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Opinions of Saturday, 22 October 2016

Columnist: Alhassan Musah

Where is Ghana heading?

I know for a fact that when I deceive myself, I feel happy, for whatever it is worth. People are endowed with this ability to pretend to be happy, perhaps to hoodwink other people into thinking they are doing well.

But when the reality dawns on me, I begin to ask the more realistic questions: Who was I deceiving? Who are the contestants in the race? I will always conclude that the race is within me.

Transformation

Let us stir the hornets’ nest a bit. It appears, and I believe it is true, we have not really focused on the things that can bring about transformation. I have lost count of the number of times politicians have contradicted themselves on Ghana’s progress or the lack of it for that matter.

For instance, a very robust economy, according to Mr Politician, will suddenly become a patient at the Intensive Care Unit, incapable of addressing basic needs.

It looks to me that the actual state of the economy remains a function of who is speaking, where he or she is speaking from, who the audience is and whether there is evidence of a ‘Gbeshie’ revelation.

I know economists make a lot of assumptions and rely on many theories when they talk economics but I am sure the different labels and descriptions about our economy by politicians are ridiculously reckless to be associated with any theory.

If there is anything wrong with our economy, leave the noble discipline of economics alone and tackle the politician who appears to possess an economic template that defies both logic and integrity.

I do know of ideological differences and how that can define paths being pursued by different governments, but the same will not mean yellow suddenly becoming green.

The trick appears to be; if your government is in power everything is positive. It all becomes negative when you find yourself at the other side of town.

The two political parties that have governed us in the Fourth Republic have, at one point or another, accused each other of indulging in propaganda.

Let them do propaganda but let them also spare some time to reflect on a quote attributed to Hubert H. Humphrey, to wit, “propaganda, to be effective must be believed. To be believed, it must be credible. To be credible, it must be true.”

Inclusiveness

And then comes the talk about “All inclusive” and its weird power sharing derivative! I think what we need now is not another cohort of jargon that means practically nothing and will not lead us anywhere. What we need now is a set of ideas expressed in everyday English (or Ghanaian languages) that can address basic needs and help carry Ghanaians along irrespective of which party is in power. A former chair of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Dr Kwabena Adjei was probably right when he suggested sometime ago that ‘the winner takes all’ appears to be one of the drivers of tension and insecurity in the country.

In agreeing with him, I part company to establish clarity.

My understanding of ‘all-inclusive’ means no Ghanaian feels discriminated against on the basis of party affiliation, religion, ethnicity or purely on the basis of which newspaper you read.

My understanding also includes the fact that young school leavers can aspire to get jobs because they are qualified for those vacancies and not based on which radio station they listen to or which part of the country one’s uncle’s step daughter comes from.

This understanding also means politicians are willing to halt the practice of hounding other Ghanaians out of jobs because a new party has come to power.

Again, business people do not cease to be Ghanaians until their party comes to power.

If this is not the understanding the politician has of ‘all inclusive’, then I suspect, may be, another grand scheme is in the offing for the politicians to create and share to ease the tensions among themselves.

In that case, I will respectfully submit let the winner take all in its present form. At least we will not have an ‘expanded winner taking all.’

The system

I now understand how the system operates. Here is it: Once in government, you don’t do anything wrong. You do all the right things and all critics are detractors or enemies of progress.

You seem to appreciate the practical difficulties of governance, and how the people need to make sacrifices for the collective good of the country. The opposition is always irresponsible and feeding the people with lies.

When the tables turn, you will quickly become pro-people, government suddenly become insensitive to the plight of suffering Ghanaians and it becomes the duty of government to meet all the needs of the people.

At least we have heard and or observed this from the two parties that have had the chance to rule under the Fourth Republic.

Writing in the Legon Observer of 1974, the late Prof. Paul Ansah observe, “Everybody wanted to squeeze from the empire what he could get, without offering anything in return.

“It is true that the leaders in the land had not themselves given any examples of self-denial for the greater good and glory of the empire.

“For, when they asked the subjects to tighten their belts, they made certain that they themselves wore elastic belts which always left room for manoeuvre in the case of any tightening.”

And who says I will not wear an elastic belt when the time is nigh?