By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Folks, I am in the mood to step on big toes. I will rumble on a few issues that have helped me know why Ghanaian politicians can’t solve problems. Clearly, such issues shed much light on what has befallen us in Ghana and will continue to doom us because our leaders appear to be more interested in pushing us deeper into the labyrinth than doing anything to free us. And they have the constituency to help them do so because Ghanaian politics is full of nonsense. It thrives on deception, which destroys more than builds.
I am particularly motivated (or incensed) by the ongoing controversy over the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union that our Mahama-led government is more interested in signing than discussing with the generality of Ghanaians for them to know what the entailments are. Why hasn’t the government been bold and honest enough to place that EPA in the public domain for discussion so the citizens (whose electoral decision put it in power) can know the ins-and-outs, the nooks and crannies of such an engagement before endorsing it to consign Ghana to another phase of colonialism in this 21st century? An irony of sorts!!
Many decades after independence, why should those in authority in Ghana be more interested in tightening the noose around the necks of their own people than doing so to those “faceless forces” whose interests they are serving? Neither the European Union nor our government has been bold enough to lay the contents of this EPA bare in the public domain for the people to know what is at stake. Why so?
And why the indecent haste to sign it when the people (whose lives will be affected) can’t get the chance to reflect on it? Is that what our kind of democracy has to offer the citizens? Wherein, then, lies the justification for upholding it? Why should the government arrogate unto itself the power of thinking for the people when the people know full well that it is incapable of thinking rightly for them (in trying circumstances when the economic situation is deteriorating right in front of their eyes and their living conditions worsen)?
Forget about the (mis)treatment given to the European Union representative at the recent forum on the EPA in Accra. He deserved what he got as the one attempting to bell the cat!! When a people find it difficult to dance to the tune called by faceless people enunciating exotic rhythms, they won’t have the patience for such characters to poke them right in the eye on their own soil.
In effect, our own government thinks that it can best serve our interests by keeping the citizenry in the dark about this EPA and by playing a self-defeating game of hide-and-seek. All the justification given by the various government spokespeople on why Ghana should sign the EPA is a clear testimony to the petulance with which governance is done in our part of the world. A useless paper tiger called constitutional democracy!! Fie on all those government officials muddying the waters about this EPA!!
When ordinary mortals complain about issues negatively affecting their existence, their political leaders take umbrage and do things with reckless abandon; but they have a huge price to pay. It has been so and won’t change just because times have changed. History has a whole lot to tell us about the fate of political leaders (whether appointed by popular acclamation, universal adult suffrage, self-imposition, hereditary on the basis of privileged status, or with the blessing of those portraying themselves as God’s representatives on earth). So has it been all these years, especially for those in authority, buoyed up by the quaint belief that “It is God who appoints Kings/rulers over the rabble”.
We in our part of the world have had enough of such gimmicks to know how the tide flows. We have— whether by design or accident—subjected ourselves and been subdued by forces beyond our control to all forms of treatment for our weal or woe, depending on where one stands to make knowledge of our plight. Truth be told, our experiences speak volumes. We have ever been subjected to the worst form of dehumanization and fleecing by forces that descended on us to subdue us just because we don’t know how to use the natural endowments on which we sit—or even of which we are made.
Our forebears suffered the scourge and passed it on to us. We are grappling with it and don’t know how to get rid of it for the good of posterity just because we have put in office those who are more interested in making hay while the sun shines than ensuring that the sun shines on everyone. Ours is a done deal. Bosh!
Decades after managing to free ourselves from bondage, we are still stuck in the thickest parts of the woods, expending energy fighting each other instead of doing what will get us out of the woods. Such is our sorry state that we still cannot separate the trees from the woods. We remain stuck in the woods, still groping about while the rest of the world runs, just because we lack capable leaders.
Friends, the Mahama-led administration is bent on signing the EPA in the teeth of stiff opposition from Ghanaians, except some nonentities who have today become vocal public figures by virtue of the weaknesses in our political dispensation. One or two of them came to notice yesterday as supporting the EPA and entreating Ghanaians to support it too. Lame thinkers (if ever they are at all) to be pooh-poohed!
I am happy that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference has also come out strongly to caution President Mahama and his government not to sign the EPA “in haste”. A very strong admonition to be obeyed, especially if one values hindsight.
Anybody who knows about the post-Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade happenings will tell you about the role of the Christian missionaries in preparing the way for the wave of mental colonization that has so far entrapped us under neo-colonialism. The so-called recourse to “legitimate trade” in which the Christian missionaries played an instrumental role explains everything as they prepared the grounds for the colonization of our minds. We have remained as pliant, well-endowed but short-sighted people to be exploited through and through. That is what this EPA will perpetrate. No elaboration.
But if you are still incredulous, go and read the “Romanus Pontifex” to know how the Catholic (Universal) Church (in Spain) blessed the massive colonization that would reduce Africa to rubble. Then, you should appreciate why the call today by the Ghanaian Catholic Church establishment is eye-opening. The Catholic Church began it and knew the outcome. Today, the Ghanaian Catholic Church is asking President Mahama not to rush to sign the EPA; and its call is meaty. If he fails to heed this timely call and goes ahead to do as his handlers wish, woe-betide Ghana!!
The Catholic Church is powerful and cannot be under-estimated. It blessed colonialism in those days and hasn’t regretted ever doing so; but in our time, our Ghanaian clergy in that sect seem to have seen the hidden danger inherent in this EPA and have been conscientious enough to alert the government to it. Will President Mahama heed this call to prevent subjecting us to another phase of “colonialism”? I hope he will.
My final thought: What has become of Africa’s own development agenda encapsulated in the acronym NEPAD? Can’t this framework be utilized for better intra-African collaboration and economic growth than the EPA can help us accomplish? Is anybody in government really thinking right at all?
I shall return…
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