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Opinions of Saturday, 23 March 2013

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

Yaw Osafo-Maafo's Fair-minded Politics Needed In Ghana

By Kofi Thompson

The Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) MP for Akim Oda, is one of the most positive-minded politicians in Ghana.

He almost never criticises policies of his political opponents, without offering a policy alternative or solution to a particular challenge Ghana faces, of his own.

That is the hallmark of a mature and highly-intelligent politician offering nation-building leadership, in a nation as sharply divided as ours.

The Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo's maturity and love of country, which shows so clearly in his politics, is in sharp contrast to the path chosen by so many of his short-sighted party colleagues.

Some of the NPP's critics allege that many of the Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo's party colleagues have chosen to make a cynical grab for power come what may - after losing an election they ought to have won if they had ran a better election campaign - by deliberately destroying investor confidence in Ghana and making ordinary people feel that somehow the situation of their nation had become hopeless.

However, if truth be told, most of our nation's present difficulties - which are not insurmountable if we constantly think creatively as a people - are a result of years of the self-serving cynicism of the dominant cliques that have controlled both the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP) regimes that have ruled Ghana since the 1992 constitution was promulgated.

What will move Ghana forward, is for our nation to focus on innovative nation-building ideas that will better the lot of the vast majority of ordinary people in Ghana - by unleashing their full potential.

Ghana's hard-working and expanding middle classes, for example, could make Ghana prosperous if those aspirational individuals could borrow money at rates of interest as low as those in the U.S., the UK, the EU and Japan.

If corporate tax in Ghana was the lowest in the world, for example, would it not attract many international companies to move their African corporate headquarters here - and encourage many more Ghanaian businesses in both the formal and informal sectors to pay their fair share of the taxes needed to develop Ghana?

A low-tax regime is paradoxically the most effective way to widen a nation's tax-net. So why don't our "book-long" ruling elites lower taxes in Ghana, one wonders?

It is obvious to the objective observer that many ordinary people have become fed up with the endless negativity of Ghana's political class.

Ordinary people want to hear intelligent and practical solutions to Ghana's hydra-headed problems from politicians - not their negative point-scoring "equalisation-arguments".

How do Ghanaian politicians intend to end the monstrosity of board members and the top management of loss-making state-owned entities, in a nation struggling to survive hard times, paying themselves astronomical sums and enjoying Arabian-oil-Sheik-style perks - that would end them in jail elsewhere, for milking dry the organisations they are in charge of and have fiduciary responsibility for - for example, I ask?

How do politicians in Ghana - from across the spectrum - intend to ensure that private-sector businesses in our country, see the competitive advantage of ensuring that their businesses are underpinned by corporate good governance principles, and guided by an ethos of sustainability - in a nation whose natural environment is being thrashed in apocalyptic fashion, whiles politicians look on helplessly?

Those in the NPP who think it is clever politics to constantly run Ghana down, and infect ordinary people psychologically with a feeling of hopelessness about their prospects, because they think that somehow it is a clever political strategy that will eventually hand them the power they failed to win in the December elections 2012, must understand that they are engaged in a zero-sum game.

Their endless doom-and-gloom point-scoring that changes absolutely nothing on the ground, will not win them power through the back-door, courtesy of the Supreme Court, any more than it did in the campaign for the December 2012 parliamentary and presidential elections.

The small band of ruthless hardliners who wield such a baleful influence over the present leadership of the NPP, would be wise to emulate the Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo.

Their chosen tactic of infecting the national mood with despair, with their endless negativity, does not inspire confidence in their party amongst the fair and independent-minded patriotic Ghanaians, whose crucial swing-votes now decide who wins presidential elections in Ghana.

The mendacity and endless desembling of the party's general secretary, Kojo Owusu-Afriyie, is a classic example. What a contrast his provincial outlook is to his polished and erudite predecessor Ohene Ntow.

Even the millions of "My-party-my-tribe-right-or-wrong" blinkered myrmidon-types that both the NDC and NPP can rely on regardless, are gradually getting fed up with the way the nation is becoming polarised - and resent the increase in political tension: which they lay squarely at the doorstep of our political class.

Both the NDC and the NPP must clean up their cynical and uninspiring double-act. It is time they focused on what will benefit ordinary Ghanaians - not what will win them short-lived propaganda victories.

The Yaw Osafo-Maafo style of fair and nation-building politics, is what Ghana desperately needs today. A word to the wise...