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Opinion | Dec 3, 2018

Politics Is A Contest Of Ideas, Not A Show Of Ill-Gotten Wealth

Politics Is A Contest Of Ideas, Not A Show Of Ill-Gotten Wealth

I still don't understand why our political scientists and commentators cannot see how the excessive monetization of our politics is a major incentive and recipe for gargantuan corruption in Ghana. How do you expect a politician to cough the whooping amount (GHc400, 000) National Democratic Congress (NDC) is charging and think that such a presidential candidate will not be corrupt? It beats my imagination to think that people are equating the broadening of corrupt bourgeoisies class with competence. How do you use criminality to separate serious politicians from non-serious politicians? In any case, who is the non-serious among the contestants? If it is not an exercise to promote Mr. John Mahama at the expense of others, and to make money for 2020 general elections, how on earth can the NDC justify the whooping amount they are taking from presidential aspirants?

In the case of the national cathedral, all manner of oppositions emerged. Suddenly, people realized that the Church in Ghana has been useless in the fight against the predicaments of an underdeveloped country. I find it strange that the same people, including Prof. Ransford Yaw Gyampo, who wrote an open letter to the president, imploring him to reconsider his decision to build a national cathedral, are supporting the corruption trap our politicians are setting. It is amazing how they cannot see the expanding of the corruption gap in Ghana.

In his open letter, he advised the president to use the money for the cathedral (as if the president is going to fund it) to alleviate poverty. He implored the president to occupy himself with building schools, hospitals, roads and providing ambulance services. He could even tell us that God does not dwell in cathedrals (arguing as if the cathedral is for only cultic purposes). And yet, he has refused to see that the same whooping money the NDC is using to engage in the elusiveness of social democracy could as well have had productive alternative use. To think like the apostles of development, who are contesting the construction of the cathedral: Can't the NDC simply think of the poor and allow Mr. John Mahama to go, since it is explicitly written on the wall that he will win? If the NDC and other politicians, indeed, care about helping the poor, why are they pouring this huge amount into hackneyed politics? I know you see the inanity of my questions. But that is exactly how ridiculous the arguments against the cathedral are! Prof., please write a similitude of the letter you wrote to the president to the NDC leadership. And kindly ask them to use the monies to help bring relief to the poor. At least, in my community – Maamobi (Accra), there are many pupils who will benefit from tertiary education, if the contestants decide to invest their monies into empowering the poor through education. I know some will say democracy is expensive. Great, but I guess the worship of God is cheap!

Just like the naysayers did to the national cathedral, I want to see a more graphic pictures of pupils sitting on stones, children sharing dirty water with animals, and nursing mothers lying on bare floor juxtaposed with the monies NDC is investing in needless politics. At least that would show that we are not paying lip service to ending poverty. While the church in Ghana has been very instrumental in alleviating poverty, we can hardly say the same of our politicians. The monies most of them spend on their mistresses, girlfriends, 'ladyfriends', ‘side-chicks’ and gardens (not to despise women) is enough to provide schools for children in Yinduri, Nyankpanduri, and my village. The per diem they take for sitting to talk only their interest is enough to provide one ambulance at a time. But, the irony is that if it is about politicians, we don't care much. After all, we are all nurturing the ambition to be like a politician. This reminds me of Franz Fanon’s narrative of how the colonized man fantasizes about having amorous relations with the wife of the colonizer. From the psychological point of view, this craving dulled and numbed the resolve of the colonized to fight the colonizer. If you read Fanon, you will understand why we are not angry enough with the NDC and other politicians.

Even when the Church is tasked to solicit resources to build the cathedral, some vicious people are hell-bound to make sure that the cathedral is built over their dead bodies. Of course, they should asked Nebuchadnezzar and Namah: you cannot fight God and win. Shamelessly, the same people are happy that the NDC and other politicians put so much money into a supposed election that a first year political science student at the University of Ghana can predict its outcome. Indeed, if people who oppose the national cathedral and yet support the monetization of our politics mean what they say - in terms of their supposed resolve to end poverty - they should direct their fury to politicians (focusing now on the NDC).

If a pastor drives a good car, he is impervious to the plight of the poor. If a pastor dresses well, he is exploiting his people. If church members pay tithe, they are reinventing dead tradition to enrich their leaders. Indeed, I hate the way some clergy exploit the laity. But I equally would want to see the same vitriol against the NDC and other politicians, who milk the nation dry. A pastor should walk in tattered cloth, so that the same people would say, 'how can a poor person promise you of God's blessing? If God, indeed, blesses, why is your pastor walking without a simple car and a decent cloth? They will quote the Akan proverb, ‘If nakedness promises you a cloth, listens to his name,’ to reinforce their point. If we are principled, we should hate exploitation everywhere, committed by anyone without cherry-picking.

Certainly, ‘onto your brother, onto a wood.’ I can bet my last pesewa that we are promoting criminality in our country. I want to see the litigants who have gone to court to challenge the cathedral to as well challenge the wanton use of our meager resources. After all, they are against the Church using its money for building a cathedral. Since it will not take a rocket scientist or quantum physicist or a speculator like myself to predict that what the NDC is doing is a recipe entrenching corruption, I will be happy to see the anti-cathedral people going to court. In any case, the NDC aspirants WILL enrich themselves when they come to office. This is simply because politics is not for altruistic purposes. It is a real business that operates like any business. By the way, do we ask about how they will raise the money? Who will sponsor whom? Asking these questions reminds me of Stephen Ellis’ articles about the complicity of leaders of developing economies in drug trafficking. It also reminds of Daniel Jordan Smith’s book: ‘A Corruption of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Culture of Discontent in Nigeria’. No wonder the fight against corruption in Ghana is like a treadmill race. Or if you are a fun of dance types, it is like a calypso dance.

If Ghanaians - particularly those who are ranting against the building of a multipurpose cathedral - care for the poor (as they claim), they should stem the tide against the monetization of our politics. I want to see true lovers of the poor, hitting the street to demonstrate against the NDC. Well, you may argue that it is their money. I see! If it is their monies, why do you blame Daniel Obinim and co when they buy the latest cars in the world and don designer wear? After all, they are also using their gumption to survive. Since, beyond the façade that the contestants will fall on sympathizers, we don't bother to know how the John Mahama's, Joshua Alabi's, Alban Bagbin's, Goosie Tanoh's, and Ekwow Spio-Garbrah's will raise the millions of cedis to contest an election whose outcome an eight months old boy can predict, why do we bother to care about Obinim - especially when he does not go around shoving his beliefs down the throats of Ghanaians? The fury against Obinim and other such pastors should be directed at our politicians, too.

As a Zongo boy, with firsthand knowledge and experience of poverty, I know what is means to be poor. I also understand the politics of social justice. From my understanding of Ghana's politics and global politics, I can, without any equivocation, say that the NDC will create loot and share state resource to recoup the monies they have poured into 'ordinary' primaries. Primaries mpo nie, ena the real elections. Ebe ye bobolebobo!

Let me conclude with my own axioms of life: ‘The rich hardly challenge the corrupt status quo that reinvent their wealth,’ ‘politics without ideas and ideals is nothing short of a business enterprise,’ ‘politics in Ghana is buying power to use it to enslave others,’ ‘no politician is altruistic, except the monk, who renounces the material world,’ ‘wealth is not necessarily a measure of competence. Thinkers are hardly rich materially,’ and finally, ‘monetization of politics is a precursor to entrenching corruptions.’ The NDC, NPP and other politicians should know that reasoning, as opposed to opulence, birthed refined political philosophies.

Charles Prempeh ([email protected]), African University College of Communications, Accra

Charles Prempeh
Charles Prempeh, © 2018

This author has authored 122 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: CharlesPrempeh

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