Goats, chicken, T-shirts not worth your vote - Otabil
Selling your vote for goats, chicken, money, T-shirts and other enticements amounts to selling the part you own in Ghana's sovereignty as a citizen, pastor Mensa Otabil has said.
Teaching about the need for Ghanaians to see the voting process as a very serious event that needed to be seen as such, the founder of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC) said "your vote is your sovereignty." Voting is not a "joke", he said.
"The vote does not belong to the people we are voting for, it belongs to you," Dr Otabil noted, adding: "Supporting a political party is not like supporting a football team."
The outcome of voting, he said, "affects the quality of your life," so "it's possible to vote for somebody who will destroy your life."
"So voting is not about entertainment, it's not about teasing people, it's not a joke, it's not making fun, it's not about wearing jerseys, it's not a bout symbols.
"You have to fully consider all the proposals: go beyond party names, go beyond party adverts, go beyond party slogans, consider what each party has proposed; what have they put on the table? Fully consider it.
"It's not betting, it's not horse racing, your vote does not belong to a party, it does not belong to a candidate, it's your votum, it's your sacred oath, you own it, it's your portion of the sovereignty of the state, don't exchange it for temporary benefits, you cannot exchange your vote for T-shirts and little monies here and there, and a piece of cloth and goats and chicken, your sovereignty is far more expensive than chicken. Do you know why people will pay chicken for your vote? Because they know you don't value it and they want to buy it cheap from you, it's your votum, it's your sacred responsibility and go beyond party colours. I can say without any shred of doubt that since 1992, I've voted for different parties. It is an insult to your intelligence to put your vote on autopilot,' Dr Otabil said.
Dr Otabil asked Ghanaians to vote for what they want as individuals rather than what their party or tribe wants. "...It's not even about winning or losing, it's about what you believe in, because you don't vote for a winning party, you vote for your beliefs."
"The vote will determine what food is on your table, the winning proposal will determine the destiny of the state, you get what you vote for, your quality of life is determined by the result of your vote," "so you can actually vote for a party which can punish you. And they can punish you and create hardship for you but because you see it like supporting Olympics or Accra Hearts of Oak, you still support, although the policies are not favouring you, it's not about party colours, a nation becomes what its citizens vote for," Dr Otabil added. "We have to pray that the citizens will make intelligent choices."
Pastor Otabil also said "if the idea that you voted for wins, you don't just go and sit down, you demand for it, and if they don't fulfill it, punish them, don't let anybody feel they can take your vote for granted."
Meanwhile, Dr Otabil has been advising Ghanaians and the electorate on who and what to vote for:
1. Vote for your dreams and aspirations. Look at your future projections, where you are going and see the proposal that best suits where you are going in life: what kind of future do you want, what kind of vision you have for your life? Think about your life, consider the proposals and ask yourself: which of these ones will help me become the person I want to be or my children or my grandchildren become what I want them to be? Which idea best fits my dreams and aspirations, not which colour I support or which slogan sounds nice, for which idea best helps me become whom I want to be, so, vote for your dreams and aspirations and never allow any politician to take you for granted. Don't let anybody abuse your intelligence and think that they can sing you into a vote, or dance you into a vote, or dessert you into a vote, it's your dream, it's your aspiration.
2. Vote for your beliefs and your values: what do you value, what is important to you, what do you believe, what are the things that you wouldn’t compromise in life? Look at all of that. Do you value honesty, do you value truth, do you value integrity, do you think purity is important, who and what ideas represent your values?
3. Vote for the best interest of your nation. Remember your vote doesn't just affect you but it will shape the destiny of your nation. Look at your nation, where it is and where it wants to be. Which of the proposals will help us get to a better place? Which of them?
Think of other citizens of Ghana; do you think life will be good for them if this particular idea succeeds?
Will it help the generality of the people? Will it serve everybody's best interest or you are voting because you think when your party wins you would get something, because somebody has promised you something?
That is selfishness and that is an insult to yourself, to your sacred votum.
But look at your nation: where are we, where do we want to go and make a wise choice. The advice I want to give you is that prayerfully consider this and not only at one time but every election time.
Your vote should not be fixed, your vote is always an expression of a proposal that is in agreement with you, so you may support a party one year and not support them another year, you may support a candidate one year and not support them another year because the proposal they put on the table this time is not in your best interest.
If every Ghanaian thinks like that, our politicians will stop distributing T-shirts and making songs and giving money and playing games with our mind.
They will know they have a people who respect their vote; that is a sacred responsibility and anytime they go to that ballot, they are there to think of their hopes and aspirations and the aspirations of the nation and they want a better life for themselves.