Fix the country demonstration not potent enough to bring the needed change in Ghana

Fixthecountry Placard Main 1 Does the current trend fix the country mantra have the conditions to succeed?

Thu, 5 Aug 2021 Source: Acham Patrick

I have closely followed the fix the country mantra, and it is, in my opinion, a movement that, if successful, will right certain wrongs in Ghana. It is obvious that the goals pursued by this movement are somewhat in the national interest: who, in his right mind, does not want good roads, a quality healthcare system, a quality and affordable education system, low fuel prices, a favourable legal environment for business, improved security, and job opportunities? It is only a beast or a god that does not want the system to work to bring to reality the aforesaid goodies. However, one of the vexing concerns that many critical thinkers continue to ponder is whether or not this is the movement that would propel Ghana into the orbit of good governance and prosperity.

There are macro and micro-level factors required for the success of any movement in the history of mass movements. At the macro-level there are four conditions for a movement to succeed: First, discontent and dissatisfaction with basic life conditions abound - hardship, corruption, and a lack of freedom – and traditional means of finding remedy are either denied or ineffective. Second, beliefs, values, and ideologies filter and shape dissatisfactions, turning them into grievances against the system and promising to fix these issues. For example, corruption is not a personal flaw of some leaders who should be replaced; it is endemic and only another regime or form of government can stop it. Thirdly, the capacity to act collectively exists (also referred to as mobilization), such as freedom to organize, civil society, access to means of mass communication. Finally, Political opportunity, for example, divisions in the regime, international support for dissidents, low legitimacy of the regime, and the like, increases the probability that the goals and demands of the protest will be achieved because of weakness in the target. All four are necessary conditions for collective action. The absence of even just one of these conditions makes challenge difficult and unlikely.

At the micro-level, people have to decide whether or not, when, and how to participate in the challenge. Their decision depends not only on the four macro conditions – namely, how dissatisfied they are, whether they have an anti-regime ideology, and so on – but on their perceptions and expectations of the number of other people joining the challenge and its chances of success. In this context, people weigh expected benefits and costs and decide on the action with the highest net benefit. The goals sought by challengers are purely collective good (reforms, the overthrow of the regime, freeing political prisoners, free elections, and so on). This inevitably called for a moment in which the agitators and protesters from all classes, ages, regions, and religions.

Does the current trend fix the country mantra have the above conditions to succeed? The answer in the vast majority of cases is no.

It is beyond argument that politics in Ghana in the 1978s used to be a united majority against a united minority at the helms of affairs and this explains why the Union Government concept of the Acheampong regime was moribund at birth. During that time, as a result of economic conditions growing worse, various groups such as the Ghana Bar Association, the Ghana Medical Association, and Ghana National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) began to mount pressure on the government for a return to constitutional rule.

The desperate attempts to impose unigov also led to stiff opposition from the Christian Council and the Catholic Secretariat. The stiffest opposition that actually put the nail in the coffin was the emergence of the People’s Movement for Freedom and Justice (PMFJ). This group included politicians across the political divide such as William Ofori Atta, K. A. Gbedemah, A. A. Afrifa, and others like Adu Boahen, G. W. Amartefio, and many others.

Knowing how powerful and effective the citizens acting in unanimity could be, the politicians, upon the lifting of the ban on partisan politics, following the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution, decided to break the strength of the people by fomenting everything that might weaken the citizens united for collective action, by promoting dissension among them. All workers associations, traders associations and various educational institutions have been infiltrated by partisan politics. Partisan entities like TESCON and TEIN have been consciously created across all tertiary institutions in the country just to divide the ranks of students, so they will not worry any government again.

Also, a very critical and unfortunate scenario that will make the fix the country movement not to succeed is the partisan nature it has assuming. The problems of Ghana that are supposed to be fixed are not only limited to this current government but systemic problems that need a complete overhaul in the institutional design of this country.

The politicians have successfully put the citizenry united in indissoluble bonds to defend them. This has created blind political loyalty which serves as fetters of critical and rational thinking among the ordinary citizens and this has irretrievably produced "conscientious ignorant" citizens incapable of asserting their political and economic rights. Whereas the politicians act as enemies only to the gallery, they are disguisedly united in the hope of common plunder and rapine of the national exchequer.

With this relationship that exists between rulers and the ruled, the ordinary citizens continue to be burden with taxes necessary to support the luxury of the power holders, and this has resulted in the privileged few gorging themselves with superfluities, while the starving multitude is in want of the bare necessities of life.

What, then should be done? The movement needs to widen it's support based by inculcating in the rural folks the need for a complete change in the governance and politics architecture of the country.

The movement must be able to produce citizens that will animate the zeal of leaders by showing them, without flattery or fear, the importance of their office and the severity of their duty.

Political leadership must be aware that to neglect the redress of grievances whether private or public is dangerous and therefore urgent and responsible steps should be taken to ameliorate, if not to eradicate the growing dissatisfaction with the system.

To conclude, looking at the conditions at both the macro and micro-level needed for a movement to succeed, obviously, the fix the country mantra as it is currently, is not the movement that can draw the attention of leadership to fix the country. This is because this movement is merely urban, elite, and social media-based. A movement that draws support from all walks of life – the rural folks, urban residents, professional groups, religious, and students is what is needed to catch the attention of political leaders. There are things to be fixed and in the words of Plato, the perfect felicity of a kingdom consists in the obedience of subjects to their leaders, and the leaders to the laws and the laws being just and constantly directed to the public good. The system needs to be fixed.

Columnist: Acham Patrick