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Opinions of Saturday, 9 July 2016

Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

Sorry, Mahama’s authority did not come from God

Perhaps, I need to revisit my books more often, because I never knew that elected leaders of modern democracies derive their authority from God. And when you express your dissatisfaction in a very colourful language you can incur the displeasure of the almighty. I read with mixed feelings and consternation about a week ago a piece entitled ‘Insulting a sitting president is the most unfortunate sin against God’. The following is the link: To be honest, I quite agreed with the introduction and share the sentiments of the writer regarding the example of a three-year-old insulting President Mahama. I have not seen the clip and I don’t intend to, but I take his word for it. Besides, I must add, it is appalling and it should not be entertained in any society whatsoever.

However, my beef is with the main reason for his effort. His rendition of Kojo Yankson’s comment, which has incurred the displeasure of many Ghanaians was a bit inaccurate to say the least. The fact is the presenter did not categorically label the president as an armed robber. It was a joke that came too close for comfort in the wake of the Dailyguide story that the president has made a formal request to carry a pistol. And I honestly believe the president has himself to blame.

We all know that the job comes with its inherent dangers. Nevertheless, since when did presidents carry gun for their own personal safety? Does the president have doubts about the integrity of his bodyguards? If as a president, his preoccupation is about his personal safety then what time does he have to think seriously about the needs and problems of the country. There is a reason why he is provided with a 24-hour security detail. The import is to ensure his absolute peace of mind to think about the county. What will be the essence of those professionally trained bodyguards provided by the state? If he feels that his guards are not adequate, then he should make formal request to parliament to make changes to meet his needs, but not requesting for a personal gun, which is superfluous. How is he going to use it? Will he be clutching his gun in its holster while delivering a speech at the independence square? Will he be looking around for potential assailants when he enters a room?

The above is just a side track. For Mr Anthony Obeng Afrane to suggest that all authority comes from God is to deprive the bible of any contextual meaning. We submit to authority simply because we prefer order to chaos. Is he trying to argue that Kotoka’s coup that overthrew Nkrumah was sanctioned by God? What about Acheampong, did his authority come from God to terminate Busia’s regime? Did Mr Afrane think about the butcher, Rawlings, whether God anointed him to come and brutalise Ghanaians?

Now, all authority is authority irrespective of its dominion on earth. So let us leave Ghana for a while and go further afield for more clarity. Did Hitler obtain his blessings from God to murder six million Jews and plunge the whole world into a war that destroyed the lives of 54 million body count in WWII. What about the brutality of Stalin; did he seek permission from God to murder 20 million of his own citizens? It will be redundant to even talk about the atrocities of Mao let alone defend that his callous regime was decreed from God.

Our knowledge of history over millennia proves that authorities do not come from God. And if they do, I don’t think God will allow flawed characters to ascend thrones. In other words, am I to conclude that God allowed King Charles I of England to be crowned and then conspire to have his head chopped off. A similar tragedy played out in France a century and a half down the line. Did God allow Louis XVI of France’s head to be guillotined after legitimising his authority?

The biblical verse that Mr Afrane quoted to support his argument was written by St Paul to the Romans at a time when Christians were despised in the Greco-Roman world. Does anybody think St Paul was going to write any other for the beleaguered first century Roman Christians? They would have been crush if he had advised them otherwise against a blood thirsty sovereign like Nero. It was a calculated advice St Paul gave to his fellow Christians in Rome to submit to authority for their own safety.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr