Opinion

Feature: Why are they running and why do we vote for them?

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John Boadu, General Secretary, NPP

It is rally time. And rally time is the period for unsavoury politicians, bad leaders and con artists.Of course, all the political parties are in campaign mode and all kinds of people are gearing up and lacing their boots to seek for elective office for one reason or another. And the things they say:

“I am running because my people keep telling me I ought to.”

‘Vote for me because I care’

“Vote for me because it is the time for a Muslim”

‘Vote for me because I am woman and women have more sympathy’

“I am standing for elections because it is the turn of my people”

‘The economy is in decline and I would solve all the problems and pay the poor’

“The ruling party is ruining the country but I am different. I have the answers and when you vote for me I will save the country”

‘Vote for change. It is time for change. We have a country to save and I am the change you have been waiting for.’

Interestingly, rally time is when we hear candidates for political offices make such statements as they attempt to sway voters to their causes. Sometimes, it is difficult to believe that such supposedly intelligent people could repeat the same double-speak and rhetoric repeatedly. But most of our candidates do that — all the time, ironically, in spite of failures and betrayals.

 

A few of those running because their people kept telling them,really know that their intensions for political office is just for the prestige and money. Their blind ambitions close their eyes to their incompetence and shortcomings. Meanwhile, if incompetence is all we have to worry about the bad nuts that come to us for our votes, then we could count ourselves lucky. It is not that easy — bad leaders are dangerous and a threat to our prosperity.

Sadly, like a bad nut, sometimes when they fail, rejected by the same people at the polls, they end up right where they wanted to be — where their friends told them they should be— appointed to a political office by a winning president.

Some of us are irritated and a bit frustrated by our failure to get good leaders, most of the time. Corrupt leaders obstruct many efforts to improve people’s lives. The whole thing illustrates what is wrong in Ghanaian politics: That a candidate could win an election without articulating any vision or compelling rationale for running for office is a stunning admission that the electorate does not pay attention.

The urgency of current elections bear down on us.

Ghana today is often characterized as being divided, weakened and with a bad economy. Many believe our political system is so corrupted it cannot be salvaged. But, Ghana needs to be salvaged. Voters should think about that a bit and decide if they can make any difference. The young men and women who seek political office especially, should be asked the hard questions that might make a difference in the outcome of a race for office?

Elections are games of “Choose Your Own Future”, except there are only two options, and they both end with a believe in ourselves. We need good leaders who are good leaders. We must demand some kind of common-sense reason from those who say, ‘Follow me’. Voters should not be afraid to ask candidates, “Why?” Voters should insist on answers based on truth, not empty rhetoric. If voters do not make that demand, the fault is theirs. They are guilty for the bad and corrupt political leaders and dumber too.

The truth is leaders do not have power, the followers do. If we elect bad and weak leaders, we just put weak and bad leaders in office. Winning alone should never be our objective! If we truly want good leaders and better governance, we the electorates should refuse to be seduced by the imagery of false leaders and tricked by demagogues who seek political power only to enrich themselves at our expense.

Young people should just not come and tell us old people should hand over the baton to the youth. We should make them tell us what they intend to do with the baton. Words are not enough. Voters should demand a clear and practical path to the future. Indeed, it is time to make anyone who stands before us,begging for our votes, to answer some hard questions.

We need good leaders to build a prosperous nation. We are not going to get good leaders until we learn that simply showing up to vote is not a true sign of a good citizen. We all need to recognize our roles in the process of nation building and play our part fully, but until we become smarter and demanding voters; we are not getting the prosperous nation we deserve.

In recent times, we hear many people saying they would not vote again in the next elections. That attitude is called voter apathy. Voter apathy is apparent by the low turnout in elections – especially general elections and poses a problem. It is a sign of an unhealthy and politically unmotivated society.

However, while voter apathy may be a problem, voter ignorance is worse. It is dangerous whenever voters come out on Election Day to vote, yet have no real idea of whom or what they are choosing.A few give a cursory look at the candidates and allow their partisanship to take over and refuse to ask questions. That is the worst kind of apathy. It means motivated, but wilfully ignorant voters always choose our leaders.

We all need to decide what type of leaders we want. Do we want leaders who promise much, but deliver little in a system in which a small number of corrupt leaders exert their power and cultural dominance to silence anyone who disagrees with them? On the other hand, do we want leaders with integrity, reliability and competence that are ultimately grounded in a spirit of humility?

If we want the latter, it is time we become good followers. It is time to say no to the mob, no to those whose primary goal is not our welfare but access to the power and influence they can use for their own purpose. It is time to understand that most of the time those who come to us for our votes are power-hungry incompetents or worse.

Look, this is not a partisan issue. We are fighting for the prosperity of Ghana. Voting is not a game. Government will not correct itself, and nothing will happen if people think somebody else will take care of it. Anyone who is tired of voting for change and getting more of the same has a stake in this debate. One thing incompetent and shady politicians cannot stop, and they never count on is a voter who goes to the booth with eyes open.

This is the time of voters to say no more to incompetents.

By Kwadwo Afari

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