Opinions Mon, 1 Nov 2004

Ghana?s Election Year Fury

As Ghanaians prepare to go to the polls on December 7th, wrangles amongst political parties have reached higher levels, and the promises are rife. This rejuvenates my belief, that politics is still a self-righteous indignation motivated by greed., likened to leprosy, it cannot be cured, but managed over a long period.

When politicians become noisy, engaging each other in a war of words, they lose touch with the reality. Being creative and analytical are sacrificed , campaign messages well packaged , but labeled wrongly. Accusing fingers are stretched to the limits .

Do people genuinely love the same country they aspire to become leaders?.

It is sad, that many politicians in Ghana now comment on issues that have much to do about nothing. I would explain by drawing lessons from the Ghana Expo?2004.

After the successful organization of "Ghana Expo 2004" in Atlanta, Georgia, for instance, politicians in Ghana were very fast in their condemnation, classifying it as a fiasco.

I did not meet a single Ghanaian opposition political party representative in Atlanta, and yet, they called the "Expo" a failure. I think they should have been there to support a wealthy cause, a trade initiative that showcases how ordinary Ghanaians are taking giant steps to market their products.

Ghanaians, wherever they are, should not be fooled by such condemnations. These, among others, represent how our nation is being switched into the retrogressive gear.

For those who care, Ghana Expo?2004 was a huge success. The exhibitors can attest to that.It was a good beginning, at least, we have to commend the foresight of these two gentlemen- Kwame Owusu Afriyie and Kwabena Afriyie Asamoah.

What I have observed is that, when Ghanaian politicians fail/refuse to think deep into the future, they tend to blame others to cover up their inefficiencies and apathy.

Politicizing Ghana Expo?2004 is a bad omen that would not serve anybody?s interest.

To those who were misinformed, the state of Georgia and its governor- Sonny Purdue, energetic mayor of Atlanta- Shirley Franklin, and the chief executive officer of a strategic county- Dekalb- Venon Jones, were all elated by the exposition of rich Ghanaian culture and trade opportunities during Ghana Expo? 2004, embellished by the presence of the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu 11.

Ghana Expo? 2004 facilitated trade partnerships/contacts which small scale Ghanaian entrepreneurs are craving for. We cannot brand this as a failure. That is unfair to the organizers.

It is a shame, how this Expo became a political issue , how the presence of the Asantehene was even criticized.

Politicians should leave the Asantehene alone, concentrating on what the people are yearning for - good schools, affordable health services, food security, affordable housing scheme , jobs , women empowerment, child survival and development, an effective national policy that would be friendly to the handicap, the blind, rehabilitation and placement of people with developmental disabilities, not forgetting about a better social program for the elderly- they say, " the young shall also become old"

I am still looking forward to the day that Ghanaian politicians would explain to the people, how some of these problems would be minimized, if not eliminated completely.

As it is now, election year fury has been marked by bad talk, innuendos, and sometimes unnecessary arguments , an example being the Finance Minister- Osafo Marfo?s award as Africa?s Best Finance Minister, relegating bigger matters to the background.

I think the ordinary Ghanaian cares about how to put food on the table than these claims and counter claims. Who cares about all these ? Are we serious-minded people?

Recently, an African-American friend inquired whether the Asantehene is the King of Ghana. The answer was negative. She also wanted to know why he is popular, and why his predecessor?s death was given prominence by the New York Times and other major newspapers in the United States?

I explained , that Ashanti is a great Kingdom. It?s Kings were great warriors who defended the people from colonialists intrusion, oppression, and subjugation, a kingdom with a rich and unadulterated culture which had been preserved over many years, and occupies an enviable place not only in Ghana, but in Africa?s political past . Ashantis are industrious, and equally ambitious, I added.

But I did explain further, that Kings of Ashanti do not lead the people in wars again. They have become "warriors" of development, of emancipation and mobilization, conflict mediators and humble leaders.

I also told her- that many Kings in Ghana do not match the caliber of the Ashanti King.. Some kings in Ghana cannot be identified with a single development project in their towns and villages. We also have "run-away" kings who have been banished by the youths of their own towns for non-performance, being insensitive to development, and priding themselves with the numerous wives they have.That we have many petticoat kings in Ghana.

I told her, that the Ashanti King initiated the "Otumfuo Educational Fund", something many "sweet-mouthed" politicians even failed to promise the people. Are you an Ashanti ?, my friend questioned? I am not, but explained that I am a Ghanaian who is unbiased toward any ethnic group. That was my answer. Good deeds cannot be swept easily, the sweeper's dexterity notwithstanding.

I have explained all these because in election year Ghana, everything is given a political twist to satisfy an agenda of the authors. Ghanaians should be reminded , that leaders would always relinquish power for new ones to emerge, and that Ghana, our beloved country, would consolidate its gains for generations yet unborn.

To those who have not matured politically, a refreshing assertion is that elections are not about peddling lies , it is not about giving " a dog a bad name to justify being hanged".

It is about the truth, appealing to people to accept what you can do for them, making it simply clear what you cannot accomplish.

As it has always been,opposition in any democratic environment is a necessary tool for manufacturing fresh ideas. But with the lacerations that have laced the face of this year?s election, campaigning sometimes turning "ugly", some say, that is how an election year is meant to be.

They say, politicians have to develop the "absorbers" to accommodate insults and unpalatable comments, even from people who cannot manage affairs in their own homes, and yet trumpeting how they can transform Ghana into an "African Mecca" .

Kofi Wayo, representing one of the "political prophets" of doom, a bragging idiot, who also sees all African leaders as idiots. Lord Have Mercy on our country.

Some also say, it has been so , because former governments nurtured ways through which many party members became rich overnight, and now that people really have to work hard to secure their fiscal independence, discrediting others to stage a political come-back has become an option for the frustrated politician.

The ideal situation would be that, the present political tension would give way to reasoning, allowing our democratic structures to flourish, and visionary leaders identified , leaders who care.

Africa is punctuated by many disputes and war. Ghana , a country, that would not like to be added to the list of trouble spots. No Ghanaian would like to die foolishly, that one I know. That explains why in the 2000 elections, they rejected a government tainted with the blood of innocent Ghanaians.

Ghanaians do not need a reminder, of governments that promoted division and chaos, violated people?s rights, stripped women naked in public under the banner of a revolution, intimidated us in an era when fear/beatings became a metaphor for good governance.

Through the declaration of independence , we have become free forever, but we must not forget, that much as we are free, there is still the possibility of going wrong.

If we are free to be good, we can also be free to be bad. These, lend credence to how politics is dividing us as a nation, violating our own nature and character as Ghanaians.

The fact that we cherish democracy to be significant in our lives means we have agreed it has an intrinsic value that cannot be ignored.

Pundits believe creating tension during election years are often the works of the opposition. A sad scenario being that in most cases they woefully fail to win elections.

Author- Rutgers alumni, and former associate at the features desk, Daily Graphic, Accra, Ghana.
He now lives in Augusta, Georgia.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Aidoo, Ato