Rejoinder: The Presidency Is Not For Jokers!
Date published: December 12, 2012
By Samuel Mensah Mawutor, University of Ghana
I read the above titled feature article with a lot of interest. As a student of politics and literature in English, I totally admire the intricately woven ideas from both fields of study in the article.
I intend to attempt to repeat such a feat. Also, I agree largely with the article, but then, there are few issues I would want to respond to. My basic intention is to deepen the critical issue that the article raised – who is best fit to rule a country?
The article metaphorically describes Hassan Ayariga as a ‘new Bob Okala’ and asserts that he only has jokes to trade to Ghanaians. The writer dares ‘that the seat of government is not meant for jokers’.
This position stems from the hilarious and laughter-drawing comments Ayariga made at the IEA debates. However, in describing Ayariga’s party, the article reads that the PNC is ‘not one of the political parties that can be described as a joke in our political landscape’.
This is an example of an oxymoron in which Shakespeare wanted to believe the impossible. Besides Ayariga, the article took a full swipe at Akua Donkor, describing her as ‘a woman who has never set foot in a classroom’, and for making promises that “defy modern political science originated by the Italian Niccolo Machiavelli’. It is this second assertion particularly that I take very strong exception to!
The article subtly asserts that a serious party like the PNC – by extension a serious country like Ghana and the high office of the President cannot be led by a joker, like Ayariga.
Though I support this position that the high office of the President demands serious people, the writer contradicts himself. How can a serious party, the PNC in this regard, elect a joker as a flag bearer?
Rephrasing the question: how can a joker be the leader of a serious party? The answer can be found in a Shakespeare’s quote: ‘Is it possible to be wise, bewildered, calm, furious, loyal and neutral all at once? Nobody can do that?’ The article – like Ayariga – dares to disprove the famous poet and playwright.
Besides Ayariga, Akua Donkor was chastised for not having clocked any school time in her life, hence she’s a joke to aspire to the high office of the land. This raises an age old political-philosophical question. Who is fit to rule?
From Plato to Aristotle to Thomas Hobbes and the contractualists to modern political thinkers: Robert Dahl, Harrold Lasswell and others, have had different responses. The fact that we have very bad rulers in the world today means the perfect answer is yet to be found.
We have very educated Presidents in Africa, yet it is a continent which has for long been synonymous with chaos, disease and poverty. How can anyone say that Akua Donkor can’t try for presidency? Moreover, we have too many educated illiterates in our society that are clueless about life.
Ghanaian mothers are the best! Many of them really know common sense economics – how make the small chop-money sufficient and even make savings for a rainy day. If they can do this at the micro level, it takes the same principles to work at the national level.
If I think we need some fresh economic thinking to really take us somewhere. 50 years of mostly implementing western economics? Where are we now?
The leadership question brings me to another fundamental political question? Why do we as a people establish a government? There could be a million answers, but this is what the preamble of the 1992 Ghana constitution says;
‘We the people of Ghana, in exercise of our natural and inalienable right to establish a framework of government, which shall secure for ourselves and posterity the blessings of liberty, equality of opportunity and prosperity…’
To Akua Donkor, it means Government must improve the standards of living of everyone in the country. It means government. To Akua, Ghanaians matter much more than any other nationals, particularly do little investors.
It is Ghana for Ghanaians. Anyone who can’t accept this fact or see the importance of these words as the basic source of sovereignty and authority of the country is, but the joke.
Underlying her promises is the basic fundamental responsibility of government; providing for its people and improving the standards of living. A driving policy of Government in Ghana is attracting investments from overseas.
For this reason, we are willing to go to ridiculous extents, including sacrificing the interests of citizens, just to win a few million dollars as investments. The case of resource fringe communities, the apologies of compensation for their lost livelihoods and the very limited space for redress is quintessential for this fact.
What I get from the Eurozone crisis and the American recession in 2008 is that they take care of their own’. $110 billion and excess of $700 billion have been spent on bailout to rescue Greece and the American Economy respectively from their economic recession.
$547,009,000 for 5 years is what the US gave to Ghana as part of the millennium challenge compact. This is just to demonstrate commitment and gut to bite the bullet. The proportion of those amounts to the crisis and the size of their economy could be discussed on a different platform.
Back to the Millennium Challenge Account. Was this amount supposed to help us to grow our agriculture sector? Damn! What a joke. $111 billion and excess of $700 billion, compared to $500 million? The West can really take care of their own. Why won’t we learn from this?
Do we want to continue with this system pursued by the NDC/NPP and others, or do we want the likes of Akua Donkor, who in between their promises are basically challenging the failed government system.
One advantage of Akua’s lack of school time is that she is uncorrupted by western education, their imperialist international laws, treaties and perpetuates the core-periphery international political relations. The educated have failed us in our politics.
Akua Donkor is no joke and it is such a pity that many can’t read between the lines of what she said. The joke is no Ghanaian, particularly the media, who have slept while on duty and have allowed the politicians a field day.
Akua Donkor is a true political realist, but not in the spirit of Nicolo Machiavelli, who believes that it is better for the Prince to be feared than to be loved! That even makes me wonder: which aspect of modern Political Science did Machiavelli ‘originate’?
I’m very sure I missed this fact in both my undergraduate, graduate lectures and seminars respectively. And I’m sure my jumping reading eyes always skipped that detail until this article in the Chronicle. Maybe I read the Prince in a hurry.
In the midst of the seemingly confused campaign of Akua Donkor is a clear line of thought which gives credence to the relevance of the very first sentence of our constitution.
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