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Opinions of Thursday, 20 February 2020

Columnist: Denis Andaban

Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not a principle of democracy

Businesses have been demolished at the Trade Fair Centre Businesses have been demolished at the Trade Fair Centre

It is a trite knowledge that Africa experimented democracy, accepted it and now must believe in it as a custom and principle. Many of the nations that gained independence in the 50s had either inherited or adopted democracy. In the case of Ghana, I think, and I believe it is the case, that we inherited but reformed our democracy. The many years of experimentation was a treacherous one. It was a tedious exercise which at a point almost became an exercise in futility because the incidence of military takeovers became predominant in the body politics of Africa.

Many of these revolutions were occasioned by some assigned reasons zeroing down to the general discontent by the people, arising out of the then social, political and economic situations. Those were the very challenging days of political history. We were not sure of the very path we had chosen for ourselves because the situation was chaotic and characterized by national upheavals.

Our principles of government inherited and somehow reformed, were absolutely annihilated. There was neither a national hope nor a vision. Our hope and vision rested in the arms and minds of those men with threatening muscular disposition, in khaki uniforms, who, by a simple trigger and shout, could decide within few minutes, the person or group to rule us.

The hostile political environment continued because some were obviously encouraging and promoting instability as a way of revenge. The reminiscence of the brutalities, the lawlessness and other instances of dictatorship tortures my memory and provokes a certain excruciating pain in me, even though I was not born at the time. I feel it because I have been told by my parents. I dislike that period because I could probably not have survived the culture of silence as a youth activist.

I would have written, I would have spoken, and I would have advocated a change, on any platform within my vicinity. Surely, the repercussions would have been dire because the vindictiveness and tolerance of the self-made leaders would have been extended to me.

Fortunately, in 1992, there was another era which became what I call the cleansing period. Within that period, we all agreed that we erred, trespassed and infracted the standards in our thoughts and actions that culminated a slow socio-economic transformation. The greatest achievement of a man starts the very day he recognizes his own mistakes and takes decisions to change by starting at fresh with a more rejuvenated hope and vision. That was the case of 1992. The 1992 constitution holds this spirit of freshness and collectiveness. It was borne out of frustrations and lamentations of past events and that has made it sacred and powerful. By that spirit, everybody was defined by the same standard and more importantly, there was inclusiveness in the affairs of our country. That was nationhood.

We have walked that path together without becoming tired or bored despite the many other challenges we face. Naturally, the problems of man can never finish. Indeed, the very day we would not have problems is the very day we should not need leaders because leaders are always needed to solve problems. It is this understanding that should resonate in the mind of all citizenry. We must help our leaders in solving our problems.

I encourage every Ghanaian to continue to work hard and discharge our responsibilities as part of our quota to nation building. Leaders, on the other hand, must understand that they are where they are because of the people. They must not let personal interest prevails in the expense of the will of the people because the constitution let us understand that power resides with the people. When the will and interest of the people is subverted, the constitution is under threat and patriotic citizens must not sit down and watch in silence.

Let me reiterate that government in the context of our laws must benefit everybody. The decisions and indecisions of government must therefore be in the interest of the people. A government whose aim is to empower some citizens but unjustifiably punish others, denying them the security they need as citizens is a danger to democracy and must be uprooted as early as possible. When laws are mischievously and selectively applied to meet the whims and caprices of government under our current democracy, one can only infer that we are witnessing another form of dictatorship. Perhaps a dictatorship that does not necessarily rely on the gun but paper and pen. This would not benefit the future because once the oppressed harbor any intentions of revenge and reprise, then, there is a looming danger capable of annihilating the cherished existing standards not given attention to.

We have many enterprising, industrious and innovative men and women in the country who have the potentials of capturing economic height globally. We are thus blessed by diversified knowledge and skills. What we should do as a country is unearthing, guiding, supporting and protecting such talents to grow to their peaks. That is how we can create jobs and industrialize this country. It is incontestable, that many of the private enterprises we have in this country perform far better than public or state enterprises/institutions. This should give us a common understanding that the private man has more potentials to tap from if we really are committed to the quest for industrialization.

Sadly, this government which claims that the private sector is the engine of our economic growth has collapsed local businesses. It is sad, that government had had to collapse many local banks and financial institutions. I am yet to be convinced that the many banks that were collapsed were done in the interest of this country. I am yet to be convinced, that the laws were reasonably and fairly applied. It was simply an extension of a certain hatched political agenda to destroy others to build others but rubbing Peter to pay Paul isn’t a fair principle in democracy.

Some reasons for the collapse of the banks, as were given by the bank of Ghana, are ridiculous, unfathomable and nebulous. Many businesses have been collapsed because of the collapse of the banks, many others have loss their jobs and many others have their savings and business capitals locked up in the collapsed banks and other financial institutions, for those who are going through this excruciating economic hardship, what is their crime? For no fault of theirs, they should suffer in the hands of government which, primarily, should have given them security?

Again, the case where government hide under the fight against crime to perpetuate crimes should not be accepted. That kind of distrust, willfully demonstration of double standard, dishonesty and corruption should not be accepted. We do agree that illegal mining is bad and has brutally affected our environment that our lives began to be threatened because our ecology is being destabilized and far becoming inhabitable.

Some concerned citizens, largely, from the media fraternity waged a war to stop this canker and I supported it. Then, the government took it up and promised Ghanaians to end it with alacrity. An inter-ministerial committee was formed, and they used the state security to chase illegal miners, beat them up, imprisoned some of them, cease their properties including guns, excavators, gold and many others. In some instances, some powerful voices in government were directing the military to adopt the shoot to kill approach. We thought government was discharging its duty of safeguarding the environment.

Little did we know that there was a diabolic agenda for some top government officials to use the opportunity to venture into illegal mining and that many others were targeting to steal the ceased equipment. Is this the country that we have struggled to bring this far? Then, it would have been better to have allowed the illegal miners to continue to destroy the environment than chase them out to make way for government itself to engage in the illegality. What is more worrying is the fact that government officials took bribes to allow illegal miners to continue the act.

Now we are told of how the minister and others planned to betray this country. This act of wickedness has put the government into public disrepute and in some other jurisdiction, the least would have been the president apologizing to Ghanaians and resigning afterward, but in our case, he sees nothing wrong. Can we conclude that the government no longer represents the interest of the country and that he has betrayed us?

Additionally, just some few days ago, another young industrious Ghanaian entrepreneur, by name Raymond Archer, had his fair share of the capricious and whimsical acts of this government. The Universal Label and Packaging Company was pulled down on the orders of the Trade Fair Company limited. I am told it is one of the best and largest labelling and packaging company we have in the shores of Africa. That Ghanaian company is gone over what could be resolved amicably. Alas, the economic brutality suffered by the Archer and his many other workers cannot be forgotten.

It is a dark history for this country. That is the reward they have gotten for investing in their own country. if it were that easy to build a factory, why has government not been able to deliver its own 1D1F policy? At least, I cannot find one in the whole of the Upper West Region, yet it can just use national security to unjustifiably pull down a factory own by a Ghanaian. Isn’t this ironic for a government to say it is encouraging the private sector to build factories but turn around to wickedly collapse existing factories?

I can understand, lucidly, that this government is being tricked by power and it is blind by its own deeds. The government fails to understand leadership that is anchored in common sense. All it believes is that “we have the power”. Unfortunately, the moral society and many so-called voices of conscience have their mouths glued perhaps by political largesse. I can now appreciate the wisdom in Martin Luther King’s postulation that history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

I am sure power makes us blind, but posterity holds the light.

I speak no more on this vindictiveness, intolerance, unfairness, corruption and discrimination everywhere. May the gods of our ancestors, who left a foundation for us, save this country from the clutches of oppressors.

Denis Andaban

The village boy from DBI