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Opinions of Sunday, 22 November 2015

Columnist: Sika Mintah Afari

Purposeless lamentations hit a major roadblock!

The President at the weekend spoke directly to the major shareholders of the Lets Perpetually Bash The President Industry, and all hell broke loose. It is not as if the intelligent men and women card-bearing shareholders in this limited liability company expected President John Mahama not to respond to the tons of calumny heaped on his person, family and his party because he committed the cardinal sin of winning elections at the expense of their preferred choices, the fact of the matter is simply that the contrived astonishment is hollow and ridiculous.

It seems all online platforms and media outlets are agog with the few pointed remarks made by the President in riposte to the perpetual swansong of incompetence levelled at him at every turn by his peeved detractors.

There are a lot of our citizens who simply cannot accept the presidency of this fine gentleman for reasons which are difficult to share without shooting logic in the face.

The historical reference by the President to the antics of Dr Paul Josef Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment in the Third Reich of Adolf Hitler from January 1933 to April 1945 in Germany, should have alerted his critics that they were doing something fundamentally wrong in our electoral politics.

Dual problem with country’s politics There is a dual problem in our politics which can easily be traced to two events from our past as a country: The first being the demonisation of politics by those outside government, and secondly the undue, overpowering legalisation of all political issues to the detriment of common sense and practical hands-on resolution of political issues.

The first problem which manifests in extremely violent political language, occasionally slipping over into real violence, death and mayhem, is the direct result of our undemocratic interregnums. While the overwhelming majority of Ghanaians have put this behind them as evidenced in the enthusiastic embrace of the ballot as the vehicle for changing or affirming governments, a vocal minority demands a return to the bad days every day with their gleeful embrace of violence and undemocratic methods in the resolution of political disputes.

The legalisation of matters political is a specific West African penchant of appearing learned and overly legalistic in the conduct of all public matters when common sense, ready and usable tools of sweet reason, prudence and gumption are at hand to assist in the resolution of matters which worry us. This has been noted by scholars of this subregion for two centuries on the heels of the systematic introduction of Western education into our societies.

Militaristic solution Examples of these phenomena are legion. What accounts for the love of militaristic solutions to problems by even the most educated and enlightened among us, knowing very well that our current dispensation will frown on shortcut solutions which dispense with procedure and decorum, all in the pursuit of power that can only be gained at the polls, and not at the point of a gun?

What explains our quotidian love for interjecting ordinary conversations on any topic with the conversation stopper: prove it? It is abnormal in our traditional settings to conduct verbal business of any kind this way, but our wannabe claims of erudition never fail to compel us to make our social intercourse unnecessarily difficult and impossible when we employ such intrusive tactics.

These matters, briefly touched on here, are directly responsible for the nature of the response to the presidential assumption of the leadership rejecting the negative politics infecting the land. They all reflect a worrying trend further exemplified by other related matters such as the intractable Paul Afoko problem in the opposition New Patriotic Party and the brazen and completely baseless efforts to sideline him, led by the flag bearer of the party.

As I write, I am yet to see and comprehend the crimes for which a party will seek to silence its own chairman because at bottom, some cannot work with him. How did he get the position of chairman in the party? At the point of a gun?

Political competence Here we are, with the champions of democracy, correct procedure and common sense, leading a party in tatters because everything has been thrown overboard. Here we are, with a party led by leaders of unenviable political experience, challenging the credentials of a person already chosen by the people of this country to lead.

The meaning of political competence starts from somewhere basic; the successful cobbling together of diverse individuals into a united force to capture power. This is a prima facie legitimisation of competence without which, other competencies pale into irrelevance. In any case, the task of nation building is also a task of successfully bringing diverse people together to achieve common goals competently identified as worthy of attainment for the common good.

Unfortunately for all of us, being a President is not the normal job description and experience of even the most talented educationally or businesswise, among us. It is primarily the gift a grateful people bestowed on specific individuals because at bottom, the values of such individuals coincide with those of the people. It is not about academic attainments, nor even specific political experience.

The fact of universal adult suffrage makes it impossible for imposters to win. In other words, how can someone who has never been President be the most abused or talked about person in the land?

It is about a year since President Mahama described the shareholders of the corporate entity identified above as experts in purposeless lamentations. Nothing makes his views truer than the current negative political seizures rending his opponents apart even as he prepares to have his mandate renewed at the head of a party which he is successfully leading to shed its past and embrace a future of peace, progress and development in life and freedom. These are the unchanging values of Ghanaians.

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