When the Goverment fears the people...
“When the government fears the people, you have liberty; when the people fear the government, you have tyranny” (Thomas Jefferson, April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826).
In the ensuing chaos and controversy over whether the government is 'begging' for votes or even whether the government should have 'begged' the people for votes, one thing is crystal clear- Ghanaians has been successful in sending their message to whoever forms the future government. The message is that - The days of the authoritarian government that acted unilaterally in power on issues that affects the masses is gone. They are finished. The survival of any future government lies in its willingness to strike partnership with the public, private companies, community groups and voluntary organizations. The role of the government will be to deliver distinctive leadership role that will weave and knit together the various concerns of the Ghanaian voters. In summary politicians , Public servants will have to serve the people and not lord their position on them and democratic leaders will be the protectors of the interest of the masses and not trample on the.
In my earlier article on the public forum of Joy Fm in July 2008, I warned that, the NPP government is simply continuing with the mode of governance that characterised the earlier regimes. I emphasised that the NPP government is exhibiting lack of understanding of post modern democracy and its ministers has become what I termed as 'Democratic Dictators'.
Postmodern democracy is a system of governance that recognises the preservation of individual liberty and survives on active maintenance of the institutions of civil society where public servants learn respect for the Ghanaian voters as well as self –respect; where Public servants acquire lively sense of their personal and civic responsibilities along with an appreciation of the rights of the Ghanaian voters; where Public servants develop skills of self-government as well as the habit of governing Ghanaian voters, and learn to serve the Ghanaian voters, not just their selfish interest. For far too long, Ghanaian leaders have lived beyond reproach both in military and democratic regimes to the extent that more than a decade and half of continuous democratic dispensation our political leaders have not come to terms with the concepts of probity, accountability and service to the Ghanaian voters. Ghanaian leaders has come to rely on capitalising on the desperation of the Ghanaian voters to bribe their way to power with rice and sugar during electioneering campaign regardless of their poor achievement in power. This time round the message was clear in Ghanaian terms, “we no go sit down make you cheat us everyday', or in the words of Abraham Lincoln “you can fool all of the people for some time, some of the people for sometime but you can not fool all the people all the time”.
If there is any field of governance that the NPP government failed miserable is its ability to master the art of using language in governance. Despite some laudable achievements of the NPP government in terms of economy, education, health and freedom of speech, it lacked the creativity to master the art of language to respond to dissent views as well as explain some of its contested policies and actions to the masses e.g. GT sale. Having people like Hon. Asamoah Boateng. Hon Arthur Kennedy, Hon Kojo Mpiani, Hon. Gladys Asmah, inter alia to justify certain difficult decisions of the government was a shot in the foot. A typical example was well captured by Kwabena Mprah Jr. in his article:
“When the question was put to him (Hon. Asamoah Boateng) as to whether it was not outrageous for the nation to, in the midst of all the water shortages, the unimaginable power cuts and the litany of other needs, import medals at a total cost of ¢14 billion (fourteen billion old Ghanaian cedis) or US$1.4 million, Asamoah-Boateng was simply uncharitable with his answers!...According to the minister, medals are not picked from the beaches (see www.myjoyoline.com, 16th July 2008)
Hon. Mpiani was also not brilliant with his response on the same question. Hon. Gladys Asmah was another disaster when she was asked about pair trawling on the waters of Ghana. Such disastrous responses to taxpayer's legitimate concerns erode the imprint of the good works of the government from the memories of the public and tend to portray the government as insensitive and uncaring to the plight of the masses.
Fairclough (2000) in his book 'New Labour, New Language” explored the importance of providing the right information in the right language to post-modern democracy. Fairclough asserts that, language has become more important in post modern democracy due to social changes which have transformed politics and governments. One important part of these social changes is the 'new relationship between politics, government and the mass media'. The language of political leaders is now recognized as a crucial factor in political success or failure.
Bourdieu (1992) also explains that language in not simply to produce grammatically correct sentences; they must be listened to (i.e. heard) and recognized as acceptable in a particular field (i.e. acknowledged by the receiver as legitimate) where the speaker has the right to speak in a particular context/situation. Foucault (1994) in his book 'Power and Subjectivity' discusses not only how language could be use as a weapon for political gains but also how it could be used to create a balanced and accountable governance that will be acceptable to all.
I subscribe to the view that much as the current political tsunami that has swept the NPP government is a political failure, it is by no means a victory for NDC but as I mentioned earlier a clear message to whoever forms the future Government that, the days of authoritarian rule is over and politicians will be held to account at the end of their terms in office. The future government will have to adopt the concept of 'inclusive governance'. I don't mean the inclusion of opposition in government but a government that will govern the country as an inclusive society, where everyone–or every significant group- has a voice and where these voices are heard either through representation on the basis of identity- women speak for women, ethnicity, religious affiliations inter alia- or indirectly through advocacy groups or voluntary association. The success of the future government lies in the central question of whom and whose interests are represented at any level of government and whose interest prevails?
Ayekoo Ghanaians, long live Ghana and God bless our Motherland Ghana.
Adamu Abdallah Awudu