12.12.2008 Feature Article

On National Unity and Ghana Elections

On National Unity and Ghana Elections
12.12.2008 LISTEN

Elections in Ghana are so critical to our nation's survival that most people take it very serious to cast their vote.

On the day after the December 7, 2008 elections, as Ghana's elections are being counted, pundits, preachers and prognosticators are polishing up their art and philosophy. On the GLU forum Sam Asante wrote in response to one Peter's predictions on Election-08:

“the losers must accept the verdict without any blame on EC, or other contesting parties/candidates and winners must make national unity a primary post election goal”. (Sam Asante, GLU Forum, Monday, December 08, 2008 4:24 AM)

Sam gives us reason for this post-election-and-waiting morning to write you all a short treatise.

Folks, all these talk of national unity could be substituted with words like “accept and live under the rule of law”.

Folks, our society of people seems funny when evaluated from outside. Some assume we are the same as others, and others like to give excuses that we are so different we should not judge ourselves by comparison to Europeans or Americas.

Folks, last time we checked clean water to drink, good decent roads and transportation of goods, communication systems, electricity, malaria and other diseases, life and death, have nothing to do with race or continent or society.

Research has shown that humans are molded by genetic dispositions and by environment they grow up in. A brilliant mind even from a less advanced Kenya may end up being a brilliant mind if well nurtured and allowed to Harvard Law School and become a brilliant American President Barack Obama! We should therefore examine our lives and how our leadership shapes our environments for our individual and social development as a people.

When the word culture is used some people don't get it and think the way we eat and kind of food constitutes culture. Folks, Corporations even as profit-making organizations have a culture.

If you work for IBM or Intel, they have their (corporate) culture and they train employees and sales executives to dress in certain ways and communicate in certain styles.

Some of us like to read about white men's books but when a fellow colleague writes a book on such matters, how many read it! A friend visited me last Saturday that I had sent a copy of my book to some two months ago and he has not read it but rather goes into long dialogue of our Ghanaian behavior etc, etc. and even cites what some American may have written; when in fact research has been conducted and some conclusions have been made. A common saying suggests that familiarity breeds contempt, and as Jesus said, a Prophet is acceptable except in his own town.

Example, I sent a complimentary copy of my book (even though I have to pay for it) to certain people and most of the Ghanaians among them don't even bother to acknowledge receipt.

What kind of people are we? Think about it!! We assume other people know about our society more than ourselves or can help us better – a reflection of our demented and damaged self image as we watch our own President Kufuor walk behind men like President George Bush at the US White House because of solicitations for money, hands clasped behind his back! It's disappointing sometimes when we stick to our ways of thinking and expect other results.

We need to examine our Ghanaian living and lifestyles very critically and carefully in comparison to other humans, debate, argue and challenge ourselves to find solutions like others have! In our society for example, we like and use words like Peace when there is no attempt to find and restore social justice.

We like and use words like Patience or let-it-be (gyae-ma-no-nka) when there is no satisfaction of performance or customer service, or resolution of conflict, and people's hurt have not be catered to. We talk of things getting better when in fact we make no attempt to seek accountability and rather ask others to forgive even social crimes and misbehavior, and seek no discipline!

We like, as funny as it may seem, to use and brand people as arrogant when we don't know something, cannot even calculate out the right amount of taxes to collect and account for the amount collected, and one of our own who has learnt it is pointing out the right way.

We talk of UNITY when we cannot collect taxes together for a community and build our water and sewage systems, libraries and public parks for our children, under a local city government, but would admire and pay the extra $5,000 to live at places built by Regimanuel Gray, Parakuo Estates, or Buena Vista Homes!

For God's sake, let's be honest with ourselves! We as Ghanaians have fallen behind others, and there are reasons why! We are really never going to be united unless we accept this fact that rules and laws must be obeyed and stop this quest to enter public service and seek power in order to serve ourselves and families and ignore the public.

Americans like Senator Hillary Clinton or Senator John McCain can lose an election and still be fine because they know the interest of the society will be priority and trusts the winner will follow certain rules of society, even if they themselves lost. There may be a small orientation in approach, and they can survive on their own and obtain the basic necessities of life even under their opponent's administration.

In nations like Ghana none of these selfish and greedy politicians seems to care for the society but simply winning! As such we stick to symbols and parties that we predict will win, irrespective of core philosophy or even characteristics of the leader to deliver performance, and ignore everything else.
Now you see why our society does not develop or move forward as the NPP preaches to do.

If Kufuor had done some real tangible measurable forward movement beyond the lackadaisical, let-it-be or laissez-faire leadership, and another continues in 2009, and others follow, then we move forward. As it is, no matter what programs Kufuor or Rawlings or Nkrumah had, the only things that will be relevant to the winner is not how to continue the good projects and reduce the wasteful, but their own agenda of cancelling old contracts and initiating their own to get their personal back-cuts.

In the past national projects have been abandoned, especially after the 1966 coup, and winners wasted major investments made by the state under the previous administrations. This includes Parliament House, State House – aka Job 600, and many Hotels, factories, and even the Flagstaff House now being renovated for $50-60 Million!

Folks, Amanfo, Abenfo, tell me, how do you have national unity under such mindset, then? Do these aspiring leaders really think of nation or rather individual selves and contributory constituencies at best?

These Ghanaian leaders act as poor custodians of the state resources, as if money is unlimited, but do not know how to design a budget and how to collect taxes. They still cannot balance their budgets, begging from the West to balance their budgets and lying with numbers to obtain loans they have no clue on payment plans.

Folks, this is the core reason GLU sustains these dialogue and discussion and not for NDC or NPP or CPP or others to win. It really becomes irritating when some try to defend the NPP or NDC when we are talking about say delivery of water, stable electricity to homes or need to redesign transportation systems for faster traffic flow.

To me Winning has not meant much to us over the last 40 years of observations, and if anybody thinks I am being biased, yes, it's true. I was a child and saw measurable and tangle progress under one man called Kwame Nkrumah. I was never related to him, saw him at a rally only once at age of 5 or 6, and was never in any of his groups as some often charge supporters of Nkrumah of.

Most of our leaders have acted greedy, selfish, unconcerned about peoples' needs, never bothered to manage, and hence act like “animals” as some have derogatorily described us in the past writings. If we act like animals, then we deserve no respect and deserve to die like animals. Of course we are not and we need to pick ourselves up and demonstrate to the world our genius in also managing our societies!

As the elections are being counted, I am getting calls from all over the world since people know I am interested in politics and predicted certain outcomes. However, many people do not believe when I say it's not politics I am interested in. It's social and human development, like others have done!

That is what MOVING FORWARD means to me! Elections in Ghana over the last 4 decades have become anti-climatic melodrama for me. Sometimes it's sadness, not excitement. It becomes a time for deep introspection for me, of our humanity as a people. All the best to the winner!

Kwaku A. Danso, PhD (Email: [email protected])
President, Ghana Leadership Union, Inc (NGO)
Livermore, CA. 94551, USA