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Opinions of Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Columnist: Atta-Boakye, Ken

Towards a Better Ghana.

In my recent article on the Ghanaweb posted on June 24, 2009 I lambasted Political leaders especially, NPP and NDC, for taking the nation for granted for far too long. A nation is not for politicians. The politicians run the nation as trusted administrators or custodians for a company. Ghana is for Ghanaians and the politicians owe allegiance to her people. The people have alienable rights to ensure that the politicians give a better account of their stewardship. In this respect the people should not stay aloof while the leaders make bad policies and run the nation for their own selfish interests. The nation is in leadership crisis for the want of leaders with the passion to sacrifice and serve but not for the want of resources. There is gold, diamond, oil, agric products-cocoa, timber, tourism and human experts-local and abroad. The question then is: are the leaders innately bad and/or selfish?

This question could be answered from the perspective of our cultural, social and philosophical dimensions and beliefs. Our culture makes it incumbent upon the breadwinners to take responsibility of other members of the family. When one person succeeds he becomes responsible for a whole lot of people including extended family members. The problem is compounded where the individual was brought up by the goodwill of someone other than from the family relationship. So instead of taking care of only the people from his family and the extended relationship he has others outside the perimeters to include on the list. The culture also has the religious virtue of being each other’s keeper. The people were brought up in a compound house where they benefited from each other and for that matter committed to help when in a good position. The stealing then begins.

The social dimension even becomes suicidal. Friends who helped a politician to climb the ladder expect the leader to extend services to them by seeing to their economic welfare. They make politics become a game like: ‘scratch my back and I will scratch yours too’ If the leader is unable to spend recklessly on friends and take responsibility for their upkeep he is labeled as selfish and uncaring. To be able to meet these multifarious responsibilities he has to steal from the state coffers. It is sad to milk the nation and make it anemic.

The philosophical aspect stems from the political set-up. There is the fear of survival instinct. If a change in govt. means an overhaul of the workforce to bring in other employees of the ruling party, then those in the current positions should grab as much as they wanted before they get sacked from an incoming administration. The political vindictiveness leads to corrupt practices and that becomes the bane of our development. Two years ago I was in Accra and I boarded the Kufour Obatanpa Metro Mass Transport from Domi to Accra Central. Right there I saw a philosophical problem. The concept of providing the people with easy means of transport was perfect but it turned into finding job for the people and nobody cared about how it was run. The bus collector was completely corrupt and cheated with the tickets. When I was in the country for about six months I thought corruption had been legalized. It was rampant and affected every fiber of the economic system. And the rank and file of the civil service had cause to be corrupt. The scanty paycheck made them paupers. No wonder, they stole to survive. Some one said they lived like magicians.

Leaders in positions fail to do self-examination. Despite all the temptations accompanying the position they have to decide and decide purposefully. It is either black or white, Yes or No. It borders on a decision to tarnish a good name or preserve a good image for the office. Most leaders who lack discipline choose the former. They take bribes and walk around with guilty conscience. They go to bed with ladies before they hire them, they award contracts with kick-backs in mind, and they do several odd things. They are completely far removed from the ethical character of leadership. The morality of an act is important for a leader but where a leader is morally corrupt it stands to reason he would be corrupt in all things. Religion wouldn’t even save them and they wouldn’t reflect on the shame they bring to their family. What about being a role model for their children?

In this writing two things stand out clearly. 1. The development of the nation. 2. The political parties as the dominant administrative organs. It takes two people to marry. We cannot ensure a developed Ghana without taking into accounts the working relationship between the leaders and the civil society. The two should go together. The people have a duty to elect responsible people into positions. Elections are not about candidates who can splash money and gifts around. They are not about leaders morally corrupt and inept with ideas. They are not square pegs in round holes. Voters should be educated on their duties and responsibilities. In the fifties elections appeared like kill as many opponents as were possible. As we have advanced the killings and the destruction of property are over. We should move this further up through civic education to vote for responsible leaders. We should not elect people into positions and expect them to pay for our funeral expenses, wedding expenses, utility bills and so on. Larry Bimi has to be up and doing. Civic education should be in the schools, the communities and the villages.

The political parties are equally blamable for the downfall of the nation. I would never advocate for one-party state. It breeds dictatorship, selfishness and tyranny. But on the other hand I would always advocate for one nation, one people and one destiny. The oneness is for the universal vision of goodness as opposed to one- party tyranny where the leader is a tin-god. The parties have failed the nation for divisiveness, infighting, power-struggling, witch-hunting and tribalism. The NPP lost the recent general elections because they were doomed to lose from the on set. They could not put their act together and went to Congress already divided. Friends of this and friends of that. Everybody wanted to be President as though that was the only way one could serve the nation. It didn’t make sense. It was diabolical.

NDC came close to achieving a better political platform. But under the dictatorship of J J Rawlings things got messy. Dr Obed Asamoah broke away, Kwesi Botchwey also left, P V Obeng and a few others were disillusioned. The leadership was in crisis. They even physically assaulted themselves since they are good at that. Their topmost hierarchy was broken and NPP should have taken advantage of that. But lo and behold, NPP as an incumbent government was bruised with allegations of massive corruption and arrogance. Thus NDC slipped through.

All that I’m trying to say is simple. Most of us belong to political parties and our duty and loyalty to the state begins from there. We have to eschew the negatives in politics and stay away from the half truths, lies and the spin of politics that have characterized politics in Ghana. Politics is not to enrich the pockets of the leaders and solve their personal financial problems. It is for the advancement and the progress of the country and solving national problems of poverty, health care, education, employment, security and what have you. Short of these participation in politics is not worth it.

I want to conclude on a strong note that we need apostles of change in all the political parties. These apostles would act as Pressure Groups to ensure that the parties are on the right tracks. Get rid of all the power brokers and the friends of this and friends of that. Fight for justice and fairness in the parties. There should be no name labels and tribal tendencies. If we fail in this direction we bring our country to doom. Let me paraphrase Albert Einstein: “we cannot repeat the same things that we do and expect different results” President Obama has also said “change is now and we are the change we are waiting for” I hope those who have passion to help in the development of the nation can read between the lines. Thank you.

(The author studied Organizational Leadership and Management (OLM) and believes that if we set our minds to doing the right things Ghana can put her best foot forward and developments would follow. You may contact the author for further action)

Ken Atta-Boakye, Woodbridge, Va, 703 441 6522, attaboakye@yahoo.