By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016
Folks, let’s be bold upfront to say that the “human factor” constitutes the main challenges facing our democracy. By the technical terminology “human factor”, I mean the place, role, and mindset of categories of people whose standing in society is acknowledged for good or bad, depending on what they do or say as far as the ramifications of our constitutional democratic experiment are concerned.
Let me cut the “big English” short to say that the 1992 constitution (which can easily be described as an amalgam of all the previous constitutions that have ever been implemented in Ghana since independence) has identified certain personalities for whatever they are and constrained them from participating in partisan politics lest they give our democracy a really bad name for it to be hanged by detractors.
Traditional rulers (chiefs and queens) have been specifically debarred for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, the practical reality proves otherwise. Our traditional rulers have disregarded the constitutional constraint and are throwing their weight about, doing and saying whatever they have to prove that they are politically active and aligned to specific political causes, damn the consequences. And of course, the consequences are damned for as long as no punitive action is taken against any of them doing so.
Interestingly, the framers of the constitution failed to spread the net wider to catch other prominent segments of the society whose place and role suggest that they shouldn’t be politically partisan. I have in mind here such personalities grouped into the clergy (be they Christians, Muslims, Traditional African religionists or whatever) who deal with diverse elements cutting across political, cultural, ethnic, or any other divide. That explains why those hiding behind religion to do partisan politics are all over the place, muddying the water and getting away with their treachery.
But I’m more interested in the impunity with which the traditional rulers do their kind of politics. Now that we are in the main electioneering campaign season, there are reports all over the place about some of them openly declaring their support for candidates of their liking and making utterances that inflame passions. Or simply bad-mouthing candidates that they don’t like.
And they are either supported or condemned by the media to worsen the political climate, which is not good for our democracy.
Folks, why am I going all this distance? I am doing so because of what has emerged from the Bawku Naba to condemn media reports that he has thrown his weight behind the NPP’s Akufo-Addo. As reported, he is furious for being reported as such (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Bawku-Naba-rejects-Akufo-Addo-endorsement-claims-467159).
What exactly does this debunking do to the Akufo-Addo camp and the media that had misrepresented the Bawku Naba in earlier publications? And we have had a lot of such misguided and skewed media reports about chiefs throwing their weight behind either President Mahama or Akufo-Addo. The other candidates really don’t matter to these chiefs. Why?
Meantime, in the case of the Bawku Naba, we were recently given a clear picture of his admiration and support for President Mahama for heeding his appeal to construct dams in his domain. When President Mahama visited there recently on his “Accounting to the People Tour”, the Bawku Naba was reported as showering praise on him for being the only national leader to move fast in addressing pertinent problems in the area. He openly declared his support for President Mahama as someone to rely on for Ghana’s development.
So, what would make him turn full circle in just a month thereafter to support Akufo-Addo who is seeking to undo President Mahama (with hindsight awareness that an NPP government under Kufuor didn’t solve problems of the Bawku area. Didn’t the Bawku crisis begin under Kufuor?)? Why would the Bawku Naba then turn against a problem-solving President to support a promise-making idealist like Akufo-Ado?
That’s where I have tried to bring you, folks. It is appalling that politicking at this time has been reduced to absurdity by those who are finding it difficult to reach out to the voters, supported by their drooling lackeys in the mass media. Such people don’t only make a mockery of our democracy but they also put prominent personalities on the spot for the wrong reason.
Has the Bawku Naba hurt Akufo-Addo politically? Who follows next? I don’t know. I am waiting to hear a rejoinder from the Gonja chief who was reported to have said that although President Mahama is his brother, he is thirsty. And many others too. It is the season of gambling!!
Eventually, all these traditional leaders featuring in the news for political purposes need to know the implications of their utterances, deeds, and misdeeds as well as calculations and miscalculations. And the politicians seeking to manipulate such traditional rulers need to know the dire implications. In politics, credibility does it all, but when consciences are sold for pittance, danger looms. Our democracy deserves better.
I shall return…
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