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Opinions Sat, 22 Nov 2008

If all Ghanaians spoke one language: How will we vote?

TRUE FREEDOM & JUSTICE is being able to tell our politicians that they will not be re-elected if they steal our resources or endorse corruption.

Although the issue of tribal allegiance and voting preferences is common in many countries, it more pronounced and entrenched in Africa where our nation states are only a recent phenomenon. Most people in Ghana are more likely to vote for a candidate because he is from their tribe, but this is less likely to be the guiding reason for voting in Europe and America where voters’ level of understanding of the issues at hand are central to the way they vote.

In my article ‘If all Ghanaians were Fantes and Northerners’( 2005), I argued that the Fantes should have been applauded rather than castigated for voting NPP and not Atta-Mills in the 2004 elections. My arguments were grounded in the idea that at no time in our political future will Ghanaians again live in separate kingdoms as we did before the creation of our nation state. This means that our destinies will forever remain connected. From this unshakable reality, it behoves us to develop and reorient our thinking towards the true notion of one people with a common destiny. I also proposed a reform in our thinking with regard to citizenship which would require us to observe a single and perhaps unique principle, which is this: EVERYONE IS FIRST, A CITIZEN OF GHANA AND SECOND, A MEMBER OF A TRIBE. This would constitute a radical reversal of our identity principles inculcated in us by our ethnocentric philosophies. The reversal principle was expected to provide a sea of altered consciousness in which we can reform our nation and ourselves and extinguish the tendency for ethnic groups to resort to the ideology of dominance; which fans our desire to vote along tribal lines. It is also in this state of consciousness of the nature of our citizenship that Ghanaians would think of our common humanity, oneness of purpose and oneness of vision. All Governments would also be naturally even-handed in providing economic, educational and social facilities to all communities. And gone, will the tendency for communities to be less prioritized in the provision of services because they did not vote for a particular Government or do not speak our language of the president.

The NPP Government has run the country for the last 8 years and Ghanaians naturally have mixed feelings about their performance. The current election has so much tribal undertones which cannot be dismissed. When it comes to politics we have two types of Ghanaians: 1. Ghanaian first and tribe second citizens 2. Tribe first and Ghanaian second citizens

However, if all Ghanaians spoke one language, what would people actually think and how would they vote? If all Ghanaians took off their ‘tribal hats’ how would they see the parties and the candidates? Would they cast a WISE VOTE?.

I looked at comments from the Ghanaweb about what people think when they don’t have ‘tribal hats on’: These comments below are interesting:

If Ghanaians will vote on real issues and not on tribal and ethnic isssues, No doubt, CPP would have won the election by a landslide. But what do we see, in Ghana people don't even care if a goat or a lizard is the prez. candidate. As long as the party is linked to his/her tribe or ethnic group, he/she will vote for that party. Wherever Dr. Nduom had campaign, the people readily admit that He has the best of vision for the country and yet they are not ready to vote for him. They say "be a master of change and not a victim of change". Vote with your head and not with your stomach. (Author: Prince)

The NDC determined to seek revenge and get the big their mouths filled after 8 years of hunger. while NPP is only praying to be allowed to loot our children's future forever. vote CPP and save your country if you are wise. Put NPP & NDC out of work. The CPP is the best change for Ghana. If you vote NDC you will be cursed and if you vote NPP you are completely doomed for the next century.. (Author: Abu Tituma)

With firing squad, murders and brutalities in our recent past,who wants P/NDC to come to power again to continue where they left.Equally with the rampant kickbacks and corruptions going on in this present government, a VOTE FOR PROF.ATTA MILLS IS A VOTE FOR THE SADIST RAWLINGS AND HIS HENCHMEN TO COME BACK TO SLAUGHTER GHANAIANS ONCE AGAIN.AND A VOTE FOR AKUFO ADDO WILL BE CONTINUATION OF THE CORRUPT KUFOUR'S GOVT. So our best bet is to Vote CPP for PEACE and Harmony. (Author: MenayeAFUAforiwa)

These expressions of fear, anxiety, concern, uneasy etc are real especially when put forward by people anonymously. They send us a message that if we are real Ghanaians, who have demonstrated convincingly our enviable achievements in intellectual pursuits and contribution the world we would vote with our intellect and not emotion or stomachs.

The last 20 years has witnessed unprecedented levels of growth in corruption beyond our imagination. Both Rawlings and Kuffour pretended to be skilful drivers in their first elected terms and then in their last terms they showed Ghanaians that anything was possible. Ministers could do anything in the last days of Rawlings and as soon as Kuffour secured his second term, he said to himself and party people ‘the gold mine was now open and you can do anything’. Have we Ghanaians learnt anything? How can we in unity reprimand these governments for their corruption and inefficiencies in the use of our resources? Simple: Set them aside and bring them back when they show that hey have changed and no longer endorse corruption.

Those who see themselves first as Ghanaians and second as tribe would not really care which party you are- NPP, NDC CPP PNC etc. You have to do the right thing. For me (as a ‘Ghanaian first citizens ) governing our country is about being honest, managing our meagre resources and upholding the values of forefathers, which entails the consciousness that whatever we are doing, we do for all our children not just our narrow interest.

A British European friend of mine expressed high regard for Ghanaians after reading through the quality of insight, analysis and arguments on the Ghanaweb. Yet when it comes to corruption even university professors say ‘Don’t worry it is my Wofa (Uncle), or he is from my tribe and so I didn’t see it or it did not happen’. Goodness, these resources belong to our children. We may not be here for much longer and some of us may never get the chance to steal the state money, what will happen to our children? Well, our children will bite and kill the children of the political thieves until they leave Ghana and hang themselves in Europe- because they will have no real identity.

For Ghanaian first citizens, the country’s resources belong to all of us, our children and children’s children and not to your ‘Wofa’ (Uncle). We have to ensure that groups of people don’t illegitimately harvest these resources for their exclusive benefit, rather than creating the foundation for peace for all of us. The unrest created by the corruption that most of us ignore today because those involved are our tribesmen will come back to bite us or our children. In fact it is already biting us. Ghanaians abroad often work hard and live marginally for years to build beautiful European-style mansions, but they discover that they need more loads of resources to protect themselves from criminals on drugs just to be able to sleep in those homes. What a nightmare? There is no doubt that those who are deprived of jobs and means of survival will resort to drugs and crime in their frustration and what we are seeing is only the beginning. We will continue to witness increasingly, the slaughter of those rich people (who don’t care about good governance) in their mansions by others who have lost their sense of value for human life. How could we live with the idea that the only place we feel secure is in our walled houses with our body guards and dogs? Is this our beloved Ghana? Well, how can you expect a hungry young man on cocaine to care about your life? We are in trouble and it is only the beginning.

We have to wake up to this enduring reality that our country will not be the same again, but we can stop the rot and save the rest of our body. Let us vote to create sanity and peace in our society for our children. We are not totally at peace if we are going to have governments that are seeking revenge for narrow reasons or eager to continue to loot our resources and turn their backs on the increasing drug menace, which is taking al of us down the drain.

True freedom, justice and peace come when we able to tell our politicians that they will not be re-elected if they steal our resources or endorse corruption. If I had my own way, no government will be elected for more than a single term in office.

If we see ourselves as Ghanaian first citizens, let us vote with our intellect and not our emotions or stomachs. Let us be serious about the future for our children.

Dr. Ahmed Bawa Kuyini For CEVS-Ghana, Tamale

Columnist: Kuyini, Ahmed Bawa