Desperate politicians!

Elections constitute a very integral aspect of democracy and are organized periodically to enable citizens of a country or organization to choose a leader who they think resonates with their aspirations as a people. The citizens are allowed to exercise their franchise freely without intimidation from any quarters. The question is, do some countries actually understand democracy at all?

Ghana is a democratic country with almost two decades of experience. Ghana's democracy is
currently being touted internationally as one of the best in Africa. The country has successfully organized peaceful presidential and parliamentary elections on a four-year term basis since 1992.
Having been a keen observer of the electoral process since adolescence, so many things have changed over the years in Ghana's political space. Many people now moot the messages put across by political parties, unlike in the past where they would have towed the line of family members without regards to the message. Party manifestoes and messages members put across, both in discussions in the media and on campaign platforms are now properly scrutinized.

It is, however, not surprising to see politicians delivering vague promises just to win votes. This has become a trend in Ghana's politics. To get the required percentage of votes, all sorts of tactics are employed, including telling plain lies.

Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia pounding fufu
NPP Running mate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, pounding fufu
during a campaign tour.
As Ghana prepares to go to the polls in 2016, it is not surprising to see political parties engage in campaign brawls just to score political points against each other. Juicy promises are being made from all angles. The question one needs to ask is, do these numerous promises get to see the light of day when they win the election? Just imagine what Ghana would become if a political party in power is able to implement just half of its manifesto promises. However, the campaign messages seem very different from what actually gets implemented after they are voted into power. Otherwise, I cannot fathom why a presidential candidate who promised to employ more graduates and also create more employment opportunities for the youth will turn around to put an embargo on employment. As a Ghanaian comedian once said, "I can't think far. I don't think madness!"
Alfred Oko Vanderpuije stirring banku
Accra Mayor, Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, stirring banku during
a campaign tour.

It is no wonder our president thinks Ghanaians have short memories because we are able to tolerate any confused leader for four years and more. I totally agree with his assertion, not that it is true but because we don't hold them accountable for their stewardship. They, therefore, assume we have forgotten their lies so soon and will entertain them for a second time.

On a daily basis, our radio and TV stations are flooded with communication teams of political parties trying to sell their campaign messages to the populace to get votes. It’s interesting to listen to how they sometimes display sheer ignorance on certain issues and end up misleading the masses.
I was thrilled by a statement made by Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwa on a radio station in an attempt to respond to his opponent's claim that the government of which he is a deputy minister, has not introduced any pro-poor social policy. His answer was, “We have supplied laptops to teachers across the country”. It baffles my mind how a learned politician can describe such an act as a pro-poor policy. How is that benefiting the peasant farmer when those laptops were given to only a selected few?

Ursula Owusu, on the other hand, said her presidential candidate has promised to relieve tertiary students from paying utility bills. Her opponent insisted that no tertiary student was paying utility bills at the time, except those in private hostels. On whether her government will pay bills for students in private hostels, she said: “the students are not in the capacity to pay bills, so they are not supposed to pay”. This implies that any student who decides to seek comfort anywhere apart from the official school accommodation will have their utility bills catered for by the government. Are we serious about politics at all?

With a few days left to this year's major elections, many politicians have become extraordinarily friendly with the electorate. It is not surprising to see men of substance pounding fufu, stirring banku, plaiting hair, sweeping floors of the electorate during campaign tours. They are ever ready to do anything to get the votes.

Elsewhere, presidential candidates are subject to debates with the active participation of the masses. Opportunities are then given the electorate to ask questions about their policies and programs. This enables the constituents to decide better on who is likely to do a good job when given the nod. The case is very different in Ghana. The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has taken up the responsibility of organizing debates for presidential candidates. However, political parties are not bound by any law to participate in those debates. A political party, therefore, decides either to participate or not. Where the debates are successfully organized, people often are not given a chance to ask questions.

Politicians often resort to lies, insults, malignment and deception of the electorate in order to score political points. And the most unfortunate thing is, some jobless youth are willing to sacrifice to see their favourite politician in power, even if they remained jobless. They are unaware that they have a duty first to the nation before any political party. They don't know that a brighter future lies in their hands, based on the kind of leader they choose.

Many more Ghanaians need to get discerning. Any Ghanaian seeking to annex the highest office of the land should be properly and thoroughly scrutinized before given the nod. Politicians should be made to know that more Ghanaians are now able to read between the lines of political gimmickry and genuine deliverable promises.

Let's follow them on their campaign tours and digest their messages. Reasonable and implementable programs and policies should inform your choice of vote. Vote based on the issues. Vote for a brighter future. Come 7th December, make your vote count in the 2016 elections. Let your voice be heard through your thumbprint. May God lead us into a peaceful election.

God bless our homeland Ghana.

Written by: Francis Appiah
The Writer is a Senior Staff Nurse (SSN) with the Ghana Health Service who also has a passion for socio-political issues.

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