Prior to Dr Abrefa Busia becoming the president of the second republic of Ghana in 1969, he had written a number of books and articles chastising the previous administrations and in the same vein espousing what he perceived should be the underlying factors of a true democracy.
Particularly, his book titled, "Africa In Search Of Democracy" originally published in 1967, Dr Busia argued that freedom of speech, movement, and the freedom of the media to function without any external interference were part of the basic necessities of a true democracy.
With all these talk of setting the people free of the bondage they suffered at the time in the hands of his predecessors, the citizens of Ghana thought it wise of giving him the mandate to serve them as president for him to accomplish his talk in deed. But when Busia assumed office, he did exactly the opposites of what he spoke of while in opposition.
Kwame Nkrumah definitely did same in terms of how he treated the media under his regime. He was prominently part of the media fraternity before he became president but he turned on them after he became president. In fact, he established the evening news newspaper and several other news outlets. Some argue that he had good reasons to have treated the media with a stiff hand, but there is also another version of the argument to disagree with same.
The story of politicians doing the opposite of their promises or virtually not living up to expectation when they assume political power is consistent with the stunted development Ghana has suffered for over sixty years since independence.
Definitely, Ghana has seen tremendous progress in its electoral process though politicians and their die-hard ‘blind’ followers continue to dispute election results whenever they lose but when they win, the election was squeaky clean. The fourth republican constitution and era of this country has seen seven general elections and several other elections successfully executed but the development of a country isn’t solely based on peaceful elections and transfer of political power from one political party to another.
If only politicians executed their mandates with the same clarity and conviction with which they speak, this country would be smiling with over sixty years of booming development but no! the country weeps with regrets of allowing politicians to rule it. But I have a proposal for this country.
Even if we have not learnt anything from over sixty years of both civilian and military regimes of political dominance, we know how politicians embellish the truth or blatantly lie to have their way.
Their actions and inactions are nothing short of selfish interests of winning political power no matter what it takes. When elsewhere, politicians are resigning their posts for minor errors, our politicians defend even their bigger blunders knowing that they have the support of those they refer to as grass root supporters.
Now, who is to say that we can trust our politicians anymore? Before Kojo Oppong Nkrumah became the member of parliament of Ofoase-Ayirebi, he was interviewed on the KSM show and one of his comments was that, he hoped the system doesn’t change him, rather he would want to change the system. Some years down the line of being a parliamentarian, has the system changed him or has he been able to change the system? I cite him as an example because of the enviable reverence he earned from his work as a journalist.
Samson Lardy Ayenini, host of Newsfile on Joynews TV has said time and again that he will never venture into politics. Such a fine brain that can enrich law and policy making is vehemently staying away from the main process. Is it because from experience, he has realized that no matter how honest and candid an individual is, once you join politics, all of your honesty evaporates from you?
Clearly, we can’t trust our politicians. So why do we continue to put the fate of our dear country in their sole hands? Talk of the non political class, only if they haven’t been compromised by the political class.
Now, here is my proposition to this country;Civil Society Organizations have over the years consistently called out various political governments over their ineptitude and alleged corrupt acts but haven’t been able to prove same because they don’t have the powers to do so.
I think politicians shouldn’t be given the sole responsibility of running the day to day administration of this country. There are laws to protect the non political class but clearly these laws are not respected.
We call out politicians to amend and pass laws that will benefit the ordinary citizen. And that should be the case except that the politician looks out for his interests first instead of that of the people they claim to represent.
Part of the responsibility of politicians should be taken away from them and given to well meaning citizens like Ace Annan Ankomah, Franklin Cudjoe, Bright Simons, and the likes who have shown excellence in what they do and have demonstrated that they have the best interests of this country on their agenda. Civil society organizations should not just analyze the policies of governments but must actually have a role in the policy framing process. Granted that some of these individuals and organizations are biased towards some political parties in some of their commentaries, that is what happens when you have to choose between a lesser evil of two evils.
Not just these individuals but many others like them should be given authority to act in the interest of this country. These individuals should not be voted or be affiliated to any political party, but with constitutional amendments, they should be given fitting portfolios that would enable them to take decisions in the name of this country.
Listening to Ace Annan Ankomah talk about the law sends shivers down my spine as to how and why we have the likes of him in this country and still have outdated and dysfunctional laws governing us. Bright Simons dissects economic issues like no other yet our economy is always in ruins.
It is good and actually necessary that we have commentators on all facets of our country because it enriches our democracy and also throws clarity on matters of national concern but that exercise becomes futile when their opinions are sidelined by political actors.
I understand that talking and acting are not the same but with how our politicians have failed us over the years, would we rather stick with them or want a change? We have better brains in this country; we can’t just make commentators out of them and leave it like that.
If politicians no longer have absolute control over what policies are actively pursued, things will be better.
Ghana needs a long term plan. This plan will lay out a roadmap of where the country wants to be in the next few years. This will force politicians to tailor their political policies to align with that national plan. This will help prevent the haphazard development this country is treated with. Clearly, this point has been mentioned several times in the media space but no actions have been taken by the appropriate authorities to ensure it comes to fruition.
Again, there should be an actual separation of powers between all the arms of government. Not one where the president has the power to appoint and sack the Chief Justice and the Attorney General. The Speaker of Parliament should be elected, not nominated by the president. This will help these portfolios function as they are required to, not just do what pleases the government of the day because they were nominated by the president.
The Chief Justice and Attorney General should be given a specific number of years to serve in office. It could range from eight to ten years. Now, I think the president should be given 6 years one term with a removal clause if slow development and corruption characterizes any government.
Well, the office of the Special Prosecutor sounds pleasant in the ears but how special is it? If the attorney general is otherwise not appointed by the president for that matter serving at the pleasure of the president but really functioning as the office is required, then really, the office of the special prosecutor is not necessary. In any case, since the first Special Prosecutor of Ghana, Mr Martin Alamisi Burns Kaiser Amidu assumed office, he has not been resourced enough for him to assume work.
It would be far better to have an independent, competent, committed, transparent and well-resourced attorney general’s office to fight corruption than to have two under-resourced offices i.e. the office of the attorney general and that of the special prosecutor to perform the same function.
Parliamentarians must also be required by law to visit their constituencies often. Now, these visitations will require the parliamentarians to publicly educate their constituents about the policies they have fostered in parliament and why they have done so. They must also be required to use local languages in this public education for the illiterates to also understand clearly what the government of the day is doing.
Apart from parliamentarians engaging their constituents, there should be a larger public education to keep the ordinary citizen abreast of what goes on in the political and the non political sphere of this country. Reading would have helped people know their actual rights, freedoms and responsibilities but the high illiteracy rate in this country would require public education on that as well.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) should also not be appointed by the president. The appointment and firing of IGP by the president puts the police service in a dysfunctional mode. There should be laws establishing different processes to either nominating the IGP or electing him or her.
The lavish lifestyles granted to politicians must be cut down. The cars, the free petrol, the accommodations, etc must stop. Government officials should enjoy some privileges but not to the extreme.
There must be selfless leaders who are willing to go all out just to look out for the best interest of this country which will inure to our collective good.
A better Ghana we want, let us all fight for what is right and also be responsible.