What Sort Of Democracy Is This, Ghana (3)?

Wed, 24 Sep 2014 Source: Kwarteng, Francis

Wole Soyinka has written:

“God in his infinite wisdom has provided different peoples with different talents. The Igbo have been provided the gift of entrepreneurship. The Yoruba make first-class administrators and educationists. The North is however singularly endowed with the gift of leadership.”

What sort of divine arrangement is this? Where does this thoughtless remark place the progressive legacies of Nnamdi Azikiwe, an Igbo; Abdulsalammi Alhaji Abubakar, a Hausa; and Gani Fawehinmi, a Yoruba? Ghana’s politics is not far removed from the ambassador’s idiosyncratic remark! Yes, we want to see socially marginalized groups or ethnicities included among the hands running the nation but not at the expense of competence and patriotism. Excellent curriculum vitae establishing a candidate’s track record via-a-vis proven personal accomplishments, his or her level of patriotism, technocratic knowhow, internal party and national constitutions, knowledge of development economics, position on social justice, and commitment, not ethnicity, must be the movers of Ghana’s political meritocracy. Sentiments and uncritical ideological biases are more likely to derail development, sowing seeds of discord among a people within a given polity.

Is it any wonder a Luo is more likely to become the president of the United States of America than of Kenya? Ask Mrs. Obama and Raila Odinga! Do we see the shadows of moral futility from the emotional claims of ethnic nationalism, ethnocentrism, cultural supremacy, and political ethnocentrism? What are the historical and political legacies of Nigeria’s North apart from misguided incrustations of political corruption, religious fundamentalism and religious terrorism, kleptomania, and religious smugness in the body politic? Anyway, are these negative elements unique to Northern Nigerians? Is criminality racial or ethnic? Human genomics does not point to this! Criminality, leadership qualities, commercial skills, and intellectualism are not the preserve of any particular race or ethnicity. Interactions between the environment and genes produce these gifts. As a result, Soyinka is right to decry the statement for its divisive and essentialistic import. Sentimental ethnic essentialism should have no place in Ghana’s political meritocracy.

These philosophical and cultural questions are worth the attention of those intellectually parochial Ghanaian ethnocentric firebrands who simply refuse to avail themselves of the vista of accommodating cosmopolitanism that opens into the larger world of multiethnic homogenization. Ghanaian politics seems to backtrack rather than progress. In fact, Ghanaian politics should be exercised exclusively around the twin pillars of political meritocracy and competitive democracy devoid of the element of sentimentalism. Noted elsewhere, capable, competent individuals with visionary portfolios of progressiveness to move Ghana, Africa, and the world forward, as well as those with the intellectual wherewithal, technocratic ideas among others, with patriotic appreciation of the living conditions of the masses, and with rich history of dedication to the national and continental cause, should be allowed to contest for flagbeareship and parliamentary positions without fear of intimidation or threats of any kind.

Flagbeareship and parliamentary contestations must strictly enjoy the operational stipulations of internal party constitutions and of the national constitution, nothing less. Thus, the recent open display of mobocracy by some of the contesting candidates in the leadership of the NPP was unwarranted. This should be criticized by all without the divisive particularities of political affiliations, class or ethnic biases. Ghana has come of age and must learn to move past the stinking walls of ethnic, regional, and partisan political Jim Crowism. The near-vigilante terrorism allegedly displaced by Nana Akufo-Addo’s faction is one that the Bureau of National investigations (BNI) should have thoroughly investigated. That aside, there are politicians who have made serious public accusations against their colleagues, purportedly involving insinuations where certain individuals are bent on poisoning a contending leader of the opposition, yet this serious allegations may not even have caught the investigational attention of the BNI.

What is the BNI’s institutional nonchalance about? Is Ghana a banana republic? Has Ghana become a failed state-in-waiting? What then are the BNI’s eligibility criteria for the candidacy of criminal cases worthy of its investigational attention? Should the BNI constitute itself into a fading theocracy, like Al-Shabab’s Somalia, Al-Qaeda’s and the Taliban’s Afghanistan, and Boko Haram’s northeastern Nigeria, where it can institute mob or vigilante justice against flouters of public order? It may as well be that the middling BNI is a tyrannical tool in the sinister hand of incumbency, an institutional instrument of authority whose range of operational credibility is limited to the capricious manipulating tendencies of a given political party in power, whether of the NDC or the NPP. The element of neutrality is such a rare commodity in the commercial popularity of Ghanaian politics.

What is the alternative to the above theory? Ghanaians have consistently refused to answer this question. Could there be an answer to the question? We do not know. We do, however, know the BNI did not make good on its public declarations to turn over the suffocating heads of those arsonists who hounded Ghana during the 2012 election petition trial! The BNI is thus a paper tiger! Besides, similar to the outbreak of cholera and Ebola virus disease, allegations of such magnitude bordering on the poisoning assassination of certain Ghanaian leaders should be seen as a national security priority. But the seemingly lawless country, so-called The Gateway to Africa, does not seem to care in the least, a country where innocent babies are stolen before they are born and sold to others on the cheap, a country where professional armed robbers and their educated pen-wielding thieving politicians operate with impunity.

Could it be that the BNI sees that opposition party, the NPP, as naturally violent, internally undemocratic, and coldly evil and, therefore, waits somewhat nervelessly on the political sidelines as it watches that party sluggishly implode, destroying itself from the inside through bribery, intimidation, spate of corruption scandals, with no possibility of partisan reincarnation? We do not know!

However, it does not reflect well on the internal politics of Ghana, Ghana’s goodwill, and her international image if these serious allegations are not systematically investigated, culprits prosecuted, and, consequently, punished severely if found guilty trying to steal from the law. It is not as if the social genotype of the African is one of deadening gullibility, considering the destructive tendencies of religious fundamentalism and secular tyranny. “Heirs to African thought systems and world-views are, however, equipped with antecedent traditions that enable a repudiation of both, make them capable of that liberating response,” notes Wole Soyinka, continuing: “‘A plaque on both your houses!’?pronounced first in the direction of the rivaling dictatorships of secular and theocratic ideologies and, next, as a rejection of the aggressively twinned agencies of the latter, the theocratic?Christianity and Islam.” Institutional caretakers need to set harsh preventive precedents for lawbreakers, a moral responsibility Ghana has largely ignored.

Soyinka continues: “The earlier named arm of the binaries of rejection?secular despotism?has engendered its own brutal civil wars and cost millions of lives and decades in development, as African facilitators of Western and Eastern interests sought to entrench themselves in power, invoking the mission of one ideological block or the other, sometimes in rapidly alternating allegiances.” Soyinka’s candid rhetorical freshness inferentially makes a beeline for the political economy of diversity, competitive democratic, and inclusiveness as preconditions for national development, national cohesion, and generational success. The twin cankers of political ethnocentrism and ethnocracy have cost Africa (and other non-African geopolitical localities) more in human lives than any other variable she could frankly bring herself to acknowledge. This is why the laws must be made to work. This is why no one must be above the law. A polity shows clinical signs of organismic exuberance if its institutions work! That is not what we see in Ghana in today.

Nonetheless, Soyinka has decried the spate of African dictatorship all his life, yet the ascendency of democratic dispensation in his own native Nigeria, for instance, has not succeeded in quelling his loud vocal and literary protestations against an institutional mongrel, “democratic imperialism” or “constitutional dictatorship.” He does not seem to appreciate the differences between military dictatorship and democratic imperialism. The rise of Boko Haram and religious violence in democratic Nigeria seem incompatible with his democratic and humanistic leanings. Moreover, political corruption has not abated under the umbrella of democracy either. Soyinka even promised to lead a public demonstration against Mr. Obama’s paying a visit to his corrupt Nigeria! What then is wrong with human nature? Is dictatorship better than democracy, or vice versa? These are questions we would Ghanaians take up! In the meantime, Ghanaians need to seriously consider the following questions if they are to make any headway in political refinement:

Are Ghanaians willing to overlook the constrictive particularities of political ethnocentrism, cheap partisan political rhetoric, and sentimental regionalism in favor of public accountability, transparency, probity and proven track record of accomplishment in respect of the two leading political parties, the NDC and the NPP, while ensuring that their leaders circumvent the moral dilemma which confronted America’s Founding Fathers, that is, enacting convenient laws to protect the interests of the rich, propertied White male, stealing Native Americans’ land and killing some by gifting them blankets tactically infested with smallpox and starving others to death by strategically killing herds of buffalos, the buffalo being an important symbol of Native American culture used variously for religious rituals, food, shelter, and cloth, and owning enslaved Africans, etc?

Why has politics become synonymous with evil, dirt, incompetence, shameful scandals, lies, moral stupidity, and corruption?

Are Ghanaian politicians possessed?

Is it possible politicians swear on the wrong Bible and Koran? Should politicians begin to swear on the Book of Mormon or Sikhs’ Guru Granth Sahib, say, if the Koran and the Bible are not working?

Is the Golden Jubilee House the abode of evil spirits and demons and dwarfs?

Could it be that the Ghanaian expectation of politicians is hyperbolically unrealistic or that Ghanaians view the average politician as superhuman?

Are politicians different species of humans from the rest of humanity?

Is the politician morally different from the community from which he or she springs?

Could the national constitution be amended to make whichever presidential candidate that secures the second highest votes becomes the automatic vice president of the republic?

Is the constitutional dictatorship of the “winner-takes-all” approach to national governance and national problems worth retaining in the body politic?

Should Ghanaian politicians be given special psychiatric assessment where clinically unearthing the bug of political kleptomania is the focus?

In the end getting to know that “truth” is as real as the moral certainty of death will go a long way to make politics worth pursuing by men and women of conscience. Politicians sometimes forget that death awaits them in their thieving wakefulness and that their kleptomaniacal wealth is going to stay behind upon their eventful departure from earth. Certainly all men will die one day. Certainly all women will die one day. Certainly all children will die one day. Certainly all ghosts will die one day? Certainly all witches and wizards will die one day? Only “truth” and moral candor live on in the holy city of death. What remains of the world if “truth” and moral candor should eventually die with men? Is “truth” not immortal, lies mortal? Let the callous, reprobate, tongue-splitting lying politician continue to behave like a dead coffin! Or the eusocial flies following the corpse to the cemetery of moral uncertainty while at the same time refusing to be buried with the dead.

What sort of democracy is this, Ghana’s? Is Ghana’s “winner-takes-all” democratic imperialism or constitutional dictatorship any different from the rest of the world’s given its philosophical origin in Western democracy, particularly America’s? Is Ghana willing to move away from the emotional center of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”? Truth, we believe, always triumphs over lies. Truth, we believe, is God and godly. Truth, we believe, is man and manly. Truth, we believe, is woman and womanly. Truth, we believe, is elder and elderly. Truth, we believe, is human and humanly. And “truth” can equally pass for the Devil, an intersecting point of friction between the “moral objectivity of truth” and “the moral subjectivity of lies”! Politics pushes itself more toward the subjective axis of lies everywhere! Ghana’s democracy is based on “the moral subjectivity of lies”!

What is the “truth”? Part of the “truth” says leadership is not always about or of individuals. Group dynamics plays a larger moral role in the construction of leadership for a community. In other words, leadership is not exclusive of community dynamics. This is why President John Mahama’s failures are the implied failures of Ghanaians; President Mahama fails, Ghana fails; President Mahama wins, Ghana wins. Those are simple political and moral equations. The other side of the “truth” says the moral responsibility for transforming Ghana lies with only Ghanaians. Let the flies of lies accompany the corrupt politician to the cemetery of moral uncertainly. The good people of Ghana have spoken. And the people can only do as much. Let the “truth” prevail upon the conscience of man! Let the journey of national self-discovery begin today!

“We, Ghanaian people, can make it work; come together and make it work; we can make it work; we can make it work,” sings Bob Marley.

We shall return…

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis