelligence, hence, the branding of the N.D.C. representative as a “stupid fool.” It is sometimes within this oral fray that, men without verbal restraint are often carved as object of ridicule. I am afraid the content of the wikileaks will spark needless political controversies in the weeks to come if great caution is not exercised. And if caution is thrown to the dogs, as Ghanaians we may be taking our heads to the guillotine before we become conscious of our frivolity.
Now Ghanaians have the choice to either fall for the lies, insults and propaganda spewing from some politicians or vote for politicians with viable, attainable and development oriented policies that will add value to our standard of living. We should as electorates assess political talk via the lens of development and not through mere rhetoric. If we fail in this regard, then we may not be different from men of limited mental might who believe all that they are told without subjecting them to scrutiny.
If we tend to be slinging mud at one another without initiating practical policies then we are not making meaningful efforts to taking care of ourselves. We may as well lose sight of the essentials necessary for our development while we concentrate on the non essentials. Constructive criticism in this case should be the first and last resort whenever issues of national interest surface. Destructive criticism, therefore, if not checked can undoubtedly fan the flames of politics of insults which will polarise the country rather than unite it.
I would like to challenge anyone to read the genesis of some of the developed countries that we love to admire and one will be astounded that their leaders, although not perfect, deemed it appropriate to nurture a nation around their own values, aspirations and not insults. They felt it took their collective efforts to build their countries other than leaving their fate in the hands of foreigners who are largely skewed towards their parochial interests. The leaders of these countries knew without doubt that if they heavily depended on foreigners they will be pursuing a dead end.
But what do we see today? It is not uncommon to hear phrases such as “development partners”, “donor communities” “loan facility” among others finding their way into public discourse by our elite politicians who seem to be “puppeted” by their generous “puppeteers.” If you want to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the foregoing analysis, have a cursory look at most of the deals or agreements struck by the government. They are either funded through a loan facility or heavily supported by donors. Our budget is about forty percent funded by foreign partners.
Any well meaning Ghanaian would ask the following question after realising how critical the situation is: when is Ghana ever going to stand on its feet with little or no support from her creditors or donors in the midst of all her enormous natural resources? Will we ever stop licking the erratic dry drops of sap from the palms of agencies like the World Bank and put an end to statements like, “Ghana has enough space to borrow?”
The government tells us that a donor conference is to be held in Ghana in order to raise enough money to finance the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA). Now, imagine for a moment that in the event of a delay on the part of the donor partners in honouring their part of the bargain after the conference, are we going to chide them or halt the project indefinitely because we lack the wherewithal to execute it? What are we going to tell our kinsfolk up north after their hopes have been toppled and bruised?
In principle, there is nothing criminal about government seeking to partner other credible development countries and institutions to drive the country forward, but what is worrying is the manner we fall into their unsuspecting interests through the agreements we sign with some of them. No country in this world and to be specific, China will give a three billion dollar loan facility to another country without the donor country harbouring a peculiar interest in the recipient’s resources or something strategic in that country. Could this be another Trojan horse in disguise?
There are other pressing problems confronting the country that need urgent attention. The needless insults and blame game from our political leaders will not salvage the country from our economic mess. Sincerely, it appears some of our politicians are only interested in tasting political power via whatever means while they damn the consequences thereafter and eventually pay lip services to the electorates.
Our leaders should note that on the global platform of dominance, an important political potion inter alia is economic independence. So the beauty they (leaders) should be madly in love with should not be the amassing of personal wealth and spitting empty rhetoric and insults into our ears when they can demonstrate a colossal craving for economic transformation for the majority of the masses who are practically poor.
Lastly, politicians should make sure that in their political persuasions, they inject sanity into their speeches and spare us the tendencies that will cause the electorates to think they are only interested in annexing political power other than pursuing matters of national interest.