Feature Article of Friday, 4 May 2012

Columnist: Sakyi, Kwesi Atta

Are Ghanaian Voters in Dialectical Dilemma

or Comical Comatose Prior
to the December 2012 Elections?

By Kwesi Atta Sakyi

1st May 2012

Dialectics is defined as an art of arriving at logical conclusions
through question and answer or a form of exegesis which involves
analysis, argumentation, synthesis, evaluation and differentiation.
Dialectics were said to have been perfected by the German philosopher,
Hegel, and applied by the German Jew, Karl Marx in his dialectical
materialism which he espoused in his 1824 book, Das Kapital, with
Frederick Engels. Earlier on in history, in ancient Greece, we had
Socrates applying his methods of knowledge examination through
questioning, debate, disputation and argumentation. Thus, Socrates it
was who averred that the unexamined life is not worth living. Have
Ghanaians the need to examine the quality of their lives since Egya
Atta took over the mantle of leadership in 2008? Yes, more than ever
before since there is a hue and cry in the media that there is a
perceived leadership crisis. Whether this perception is real or
imaginary, it will be proved in the general elections to be held in
Ghana in December 2012. A dilemma is a state of indecision when one
is dangerously confronted with a Hobson’s choice of choosing between
two evils, as it were, between two equally unpleasant and
disagreeable alternatives. Thus, you have a predicament or poser or
you are on the horns of a dilemmatic situation. In this case, the
choice is between Professor John Atta Mills, the incumbent President
of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Nana Akuffo Addo, of
the leading opposition party, National Patriotic Party (NPP). Nana is
notorious for his belligerent political effusions and outbursts, such
as “all die be die”. He is a fearless, intrepid and firebrand
patriot, in sharp contrast to his mentor and predecessor, ex-President
John Agyekum Kufuor. Nana’s utterances are sometimes viewed as
boo-boos or gaffes. The incumbent President has also had his share of
gaffes such as, “ I am not a policeman to arrest criminals”, or “
Dzi wo fie asem” , meaning, mind your own domestic issues. The insular
and isolationist policies of some past governments in Europe and
America spelt doom for them. To me, we live in an interdependent,
complementary and globalised world, so we cannot afford the luxury of
being aloof and standoffish to global and regional issues. The
Ghanaian media is heavily dichotomised as there are those for the
ruling party and those for the opposition. This shows how biased,
corrupt, unprofessional and less objective the media in Ghana has
become. They are the ones stoking the fires of political unrest and
feeding us with lies, propaganda, ad nausea. Hitler’s Goebbels could
not have done better than them. The Ghanaian media is swollen with
invectives, unpalatable diction, misinformation, innuendoes, insults,
untruths and abstruse reporting. They have spared no effort in
demonising both frontrunner candidates for the forthcoming elections.
Some of these candidates have been branded as womanisers, drug dealers
and voodoo practitioners, who pose as born again Christians, among
many undignified insults. What are we teaching our children if we
stoop so low as to insult our national leaders? Where is our sense of
decency and propriety? And the Ghanaian public really enjoys the
media theatrics and hype, what with umpteen FM radio stations across
the nook and cranny of the country, and the milieu of websites
dedicated to Ghana such as ghanaweb, ghanamma, ghanavillage,
ghanajournal, ghanasoccer, spyghana, myjoyfmonline, peacefmonline,
among many others. We Ghanaians in the diaspora experience a
disconnect, despite having access to all these media outlets. This is
because what we get is filtered, adulterated and manipulated
information which is different from what is prevailing on the ground
in Ghana as the reality or breaking news. Ghanaians have a wicked
penchant for demonising their leaders and publicly ridiculing them.
This reflects badly on us as misanthropists or haters of human
progress, which many call the Phd syndrome( pull him down syndrome).
If you cannot praise someone for their sterling qualities or
achievements, then destroy them by calling them all sorts of names and
throw mud at them, so that you all end up grovelling in the mud. What
a sordid scenario of the typical Ghanaian mentality! Or am I
exaggerating? From what has transpired in the media in the past four
years, it is crystal clear that Ghanaians have a long way to go to
learn the true tenets of the democratic culture. We as voters must
concentrate on national issues and not on personalities and
trivialities such as personal private matters like having or not
having children, having got a third class degree or first class, not
being pure Akan but of Grunshie mixture, among others. Are Grunshies
and Frafras not human beings and Ghanaians? In the last elections,
the results were too close to call as it showed that Nana Akuffo Addo
and President John Atta Mills are both political heavyweights in the
Ghanaian political landscape. However, I wonder whether since 2008,
some of them are not fast becoming political dinosaurs and are not
on their way to becoming extinct and unsustainable(LOL!)

Some Ghanaians claim that Ghana has been put into comatose by
President Mills because he has failed to have a grip on his errant
Ministers, and that crime has been on the ascendancy since he took
over the reins of power. Others claim that the NPP moneybags and
dollar billionaires are the sponsors of criminals and that they siphon
millions of dollars from the Ghanaian economy to weaken the cedi and
to sabotage the economic gains made by the NDC. That the NPP are in
cahoots with some foreign powers to fleece our economy, especially now
that oil is being mined in Ghana. That if the NPP come to power, they
will turn over our national assets such as the mines to their overseas
sponsors and allies. A whole raft and gamut of conspiratorial thesis.
Nana Akuffo Addo, readers will recall, is a fearless and intrepid
firebrand democrat who fought gallantly in the trenches during the 80s
and 90s against the oppressive and dictatorial regime of J.J.
Rawlings, during a period of khakistocracy. He fought alongside
people like late Prof Adu Boahen and late Dr Paul Ansah, all of
blessed memory. Nana has been known in Ghanaian political circles as
a champion of human rights, freedom, and justice. Nana has a lot of
charisma and he is a very articulate politician who brooks no
nonsense. As an astute lawyer with a successful law practice, he
served in Kufuor’s administration
as Minister of Foreign Affairs. At the UN General Assembly, he
adroitly chaired the Committee on Iraq and did Ghana proud. With such
enviable credentials, Nana is a strong character and the type of
leader that Ghanaians are hankering for. Ghanaians are a hard and
difficult people who do not like a patronising leader, but rather a
strong and tough/hard-boiled and battle tested leader. That is Nana
for you. However, some people perceive him as arrogant, instead of
seeing him as bubbling with self confidence and enthusiasm. I met
Nana once in Lusaka when he was a Foreign Minister and found him
charming, approachable, witty and a team player. However, coming
from the Busia-Danquah-Dombo-Matemeho stable, some Ghanaians will
find a grudge against his background, which may translate into a
grudge against his person. Is that fair? Let Ghanaians for once be
fair, objective and rational in their judgement because a man is his
own man and not a puppet or appendage on the apron strings of his
predecessors and antecedents. Of course, people associate the NPP
with the abrasive type of politicking and propaganda. My father was
CPP, my wife is NDC and I consider myself neutral. I was once
approached by the CPP to stand as MP for them but I later withdrew as
I did not have the residential qualification. In the words of late Dr
Kwegyir Aggrey,’ only the best is good enough for Africa(read Ghana)’.
When J.J. Rawlings was in power, Ghanaians saw him as a tough and
ruthless leader. Now we have a soft and gentle leader in Prof. John
Atta Mills and Ghanaians are calling him
a weakling. What do we Ghanaians want for ourselves as a people? It is
like a peripatetic philanderer who keeps changing women because he
wants the ideal and perfect woman to marry, forgetting that he himself
is not perfect. Let us be pragmatic and reasonable in our evaluations
of our leaders, for, if we had been patient in the past and had
followed the path of the democratic process and transition, we would
have advanced very far in our journey towards social and economic

The incumbent President, John Atta Mills of the NDC party, has been
perceived as a peacemaker( Asomdweehene). He is a calm, placid
leader whose leadership style can be described as laissez faire or
country-club style. He seems to adopt the play hard, work hard and
paddle hard beneath the waters and stay unruffled on the surface, as
graceful as a swan at play. This leadership style has however earned
him a lot of criticism inside and outside his political party. In
terms of personal charisma, he is not that enigmatic. Not uncommon of
an academic, and for that matter, a law professor. His fall out with
his mentor and sponsor will cause him dearly, unless he patches up
with him. Politics is about numbers and also about personal charm.
In history, we have had charismatic leaders such as Napolean, Hitler,
John F. Kennedy, Lec Walensa, Fidel Castro and currently we have Hugo
Chavez of Venezuela. Perhaps, Mills will score more in what he has
been able to achieve for Ghana in sectors such as education,
infrastructure, oil mining, health, salary reform, among others. But
not with his vacillating and bumbling abortive STX deal, messy
implementation of the SSSS (Single Spine Salary Scale), the weakening
cedi, Woyome scandal, food insecurity, falling educational standards
and rampant crime. Mills has also been perceived as one who does not
listen to his advisors concerning appointments to his cabinet. People
think he has populated his cabinet with sycophants, political minions,
popinjays and quislings. He is seen as a Yutong driver, driving a bus
of unproven worth, people of nondescript CVs and heading for an
unknown destination, because as Thomas Leavitt says, “ if you do not
know where you are going, any road will lead there.” Ghanaians are
calling for a robust and decisive leader who will put his foot down
and rein in the rot in our educational system, our mad media, and
indeed in many spheres of our lives. Ghanaians need to gain control
of the commanding heights of their economy in the mining, energy,
telecoms and retailing sectors. We welcome foreign investors who will
create jobs for our people. The December 2012 elections will be a
gargantuan exercise which will test the maturity or immaturity of our
fledgling democracy. Here, we have lessons to learn from Zambia where
the then incumbent, Rupiah Banda, pulled all the stops to retain
power, but thanks to a professional EC and vigilance of all
stakeholders, decency and good sense prevailed and the opposition
leader won convincingly. Ghanaians are therefore called upon to vote
wisely and to avoid all acts of intimidation, provocation and
violence. We should avoid tribal sentiments and see ourselves as one
nation with a common heritage and destiny. Let us uphold the ideals of
our gallant forefathers who fought hard to leave us our hard won
freedom from colonial rule. Ghana is still looked upon as a beacon of
peace in the West African Sub-region. Let us live up to our billing of
having good democratic credentials. Let us hope that Nana Akuffo Addo,
in his attempt to climb the grease pole of politics, will not prove
himself a poltergeist( a ghost that makes mysterious noisy
disturbances). Likewise, let not our so-called Asomdweehene President
play the ostrich, when things are on the brink and matters come to a
head. Come December 2012, vote wisely and exercise your franchise in a
secret ballot of universal adult suffrage, and of one man one vote.
That is the pure essence of democracy.

Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Ed. The Dictionary for the
21st Century