As a student of history, I find it almost unpardonable that I hitherto, hadn’t found it necessary to listen to the complete speech made by the doyen of the struggle for freedom in American politics, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in 1963. I heard snippets of it whilst growing up, and seen it been referenced in several articles but hadn’t really saddled myself with that kind of research. However, I woke up one morning, and “I have a dream” emerged victorious in the quest for attention in my mind after saying my prayer. Where did it come from? I have no idea. Nonetheless, I also have dreams. I will share one I had on politics.
If this was the picture Kwame Nkrumah and his men had seen when they fought for our liberation, they would not have lost sleep, gone to prison and endured all manner of abuse. I don’t believe the Ghana I have seen for twenty-something years is the same Ghana they handed over to the next generation. Successive governments have fought so hard to plunge us into a state of anarchy. Our leaders have happily carried the cross of corruption since independence, and seem to be in the contest of who will outdo the other. They have always said on campaign platforms that they intend to strengthen one institution or another to tackle corruption. Ruling parties have been voted against in elections because they failed miserably to face corruption head on, inter alia, only to find that the next government is actually worse off. They tend to rather build systems that make the menace thrive. They create, loot and share! The mere mention of ‘politician’ in certain quarters will be met with derision because the breed we have in Ghana and Africa are liars. This has led to the game being rechristened ‘politricks’, because that’s what they do essentially – trick us the populace into voting them into office.
When Madam Lauretta Lamptey, the CHRAJ Commissioner became topical last week for all the wrong reasons, it sparked off a debate in my office about who an ideal public officer is. Whilst my boss and I opined that they were ‘servant-leaders’, others thought otherwise. I believe a public officer i.e. a politician puts himself up for election or is appointed primarily to serve us by formulating and implementing policies that make lives comfortable. The state also has an obligation to provide that officer with anything that will make him enjoy serving the many ‘ungrateful’ Ghanaians. However, that individual must also have the spirit of sacrifice coming naturally to him. I say this because the state might inadvertently shirk this responsibility, but the politician will still be required to serve. The fisherman at Anloga wouldn’t know the state hasn’t provided a roof for an officer whose duty it is to ensure that premix fuel gets to him on time, at an affordable price, I must add. Should that officer fail to deliver on his mandate because the state hasn’t provided him with a 4 bedroom bungalow at Cantonments? That’ll be unacceptable. This is the reason why I couldn’t agree more with Archbishop Duncan Williams when he advocated for only ‘self-made’ men to be appointed into public office. I know there isn’t any direct correlation between haven already ‘arrived’ and being corrupt, but who would you rather prefer as a servant-leader – the man who had nothing to his name before venturing into politics but leaves office with a lot to his name, or the self-made man who is forced to declare his assets before and after serving? We really need to make that Asset Declaration thing work.
I strongly believe the current crop of politicians in Ghana on all sides of our political divide have utterly failed us. Players have made the game very unattractive to entice spectators to spare some few minutes watching. What makes this thing really irksome is the blind copying of this kind ‘politricks’ by the younger generation. A cursory look at how tertiary student politics is conducted, with its concomitant interference by political parties tells it all. We are lost!
I dream of the day when a new breed of politicians are given birth to in Ghana, when all and sundry attend their christening.
I dream of the day when true servant-leaders are given the opportunity to serve the good people of Ghana.
I dream of the day when the poor cashew nut farmer in Savelugu-Nanton wouldn’t have to lose sleep over the fact that his produce would perish because the project engineer in charge of the road linking farms to the market failed to supervise the contractor who did a shoddy work and was allowed to abscond with the taxpayers’ money, simply because his clothing allowance hadn’t been paid for a particular month.
I dream of the day when the spirit of sacrifice sweeps through the hearts of every tom, dick and harry, producing genuine passions in people to want to serve and not care whether their salaries have been outstanding for four months or not.
I dream of the day when politicians will critically analyse a proposal and make the choice that best serves our interest and not because a political party chairman drives to the public officer’s house with kickback stashed in his car boot.
I dream of the day when all students will not only recite the National Pledge simply because the Teacher-On-Duty orders them to do so at the morning assembly, but will do so with a deep conviction and solemnly pledge to abide by its dicta. Again, all public officials must have this Pledge making a bold showing on the wall directly opposite their desks, where its words strike a nerve each time their heads are lifted up.
I also dream of the day when the words of ‘Arise Ghana Youth’ anthem become the tenets of all well-meaning Ghanaians who seek to see a better Ghana than the one we currently inhabit. The nation demands our devotion, and it behooves us all to uphold and make her great and strong.
Indeed, we are all involved in building our motherland, and we must not rest until we are there!