21.03.2003 Feature Article

Talking to Wake up the Chief Justice and Leaders

Talking to Wake up the Chief Justice and Leaders
21.03.2003 LISTEN

For record dear reader, 1. I am a Ghanaian

2. I am not a member of any political party in Ghana but I do vote when appropriate. I really did not know who to address this letter to as being the leader. The writer has already made some two useful advises to the President on some matters and his relationship with others. The writer is not sure if the same person who ever told the president at NPP's congress in Takoradi that he has been voted the Ghanaweb's personality of the year has also been quick enough to inform him again what those who voted on line to lift his image are sending him other useful messages. The writer would be very pleased if someone is doing his/her job well but not being selective as what the president has to hear. The writer for one thing is happy that with the current weight of the president there is an implication that he is enjoying his presidency. At least we are proud that we voted him including that benefit. If the president has been listening then this is a dose otherwise we hope he does listen. After all a good president is the one whose ears are on the ground and doing the wishes of the people. That is democracy. A system of governance that yield broad-base sediment of power that confluence at the top, probably to one person - president. Democracy is not simply about free speech as people say. Otherwise, there would not have been any use to seek verbal assault redress at the law courts. The Canadian Foreign Minister may not have been forced to resign when she freely said something against the US President. There is a limit to free speech in democracy. So we as people are required to mind what we say in order not to provoke or cause the displeasure of others. Particularly so when the comments come from leaders who help in managing our beloved country.

The Chief of Ghana, Justice Wiredu in his address to Law student at Legon either said or advised Ghanaians to stop criticising President Kufour because he has been accepted by God since the people voted for him. He was further reported as saying, 'The right thing Ghanaians should do is to advise him and not to criticise the President' (ghanaweb, 19/03/03).

The writer is not sure if CJ Wiredu really made the said comments and in what framework. Perhaps, one would have understood him rightly. However, it is disturbing to even take his advise that the 'right thing for Ghanaians to do…'. The writer wishes to make these assumptions from his statement:

1. The people voted for President Kufour as the leader of Ghana on the basis of 'Primus inter pares' - First among equals. According to the constitution of Ghana there are millions of people who qualify to become president in Ghana. Choosing Mr. Kufour was a decision intelligent Ghanaians in sombre thought did in voting him to be our leader. This should not be misunderstood that he is the only one who could become the president. In his own party there were several people who contested with him in the presidential primaries. Secondly, voting him as the president does not mean that he is the only one with the solution of liberating our problems from the hands of the evil or good. Still there are many people who can do the job or even better.

2. CJ Wiredu should humbly understand that since not all people can be president at the same time and for the purpose of democracy we people vote for him. He then becomes our president on majority. I mean all Ghanaians whether we voted him as president or not. That is the law. In accepting the nature of our economic decay, poverty, lawlessness, child abuse, robbery, corruption etc, the President of the Republic of Ghana was fully aware and swore an oath of responsibility to lead the country. He did this in a national and colourful parade. We as people of Ghana are his witnesses. He promised to do the job and by our vote he is accountable to Ghanaians at home and abroad.

3. No one can advise when one has myopic knowledge on the situation at stake. I am sure it for this reason that lawyers would 'dig-out' information to have a full perspective of what confront them before they take a decision on cases not advising cases. Lawyers adjudicate cases. By CJ Wiredu's suggestion that we can only advise the president and not to criticise him is absolutely wrong. It will be an insult to walk straight and tell the president or anyone to do what is right when one cannot justify what is wrong with what s/he is doing. If one tells a friend to do the right thing that is not only an advise, it also a criticism. There can be good or bad advice. Good advice for one thing is also a form of warning and not only encouragement. So is bad advice will often turn out to be the best solution. But the end result is a critique to the situation at stake.

4. I am afraid to say that CJ Wiredu cannot say there is one 'right' thing for Ghanaians. And that right thing is to advise the president. He has no adjudication on the intelligence of Ghanaians to say that there is only one option for 18million people. The constitution of Ghana has set out the powers of Ghanaians. That is the constitution the president is using and is the powers of Ghanaians. The constitution says that the president can be 'impeached' for failing to adhere to the oath of office. By that power Ghanaians have the right to remove a president from office. Besides, Ghanaians can pass a vote of no confidence in the president and that results in an unpleasant end. The rights of Ghanaians are so supreme that CJ Wiredu as the leader of the Judiciary should know and even advise himself to advise the president of it.

5. CJ Wiredu should have to accept the fact that he is not a politician in the first place. Lawyers by their work are supposed to be neutral in their judgements. To ensure that they do their work without fear of intimidation or favour the constitution of Ghana and many around the world recognise the freedom of the judiciary and its separation from the arm of government. The neutrality is to aid the fairness of their work. It is sad in the growing phases of democracy being manufactured all over the globe and for that matter Ghana, where Chief Justices are changed anytime a new president assumes office. I am yet to have someone convince me and other Ghanaians on the motive of changing CJ at will. The obvious reason is the confluence of bias system to help perpetuate the reckless administration of ruling leaders. This has become the tradition in Ghana since independence and also many parts of the African continent. To this end, CJ Wiredu and other bar appointees are always beset with internal wrangling of political influence and choices, which have gone a long way to suppress some noble men of the law institution. I am not sure if CJ Wiredu will himself ever criticise the president or by his comment ever see the president and the party loosing any case with the opposition members or civilians.

6. If CJ Wiredu's comment was meant at attacking the opposition parties then that is also sad indeed. In the first place, it is right for all the people of Ghana to offer effective ideas to assist the president and if he is willing to listen and not to offer 'his warlike speech as he puts it' to revenge comments. Surely, many opposing parties have always and often been criticising for its sake but that is also a form of check and balances even if it is sometime subjective. Secondly, they have the choice to oppose as a part in democratic practices. Thirdly, they have their manifestos, which may be different from that of NPP and for sure they may not agree with the government on all issues. It is a matter of tolerance and discussion that will ensure good governance particularly from the ruling party.

7. May I finally inform the CJ that criticism has become part of and accepted in democracy but there is nothing like democracy in its sense. What exist in democracy and democratic governments are never similar. If there is anything like democracy are they without giving numerous assumptions like voting, discussing, freedom, etc and which are all subjective in nature. Otherwise, there will be no reason to give immunity of imprisonment for lawyers. After all, we are all human beings doing different kinds of work and are paid for doing that work. Why should others be exempted from other things or giving preference over others such as not imprisoning lawyers. Again, all people and institutions are corrupt including lawyers in Ghana and around the world. It is an open secret except only CJ Wiredu who may not know.

8. Since you the CJ was appointed by the President of Ghana, so has he the right to pack you out of office. Ghanaians voted for the current president and so have the right to pack him out too. As the president, he was the only one whom Ghanaian voted for as leader of all government positions. He is the person responsible for all cabinet positions. He is also the Chief Executive of all districts in Ghana. Remember that Ministers swear oaths to the president and NOT Ghanaians. If a Minister is not doing his/her job, it is the president who would have to take the blame. The public will question the president for reasons in appointing an unfit Minister but not to advise him per se. So if Ghanaians feel that if a Minister is not in tune with his responsibilities there are simply many ways to withdraw the powers entrusted in the president. Again, by the enormous duties on the shoulders, it is wise to say that the president may not be able to handle all of them. This is the reason why people or all Ghanaians would have to open up critiques, assist, comment and offer any help to see the vision of the country come to fruition.

This writer has stated in one of his previous articles, 'A flip of Development' and made a point in voting. To stress it further, there is no reason to vote if people cannot demand accountability. Without accountability, voting as they say, is power is a dangerous phrase to adhere to. We may be tempted to vote any criminal or crook into the shoes of presidency. In voting people are to be guided first by responsibility to be voting/political 'watchdogs' in ensuring the drive towards our vision. We as Ghanaians have been told many times from the struggles to seek independence to see voting as the ultimate power. We have got that message but what about voting and falling into comma and allowing anyone to do what s/he likes?

To people like the Chief Justice Wiredu who do not know so well why Ghanaians voted President Kufour are to be told that it was not NPP party members who brought Mr. Kufour into office but all Ghanaians. It includes people who:

a). were tired of the downward trend of the economy and lack of vision for Ghana

b). were party members (including NDC) who were willing to give the chance to others and see what the future holds for Ghana

c). thought there are other Ghanaians (or parties) who can do better when offered the chance

d). simply want a change to avert anarchy in Ghana

e). want change for sake of it. In this case, it is a change of victory for Ghanaians and not the change for NPP. As president, H.E. Mr. Kufour is for Ghana and shall always remain the president of Ghana even after answering his nature's call. By this reputation the president has to confluence the aspirations of all the people who voted him or as president and take up the challenge. This includes he the president lowering his ears to the people who did him that honour and not simply doing the do of the past.

Change as we are to anticipate was to emanate from the grassroots by ensuring the full participation of all people in whatever capacity to feel and be felt in the system of governance. However, the status quo has been the same since the president took office. Going round the world and telling Ghanaians to come home. Happily telling other nationals of the mass resources Ghana has which apparently this long independent country has failed to utilise to change the lifestyle of her people to come and invest in them. Education remains once again the most sordid form, which has no potency to accelerate and support any meaningful policy of reform. Ministers and other 'opportunistic' individuals are at play in the government machinery wailing to justify why they have been chosen to lead certain parts of the country's institutions. Corruption and personality attacks are on the scoreboard. We are simply back to square one. But if we were to talk and pursue the same old things the NDC government was doing its best. In fact, with Mr. Rawlings' charisma and in sometimes 'miserable' face test convinced the whole world including all Islands to come and invest in Ghana. Including the call for Ghanaians to come home but nothing happened. The NDC was good, in fact excellent at that. In that case there would not have been any need for change of government at all. Without being critical on the president and his governance the writer is of the view that he has not kept the change people called for intact. Simple excuses from some people saying the 4 years duration is not enough, is a mockery. Every Ghanaian knows long ago that the constitution has designated presidency duration for 4 years. Why would somebody wake up now and claim the four years are not enough and so what …? It is up to the president to advise his set of leaders to do what they can and when the time comes people will judge them through voting.

It is not the time for Ministers and people to do the talking they are talking simply to convince rather than to act. The other day Mr. Kwesi Nduom in an interview granted to World Link was quoted as saying, " The transition has been an unusually long one, in part because we’ve not had a history of such transitions. No one [in the new government] knew what to do because this was the first time power was peacefully and legally transferred from one political party to another". This to me is a cheap talk. It is a discredit to the integrity of government leadership who told Ghanaians they were capable of leading the country when they are voted into office. Ghanaians knew the problems long a ago and called for a leader. Why tells us now?

I will still encourage you Mr. President that you can still do your best by listening to the people and not those who surround you. They are people who may (mis)interpret what has been planned and they are bound to make grave mistakes. They also have their preferences and personal mirror beside them to see what they want more than simply for Ghanaians. It will take you to sit and listen to the mass please Mr. President.

I am not a fun of Mr. Kofi Wayo or do I approve of his methods in handling issues but for sure, there is one thing he stands for which one will need a 3rd eye to see, know and understand him. He wants to see a change, a radical change that all Ghanaians called for. He simply has the country and the suffering of the people in his heart. You cannot take this away from that man. That is what we are calling for but not once again leading us into the slaughterhouse of IMF and other bodies.

If you care to listen, this is the message of most Ghanaians waiting to see the other day; or to follow the advice of the Chief Justice Wiredu, our advice to you. P/s: I welcome comments and criticism.