EDITORIAL: Nation In Search Of Common Values
Democracy thrives on a well-informed electorate who are ready to challenge their leaders to deliver on the social contract the politicians sign with them during electioneering.
Politicians always rely on the benevolence of the electorate to give them their mandate so that they can execute their policies and programmes, normally referred to as manifestoes.
In the normal scheme of things democratic governance endures when the values contained in the separation of powers are adhered to.
We need an Executive that is transparent and ready to account to the people to enable the electorate to benefit from the resources of the state.
The legislature, which holds the purse string of the government, must also be truly independent to achieve that objective.
The judiciary must be independent in order to discharge its duties without fear or favour and thus serve as a bulwark against tyranny, abuse of power and impunity.
In any society where the rule of law reigns, the government is unable to abuse power, trample on the rights of the people and dissipate state resources for selfish gains.
No matter how strong these institutions are, there will be a missing link if the people remain passive towards public affairs.
That is where every society needs an informed and active citizenry to be able to hold these institutions to account for their stewardship.
One critical vehicle for the attainment of these objectives is the media.
Media practitioners have a duty to provide the kind of information and education that can make the citizenry so informed that they can make decisions during elections.
When media practitioners are unable to raise issues; in other words, set the agenda for the nation, the politicians take over and sometimes their visions become sectarian, serving only the party interest to the detriment of the larger society.
In our part of the world, it is regrettable that politics turns to thrive on the ignorance of the people. More often than not, the messages of politicians during elections can be described as “much ado about nothing” as campaign rallies and other party functions become jamborees.
It is against this background that the Daily Graphic agrees with the call on journalists by His Eminence, Peter Cardinal Kwodwo Appiah Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in the Vatican, to be prophets to the nation, especially as Ghana prepares to go into political campaigning and elections.
Speaking at the 17th Ghana Journalists Association Awards ceremony in Accra last Saturday, he said journalists could be likened to prophets whose responsibilities include announcing events or things that will be happening, denouncing or criticising wrongdoing in society and also encouraging and consoling society when they have to bear the inevitable consequences of their actions.
The Daily Graphic lauds Cardinal Turkson for this forthright remarks about the media and the conduct of public affairs in the country. As he said, we think that the time has come for us as a people to have some critical values that bind us together as one nation with a common destiny.
Quite too often, we are divided on issues that require national consensus in order for progress to be attained
In the Fourth Republic, for instance, the introduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT), the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), creation of constituencies and districts and the passage of bills such as the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill and the duration of second cycle education have all been done with a divided front.
We need to know by now where we are going. But perhaps, as a democratic state with different ideologies, the option should only be seen in how that goal of a united Ghana, in which everybody has the say and a fair share of the national cake can be attained.
And in this role, the media must be true prophets who are bold to point out the failings of our national leaders so that they can pursue goals that will lead to the attainment of the greatest happiness for the greater number of Ghanaians.