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Opinions of Monday, 30 November 2020

Columnist: Gilbert Naab, PhD

Vote for candidates you can trust with state-resources, when in doubt, check the corruption perception index

Fellow Ghanaians, where are we and where are we heading as a country?

We seem to swivel back and forth every four/eight years between the political centre-left and the political centre-right, between philosophies of governance, and between the ‘very corrupt government’ and ‘less corrupt government’. At best, we are superficially schismatic in our political choices—when we do not get our way with NPP, we swing to the NDC and vice-versa.

Personally, and by any reasonable measure, we are on a perilous greasy cliff steering to self-destruction. The only way to avert an imminent catastrophe is to make political choices devoid of ethnic bigotry—by electing the lesser ’devil’ in what appears to be a schism between NDC and NPP. At this point, Ghana desperately needs a leader with the potential to inspire confidence in state instructions and restore hope to many young unemployed people, many of whom are edging toward hopelessness.

I completed my 1st degree some years ago—but some of my mates are still unemployed. Some of them even proceeded to graduate school and yet completed with no jobs. A few young people have managed to escape this state-inflicted hopelessness, thanks to various generous international scholarships. As the plight of the unemployed youth may seem very unfair, fairness has no essence in a profoundly monotheistic country, like Ghana, where the clergy see no evil dining with the devil. If I may borrow and expand, Mr Martin Amidu’s metaphor, they are indeed the ’holy fathers’ who consecrate the ill-gotten funds of “the mother [and baby] serpents of corruption”.

Majority of Ghanaian politicians often fail to declare their assets before assuming public office, in an apparent ploy to evade accountability. They can only outsmart state institutions with their nefarious activities but not the vigilant eyes of the public. We all know very well that in less than four years, some political criminals have looted and abused their power with reckless abandon —circa $3 billion is lost to corruption annually (CHRAJ, 2019). In Ghana cedis terms, about 17 billion is siphoned out, annually by these criminals, depriving the state, the much-needed development finance to transform the country and give hope to her young people.

Without a doubt, public service is an honour and indeed the only reason we often seek to celebrate past leaders who served with distinction. It should not be an opportunity to plunder state-resources for selfish gains—that is cheap!

Empirical studies reveal that once someone is capable of meeting his/her basic needs, the relationship between ‘happiness’ and ‘worldly success’ correlates to zero. To wit, if you are a proletariat struggling to patch a living in my village, Lawra-Nanyaari or an urbanite sleeping in a kiosk somewhere in Agbogboloshi, an extra financial fortune would affect your happiness tremendously, more than the political kleptomaniac who swindles millions of dollars. So, why plunder state-resources when you can meticulously serve your country and leave a legacy that inspires hope among the hopeless?

Hopelessness is the lowest point of human existence —lack of dignity and self-worth is a dangerous position for a human being to be trapped. A lot of young people have died ‘hoping to defeat hopelessness’ with millions more still sedentarily trapped in what could be described as suspended animation.

There are two types of ‘hopelessness’ among the youth—the first being, the ‘genuinely hopeless’ (people who lack opportunities or have been systematically disadvantaged by society and state). The second type are the ‘hopeless leeches’ —feel free to call them sycophants and bootlickers. They eke a living by mortgaging their dignity to corrupt politicians. They are the credulous customers who oil the vote-buying machinery of desperate politicians and are a threat to our democracy. Nevertheless, hopelessness, in whatever form, is a sad spectacle of state failure through corruption—it is indeed a powder keg waiting to explode.

The 2020 election is crucial in many facets and would define which direction our nation is headed—so, make an informed choice that mirrors your moral code and value system. In the summer of 2019, whiles finalising my PhD research, I read one of Mark Manson’s books —' the subtle art of not giving a f*ck: a counterintuitive approach to living a good life’. Most of Mark’s books are bestsellers and overwhelmingly compelling to read, but this one indeed had a profound influence on my value system as a young man. Accordingly, “values underlie everything we are and do. If what we value is helpful, if what we consider success/failure is poorly chosen, then everything based on upon those values—the thoughts, the emotions, the day-to-day feelings—will all be out of whack”(Mason, 2016:72). That is to say, the President and MPs you vote for are the spitting image of your values and the type of governance you desire.

This year's election ought to be about corruption because our fourth republic was born on the foundations of ’probity and accountability’. It should not be about NDC/NPP, but, Ghana—we need to elect leaders who can better protect our national purse from further dissipation or corruption.
We all need to speak out, because “fear of hurting people can create the most suffering” (Kim Scott).

Vote wisely and police the ballots!

Gilbert Naab, PhD

Dakpala-yir, Lawra-Nanyaari

Upper West Region, Ghana

Email: gznaab@gmail.com