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Opinions of Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Columnist: Gideon Kwame Otchere

The Einstein oppositions

Albert Einstein, the German-born physicist, is widely known for his discoveries and influence on scientific philosophies. Jose Mourinho, the former Manchester United coach, once described football pundits and the media as Einstein’s in his quote in 2016, “We had a bad week. I know that some football Einsteins, they tried to delete 16 years of my career and delete an unbelievable history of Manchester United Football Club and focus on a bad week and three bad results. But that's the new football - it's full of Einsteins”. In this quote, he used ‘Einstein’ to sarcastically describe the media and pundits who he believes saw themselves as the citadel of football knowledge. The name Einstein is linked to the display of a high level of intelligence, discoveries and problem-solving prowess.

Is it not wonderful how opposition political parties in Ghana tend to have all the solutions to the country’s problems?

Throwback to my social studies class in College, we were told the main aim of a political party is to win elections. Therefore, every political party has winning elections above good governance or the wellbeing of the citizenry on its scale of preference. Regardless of how well a country is managed (which I guess is highly impossible), opposition parties will promise better. Opposition parties exist to keep the ruling party on the right path by providing alternatives but is that their aim? Just as we doubt the intention of the player on the bench in a football match, questions must be asked of the intent of opposition parties. How will opposition parties win elections if they keep the government on the right path? This leads to questions like, are opposition parties there to frustrate the ruling party and make them unpopular so they can replace them in the next election? Are opposition parties ever going to be content with the work of the ruling party? Do they give suggestions in good faith?

It is uncommon in Ghanaian politics to hear an opposition party praising a ruling party or vice versa for something done. In the rare case it happens, the achievement is downplayed with historical comparisons. For instance, oppositions parties will decry the abandonment of projects started under their regime. One would reason that when such projects are continued and completed by the ruling government, the opposition party would congratulate and encourage more of such practices, certainly not. There will be weeks of banter on who played what role in the project and whatnot. So, the question is, what was the intention of the call to complete the unfinished projects? Not to urge the government to complete those projects but to make the ruling party unpopular. Unfortunately, the populace has fallen for this for some time now. We keep asking why all the good opposition alternatives and policies do not see light when the parties win the election.

Judging political parties on their manifesto will be a good place to start. Not voting for political parties because of the failure of the other party is a good way to assess the ideas and policies of an opposition. Unfortunately, manifestos are not as important in our politics as the looks or loquaciousness of the candidate. Thus, we tend to have more verbose candidates than doers. I know politics is greatly influenced by the ability to express ideas and policies effectively, but reading and analysing party manifestos gives an insight into how the party plans to govern the country if given the chance; unfortunately, illiteracy is a bane in the country and militates against this recommendation. The high illiteracy level has been exploited by political parties over the years. I hope that the literacy rate rises soon to a point where politics will be more analytical, enquiring and policy-based than what we have now.

Now to the question of, do opposition parties over-promise? Do they display Einstein level of IQ in opposition and the opposite in power?

I prefer a political party with great and huge plans to one with none. However, my vote is not going to be based on what the politician says but will be founded on the feasibility of policies sighted in their manifesto and my expectations. These will be my judging parameters when the party seeks re-election and not what opposition says about the ruling party since it will never be positive.

Promises in opposition have many motives, two I believe includes: to show the populace the opposition party can do better in power than the ruling party and give the populace hope for the future if they win the elections. However, all these promises are made on assumptions and estimations of the strength of the economy due to the lack of credible information. How many times have we not heard a new government lamenting about the state of the economy they inherited? So, the question is, if you do not have the information, why make promises based on assumptions? The answer to this question cannot be determined since promises and elections go together. You cannot win an election without plans. Making credible information available to the public is a good way to start, I believe this will help bridge the gap between the promises before elections and what happens after power have been won.

Opposition parties, will criticise anything and everything, at least that is what we have in our country but is that the way forward? Is the ruling party always wrong? Do we always need alternatives? Many questions come to mind when we consider the role of opposition parties in governance. To have different political parties to choose from during elections is great but after elections, what are their impact on governance. Do they help move the country forward or just there to frustrate the ruling party throughout its tenure? If it is the latter, then growth and development will be an abstract phenomenon in the country. To be clear, just check the synonyms of “OPPOSITION”.

Adapting Mourinho’s words, Politics is full of Einstein’s!!!!

God help and bless Ghana!!!