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29.03.2017 Opinion

Politics Of Parochial Interest And Personal Conviction In Africa Is Responsible For Our Retrogressive Development

By Derbie Raphael Neenon
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It has increasingly been clear that the notion that Africa has lingered in its backward growth due to the unrepentant and unrelenting parochial interest and personal conviction of its leaders is untenable. The novel “Money Galore” written and published by Amu Djoleto in 1975 has clearly and conspicuously revealed the greedy attitude of African leaders.

The novel “Money Galore” explicitly displays how far African leaders can go to better their lives at the detriment of the ordinary citizens in their countries. In the novel; Money Galore, Mr. Abraham Kofi Kafu, a Senior History master in the National Secondary School in Cape Coast who out of frustration, desperately and steadily become a politician is poised to get whatever he wants in life despite the side effects on the very people whose interest he is serving. Kafu, in his discussion with Rev. Opia Dan Sese says, “There’s no money in teaching, and if you want a promotion just to earn a little more, you have to appeal to some devils either here or in the Department”. “The job carries no respect”. Kafu goes on to say that “I have to change all that!” Rev. Sese asked, “How can you change the civil service from a secondary school in Cape Coast”? Kafu answered, “Politics, politics is the answer. With politics you can change anything”!

Again, African leaders especially the legislative arm of government usually unanimously agree and approve anything that benefits them and disapprove or better still, show their party colours when an issue has the propensity of improving the lives of the ordinary citizens. For instance, in Ghana we have seen our leadership who fails to pay national service persons their new salary rate that was increased by the previous government. Leadership however, went further to receive their new fat salaries that was increased by the same previous government without any difficulty. These same leaders have unanimously approved an increment of their ex-gratia without any recourse to the ordinary citizens of the country.

Furthermore, we have witnessed the display of selfishness by some African leaders in countries such as Dr Congo, Liberia, Sieraleon, Cote d’ Voire, The Gambia, just to mention a few. The most recent happening in The Gambia by the former president, Yahaya Jameh, is a clear manifestation of his parochial desire to achieve his selfish political motive. The post election violence that engulfed Cote d’ Voire in 2010 leading to the death of a multitude of its citizenry and destruction of properties have retarded the development of Cote d’ Voire cum Africa as a whole.

Hmmm, do we elect these leaders to enrich themselves or we elect them to fight for the interest of the ordinary citizens? African leaders, there is everything wrong with the life style you are living. The citizens are making a clarion call on you to reconsider your mission, as you occupy those positions. It is so glaring to the extent that your unquenchable desire to fill your stomachs and create new worlds for your families to the detriment of the people on whose mandate you are in that office, has gained the notoriety of public outcry.

African leaders believe in the ‘winner takes all system’. In fact, this has been the very foundation of so many failures since party interest overshadows competency. It is on this premise that party financiers are appointed to be compensated for their contributions to the party’s victory. A pragmatic example is the appointment of one hundred and ten (110) ministers by the president of Ghana Nana Addo which is unprecedented in the history of Ghana. Mr Chairman, it will surprise you to know that this number does not include the Metropolitan Municipal District Chief Executives (MMDCE’s). Mr Chairman, the question is that, do our leaders believe in the effectiveness and efficiency of technology? And if yes, ladies and gentlemen, what is your take on this astronomical number of ministers? Exactly. You are right. This is job for the boys in the ruling party. This is mainly done to satisfying the personal interest of the party and its members but not the interest of the ordinary Ghanaian.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you that you, you, you and I are going to pay these ministers. Now, how will Africa progress if the larger part of our taxes is being used to pay salaries, allowances and ex-gratia of our political leaders? A minister receives Ghc15000 as salaries currently. I guess you can imagine what I seek to draw your attention to? Mr Chairman, Africa is suffering from leadership crisis. She is in desperate need of true committed selfless leadership to salvage her from such retrogression. I have been asking why opposition leaders usually refuse to support the incumbent with their good ideas to deliver but rather seek their downfall. Is that the sense of patriotism they have been preaching to their citizens? This is the inclement behaviour of our leaders who claim to love their continent. Ha! Sheep in wolf’s skin. This is a clear demonstration of hypocrisy and nothing less than that. No wonder the good book says “by their fruits ye shall know them”. It is only Africa leaders who become more intelligent and hardworking when they are in opposition.

In opposition, they are seen promising heaven and earth to the electorates so that they can win back power. In the novel “Money Galore” we see Kafu refer to a promise he made to the school he teaches as a political promise. “I mean the encyclopaedias for the boys, er, for the school. Can I have the cheque before I leave”? (Rev. Opia Dan Sese, asked Kafu). Kafu responds, “Good Lord, Osofo, it was a political promise”.”I didn’t mean it. I didn’t expect the boys to expect anything. Why, the boys are daft!” Hmmm these are the kind of politicians we have in Africa. To buttress the above quotation with concrete evidence, we hear during the 2016 electioneering campaign, the then NPP presidential candidate, Nana Addo promising DKM costumers that he would ensure that they get their monies when he wins power. Having won the elections, we hear the NPP MP’s in parliament, vehemently refuting the claim that president Nana Addo, the then presidential candidate made such promise. This implicitly tells us that it was a political promise.

African leaders in parliament usually unanimously support anything that benefits them. For example in 2015, we saw our parliamentarians complaining bitterly for personal security forces just because one of them, Hon. J B Dankwah, MP for Abuakwa South was murdered. In parliament, they were vigorously speaking in one voice, the need for them to have personal securities, meanwhile a lot of ordinary Ghanaians were equally murdered as of that time but they pretentiously failed to see it until it happened to one of them. Ladies and gentlemen, it interests me to find out from you, how many security persons do you have in your communities to protect your lives?

Leaders are given the mandate to serve but not to be served. Here in Africa, we see a complete opposite of that. Citizens are rather serving them instead of the vice versa. For example, leaders pay no tax; they drive luxurious latest vehicles with high fuel consumption, all from the public purse. Also, they do not pay utility bills just to mention a few. Are these not enough justifications that our leaders are always interested in their personal aggrandizement? For me, our leaders’ parochial interest is largely responsible for the increasing levels of abject poverty, violence and wanton marginalisation across the continent. They always play around the gallery with political rhetoric when indeed the solutions to our problems are not far reached. Africa could have been a better continent if it had not been bedevilled with this persistent leadership conundrum, mainly characterised by corruption, violence, greed and above all nepotism.

What is most worrying is that majority of the people take solace in following these politicians, the reason they continue to act as demi-gods. In Ghana for instance, we hear of jobless youth groups attaching themselves to politicians and are ready to champion any unjustifiable course to please their paymasters.

Interestingly, society still respects these politicians more than any other person. The media which should have been the voice of the helpless and voiceless, who are marginalised by the activities of these politicians, has rather turned to be the propaganda machinery of the politicians. It creates an enabling environment for these politicians to bombard us with cacophonous fabrications almost on daily basis. Tune to any radio/TV station in the morning and you will be greeted with politics of insults as people cast aspersions on one another with impunity. This sometimes includes very credible distinguished individuals in society.

Money galore clearly depicts African politics where dishonesty, hypocrisy and immorality become the daily rituals of political actors. These are acts, incongruous to African values. The moral fibre of society is rapidly eroding. If this is how it will continue, then I can boldly speculate that politics can easily throw us into a quagmire of an immoral society, as people continue to rape and abuse freedom. Politicians dissipate our national cake for their personal luxury. Some politicians take pride in shamelessly throwing cash on young ladies just to satisfy their seeming insatiable sexual quests. We see similar behaviour being demonstrated by Kafu as he engages in multiple sexual relations with madam Salamatu, Odofo and many others. Hmmm….. These politicians are very good friends to prostitutes yet they speak against them. Such hypocrisy is the reason why we are where we are.

By and large, the whole process of taking a turnaround from this leadership paralysis must start from the family, churches and the schools. It is my belief that when society holds firmly to its beliefs, then, we can churn out more credible leaders who can stand the test of time in addressing the many challenges we face. Society must learn to point out the wrongs in our leaders through constructive criticisms and fair judgement on national issues.

Again, I encourage a hardworking society where everybody strives to be independent to avoid the situation of always selling our conscience to self seeking politicians. In all these, education must be a focal element in Africa. Education can empower society with critical thinking and confidence to address our numerous impediments than usually looking up to few opportunist politicians. It is only change of attitude that can develop Africa. Everybody has a role in this regard.

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