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Opinions of Friday, 4 April 2008

Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi, Kwaku

The devaluation of our democracy: Thinking beyond 2008

In search of political heroes and heroines with radical changes……

No smear or dirty campaign, Please!

The Ghanaians , frustrated by mounting evidence of political innuendoes, inept and slow pace of a real change in their lives, are in search of array of political heroes--- with a nose-to- the - grindstone, no-excuses-will-be-accepted kind of people---- to make radical changes to the economy and ultimately to the constitution ;so as to keep tempo with time and developments.

In this year’s election, they’re desperately looking for a referendum to amend the constitution to prevent the devaluation of our infant democracy. I know that seems like a mild case to the average politician; who is milking the system to the bone and to the political junkies who were too busy worried about the looks of our Presidential aspirants and other unimportant aspects of the political process. But, it’s causing me a significant discomfort—as in being hapless and hopeless. .

“What”? Hold on! I know I have just lost a few of you right there, but bear with me...

Right now our democracy has been devalued--thanks to the constitutional provision (Article 78(1)) – because it allows the majority of our Mps to be appointed as ministers—or should I say ‘anointed’? Personally, I have a beef with that clause in the constitution. With that kind of arrangement there is “no oversight responsibility over the Executive branch”

With the intense desire by the Mps to be considered for the ministerial appointments, the need or the willingness to question the Executive’s powers is not part of the agenda because it’s gone with the wind—so to speak. The constituency’s programs are also marginalized when an MP has double duties. It can also create ‘conflicts of interest’.

Has the nation lost its way that accountability is no longer required? What kind of message does that send to our future politicians? “Don’t criticize my policies in public and I’ll make you a Minster of transportation”.” I’ll make you the regional Minster if you don’t say anything against my lousy bill; I just introduced in the Parliament”. See- and –hear- no- evil syndrome at work, people. And, the national agenda is kicked to the wayside. So the earlier we change it the better. It will also allow the Government to tap into the pool of equally qualified individuals who are not members of Parliament.

Now, some people might be inclined to say it was designed to save the nation some money by reducing the government’s employees. If so, your inclination would be wrong. Can you please quantify the amount of money the nation has saved so far? Where is the beef? We’re literally robbing Peter to pay Paul.

On the election front we don’t have much to write home about. Yes, every election season has its excessive, but last year’s presidential aspirants’ election raised enough eyebrows. With jaw-dropping--too -many promises, mad-display of cash and “stupid” interpretation of one’s look as a qualification for a presidential candidate, I felt like throwing up—yikes! .These and other useless symptoms that were used to mislead the electorate are what worry most people. So I hope and pray this year’s election will be different—way different.

As a nation are we looking for those who have more money than God and stunning beauty to lead us than those who have the fear of God and/or skills and vision to solve our tons of problems? This sounds like nitpicking but not politicking.

At a time of urgency to fix our economy, the unemployment lines, poor police protection for the citizenry, crumbling educational system, dangerous road network, water shortage, and ever-increasing Ghanaian self-imposed exiles , are we worried about ‘small stuff’?.

Interestingly, we’re judged first by looks, second, by what we say; third, and most important, by our actions. But, what we say and do are more important than how we look. If you don’t believe me think of the ten people you most admire. Is your admiration for any of these people based on how good-looking they are? If anything, you will think of their accomplishments or characters .The virtues that are important to most of us which include such things as: persistence, respectfulness, temperance, compassion ,flexibility, forgiveness, handwork, kindness and tolerance are what really make you admire people..

Speaking of ‘beauty’, if we’re stuck with beauty why did we leave all the equally qualified ladies out of the last year’s race? No disrespect, but naturally women are nice –looking than men in any shape or form. In addition, they have brains to mange things far better than men---No pun intended...

I wonder what would be the outcome of this year’s Presidential election if a lady threw herself into the race. In a beauty –obsessed society, I can guarantee that when a lady gets into the race all the men will run for cover because the most handsome man will not match the ugliest lady in Ghana.

I’m not just hoping for that prospect but I’m on my knees praying vigorously for that.

I have another surprise for the beauty-obsessed individuals who want to run a country with good looks. They claim that one has to be good -looking in order to run a country. I beg your pardon! Are we nuts? Since when did we equate beauty or nice-looking to one’s brain power or ability to solve problems? With this if I were a presidential candidate I’d choose a candidate with a traffic-stopping- beauty-brainy female, as my running mate. Voila! Nana , Atta or Kwesi, you can’t go wrong with this one. Just try it.

As the political landscape has been cleared to prepare for this year’s planting season, it’s likely going to get very ugly—sayooo! Trust me; both parties (NPP and NDC) are going to engage in a psychological warfare at the highest proportion. Some of them will use money and words whilst others will use good-looks as if they’re auditioning for a beauty pageant.

Most people are of the view that this year’s election is bought and paid for by those who have the money. Another political school of thought has it that the most experienced ones didn’t have the chance from their own parties’ nomination. But, then it seems this year’s election has nothing to do with experience, vision, skills and ability to think outside- the- box. It’s said that the upcoming general election will be a hot race to compete. With Paa Kwesi Nduom factor and CPP’s willingness to position itself as a formidable opposition party, the NPP is likely to get fifty percent of the vote—which will not make it a winner. This is the prospect the NPP can ill afford.

The situation even becomes more delicate for NPP when you consider the latest allegations perpetrated by the so -called “opposition elements”; who are trying to derail Nana Akufo –Addo’s candidature. Nevertheless, the NPP’s honcho men and women are going to need enough aspirin for headache and something to control their bowels movement; when their own candidate’s “scandals “hit the political ceiling fan. The allegations are pouring in like a monsoon, from every angle which could possibly deflate his aspiration and reputation. So how much can he take before he goes down?

Though the allegations have no foundation— at least, not yet—but regardless of their veracity they could taint his image and reputation. That can also squander the built-in political advantage the NPP has over the other parties.

Anyway, in no way my focus on the NPP is intended to diminish the importance of the other parties’ candidates or to make fun of NPP. However, I’m just trying to salvage what the political weather- Vane is spinning so as to calibrate its long term effect.

By the way, where were the party’s favorites who were supposed to rally behind their presidential nominee; when the assaults were coming in? Call me crazy; but I smell something fishy within the NPP .Is it an inside job to unseat Nana? Or the Cash’s faction is using surrogates to do the dirty job so as to cash in on Nana’s ‘misfortunes’? I thought Nana had everything figured out. My lips are tightly sealed on this one. This reminds me of a political adage, which says,”Politics is an advance auction of stolen goods”

Nevertheless, trying to pull all that off without any political scratch on the nation’s infant democracy is something I don’t want to wish on my worst enemy. But, time will tell it all. It’s too early to predict the outcome of the general election and its implication on the Parties’ reputation and integrity. But, the nation will hold all the parties responsible if they threw some dust into our eyes. I just had my fingers crossed with some ‘Crazy Glue’, hoping against hope the right person will be elected to move the county onto the socio-economic “Promised Land.”

Currently, all bets are off for the time being, whilst the nation is trying to recuperate from the CAN 2008 Soccer Tournament excitement. It’s not going to be easy. The least we’re hoping for is for all the political parties to put the country’s interest before their own political ends and promise the nation a very professional, positive, healthy, civil, stable and organized campaign to elect our next President. On that note, please raise up your right hand and Promise us that you will discuss and debate the issues affecting the nation--say it loud!

Historically, every generation has its defining moments. The generation before us fought for our independent. But, sadly our defining moments are to see how we can out spend one another and ‘Hummer’ our worldly toys around town on our pot-hole-stricken roads to show off. Our defining moments are to design ways and means to rob the nation. Indeed, the next generation would be proud of our ‘accomplishments’.

We will be definitely remembered for our selfishness, greediness, shortsightedness, inability to prioritize our needs and how we let the entire generation’s future burst into flames whilst we stood by with a watering can.

I know I’m politically incorrect. But, please read the two paragraphs you just read; again before your ”e-mails” rain down on me, and you accuse me of pandering to a particular party.

Anyway, what is the litmus test for choosing our future leaders?

I cry for my nation, but I’m still keeping hope alive; because this year is a “gold mine” for me and other news junkies---So much to write about.

Let’s look at them next….Stay tuned!

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi
NJ, USA
* The author is a social commentator and the founder of the Adu-Gyamfi Youth Empowerment, Educational and Apprenticeship Foundation at Asuom, Akim.E/R.


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.