Feature Article of Friday, 23 April 2010

Columnist: Twumasi, Patrick

Right To Be Heard; Political Party Foot Soldiers

They are the forgotten lots or loads of political Parties. Many a government gets elected into office without ridding on the backs of these foot soldiers. They were unheard of, but in recent times, their presence has been felt in a rude awakening of seizures, demonstrations and locking out of some government workers.

Inspite of haven being ignored or forgotten by their parties when they assume the reigns of power the behaviour of political party foot soldiers will never right the wrongs of issuing threat of death. This on the part of the foot soldiers should be made to thumple down under the words of condemnation. All well meaning Ghanaians should abhor and frown upon such attitudes with a smack on the face.

By all intends and purposes, political foot soldiers are those who dare where the straits are dire for their parties zest. All these, by dint of hard work, honestly would come along with promises from politicians who are prepared to do just anything to obtain, ascertain and maintain power. But similar to ostrages, upon these politicians attainment of the reigns of power, they turn a deaf ear to these foot soldiers on whose soft back giant strives have been made.

Nevertheless, the late Lucky Dube, the South African reggae Legend, sang a song title “That is the way it is”. Lucky, indeed sang and depicted the woes of the foot soldiers whose strength culminate in the assumption to Political power. The late reggae Legend, lamented the situation where he risked been an outcast and rejection among his people, for campaigning for a particular politician. When the Politician attained power, he did not even remember the name of the foot soldier. Not to think about, a pact on the shoulder for a job well done. If politicians believe and thought, the sweat and, blood of the foot soldiers were for nothing, then a thorough brooding is needed.

Adding, it is a known fact, there are some no-go-areas for some Political parties. Politicians, be it candidate for presidential, Parliamentary, or a district, regional or national chairperson would not dare set foot. These strong holds, of opposing parties are left to foot soldiers to campaign. Most of such campaigns are conducted at night. How many of the next of Kins, of those vying for political office are involved in such vote sourcing, at such unholy hour, with its attendant risk of injuries and possible demise? Many are these foot soldiers who lose their lives or are maimed.

Political Party foot soldiers seizure of state entities, and pressurizing government, due to their sleepless nights and under cover campaign, to hire their preferred favorites, and fire perceived opposition members should not be condoned. Such calls must be given a swipe and despised at no uncertain terms. But ignoring the foot soldiers contribution to attaining political power will be politically incorrect. The former First Lady of Sierra Leone, Isatu Kabba, during a campaign tour commented to the effect that, sincere commitment is what spurred them (foot soldiers) to leave their safe homes and travel for miles and miles with IJK to take Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) deeper into Kambia. Whoever will emerge as SLPP flag bearer will meet the thorny passage to state House made easier for him/her as a result of these loyal foot soldiers. In recent months the issue of foot soldiers has become a pain in the neck of the current political administration. Any member of the present political administration, who tries to comment on this issue, is seen as touching on a raw nerve, which always results in a ripple which can bring about some negative feedbacks from these irate youth. The behaviour and conduct of these foot soldiers calls on Politicians to opt for self-censorship of any sensitive issue.

Foot Soldiers are faulty faultless, measuring the tons of promises their Party heavy weights pour on them, in order to energise them to stick their heads and put their lifes on a knife edge in search of votes. The sudden change of life of political appointees, their cronies and other dependant is also another question that needs to be addressed. Some of these foot soldiers live in the same communities with some of the members of Parliament, before their assumption to office. Actually, these Ministers and their deputies, MPs, Regional Ministers, Municipal, and District Chief Executives, are known inside out by some of these foot soldiers. But, by accident or design, they assume office and in less time, their lifes change and that of their cronies. Their children most often change schools, and their next of kins get the opportunities which the foot soldiers might also desire or would be longing for. These MPs or Politicians find new friends, and identify fresh hands to shake. The faces of these foot soldiers who risked rejection and on whose back the politician rode to victory are the last they want to see. Seeking to justify this seemingly lawlessness, which is gradually making rule of law and order, the two causalities is not my stock in trade in this piece. But, how can the already suffering man promised of a better life, observe the promissor see change to the fortunes, while the receiver of the promise still wallow or swim in the pool of suffering? Foot soldiers can not be sacrificial lambs or be considered for Trojan horses. The Prophet should receive the wage of a Prophet, so says the Holy Bible. Or the best way to feed birds is given plenty oaths to horses?

Downrightly, less concern for the challenges faced by foot soldiers has brought about, the comments from their quarters which have drawn rings to form a wing that, have spilled over into a flood of open hate speech on media networks. These foot soldiers have been described in varied ways and by many political pundicts as the oxygen of political parties. They are the engines that help propel the door-to-door campaigns of Political Parties. How can foot soldiers be asked to see their contribution to political Parties attainment of power as a sacrificial work? The suffering foot soldier and the Political office hold, who enjoys allowances, benefits, almighty kickbacks, and salary, who has the moral right to urge the other to sacrifice?. These Politicians go out of office with End of Service Benefits (ESB) enough to see them through life. Hence, would it not be proper for these foot soldiers to ask to be served now? Admittedly, their channel through which they want to be heard does not appeal to democratic tendencies.

The breath of life in every civilized human community is discourse. The Political parties, who utilized the services of these foot soldiers, should realize the onus to discuss with these political calvaries to see how best, their fears can be allayed. A didactic worth imbibing is, politician should desist from being steep in their art of promising, which is shrouded in emptiness.

These Political foot soldiers should know by now, that, the yell of a trapped animal is different from, when that same animal is freed. They should learn a lesson, and possibly ask for their pact at the shoulder before power is attained.

Patrick Twumasi A Journalist (0209045931)