Passion in Ghanaian Elections -supporters of opposition party in Kumasi

EDITORIAL

Ghanaian elections can be passionate. For many youth who feel there are some jobs, rewards or opportunities awaiting them if they are part of the winning party, politics is jokingly referred to as a  ?do-and-die? affair. Ghanaian elections are still a ?winner-take-all?,  since the President appoints all agency heads, district, metro, regional, cabinet and other heads in the nation. It is rare for anyone who did not support the party to be appointed. On Sunday evening December 9, 2012, the official Ghana Website read:

?The Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr Kwadwo Afari- Gyan has declared John Dramani Mahama Candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) as the winner of the 2012 Presidential Elections in Accra today. President Mahama pulled a total of 5,574,761 votes representing 50.70% whiles his closest contender Nana Addo-Dankwa-Akuffo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) obtained 5,248,898 representing 47.74%.?

Whiles the losing party officials of the NPP have lodged a complaint of vote-rigging and the issue is being discussed on the Ghana Leadership Union global forum, we wish to congratulate President John Mahama on his election to maintain his position as President of Ghana. This was a position thrust on him by the death of President Mills last July 2012 whiles he was the Vice. At the same time we wish to congratulate and console the losing Presidential candidates who had presented good responses during the debate, in addition to those who were not invited because they were new or did not have Members of their party in Parliament. This especially goes to Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom of the PPP, Dr. Abu Sakara of the CPP, and Jacob Osei Yeboah, the only Independent candidate. Unlike the US, in Ghana it appears performance in the debate on issues means very little, if anything at all, judging by the 2008 and 2012 debates and the election results.

Living Conditions –

Open sewage in residential areas -choked and breeding malaria-casing mosquitoes and many diseases.

The purpose of elections is to elect people who will represent the interest and needs of the electorate. In Ghana things are different. We are afraid we are not able to predict any change in the living conditions or economic well being of the people of Ghana based on this election, and the status quo will be maintained. Winning an election in Ghana has not bestowed any sense of urgency in Ghanaian leaders of the need to think, plan and use the Ghanaian global talent and resources pool to serve the needs of the people. Being on the NDC ticket obviously gave John Mahama enormous strategic advantage in addition to being an incumbent President. However perhaps core to this election was the aura of being on a platform of the ?people?, and opposite those in a party considered elite and possible a corrupt elite.

Some people have suggested the NPP is an Ashanti or Akan Party and that is why it not attracting more votes from around the nation in some Regions. However we differ in opinion. At the end of the day, what the NPP seems to represent to many poor in Ghana does not seem to differ from the image it had some half century ago during the days of Nkrumah?s CPP and Danquah-Busia?s UP.  In a nation where UN statistics shows 87% live under $2 per day and unemployment rate among the educated is never reported but estimated over 70% of the population, despite the nation?s enormous trained talent and material resources, one can easily predict where the majority of impoverished voters would prefer to take their risk in casting their vote. President Kufuor?s rule of 2001-2009 solidified the impression that the NPP was mostly for consolidating wealth for the elite. The Golden Age of Business was for the elite who won government contracts or were within the government.  National wealth did not trickle down to the people. It is no surprise then that despite the NDC being technically an illegal organization formed out of treason and the barrel of the gun, it seems Ghanaians have accepted it to stay.

Nana Akufo Addo of the NPP should however be given credit for being a champion of democracy, from the time Ghana was under military rule of the PNDC. He also gets credit for bringing up the issue of Free K-12 Education in Ghana, and even mentioning the need for reviving manufacturing in Ghana, a concept that the opponents of Nkrumah threw away completely to the detriment of Ghanaian industries. In a nation like Ghana this should not be difficult for the NDC to see the need.

Equity and Entitlements ?

A critical examination will show that the problem in Ghana why the socio-economic development has fallen behind those of other nations of similar size and history has nothing to do with the NDC or NPP.  It rather comes from a generation that has failed in their duty to love their country as the founding fathers did. The new post-Nkrumah leaders have failed miserably to use their best educated knowledge and talent to develop the nation to become globally competitive. Leaders do not think how they can do the Arithmetic to have taxes or levies to build common water or electricity or road networks for all to use. Leadership has been seen more like the old chieftaincy system where everybody had their farm and the chief collected some money but was under no contractual obligation to build community roads, schools, clinics, or services.

Even though most have lived overseas, there seem to be no clearly defined vision and goals for Ghanaian leaders in the last four or so decades to achieve commonly shared benefits for their societies. Instead, greed and selfishness are seen in Ghana government service, if one can call it service. In addition to housing, vehicle and petrol and other allowances, brown-envelope cash payments are made to executives for travel, for meetings, and for doing work even during normal business hours. These cash payments and entitlements have been revealed recently to be sometimes five to ten times the regular pay of the officials, yielding them an estimated $300,000 to $500,000 per year in some cases with no taxes collected. It should not surprise many that Ghanaians Ministers and officials can sometimes purchase houses overseas in cash and send their children to expensive Universities in the West.

Neglect and the Corruption ?

Social neglect is one thing and corruption is another. Corruption in the form of over-invoicing, padding contracts, cutting deals, uncompleted projects, and lately seeking dubious and fraudulent judgment debts has become the norm. Former President Rawlings has called some con-artists and master operators he discovered in his own party ?greedy bastards?.  The sad irony is that President Rawlings himself had failed to point out some of these for prosecution and punishment and to set a good example. There is no doubt that poverty is obvious in Ghana. The income gap is simply too wide for stability, and most at the top are not earning their income in the open light. The total disdain and lack of feeling and concern of these leaders for the ordinary man is very disgusting and always breeds social injustice and hence insecurity! This has shifted the value systems of the Ghanaian. It is almost impossible to trust somebody, including those you employ unless with close scrutiny and supervision.

Water from most wells are usually dirty. Picture from rich town of Abetifi, Kwahu district, a town with a University. Pipe water system broke down for more than two decades with no local leadership.

There is total neglect of existing infrastructural development such as water treatment facilities and electricity transformer stations. No innovative ideas seem to emerge for the leadership and it is no surprise then that open gutters remain in Ghana and more are being built, 50-60 years after the British left the scene

Open sewage in residential areas or where food is prepared, Accra, Ghana

Can you imagine people in places like Madina, Dansoman, Sukuula, in their homes, and preparing food with government still building open gutters only a few feet from the front of their houses! Can you imagine 80-90% of the people in Accra or other metro areas not having water through pipes, and having to buy water carted in tankers or private wells?

Can you imagine living in the city of Accra and having electricity interrupted many times and for several hours in a week because government refuses to upgrade equipment at the local transformer stations in the last fifteen or more years! What kind of people are we?

Democracy ? Election or Concept and way of thinking –

Democracy may be new to us in Ghana but so was it to the people of Singapore, Korea, Malaysia and others after British colonial rule. If there is anybody who knows about democracy, the British should. On Saturday evening December 8, former British Prime Ministers was being interviewed on American CNN and he made a statement that should stick in the minds of all these men in Ghana who want others to vote for them or line up to vote.  He said democracy is not just a matter of voting but is more a way of thinking. This Ghana election is only a show for democracy.  Ghanaian Presidents in the last 20 years have lived with pomp and pageantry and retired with million-dollar ex-gratia emoluments. It is time the interest of the people who are voting be considered also, and not just the elite in government who are paid for traveling or for attending Board meetings and collecting an estimated hundreds of thousands of cedis per year without paying taxes, whiles ordinary water and electricity are denied the people who also have to take 4-6 hours per day through traffic to earn a meager pay for the eight hours! Nobody is saying these items should be provided for free. It takes leadership to break down the cost of these social amenities we all humans enjoy, decentralize the nation and let people see where their tax moneys are going to do or doing for them!

Let the nation and people of Ghana change their thinking and passion about voting and rather channel their thinking and passion into how to make democracy work, and to hold their elected officials accountable to them as other people are doing now in Middle East. That is what democracy is all about ? struggle for self-empowerment, for an opportunity for all the people, starting with freedom of speech and expression, social justice, living under the rule of law and enforcement, and elected officials working to improve the living conditions of the people. All the best to the people of Ghana!

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