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Coup d’état Is A Cheap Solution

Sun, 28 Apr 2013 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

The political powder keg that erupted a few weeks ago on the tailcoat of the ex-gratia payment has generated a lot of unsavoury comments, and inspired a raft of articles in condemnation. The firestorm it started is still simmering, and a dangerous fusion is taking place in the minds of some of our compatriots to the detriment of our democracy. The righteous anger over this pillage of the national coffers would have petered out long time ago, but for the unprofessional comments by some of the beneficiaries what should have been a couple of days news cycle has provided incendiary materials for the fire starters.

Currently, our politicians are eating with both hands. They are behaving like pigs in a sty; literally gouging themselves like sharks in a feeding frenzy. Someone even commented on ghanaweb that they are acting as if there is no tomorrow. And my favourite one is the day light robbery label. To say that ex-gratia payment is demoralising to the tax payer is an understatement. A lot of Ghanaians see it as an act of betrayal; and there is nothing so damaging like when you are trying to lead and you look over your shoulders and there is no one behind. The sad thing is there is no single MP who has expressed objection to this moral outrage. The moral pedestal they occupy, uncontested, is crumbling beneath their feet, and it is hard to believe that they are unaware. It is a situation that makes the country very difficult to govern.

When I first read the ex-gratia brouhaha I felt a sense of déjà vu. In all fairness I don’t have any serious problems regarding those paid to ex-parliamentarians. What I can’t seem to get my head around is the payments to those who are still in parliament. And the most eye watering is that of sitting members who have been receiving it come every four years since the inception of the Fourth Republic. Someone actually put it so beautifully that being in parliament is like having a gold mine, and it is wrong. One MP who was interviewed and showed a bit of contrition in reference to this debacle alluded that Ghanaians believe their MPs live a life of luxury, but they are rather saddled with debt. If they really are that is their cup of tea.

There are a lot of smart people in the country who would like to be MPs, but after weighing the pros and cons they decide it is not a worthwhile adventure. The taxpayer should not be made to pay for the campaign expenditure of our MPs. It is choice that they have made and they have to live with the consequence. In America members of the Capitol Hill raise funds through private donations to finance their campaign and they are required by campaign rules to provide detail accounts to avoid fraud. I strongly believe this method shouldn’t be beyond our MPs. If they want a bit of advice they can take cue from the mother of parliaments. They campaign for only six weeks, and it is meant to cut down the cost of campaign. Westminster MPs contribute from their wages towards a pension pot for the eventuality of losing their seat or when they retire from parliament, and they do not have anything such as ex-gratia. If there is any unfairness about this rotten system it is the payment, which is made to sitting MPs; it is the Achilles’ heel of our democracy. The President, in the interest of justice and for the security of our democracy, will have to make sure that it is curtailed. How can MPs receive better salary than a tenure professor at Legon or KNUST; it should be the other way round.

It is hard to believe that they are able to keep straight face and defend such divisive impropriety. The Ghanaian economy is on a life support machine waiting for blood transfusion, and yet the little that is keeping vital organs functioning is being drained out even though they can, obviously, see the evidence of convulsion and the life gradually ebbing away. Yet, Kofi Jumah thinks because doctors cannot compare themselves to MPs we should empty the national coffers for their sake. How many of the current MPs can go through the rigorous academic training to qualify as a doctor?

If they want to earn the outrageous sums they yearn for they should join the private sector and create or produce something meaningful. On that basis nobody is going to cry foul. Politics is not meant as a lucrative career option. In Britain even chief executives of common boroughs earn more than the Prime Minister. The former chief executive of Tesco retail stores used to take home £15,000,000 a year on the back of almost £4 billion profit. Who can complain about such remuneration based on a remarkable performance?

Come 2017 the bill for the new 45 MPs will be added to what has been dished out plus inflationary adjustment. I can imagine the political earthquake that will rock the country unless the economy develops to the extent that enough revenue will be generated to reduce the ballooning deficit drastically, and have enough to increase the emolument of our professional civil servants. But that is not likely, because we have a bunch of inept, grossly incompetent, and superstition believing ministers who don’t seems to know their left from right. Besides, those that are supposed to keep them in check just know how to sing choruses. And in their desperate desire to win or keep their seats they are pushing welfare system via the back door by presenting themselves as Santa Clause on their campaign trail. If that is not the case then we are paying for their prerogative to be called Honourable.

As much as I object to the behaviour of our leaders what I cannot countenance is the cheap articles that flooded the major Ghanaian web pages with emotive titles such as: Ghana is on a collision course with the military. Another ridiculous, but insidious one is ‘God is impatiently staying the hands of the Ghana military’. It appears our people are not learning anything from our violent past. Why should anyone in his right mind think about coup d’état. It is George Santayana, the American philosopher, who said: Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. What is happening in the country is a huge problem that grates on the nerves of most Ghanaians, but we have to find a legitimate solution instead of the cheap kneejerk reactionary off the shelf solution that will expose the country to global ridicule.

I am lost for words to describe what we stand for as a people. There should be some modicum of consistency in our national philosophy; a clear principle that should be able to determine our course of action in any situation. And for me the solution to this nonsense is pure and simple. It is the lost of the next election by the incumbent government and the ensuing prosecution for any impropriety. I find it very difficult to believe that people will romanticise about this teenage hormonal rush impetuousness. It is only people who suffer from psychosis suffused with myopic memory will contemplate such self strangulation. What is the basis for anybody to think that the military can solve our problems? It is just a matter of transferring from the frying pan to the fire.

Much of the corrosive political animosity that exists in our society can be traced to the violent military takeovers in the past. This divisiveness still shapes our politics and stifles our progress. It appears these people don’t care about the consequence of such perfidy to the Fourth Republican Constitution. They are prepared to destroy their future to get rid of NDC. The current state is unacceptable and as human beings we have to find a way out. We need to think and I doubt if we are doing that. When people refuse to think they resort to barbarism to survive. The solution on the table can be likened to sailors in the bowel of a ship who see the captain and his chief mate on the bridge enjoying themselves then decides to blast a hole in the hull.

We are clamouring for a coup d’état salvation, and when it goes sour we will start blaming others. If after 56 years as an independent nation we cannot solve our problems amicably, but rather resort to a straw man’s solution then we don’t have anybody to blame but ourselves for our predicaments. Democracy is very expensive, and like justice it is slow and painful. Voting for incompetent and corrupt government is part of the deal. Sadly, we still have more than three and half years of expensive wait to see their back.

The bitterness of 66, 72, 79 and 81 still shapes our discourse and opinion today. We already have our hands full and we still want to add a fifth dimension. This is suicidal; please spare us the phrase ‘the Fourth Republican Constitution has been suspended’.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr.

London baidoo_philip@yahoo.co.uk

Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina