Ghana has over the years been a haven for many nationals largely due to its high level of hospitality and generosity. Citizens have lived and continue to live in peace and tranquillity despite all the ethnic and cultural differences that exist in the country.
Aside from the differences based on these lines, political ideologies have also been another divisive factor among the Ghanaian people. It is in view of this that I will like to write about the divided country Ghana, made so due to the engagement in multiparty democracy; a country divided based on political philosophies.
I can recall reading from the literature back in the days when Ghana fought for independence. The entire country had one vision and mission and wrestled tirelessly to gain independence. I must admit that in the early 1950s, different political parties existed but despite their differences, all the people came together to fight a common enemy. The United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), the Convention People’s Party (CPP), and other parties like the Northern People’s Party (NPP) and more each had their specific aims. However, to ensure that the goal of gaining independence was attained, they posed a united front. The UGCC advocated for 'Independence step by step' while the CPP also went for 'Self-government now' but at the end of the day, Ghana got her liberation.
All the issues that happened after independence cannot be elaborated on in this piece so I will highlight what is of relevance to the paper. Some few years after independence, the political leader at the time, (Dr. Kwame Nkrumah) did everything possible to manipulate the affairs of the country when he quickly made Ghana a de facto one-party state and later ensured it became a de jure system. This ensured that only the CPP and its government could run all the activities of the state. Was there any genuine reason for making Ghana a one-party state? Perhaps Nkrumah realised that multi-party politics was in a sense, an impediment to development even though it is a core feature of democracy. One cannot really tell if this system yielded any positive results, as Nkrumah's government was toppled over by the National Liberation Council (NRC) led by Gen. Joseph Arthur Ankrah and his cohorts. Many people have criticized that coup, but others have also hailed it arguing that it was the only avenue that could be used to end Nkrumah’s near-tyranny. As to whether this was really the best line of action to be taken, I leave that to the judgement of the reader.
A lot of things have happened ever since that instability occurred; both constitutional and military governments have come and gone until we entered the fourth republic in 1992 which has seen some form of stability for over two decades.
1992 was the start of a new dawn in Ghana's political history because it ended the regime of a military dictator who had been in the helm of affairs for more than a decade. The coming of the 1992 constitution brought about the emergence of various political parties. This era created a multiparty democracy where every citizen could choose between several candidates upon visiting the polls.
The military dictator Flt. Jerry John Rawlings and his Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) metamorphosed into the National Democratic Congress (NDC) -a political party-, to be able to contest the first elections in the fourth republic. The NDC was made up of the same faces who mined the affairs of the country under the PNDC. These include Dr. Yao Obed Asamoah, the longest serving Attorney General in the history of the country, Martin Amidu, now Special Prosecutor, Prof. Kwesi Botchway former finance minister and other prominent people.
Then saw the emergence of another political party that had been in the system all along but had been changing its colour (name) at every political dispensation. Here I'm talking about the New Patriotic Party (NPP). The NPP can trace its roots to the UGCC, the first political party in the country but who took on a new identity in each republic. They were called Progress Party (PP) led by Prof Kofi Abrefa Busia who was the Prime Minister from 1969 to 1972 until he was overthrown by the Supreme Military Council (SMC) led by I.K Acheampong. In a similar development, they changed their name again to Popular Front Party (PFP) led by the veteran politician Victor Owusu when Ghana returned to constitutional rule in 1979 which saw Dr. Hilla Limann win the election on the ticket of PNC in a run-off election after they failed to secure more than 50% of the total votes cast. Now, after Ghana entered another constitutional regime, their identity changed yet again and this time they adopted the name NPP.
Ghana currently practices a multiparty democracy but upon a critical consideration of the system, it looks as if it practices a two-party system. This is because ever since the country entered constitutional rule in 1992, only two major political parties (the NPP and NDC) have been alternating power. Each party has its own ideology around which they frame their political manifestos and promises. The NDC, on one hand, are Social Democrats while the NPP on the other are Neo-Liberals. While the former believes in the implementation of social intervention programs to better the living conditions of the people, the latter believes in empowering individuals so they, in turn, transform the community. Do they satisfy the demands of these ideologies? Do they really understand their various ideologies?
It is difficult to arrive at a conclusion; whether democracy has contributed to the development of this country or it has damaged the country on grounds of dividing the country into two sharp factions. We have a problem in this country and if citizens fail to speak up, the country will be heading into doom. Our country is divided on political lines; it is either NPP or NDC. For this reason, people are not able to think independently. They always go by the whims and caprices of their political parties at the detriment of the country. The devastating part is that the NPP will never accept anything good about the NDC and vice versa. This problem has eaten into the deep fibres of our society and we have a duty as responsible people to make sure they are taken out of the system.
Often when I tune on my radio set or turn on my television, I cringe! I do so because when you look at the kind of people who have descended so low to satisfy the demands of their political parties rather than shaping and building the country you will marvel. These folks, -not minors- have been to school and received various degrees in various respected academic disciplines. They do not come into consensus on any issue because they do not belong to the same political parties. They do not wish good for the incumbent party and always wish that government of the day will fail so they will have a chance to rebuke them. By so doing, what type of country do we want to build?
The situation is now deteriorating in the Parliament of Ghana where every MP wants to satisfy the demands of their political parties. Meanwhile, these individuals have the responsibility to represent the interest of their constituents. Often, the house is divided into two. It is either NDC agreeing to something and NPP disagreeing or vice versa. The only time the House is united is when they discuss issues pertaining to them as individuals such as increment in their allowances or salaries. People with high levels of academic and professional qualifications descend below the belt. What kind of laws are these divided minds making for a whole country to follow? I believe they need to be serious and always think about the country and the very people who voted for them to that place first, before satisfying their allegiance to their various parties,
The issue has taken on a different dimension where people want to affiliate a person with one of these political parties anytime, he or she voices out his or her opinion. If one is being objective and desires to criticize the government of the day, the government and his team will see him or her as a member of the opposition and as such will descend heavily on the individual, forgetting that we all cannot be on the same page at all times. These days, people are more loyal to their political parties than to the state, forgetting that their political parties met Ghana and will die off, leaving the country Ghana behind.
The most troubling part of this canker is when it comes to employment. If your party is in power, then you are more likely to be gainfully employed as compared to the one whose party is not in power. There is a phenomenon known as “Job for the Boys” – where special priority is given to a party’s members leaving the ordinary citizen to wander and search in vain. What then becomes of the people who do not have any interest in politics and would like to serve the country without any political affiliations? Should such peoples’ goals and aspirations be shattered? What I know is that Ghana is a sovereign country but neither the NDC nor the NPP is the same. Besides, these two parties will not stay forever. Why then should we allow them to continuously manipulate the state in such a disheartening manner? Did Kwame Nkrumah envisage such a terrible condition for his CPP? Consider how the once-great CPP has lost its value in contemporary Ghana. In view of this, it is possible to predict that one day, the NPP and NDC will also lose their value because no condition is permanent.
Ghana is not the only country practising multiparty democracy and as such, we need to learn from the advanced countries who have been in the game for a while. The United States of America can boast of about two centuries of democracy and they have succeeded. Their people are very particular when it comes to issues of national concern and they deal with it passionately. Why don’t we then learn from their experience and examples rather than play dirty politics?
Moving forward, politicians should think about the future of this country rather than think about their political parties because the country is bigger than anyone and any party. Not only politicians, but the general populace also ought to come on board and reason together. Fruitful discussions that are geared towards developing and shaping the foundation of the country are what should be encouraged and not needless arguments about which party did the most for the country in its tenure. It is about time we come together and build Ghana. God, in His infinite mercy, has endowed us with a lot of resources and if we fail to harness our brilliant ideas together, we will continue to suffer. This article calls on all well-meaning Ghanaians to come together and speak against this canker of division which has crept into and crippled the country.
Let us have a national ideology and a set of policies that each party will structure their manifestoes around. United we stand, the stronger we will become. Ghana must work again. Ghana will work again. YOUNG POSITIVIST, a concerned citizen of Ghana.