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Opinions Fri, 4 May 2012

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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

transformation.

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.

Reference

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

21st Century

Columnist: Sakyi, Kwesi Atta

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