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Opinions of Friday, 19 July 2013

Columnist: Darko, Otchere

What can any government do in four years?

By Otchere Darko

Re: “4-year election cycle doesn’t make sense – Kwesi Pratt” [Ghanaweb, General News of Thursday, 18 July 2013; Source: Joy Online].

I do not agree with the view above, which was expressed by the “veteran journalist”, Kwesi Pratt Junior. The following are my reasons for disagreeing.

Good governments all over the free world do a lot in four years. USA, UK, Germany, etc, are examples of free countries where good governments have not needed more than four years to prove themselves that they are ‘good’. Give a good government one year and you begin to see signs of progress from the very first year. A bad government anywhere in the world, on the other hand, can never chalk a millimetre of achievement, no matter how long it stays in office.

Beside the two corollary statements above, even though the term “government” is usually erroneously taken to have definitive beginning and finishing dates, the truth is that actual governments do not finish their term of office. It is the people that constitute governments that finish their term of office. Thus, Government of Ghana continued to be in existence after 7th January 2009, even though President John Adjekum Kufuor and his NPP administration finished their term of office. Continuity of government is, therefore, embedded in the concept of government; and this means that the government of a country does not finish. If it were not because of this error of definition [of the concept of government], it could not be normal for a project started by Dr Kwame Nkrumah and his ‘original CPP’, or by Mr J. A. Kufuor and his NPP administration to be abandoned by subsequent members of military or civilian administrations, when those two previous administrations were replaced through a coup d’état and the ballot box, respectively. Instead, all projects started by Dr Kwame Nkrumah or by Mr J. A. Kufuor would be seen as projects started by the Government of Ghana.

Next, it is important for the main substance of Mr Kwesi Pratt’s argument to be put under a stricter scrutiny, so as to bring out its weakness. This is what the text that follows below seeks to do.

How many more years must be added to the four years, Uncle Kwesi Pratt, so as to end the undermining of the “long-term planning needed to turn this country”? In other words, if a four year tenure of office of an administration of a party in power is not enough for a government to do ‘something’, how many years should a ruling party be given to deny its members the basis to complain along the lines of inadequacy of the term of office? Should the number of years that a party needs to stay in office be based on the number of years it will need to complete its most time-consuming development project? Or should it be based on some pre-determined average number of years that most long-term government projects take to complete?

Ghana has had more than fifty years of existence, since it became a Republic in 1960. Out of these several years, Ghanaians have never enjoyed ten years of uninterrupted good leadership.


Source: Otchere Darko