Time to blend politics with conscience

By Issah Alhassan

Today, Ghana is being psychologically torn apart by the confusion and the suspicions that are bred in the country’s Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary and to borrow from one American speaker “Know Nothing, Suspect Everything” attitudes.

I AM writing as a Ghanaian, I am writing as a concerned citizen, a youth advocate and a journalist who is much troubled by the debilitating state Ghana’s politics is being dragged into by our so-called politicians.

I feel compelled to write this piece because I believe too much harm has already been done with irresponsible (sorry for my word) words of bitterness and selfish political opportunism.

I write this piece because I feel the incidents happening in our politics are too great to be obscured under the pretense of modern day democracy, as embedded in freedom of speech and expression. I write in the hope that my words will be taken to heart.

Ghana has for sometime now enjoyed global respect as one of the best democratic countries in Africa. Thanks to five successful and incident-free elections in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008, the country has gained the old cliché as the “beacon of hope and bastion of democracy”.

Ex-President Kufuor and his NPP administration managed (even though not too successful) to coin another slogan during the 50th Anniversary celebration in 2007, as “Championing African Excellence and the Gateway to Africa”.

But quiet recently that much touted accolade has been debased to the level of a forum of hate and character assassination sheltered by the shield of democracy and freedom of speech and expression.

From the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary right down to the radio panelist and the serial caller, we use every available platform to directly or indirectly attack our opponents with much impunity and with no recourse to social and moral effects that might have on the recipient.

It is ironical that some of our MPs can in debate in and outside the august house, directly or indirectly, by any form of words, impute to any Ghanaian who is not a legislature any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming of a Ghanaian without that fellow having any legal redress or summoning that particular MP before Parliament’s “Sanhedrin version” the Privileges Committee.

It is strange that an MP can verbally attack anyone without restraint and with full protection, and yet hold himself above the same type of criticism. Surely, the Ghanaian MP is big enough to take self-criticism and self-appraisal. Surely an MP should be able to take the same kind of character attack that he or she dishes out to outsiders.

I would have wished to name and shame, but I hope my readers will read in between the lines and identify some of these culprits who call themselves legislatures and honourables, but have refused to exhibit the position by their deeds.

For the executive, the little said the better. Some individuals in that house have suddenly forgotten that just yesterday they were wallowing in the quagmire and singing the song of a desperate African who is bearing the brunt of greedy leadership.

All of a sudden they find themselves in the upper echelon of the Ghanaian society and have not stopped to reflect on the fact that he or she is there because somebody has had to give way.

Some of them speak with so much hatred and distastefulness that they forget that they are addressing their fellow human beings.

Today, Ghana is being psychologically torn apart by the confusion and the suspicions that are bred in the country’s Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary and to borrow from one American speaker “Know Nothing, Suspect Everything” attitudes.

Ghana now runs a “winner takes all” system of government where the views of the minority is nothing but a thrash; where opposition’s view is treated with so much contempt, where the opposition refuses to see beyond its nose and provide constructive and selfless criticisms that can help develop the country.

I think it is high time for Ghana and its citizens to do some soul-searching- for us to weigh our conscience-on the manner in which we are performing our duty as citizens and politicians-on the manner in which we are using or abusing our individual powers and privileges.

I believe it is high time that we remembered that we have sworn to uphold and defend our constitution; it is high time that we remembered that the Constitution speaks not only of the freedom of speech but also of the responsibility to behave in a manner befitting of a Ghanaian.

There is a popular American expression “Whether it be a criminal prosecution in court or a character prosecution, there is little practical distinction when the life of a person has been ruined”.

The degree to which the tongue can cause destruction to the personality of an individual cannot be compared to that of physical injury.

We would all be familiar with some major incidents in the country like “Mills Chimpanzee”, Nana Addo’s frog”, Nana Addo’s Cocaine, Kofi Jumah’s attack on Mad. Patricia Appiagyei, President Mills’ black palm, Kufuor’s Jezel Yajzey, amongst others which many of us spent precious hours discussing.

As for the Vice President’s recent “baloney and foolish” comment concerning the collaterization or otherwise of our oil, I do not want to waste my time on it. My mentor, advisor and grandfather, Mr.  I.K Gyasi has done much justice to it in the past two weeks on his Monday column in The Chronicle, and I would encourage each and everyone to get that piece to read!.

My heart bleeds for our dear nation; my heart bleeds for our generation; my heart bleeds for the crop of leaders that would be taken over from the current generation.

We seem to have lost the purpose of life; it looks like our attention is so much focused on achieving the cultural goals; build a house, ride in the best car, and achieve the best in life without necessarily considering the means.

If care is not taken, Ghana’s politics would be taken over by desperadoes; people who are desperate to succeed but do not have the requisite knowledge.

I hope someone is listening to me. Adieu.
The writer is a journalist and a Regional Correspondent of The Chronicle Newspaper.

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