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08.07.2019 Feature Article

The People “is” One: A Fourth Arm of Government

Good men are bound by conscience and liberated by accountability.
The People “is” One: A Fourth Arm of Government
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One interesting phenomenon is when those in authority and who are entrusted with the public will and trust constantly resort to phrases like “it was a mere mistake, miscalculation or oversight” in order to get away with actions for which they should be ordinarily responsible to the people for. In the process, no one takes responsibility for their actions rather going about their business without apology or caring to pause and consider the interests of those to whom they are accountable to. The irony is in the converse. The common citizen is rather impressed upon with force and fear of punishment for what ordinarily should be accepted as an oversight or mistake in carrying out one’s responsibility or duty to the state and those in authority. Failure to carry out one’s responsibility yields merciless punishment for the ordinary citizens and little or no repercussion for the state official. No one is above the law indeed!

The truth however is that in a democracy, elected officials and those entrusted with power are and must be accountable to the public they govern. Accountability presupposes delivering on commitments, responsibility to an expected outcome and taking initiatives that benefit the public interest. History shows that anytime people gather in groups, leadership and law must be very important factors that must be in existence in order to ensure that all live above animal like conduct. Thus, at all times there ought to be people who govern and steer affairs in a manner as to avoid chaos. But when promises and expectations seem to be constantly broken (especially those made during elections) without a sense of responsibility or accountability to the people, the people then become united irrespective of their prior differences to demand accountability and justice.

When people unite, they could do so either for destructive purposes or to pool their skills and labors in an endless struggle to wrest from those who govern their basic expectations of survival and necessities of life. Such a unity should be feared by those in power. For even bible recounts that when the world at a point in time was united for an action of building a tower to reach the heavens, God knew the power of such unity of purpose and stated that: Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” Many assume that because one is an individual of political power, they ought to be wiser than the general public. Obviously, that is a fallacy in Ghana today. The wisest of the wise can nevertheless be foolish, only relatively wise to themselves. It is becoming evident that Ghanaians are gradually becoming wiser and uniting with a common purpose for action to demand their rights and expectations from those to whom they entrusted their power and sovereignty. Ghanaians are becoming emboldened and would not relent to speak truth to power.

The 4th arm of Government is rising again, becoming vocal to ensure another dimension of checks and balances toward building accountability through the reliance on civic engagement and social accountability. There is no doubt that such would contribute to improved governance, increased development and effectiveness of those who govern through better service delivery and empowerment. Attention is now being paid to the “demand side” of good governance via the strengthening the voice and capacity of citizens to demand greater accountability and responsiveness from those who govern. A warning is slowly being sounded to the governors that should they continually fail to deliver key essential services to the citizens mainly due to misallocation of resources, leakages and corruption, the people would strike. The people “is” one! A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody. This the people of Ghana are making clear. Interesting times are ahead! We live to see.

God bless our homeland Ghana!
Reginald Nii Odoi

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