Countdown Of Another Struggle For Meaningful Democracy

Mon, 14 Jan 2013 Source: Ashong, Nii Tettey



I’m one of the proudest

Ghanaians; indeed amongst the very, who expresses a glamorous optimism in this

country as a potential candidate for “the next big thing in Africa. I believe


in our highly cherished bust that stands tall in the gallery of Africa’s

achievers of sound democracy and good governance. I may not be old enough to

lay emphasis on the many strides this country has made, but particularly, our

specialty of becoming the black star of Africa and foundational proponents of

an African Unity, enunciated in the idealism of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah; as

well as our many more contemporary achievements, makes me believe that Ghana is

the envy of many African countries and a special place to call a country.

And like we do every four years,

Ghana has just come out of an election that supposedly was to have become the

most challenging in our history so far; owing to the new experiment of a

biometric electoral system and the sudden political engineering that took place

on the field of the ruling National Democratic Congress having lost their leader

prior to the elections. We may hardly forget the aggressive pursuit of pure

partisan political clientelism or the populist, possible –impossible FREE SHS

arguments that inundated the platforms of almost all the

political parties that contested in the elections. As I have arguably

maintained, the only problem the NDC had with FREE-SHS was that they were not

the ones talking about it, and though the N.P.P had in their leader, a

traditional brand name in Ghanaian politics, obviously far experienced, a sophisticated

activist and a highly respected legal luminary, he seemed too coquettish in his

appeal for votes from the Ghanaian people especially in espousing his banner

message of FREE SHS, quality healthcare and transformational leadership. Nana

Addo - though an orator par excellence - was literally terrible at speaking to

the hearts and conscience of the most critical Ghanaian minds. However, he was

terrific at electrifying the masses and proving that he was fit to be

president, he has run a campaign that would in the future become a model for

this country. He could easily have become our new President. But his opponents

who were better at a few things obviously did those things right. The NDC was

unbeatably strategic at throwing the JM brand in the faces of Ghanaians –old

or young- obviously not without their vulgar advertisement of “the

evils”in Akufo Addo, his NPP and their FREE SHS. The NDC has had the most impressive

electoral machinery and a machismo inspiration of winning their elections at a

good cost. The truth is that though many of us, even prior to his becoming the

vice-president expected that someday John Dramani Mahama would be president, I

never particularly thought that it may come this fast, at least not before an

Akufo Addo presidency, which sits in a trance of legal gymnastics right now –The

battle of the Lord to the courts. I may possibly speak about it later and hey,

I learnt that mischief from my NDC friends.

Most importantly, the

elections are over; it would be utterly cynical on my part to think otherwise.

We have just sworn in a new president and Ghanaians have new expectations.

Until the court in the reasonably unlikely event invalidates John Mahama’s

presidency to make Akufo Addo the president as sought in his reliefs to the

Supreme Court, many well meaning Ghanaians would still chant their incantations

on President Mahama’s government to fulfill their campaign pledges and make

life better than they came to meet. I am particularly demanding over these two

critical necessecities of a new government (Mahama led or a dreary possible


Through everyday discussions,

social commentary or on official platforms, many lovers of Ghanaian politics

attempt to propose a myriad of governance strategies, critical visions,

programs and policies that political leaders need to espouse, they talk about priority

areas and others that they are confident can make this country work, whilst

others are at their best criticizing the bad choices and practices of

governments or policy positions that need to be eschewed if Ghana is to be made

better. Some are experts; some are past politicians and political scientists

but there is an amazing number of ordinary Ghanaians who like me, feel that

this country should and can be made better whatever it takes. “That democracy

and the rule of law should never perish from the earth” and that governments

must work to add more meaning to the practice of democracy. But just like human

beings, this country falls sick many of the times if it had not been sick since

independence. Why do I say so? Corruption is still pervasive; there are lazy

civil and public servants, many more roads are not motorable, there are industries


have been run down for years, there is an uncountable number of Ghanaians who

live all their lives in tattered penury, people still drink water from the same

source as their animals, there are schools under trees, there is an increasing

number of joblessness that even graduates are not spared, governments still

lack proper planning and we still keep bad leaders though we have had a lot of

them. This is not time to point accusing fingers, but I just wanted to give you

an idea of how sick this country is and what my expectations of the new

government that would lead this country in the next four years would be. In

assuming the doctor’s role, I have prescribed particularly in this article that

our democracy needs to be made meaningful and our governments must stop

sleeping on their jobs. A meaningful democracy in my estimation, assumes that

institutions of government function effectively and are strengthened, citizens

are highly engaged in the governance process, the powers that be are

distributed equitably and finally, the public goods are allocated with

authority, equality and with the urgency that characterized the campaigns.

These samples seem simple yet they are the basic duties that many governments

have fumbled with. Why? Because the power of the people that elected them are

taken with a pinch of salt. Afteral, there is always a way out of the elections

and there are world banks that would produce the votes even if “goats”are made

candidates. That is another fundamental problem of the citizenry and

an affront to a meaningful democracy. So it’s clear that just as Ghana needs

responsible leaders, we as citizens have a role to play. However, what is most

critical to me now and to the health of this country is the kind of leader we

have put in place and how able he is or would be in translating our dreams and

aspirations or simply put; the very things we need as a country into reality.

That makes democracy meaningful. Courts or no courts, we probably may have

elected a leader with such potentials in the just ended elections, but how many

of such leaders haven’t we seen? And as to whether he sole the elections or

not, I have always maintained that “when two major political parties in Ghana

accuse each other of rigging an election, it seems to me like two prostitutes

fighting over a “stolen client”.

So I can say on

authority without any apologies or royalties to any political grouping that

what we need is a better Ghana. Oh yes! We need a better Ghana because the

Ghana we have had is just a little better than bad. So I require of our

President, whoever is at post: with all due respect Sir, if indeed the sword

you wield is the genuine symbolism of the people’s power as you claim you won

in the just ended elections, then with the cleanest of conscience, “hold

it firmly”I pray, and don’t let anybody snatch it away from you because a meaningful

democracy is as terrible as dictatorship if your legitimacy becomes a tidal wave.

I challenge you to make appointments on merit and not on mere party

gratifications, appoint the finest of people to state institutions irrespective

of their political sympathies, and in so doing cherish the technocrats like you

cherish your presidency. You must develop a relish for inspiring every side of

our nation and give even the youngest child in Ghana a sense of hope. In

showing that you are in charge of this country, you must sometimes be docile as

a lamb yet manifest the courage of a lion. You must cherish the ideals of our

democracy: freedom and justice, the rule

of law and due process. Punish useless people in your government and sack the

corrupt if proven so. Your government communicators must desist from baseless

arguments and defences. Your ministers must be honest to show acceptance for

their weakness even if it may cost you the next election. In deeds and in

speech, you must show transformation in every sector of government, use our

resources valuably and grow our economy.

Most critically, the power you hold must ultimately

benefit the people, they may not have voted based on your promises or they may

not even have voted for you at all but they still have expectations of you. Don’t

flaunt economic figures in their faces. Rather, regulate the critical sectors

aptly and religiously commit yourself to relieving the plights of our people

through your fiscal policies whilst creating an environment conducive enough

for business growth. In so doing, Ghanaians must buy their commodities at

reasonable prices, drivers should be able to afford their fuel, long queues to

buy LPG are an eye-sore, incessant power outages can be really annoying. Our

roads must be fixed; our schools must be taken off the streets, hamlets and

villages must be connected to the national grid and sources of water. Also,

give proper incentives to farmers; provide affordable housing and make

Ghanaians sleep in those houses in peace.

These are the elements that

make governments thrive and make democracy meaningful. It’s about choices, it’s

about priorities, and it’s about genuine commitment. With a team that would not

sleep on the job and citizens like me who are ready to participate and support

every constitutionally

elected government by criticizing constructively and shunning long,

unproductive talks, Ghana would be on its way to realizing our long held dream.

Finally, meaningful democracy would require that separation of powers is a reality

and not a façade and that well-thought, time-testing and innovative policies

and programs are put in place to benefit the people and put the country on an

attractive pedestal. I may get tired of writing but I would never get tired of

envisaging a country that works and can secure my future and that of my

children. With my firm believe in justice, I can only hope that the president

enjoys his full tenure and account to the people accordingly after his four

year mandate. Start work and start real good.

Nii Tettey Ashong.


Columnist: Ashong, Nii Tettey