Ten Lessons Of a Toddler Democracy That Didn't Dawn On The NPP

Tue, 16 Dec 2008 Source: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

1) No politician owns the power that he or she wields. The people own all power in every functioning democracy and at the right time they will yank it back! The way you hang on to power is to do the business of the people not yours! Ask Asabee!! The phrase, “I will teach you where power lies”, is a favorite one of the electorate, especially when angered and treated with utmost disrespect. Don’t dare them to live the latter phrase if you like the power that you enjoy waa waa!.

2) Being arrogant and condescending to the people is a lethal career and party killer in politics. Even if you think they are lazy, why say it to their face? They may be so lazy that they lace omelettes with popcorn so they don’t have to flip it. However, they will never be lazy when it comes time to boot your ass out of power for calling them lazy! Remember that the people play kingmakers in a democracy not a few men and women in a dingy palace. You may rely on deception, sophisticated trickery, dog and pony shows and other slick gimmicks. It still does not change the fact that the people are the final arbiters and they better not catch on to your pranks. Democracy is not chieftaincy and coasting is countenanced for so long! You are not in power for life as chiefs do! Be careful what you say! Arrogance draws a stiff price when the people have a direct say!

3) The surest way to put the opposition in power is to supervise corruption and profligacy is a country where poverty reigns supreme! Like a radio, tune in to the station where the people are. Hear their cries and cry with them. Hear their supplications and mourn with them. Eat not cake when the people gorge on air for dinner! Be one with the people that made you! They may look wretched but they made you. You are not a king or prince but a mere servant who must work like a dog for your people. They love you and that is why they gave you a chance to lead them to heaven! Give that love back ten fold. Being callous and pithy when the people need you will not wash! Stay home and cavort with them. Don’t ever be an ingrate or aloof!!

4) Let the youth speak! Let the youth speak! They too have their slant! It is all not about longevity and the elders! Merit has a place!

5) Be careful which the chief(s) you promote! Either promote all chiefs or promote none! In a multi ethnic setting, picking a few chiefs all the time ahead of other chiefs will breed discontent and anger. Voters often exact revenge if they feel their chief has been marginalized relative to other chiefs. Foment not trouble for the people and their chief. There is enough trouble around chieftaincy to start with. Work for peace at all times. Be more national instead of tribal. The game of tribe can be precarious! Ghana is a country not a kingdom and we must keep it as such!

6) Because most areas in the country are poor and need help, people take promises very seriously! Don’t make promises you can’t keep and surely keep promises that you make. The NPP squawks a lot but is very thin on delivery. Where is the love you promised us NPP? Where? Remember that song? Yes, that one! We wanted unity and instead we got disunity!

7) The best way to keep your party in power is to promote a culture of tolerance for constructive criticism from within the party. As soon as the party goes cold on the inside with criticism, you have a mafia in place that will eventually cost everyone an election. A good partisan is one who speaks truth to power and calls his party to order no matter what. If you vote for your party, you’ve earned the right to criticize it at every turn. If you go to sleep in between elections, you will wake up on election day to find out how irresponsible you’ve been. Good parents admonish their kids when they are wrong and continue to still love them as they should. To call your party to order is the greatest political love you can extend. If you cheer on profligacy and irrationality, you will get the hives come election day. And you sure deserve third degree burns if you rabidly support a party without asking questions. Save yourself these wrenching heartaches on election day by speaking up often, consistently and in a principled way before elections! Way before!

8) The people elected you! Live with and amongst them. Don’t live above them! If you live above them, you will find yourself above them come elections! You may like flying but hanging in the air for years is not fun for anyone. Especially, when the action is going on down below you. Edafom! Oda daadzi! Ekashikpon! Ele Ayingba!! He that is down need fear no fall. Remember that one? Year that one! Don’t be pompous for your people know you. Seek validation with your people because they will cast the votes! All the rest count not!

9) Your opponents could be despicable or even scumbags from your perspective! However, if your opponents relate to the people and provide hope, they will swing with them. Forget about what evil history your opponents bring. Voters decide whether to keep a short or long memory on your opponent and not you. Know that all parties have baggage! In the third world, people live for now and context is everything. People want a savior now not yesterday! Don’t ever underestimate your opponents or overestimate yourself. Don’t perform to the standard of your opponent, for, the people elected you to do a job and do it well. Note that this is really not about you but the people. You are just a vessel and vessels always radiate humility and a willingness to serve. Serve the people and power is yours to lose. Serve yourself and cronies, and the people will pout with vengeance!

10) The people may be poor and will come begging when you eat cake and they gasp for air. Treat them well and work with them to avoid begging. Creating dependencies will not enable them. If they are not enabled, they will always want. If they always want and you get fed up with them, they will pick someone else. So, you do yourself no favor by disabling them and reigning like a king. Even though poor, when the people get angry, no amount of money can save your hide. In the end, a good name is better than riches. For what shall it profit a man, to gain the whole world and lose his political soul? Showing off will earn you kudos for the moment but will bring retribution come elections. Respect the people in all you do because they made you and can surely unmake you if they please. Democracy after all, is government of the people, by the people and for the people! It is not government of the king over the wretched people. That era is long gone! Do you hear me loud and clear?

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman

(Also known as the double edge sword)

I don’t give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think its hell. -- Harry Truman

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka