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A country controlled by upstarts and charlatans

Wed, 9 Oct 2013 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

A country controlled by upstarts and charlatans can’t develop

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Friday, October 7, 2013

My good friends, I continue to wonder why despite all the abundant natural and human resources available to our country, it cannot develop at an appreciable pace to improve living standards for the citizens.

Leadership crisis is obvious; so also is lack of a vibrant citizenry to take decisive action for positive change. When upstarts are in charge of a country’s affairs, development jumps out through the window. Such is our fate in Ghana. No doubt about it!!

For some time now, there has been much talk of the government’s inability to manage the economy properly. While its political opponents continue to insist that the country is gunning for the HIPC status, the government continues to insist otherwise. Yet, we can all sift the grain from the chaff to conclude that all is not well with the national economy.

Putting aside the blame game and the government’s dogged determination to ward off criticism, we can determine for ourselves that whatever progress is being made is at a snail’s pace. Whatever progress the government may claim to be making in moving the country forward is infinitesimal. It is hardly felt in real terms. This situation is worrisome, especially granted the recent hikes in the prices of utility services and the introduction of all kinds of taxes to help the government raise revenue.

Considering the persistent agitations for better service conditions and emoluments all across the industrial spectrum, we don’t need any special divination to know the truth of the matter and be apprehensive.

The going is really tough, which is what I expect the government to admit and to revise its notes on the agenda and strategies for national development instead of hiding behind empty political rhetoric to fend off.

There seems to be too many hot potatoes in our political environment. Too much incompetence and willful lethargy, which is our country’s ruin. There are too many upstarts in charge of our country’s affairs, which is exactly what the NPP’s Nana Akomea has drawn attention to. (See:


Too many upstarts who are taking undue advantage of the situation to compound problems instead of solving them.

My Merriam Webster’s dictionary tells me that an upstart is a person who “claims more personal importance than is warranted.” And a charlatan is a “person making usually showy pretenses to knowledge or ability” (A FRAUD!)

The upstarts and charlatans in Ghanaian politics are all over the place. We know them for what they are and don’t respect them. They are in every department of national life, especially in Parliament, the Presidency, and the Judiciary. They are the cause of our country’s plight.

Our latter-day politicians are the worst upstarts and charlatans. When I look around, I don’t see any of them who doesn’t fit into this qualification. Our 4th Republic is full of them—and they know how to grow wings too!

Why should it be so? Apparently, favourable conditions exist to spawn them; and they are noticeable wherever they are. It is not a matter of their being limited to the NDC or NPP divide anymore. They cut across political boundaries. Their pervasiveness raises much concern.

Take them at their own characteristics: ugly noisemakers seeking needless attention and promising everything that is mostly even not a priority for country and people; loudmouthed attention seekers who capitalize on public sentiments for political expediency; ill-mannered rabble-rousers who manipulate unwitting political activists to mount personal attacks on political opponents; overzealous political clowns who see politics as a goldmine to exploit. Unscrupulous self-seekers!!

Ask yourself why our contemporary political climate is dominated by all manner of professionals who have found it more beneficial to desert their chosen career paths for hardcore politics. We have hordes of lawyers, medical doctors, academics, chiefs, public servants, and many others who have migrated from their career fields to settle on national politics.

They do so, not because they want to ensure national development (because that is not their objective) but because by so doing, they can exploit loopholes to cushion their own lives for good. Their chosen careers can’t help them do so.

Why are these upstarts and charlatans more interested in doing partisan politics than pursuing the career options that they spent time, energy, and resources for many years preparing themselves for? Why will they choose to abandon their career paths for politics (which they didn’t prepare themselves for, anyway)?

We are talking about celebrated upstarts here—people who have suddenly latched on to the intricacies of Ghanaian politics to make their living and do all they can to resist any attempt at divesting them of their new-found comfort zones.

Look around you and you should see these upstarts and charlatans in their true elements. These are the people that Nana Akomea is complaining about—and part of whom he is, anyway. Take them out of the equation as politicians and you reduce them to nothingness. They can’t go back to their careers because they no more hold any attraction for them unlike what politics provides for them.

We are given to know these upstarts and charlatans by their very fruit. They are the bugbear of Ghanaian politics because of the kind of politics that they do for self-actualization at the expense of the general body politic. Whether in government or at the touchline in opposition, they are visible as such!!

In this 4th Republic particularly, we have seen all shades of them and can confidently predict that more will emerge in the near future to bloat their population. The conditions exist to churn them out. Our problem is that we don’t have a pool of seasoned and committed politicians to make the difference. In democracies that enhance the countries’ progress, the acumen and hindsight of scrupulous politicians are available to tap into. We lack that pool in Ghana, which has given the upstarts a field day in national politics. Upstarts are all we have; and a country cannot “grow” when upstarts are in charge of its affairs.

When I do a casual analysis of the calibre of people entering our national politics, I cringe because I don’t see anything to persuade me that the situation will change for the better. We have people who have no commitment toward using politics for national development. We have politicians who are where they are not because they are groomed for the responsibilities of good citizenship to ensure national development but because they know how to play it smart to catch the eyes of the electorate.

And the electorate themselves have become so hypnotized as not to know how to deal with such upstarts. They believe anything told them and endorse the ambitions of such upstarts when they come pleading for votes, using more of subterfuge and adroit than the truth about what they can accomplish for the people. It is a matter of the electorate’s willingly putting their necks in the noose!

Such upstarts and charlatans are our bane. No amount of scathing comments will deter them from pursuing their morbid agenda of turning national politics into a shortcut to personal comfort. They succeed because they have willing constituencies that give them the nod.

I for one will have no respect for such upstarts and charlatans and will do all I can to take the fight to them. It is not too late to deal with such upstarts. It is only when concerted efforts are made to take them on that the situation can change for the better. Until the citizens rise up to curtail their masquerading, the situation will worsen, though.

The reality is that in its current configuration, our democracy itself seems to be providing the safe haven for these upstarts, which is why they do things with careless abandon and remain what they have been all these years—upstarts and charlatans through and through!!

But do we need to remain hostages in the hands of these upstarts and charlatans?

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.