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Ghanaian Politicians Are Disconnected

Wed, 7 Nov 2012 Source: Ofosu-Appiah, Ben

Ghanaian Politicians Are

Disconnected From The People And Have No Sympathy For The Poor





There is a justifiable public outcry against the over 150% increase in salaries


for the Executive and the Legislative branches of government as published in


the Ghanaian media. Coincidentally, just at the same time this outrageous


salaries increases were announced, there was a report in the news (which was


later denied) that Ghana Education Service employees have had their salaries


cut. On the average, the Ghanaian civil servant got a pay rise of 18% after a


marathon negotiations and threats of strike. Why not give members of the


Executive and the Legislature the same percentage increase? I mean if 18%


salary increase is good enough for the teacher, why does the MP or even the


President thinks he deserves more than 18% increase?





The work of the teacher, the


nurse, the Ghana Water Co. guy are equally as important as that of the MP or


the Minister. Our intellectuals who chair these bogus committees to make such


outrageous recommendations are bringing the name of the erudite profession into


disrepute. Kuffour set up a committee chaired by a so called academic to make


undeserved recommendations for a hefty retirement benefits for himself, and now


here we are again with another committee’s  outrageous recommendation unfortunately


chaired by another so called academic . Have our academics become partners in


the rapacious greed that’s ailing our politics and destroying our economy?


Â


The Wikileaks reports


says in some parts : Corruption in Ghana





WIKILEAKS ON CORRUPTION IN GHANA





35. Canadian High Commissioner Bobiash criticized the international community

for hobnobbing almost exclusively with the Ghanaian elite, based primarily in


Accra. He commented that this elite group, comprised of well-off and highly


educated people is out of touch with the other 95% of Ghanaians. The elite have


little understanding of or sympathy for the difficult conditions under which


most Ghanaians live, and Bobiash argued they lack a sense of urgency to do much


about it.





36. The American Ambassador expressed concerns about perception of rising


corruption. British High Commissioner Wetherell agreed with the Ambassador that


there is corruption in Ghana and that some politicians are using corrupt means


to get rich while they are still in power, including some officials in the


Castle..........................#WIKILEAKS





37. According to French Ambassador Jacquemot. Ghanaian elites are isolated and


do not understand the scope of poverty in their country. Jacquemot conceded


that corruption is a problem.........................#WIKILEAKS





The Wikileaks report goes on to detail some specific instances of corruption


and even names a host of politicians in the former NPP government for being


notoriously corrupt but all these people are now walking free with their booty


stolen from the poor Ghanaian. While the masses suffer in a desert deprived of


good drinking water and other basic need necessities, the Ghanaian politician


lives in an oasis of privileges and undeserved comforts yet they still continue


to steal from the poor Ghanaian tax payer.





It would be nice if our politicians will park their government allocated cars a


few days a month and take tro-tro to work. My political friends roll their eyes


when I make what they consider outlandish suggestions. A few, thinking I might


be serious, point out no African politician will behave in such a humble way.

Political power makes all of them arrogant and greedy in an undignified way.





I think some way has to be found to get our political leaders out of their


privileged cocoons. It troubles me that those we elect rapidly become lords


over us and isolated from the concerns of ordinary Ghanaians. Their primary


objective becomes stealing from the national coffers to amass wealth and


acquire properties. They start putting up multiple houses in a year, acquiring


hotels in the name of their children, depositing billions of cedis in their


personal accounts in a matter of months, transferring hundreds of thousands of


dollars from Ghana Airways to their fiancees abroad, drawing various sums of dollars


for per diem on their numerous useless foreign trips which brings the nation no


tangible benefits.





They are driven around in convoys sometimes running over and killing our


children without any sense of remorse, they are whisked past poor neighbourhoods


with a retinue of guards to keep strangers at bay. They behave like animals


chasing Legon girls, under aged SSS girls, and even married women as if they


live in the jungle with the law of the jungle in operation.





Those in government react with angry disbelief when accused by the people that


their greed is hurting the poor. They think they have to increase the price of


petrol to recoup the cost but they themselves continue to draw free petrol


everyday of the week. They use government vehicles for private purposes and


they see absolutely nothing wrong with that. They live in government houses


rent free while they rent their own houses to foreigners for hard currency (US


$).





They don't pay for utilities, they enjoy free electricity, free water, free


gas, and free telephone services. If you care to check their phone bills and

the numbers they call in a month, you will be shocked to find the percentage of


the cost and the calls that have nothing to do with transacting government


business. It will amaze you to find the number of calls they made to girl


friends, and to friends abroad all for the poor Ghanaian tax payer to pay. Why


is it that it is only in Africa that the richest men in any country are


Politicians?





Elsewhere, people leave politics to go into business because they believe they


can earn more there but in Africa and particularly in Ghana people leave


business to go into politics, because they can steal. If we don't disabuse our


minds from the mistaken notion that politics equal easy money and is the


shortest route to riches, we cannot attract our children to train as doctors,


engineers, teachers, lawyers, farmers, etc these are all equally important and


noble professions vital for our economic development as a nation.


So our politicians enjoy free housing, free car with free


petrol, free electricity, free water, free telephone service etc, so you are


tempted to ask what do they use their salaries for? The rest of us work for a


living by paying for these items mentioned above from our salaries but our politicians


don't have to pay for these. They enjoy them free but that isn't enough for


them. They are greedy enough to dip their hands into state coffers to steal


from the poorest of the poor. Our politicians are far removed from the daily


struggles of the ordinary people. They have no idea how it feels to miss a rent


payment or comb through the Help Wanted ads.





No wonder the people have become disenchanted with the politicians. It is


important for political leaders to get out among the people, experience their


daily life struggles and their aspirations and incorporate that into policy.


Politicians seem to have no problem visiting the rural folks at election time


when they need their votes but once elected they forget about them. I do not

agree with those commentators who argue that political life at the top is so


rigidly structured that a leader can not control his or her own agenda. Our


political leaders find time to play golf and to chase girls all over the place


throwing caution to the winds, so why can’t they break out of their comfortable


bubble to organize the people and join them in cleaning the filth that is


engulfing our cities and posing a public health threat? It is partly a question


of will.





Apparently, our politicians have gotten the message that we are satisfied with


their incompetence, mediocrity and arm chair leadership. We are not. If we


don't demonstrate our displeasure with the level of incompetence, greed,


arrogance, and corruption in government they will assume we approve of such


gross leadership failures. In a modern democracy in its infant stages like


ours, rulers are expected to leave their palaces, their offices, their castles,


every so often, and share the struggles and frustrations of their people. They


must demonstrate that they care about the poor. In that way they bring


government near to the people, as things are now, government is far alienated


from the people.





Ben Ofosu-Appiah.


Tokyo – JAPAN.





The writer is a senior social,


political and economic analyst and policy strategist based in Tokyo, Japan. He


welcomes your comments; do4luv27@yahoo.com

Columnist: Ofosu-Appiah, Ben