Ghana: Far From United?
Nevertheless, the linkage between democracy and human need is important and should be borne constantly and carefully in mind in all discussions about democracy. Democracy is not just theory or an end in itself; it is a means to an end, and that end is human well-being and happiness (E. A. Boateng, Government and the People: Outlook for Democracy in Ghana).
Over the past few weeks, two very prominent people in this country have pleaded with us as citizens of this country not to allow politics to divide us, as a people. The first within the timeframe under discussion was the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, when he toured one of the newly created regions.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu, during his anniversary to celebrate his 20th Anniversary on the throne of the great Ashanti Kingdom, made a passionate appeal that we should not allow our differences in politics to divide us.
These two very prominent personalities made passionate appeals to us to see ourselves as one people who have chosen to belong to different political parties with the view to attaining political power to govern this nation. Indeed, they are not the first to make such pleas and I believe they would not be the last either. The truth, however, is that this country was divided long before its independence on political grounds and we have never made efforts to mend that division since independence. Once again, the truth is that this nation continues to be divided by politics on a daily basis because of what we have adopted as political systems when we were not mature enough to implement those systems.
It does not also mean that the systems we have chosen to govern ourselves since independence were bad in themselves, because the same systems have worked elsewhere; it is primarily the people implementing and operating the systems in this country who seem to be parochial in thoughts and actions. As I said earlier, this country was politically divided long before our independence because certain sections of the country, even under the colonial administration, were considered inferior by the 'natives' close to the colonial masters.
So it came to pass that even as early as 1954, political parties not based on common beliefs in ideology or philosophy sprang up. The Northern Peoples Party (NPP), Ghana Congress Party (GCP), then led by Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia, The Muslim Association of Ghana (MAP), the Togoland Congress and the Anlo Youth Organisation (AYO). Many of these small parties having failed in their bid to challenge the Convention People's Party (CPP) perhaps rallied behind the National Liberation Movement (NLM) which became very prominent in the politics of the time and whose formation created more divisions in this country, this time on ideological lines.
Since then, the politics in this country have been founded on the CPP and the UP which were formed out of the UGCC. A critical study of all the political parties from the 2nd and 4th republics would indicate the political or ideological and philosophical allegiance of the parties to the CPP and the UP. Sadly though, even those parties which make claims of ancestry to the CPP or the UP are almost always divided when it comes to the struggle for political power.
In both the 2nd and 3rd republics, political parties aligned to the CPP and the UP dominated the political space and the Progress Party from the UP emerged the winners. During the 3rd Republic, the PNP emerged the winner from a number of CPP oriented political parties while the highly divided UP parties placed second and third respectively. The 4th Republic saw the most divided front of the CPP groupings while the UP followers learnt their lessons from the 3rd Republic and stayed together for the purposes of winning political power.
These are to indicate the political divisions the nation has grappled with since independence even within political groupings with the same ideological and philosophical background. So intense is the division between what has come to be known as the CPP and the UP traditions that their followers of today, who neither suffered nor saw the history behind any of the atrocities – oral and written – has bequeathed to us to see ourselves as enemies and not political opponents.
This political division was used to further divide this nation on ethnic and even religious lines such that one can be aligned to a particular political party just by his or her name. The military disruptions of our constitutional dispensations had even been based on the CPP/UP politics. The NLC takeover of the Nkrumah administration was more of ideology than the failings of the Nkrumah regime. The Acheampong coup d'état was ideological than proven failures of the Busia government. The least said about the Rawlings revolutions and coups, the better.
The above limited accounts of our political history gives an indication that our division is an externally influenced factor of ideology which is foreign to our traditional way of life and thinking. No matter which Asantehene is on the throne, the interests of Asanteman is the most dominant policy and so it is with many if not all chieftains in Ghana.
We have, like many developing countries, been restricted to a particular style of governance which entrusts all powers in the hands of the group which wins majority of the votes cast during an election. Therefore, after each election, if the winner obtains 54% of the total votes cast, all powers and decisions and appointments to public offices to manage the resources are placed in the hands of those within the 54% bracket.
In the process, the 46% of the people have no role to play in the governance of the state. At best, they can only exercise their rights to shout their voices hoarse but who cares. They would be lucky not to be described as nation wreckers or saboteurs. Fifty-four per cent of people having their ways and the remaining 46% just having their say in our environment will never create national unity.
The 'discarded' 46% citizens in their quest to also grab political power in the next elections will never see anything good in the government in power and will do everything within accepted political norms to thwart the efforts of the ruling government and bring it down in the next elections. Compromises are anathema in our political environment.
Public institutions all of a sudden become appendages of the ruling government and faceless party functionaries order and instruct public officers to do what is wrong in their favour or against political opponents. The institutions themselves become divided in their stated mandates and perform to the dictates of the ruling party.
It is good for this nation to have all the good attributes of democracy as espoused by the proponents, but those of us perceived to be championing the principles of democratic governance, limit democracy to general elections each four years while our institutions keep on weakening in their service to the nation generally, then our nation will remain divided on political lines. Many public institutions have lost the confidence and trust the people originally had in them because of partisan politics.
The Republicans and the Democrats can continue to do what they are doing in the U.S.A. but institutions will not take any illegal instructions from the ruling party to the detriment of the American people. America is still stable and serving its people. The Conservatives and Labour can fight all day in the U.K, yet the citizenry will be served as expected. Our politics – intra and inter – have become so polarised to the point that we are divided on that line.
Until we do something about the current arrangements, Ghana will remain divided particularly with the mounting indiscipline in the country leading to serious challenges in our developmental efforts. Daavi, I beg, some three tots.
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