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General News | May 2, 2004

Editorial: Ghanaian Politicians, What A Pathetic Lot!

Gye Nyame Concord

ELSEWHERE, IN more enlightened climes, the behaviour of politicians uplifts the national psyche, inspiring the youth to, altruistically, follow suit in their hallowed steps.

In Ghana, our politicians are mostly self-serving and mercenary. They insist on reaping where they have not sown. In their greed and desire to constantly hug the limelight, whether deserved or not, they have sponsored coups or supported coups they had no hands in, just to spite their opponents who had beaten them in free and fair elections.

The ugly chain of events that their myopic sense of self-interest set into motion ultimately led to the messy situation that we have spent tens of billions of cedis on to get the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) to try to clear up.

And yet they do not seem to have learnt any lessons from their sordid past and have forgotten everything. This self-induced amnesia has afflicted our politicians in all past republics and is afflicting them now. Proof of it is the press conference they held at the Ghana International Press Centre on Wednesday, April 7 to “comment on voters registration exercise and other matters.”

Truth be told, it was an uncalled for gang-up that could encourage those unthinking among their supporters to contribute to the tension that they claim already exists in the country. It was an abuse of a weapon that they used effectively to stop the government in its tracks on March 11, 2004 when they held a much appreciated press conference to oppose the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill. They will do well to compare the effect of the two occasions: While the first got the government panicky and divided within its ranks, their latest outing has only earned them the disdain of the government and the people.

But we are not surprised, for that has been the stock-in-trade of the Ghanaian politician; he is a jealous, green-eyed monster who covets the hard-earned success of his rival, and would go to any length, including supporting dictatorship, to improve his status.

It all began in the 60s when the Danquah-Busia tradition, now in power at the Castle, “actively” supported the CIA-sponsored coup against the First Republic. They will claim they had justifiable cause, since their party, the United Party, had been proscribed by Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah's all-conquering Convention People's Party (CPP) and they were being persecuted left, right and centre.

We will concede some justification to them by forgetting for the moment their destructive politics, including bomb throwing, which may have prompted some of their repression. Though the declaration of One Party State was not unconstitutional as it would be now, it was a great mistake that Dr Nkrumah made; we do not see what he possibly could fear from a group that he had trounced in three or so free and fair elections conducted by the British. Nkrumah probably forgot the wisdom of the Ancients that he who clears a path does not see its crookedness and should have allowed the other parties in Parliament to shout some corrections to him, no matter how irritating and obstructionist they could be at times.

In the same vein, we would concede that the members of the CPP who rallied to the cause of the late Colonel-later-General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong when he overthrew the government of the late Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia's Second Republic. The Second Republic had been cooked for Dr Busia by the Afrifa-Kotoka National Liberation Council (NLC) by proscribing the CPP shortly after the 1966 coup and making it an offence to be seen with the picture of Nkrumah in the heat of the electioneering for the 1969 Elections. Those who staged a coup in the name of multi-partism were afraid of unfettered multi-partism! So the CPP politicians could be forgiven for celebrating the fall of the Second Republic and helping its successor-government to stabilise.

But that is where we end our rationalisation for the behaviour of our errant politicians, who one moment rant against dictatorship and the next rush to its support.

From this point onwards, we come down heavily on all politicians who ran with the hares and hunt with the foxes. We find no justification at all for all those politicians, including now-President John Agyekum Kufuor, NDC Chairman Dr Obed Yao Asamoah and the others, who as members of the All Peoples Party (APP) in opposition to the late President Hilla Limann, readily accepted to serve under the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) after ex-President Jerry Rawlings overthrew the Third Republic on December 31, 1981.

They claim they were helping to stabilise the regime in the national interest. Hogwash. How do you help stabilise an illegality? Pure and simple, they were playing politics of jealousy, skin-pain and bring-him-downism. They could not have been doing anything else. The 1979 elections, supervised by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), were and are still acclaimed across the political spectrum as the most free and fair in Ghana's post-independence political history. The presidential election was also decided on a run-off; and while the results were still being declared constituency by constituency on GBC, the late Mr Victor Owusu, the presidential candidate of the Popular Front Party (PFP), called a press conference and conceded defeat to Dr Limann. It was that acrimony-free.

After two-and-one-half years, there were no reports of repression or political detainees, even though those behind Limann's party, the People's National Party (PNP), were CPP men from the First Republic. Yet an adventurer rose up, overthrew the democratically government, and suspended the Constitution. And then supposedly born-democrats did not think twice about it and wholeheartedly offered their support. What else could have been their motivation, if not politics of envy and skin-pain?

Yes, the then Mr John Agyekum Kufuor left after seven months, but what did those seven months contribute to the stability of the PNDC? It made all the difference to its survival and the sure-footedness to commit all the atrocities, including the murder of the three High Court judges, which has been credited to it.

The intention here is not to embarrass any one person but to condemn the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde behaviour of our politicians. It is time they were told in plain words that their inability to stand 100 percent for democracy has been the bane of our development as a nation.

When the NDC was in power, the NPP and the other parties made hue and cry about irregularities in the voters registration exercise, alleging all sorts of malpractices against the NDC. Now the NPP is in power and the NDC and the other parties are up in arms against the NPP, seeing it as the devil incarnate. If tomorrow the CPP wins power, the NPP, NDC and the other parties will gang up against it to throw all sorts of mud over a voter registration exercise. Are we so cursed that governments in power are always fraudulent? So where did the alleged manipulation of the Voters Register by the NDC leave it at the end of the day in 2000? Power belongs to the people. When the people decided almost four years ago that they had had enough of the NDC, no sleight of hand could help the party. And they would similarly deal with any party which overstays its welcome.

From the way our politicians have behaved across our previous three republics, what the current opposition parties are doing now, shouting wolf when none exists may be, pure and simply, the preparation of the way for them to once again shamelessly support any usurpation of power tomorrow, if any.

But they are wasting their time. Ghanaians have all collectively decided to see the last of all military interventions in our affairs, and there would not be another. Even the person seen to be enamoured with them, ex-president Jerry John Rawlings, has publicly foresworn them. Our politicians would do well to resign themselves to the fact and buckle down to the nitty-gritty of winning the support of the people if they want to smell the Castle again or for the first time. And the opposition in particular would have to be minded by this.

We are done for now.

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