By Michael J.K. Bokor, Ph.D.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
The above heading is credited to Nana Kwame Ampadu, the King of Ghanaian highlife, who used it to tell us an intriguing story about life in the animal kingdom (“Ebe ti yie; ebe nti yie”, a song that irritated the Busia administration in the Second Republic just as Jimmy Cliff’s “Suffering in the Land” did).
To cut a long story short, we can say that the moral lesson that the songsters wanted to teach us is simple: while those placed in positions of privilege have access to the national cake to do all they can with it, those who actually bake that cake are deprived of its benefits. A gripping lesson to be taught!! Let’s translate this lesson into the Ghanaian political situation and we should see things clearly. Those who have political connections make it while those who lack it don’t. In effect, “political connections” in our time have become the “Open Sesame”. I don’t have it; do you? By its very configuration, the Ghanaian brand of democracy subsists on the “Ebe ti yie” principle. Prove me wrong, dear reader. I have grown to know that the 1992 Constitution is a perfect blueprint for cushioning those for whom it was designed and for restraining those seeking some leeway to change their circumstances.
If you doubt it, don’t go far. Just read the Constitution closely in its entirety. Forget about the Transitional Provisions because they were put there to do what you and I can never subvert. They are entrenched. Do we have the wherewithal to overturn the table? Forget it!
But the real issues beyond the Transitional Provisions exist, which have become another avenue for circumvention by those who know how to change their dancing skills as the drum beats change. No need for me to say more than required; but can you find out what the Constitutional Review Committee actually concentrated on as the essential elements of our concerns as far as growing our democracy is concerned?” The CRC chose areas of interest to it and the appointing authority and had no more room for any contribution to be made (as the recent news report attributed to it confirmed). Thus, a select group of five or six people, mandated by the appointing authority (who is even dead now) and supported by more than 6 million Dollars of tax-payers hard-earned revenue just met in a closet after a so-called nationwide collection and collation of views to determine for the more than 25 million Ghanaians what they thought constituted the ambit of constitutional review.
Those of us who read their initial report had huge reservations but no room to make those reservations registered to change the paradigm. We still are nursing grievances concerning the limitations of the 1992 Constitution but don’t have the democratic window through which to register such concerns. Is that what a genuine democracy calls for? And if we can’t register our concerns in a peaceful democratic manner, what should we do? Resort to anarchy, which democracy abhors? The late President Mills put that CRC into action and expected something worthwhile to be accomplished in his lifetime so he could leave lasting footprints on the sand of time. The CRC did all it could, using more than 6 million Dollars for its so-called nationwide work and coming out with findings that a government White Paper reduced to countable points. Ex-President Mills signed that White Paper to signal the movement into a new phase of our democracy. A huge duplicity because not long thereafter, he died, leaving the door to democratization still wide open and the dice not tossable to give Ghana the benefits of democracy. Really painful.
Any optimism for constitutional review must by now have metamorphosed into spasms of regrettable experiences. Ghanaians are too docile, which is while anybody at all can get up and beguile them into blessing their quixotic escapades. Thank God, the soldiers (those with the monopoly over the instruments of violence have allowed themselves to be cowed into submission and restricted to parading the confines of their military barracks, marking time for nothing, or being sent out on international so-called peacekeeping operations juts to give them something to do.
They seem to be regarded as having too much time and too little to do in Ghana and must be sent out. Interestingly, THE pittance paid them helps seal their mouths and decimate them. Of course, their days of asserting their “manhood” through interventions in national politics are over. Any soldier who thinks that he can use the barrel of the gun to ascend to power in our time will be the dumbest fool ever created by God).
But it doesn’t mean that our civilian politicians should be given any blank cheque to do as they wish. I have insisted all along that the worst threat to our democracy are these civilian politicians who have learnt to adapt to the current political dispensation, which they exploit with murderous abandon. Since the initiation of this 4th Republic, these politicians have used subterfuge, open aggression, and senseless political posturing to cajole the Executive arm of government into satisfying their greed. Take, for instance, their car loans and the huge sums of money paid on their accommodation and you should be seeing the problem right. Who is to solve it? Under President Mahama, we haven’t heard anything about car loans and all that stuff. What might have happened to our blind side?
Now, we turn to more worrisome an issue regarding our constitution, where too much power is vested ion the President as far as the appointment of functionaries to manage the affairs of state is concerned. The Constitution has vested in the President the power to appoint personnel to head institutions of state all over the country. Just too much sweeping power given him, which undermines the principle of democracy. If you doubt it, just turn to the 1992 Constitution and let me alone. He is given the mandate to appoint personnel to offices, including those to function as Chief Executive Officers for the Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies. Is there a genuine desire for decentralization to make our democracy viable? I turn to a viewpoint proffered by Kwame Okoampah-Ahoofe, Junior, (Ph.D.) who shouldn’t be any stranger to those conversant with the discourse that goes on in cyberspace about Ghana. He has rightly opined that there is a lot wrong with our constitutional democratic arrangement. In his latest comment, he has said that President Mahama has yet to round up the appointments of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives around the country. I am even more concerned about the president's apparent inability to fill all the administrative slots at the district level, particularly in the often overlooked rural areas, nearly two years after he was controversially declared winner of Election 2012.
What this means is that by the end of his current tenure in December 2016, at least half of whatever policy agenda Mr. Mahama had on his plate for these perennially marginalized parts of the country would not have been fulfilled. (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/artikel.php?ID=313240). I totally agree with him and opine that this kind of constitutional arrangement isn’t in the interest of the country’s democracy. It has to be changed so that democracy can be exercised at the lowest level upwards. Anything else will be a sham and a platform for duplicity. That’s what the politicians in Parliament and their lackeys all over the place are working hard to perpetuate against the will of the people. We need to change this kind of bogus arrangement so that all that we expect our constitutional democracy to give us can be visible and accessible with the least effort. If we fail to refine our constitution, we will end up descending into worse circumstances and arming unscrupulous characters t perpetuate their greed, evil intentions, and subterfuge to our country’s disadvantage. Those of us making our voices heard on issues of this sort know why we do so; and we will continue to do so, regardless of vain threats, insults, and misplaced characterizations. Ghana’s democracy will not grow if its limitations and inadequacies are not raised and addressed. Those who are enjoying the perks of the offices today just because the democracy has placed them in vantage points should know that times change and they may not be lucky to survive the whirligigs of what they are putting in place today. History has a lot of lessons on this score that I advise them to learn ad shape up. Falling from grace to grass is real. And it can happen when least expected. Those who seek Ghana’s welfare won’t do things to destroy the country. I shall return… • E-mail: email@example.com • Join me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/mjkbokor to continue the conversation.