Vote Prudently, My Fellow Ghanaians!

Tue, 16 Dec 2008 Source: Pryce, Daniel K.

That Ghanaians were unable to choose a president on December 7, 2008, did not particularly surprise many of us, since none of the candidates, even during the days of heavy politicking prior to Election 2008, had won the complete trust and admiration of the Ghanaian populace. Now, there are a number of reasons why Ghanaian voters in 2008 had been ? and continue to be ? apprehensive about their choice of president, as there have scarcely been any improvements in the lives of many ordinary people, dating back to 1992, when Ghana’s Fourth-Republican Constitution took effect. Without a doubt, the people’s ambivalence was clearly depicted in the patterns of voting on December 7, 2008, except in the political strongholds of both the National Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Let me start by saying that those who angrily referred to both the people of the Ashanti and Volta Regions as parochial for voting primarily for the NPP and NDC respectively have gotten it all wrong: in every nation where multiparty democracy is practiced, political parties generally depend on certain geographical locations in the country to deliver the requisite votes. If in doubt, please study voting patterns in the U.S.A., where, for example, Democrats had been unable to capture the states of Virginia and North Carolina, dating back to 1964 and 1976 respectively, until Barack Obama’s victory in both in Election 2008! In fact, Barack Obama won North Carolina by a paltry 13,692 votes, out of a total of 4,233,088 votes cast! Indeed, certain states in the U.S.A. are strongholds of either the Republic Party or the Democratic Party, and even a man like Barack Obama, who rode on a tide of populism, could not alter these longstanding trends, except in one or two states, as mentioned earlier.

Undoubtedly, this presidential election run-off, to be held on December 28, 2008, is a stark reminder to both Nana Akufo-Addo and John Atta Mills that either camp has a lot of work to do to convince the electorate that it is ready to lead the country for the next four years. So, who should Ghanaians vote for? Well, Ghanaians should vote for the man who will, in all likelihood, be unable to sleep well at night initially because the latter is simply and relentlessly concerned about solving the nation’s smorgasbord of economic and social issues ? poor intra-city and intercity roads; deplorable filth in our cities and urban areas; inadequate and unaffordable housing for ordinary workers; derisory health care services, where a trip to Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, the nation’s flagship health care facility, could, paradoxically, be a patient’s last stop before the silver cord is irreversibly severed; plummeting standards of living; and deteriorating educational standards, at all levels of the academic spectrum, among others.

It remains an undeniable fact that Ghana’s ? and Africa’s ? politicians still do not understand that seeking elective office entails a willingness to serve the people, and not the other way round. Sadly, the connotation of public service for many politicians in Africa is a lifestyle of grandeur, megalomania and toadyism, and we ought to reverse this negative attitude, if we are to see a discernible improvement in governance on our continent. And by public service we unquestionably mean a candidate’s capacity to subjugate the pursuit of all personal goals to those of the citizenry ? the inescapable realization that public service is, indeed, a thankless effort to improve the lot of others, not a path to personal profit, enrichment and/or self-aggrandizement.

The time has come for Ghanaians to truly show their leaders what accountability is all about, and we need to choose the next president, based not on some ethnic affiliation or familial association, but on what the person can do for the nation. Let us go out to vote on December 28, 2008, bearing in mind that our decisions will not only affect the present generation, but future generations as well. And we dare not fail ourselves and those to come after us, if we want to see a better Ghana in the years to come! After all, four years is a long time to correct a bad decision, so let us choose the next president prudently! I pray that our two presidential combatants will, once again, show exemplary decorum before and after Round Two of Election 2008, so as to preserve the tenuous peace we are presently enjoying, for neither man was born with an assurance of the Ghanaian presidency glued to his umbilical cord! For those of us unable to vote in Election 2008, we shall continue to put our pens and computers to good use after December 28, 2008, since there is a lot of work to be done for the good people of Ghana by the incoming administration! May God continue to bless the Republic of Ghana!

The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, holds a master’s degree in public administration from George Mason University, U.S.A. He is a member of the national honor society for public affairs and administration in the U.S.A. He can be reached at dpryce@cox.net.

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.