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17.11.2019 Feature Article

The Disingenuous Argument of the “NO!” December 17 Campaigners

There is something disturbingly naïve and laughably disingenuous about the starry-eyed position taken by those who rather facilely suppose that the statutory or constitutional ban against political party sponsorship of District and Local government elected representatives, somehow, promotes the healthy and nonpartisan or impartial spread of taxpayer resources for local development (See “Samson’s Take: In Defense of Article 55(3) – Vote ‘No’” 11/10/10). No such ratiocinative or logical tack could be more downright naïve, criminally self-deceptive and patently and inexcusably absurd. The fact of the matter is that 20 years of the Jerry John Rawlings-led faux-revolutionary junta domination of Ghanaian political culture ought to give any studious observer of our country’s political scene, who is old enough to have lived through this most excruciating period of our postcolonial existence, the inescapable reality of a pathological and rigidly enforced development agenda that was hermetically and strictly based on the fact of whether any prominent individual Ghanaian citizens and/or their ethnic identities or polities were deemed to be inveterate “Enemies of the Revolution.”

Consequently, there is verifiable evidence regarding the deliberate, systematic and punitive neglect on the development agenda of any ethnic or subethnic groups or polities whose leaders and the majority of whose people were either perceived or deemed to be dead-set against the leadership of the Rawlings-Tsikata Trokosi Nationalist Junta. Put in simple language, our unflappably empirical contention here is that under both the Rawlings-led regimes of the erstwhile Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), local governance in Ghana was far more fiercely partisan and ethno-ideologically skewed than it has ever been under the democratic political dispensation of the country’s Fourth Republic. Under Chairman Jerry John Rawlings’ tutelage, there were two major political parties as presently prevails in the country. Back during the PNDC’s “revolutionary” era, the two political parties were simply staunch PNDC Supporters and Anti-PNDC Supporters, otherwise disdainfully categorized as Enemies of the Revolution, a remarkable number of who suffered wanton sociopolitical, economic and legal and judicial abuse, often direly verging on the downrightly fatal.

And so the very curious idea that, somehow, barring political parties from sponsoring elected representatives at the District and Local Assembly levels has ensured the equitable spread of development resources is sheer hogwash. Else, Ghanaians would not be suffering the present heavily lopsided balance in the development between the Urban and the Rural areas of the country, with areas geopolitically and psychologically/ideologically designated as “Enemy Territories” or regions, districts and constituencies deliberately finessed out of the priority list on the development agenda of the operatives of the strategically hijacked national governance machinery. But, of course, what is even more significant to point out here is the fact that the present prohibition of political party sponsorship of local assembly candidates has not absolutely in any way meliorated the rigid grips of the sort of ideological or political partisanship on which the radical foundations of our national political culture are predicated, which is the binary or two-party system of Parliamentary and Presidential politics. It is also, of course, at this level that decisions over the distribution of our national development resources are taken.

We also informed that, in reality, it is article 243 of our 1992 Republican Constitution, which only requires a parliamentary majority vote to amend, which would pave the for the election of our Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executive Officers (MMDCEs). And also that such amendment is poised to being effected shortly after the December 17 Referendum. But the fact also equally remains that the nonpartisan sponsorship of our locally elected representatives does not cancel out the fact that the overwhelming majority of these candidates are invariably affiliated with one of the two major political parties in the country as registered members. Which is precisely why many a District Assembly Representative often has absolutely no problem, whatsoever, in transitioning from the local level to the parliamentary or constituency and, in effect, the national level, as the opportunity arises.

It is also scandalously naïve for any well-meaning citizen-critic to presume that the overtly nonpartisan electioneering campaign for local office does not entail any remarkable capital investment that may very well need to be promptly recouped by the electoral victors by way of inflated contractual awards and the cynical indulgence in other forms of quid-pro-quo corrupt political practices. Well, the fact of the matter, and this has been proven time and again, is that there exists no smaller magnitude of corruption at the local level than prevails at the constituency, regional or national levels, relatively speaking. Which simply means that practically speaking only a “Yes!” vote on December 17 is the savviest and most politically constructive formula for lifting Ghanaian democracy at least a notch higher than it is presently.

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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
November 16, 2019
E-mail: [email protected]

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., © 2019

The author has 4798 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

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