The politics we have vs the politics we need

Anyone who claims Ghana has had its politics and governance right is only peddling fiction. We’ve had terrible politics and governance, at least since the Fourth Republic. Yes, it’s been terrible till now and it’s even getting worse.

The politics and governance we have had over the years are definitely not those Kwame Nkrumah and the founders of our nation dreamt about and wished for us. They wished for us, a prosperous nation and laid a solid foundation for same. Not only have we failed to build on the foundation, we have excavated and destroyed it.

The politics we’ve had has been one that divides us rather than unites us; it has been one that is fuelled by greed, powered by deception and anchored on grand corruption. We have the kind of politics that allow politicians to continuously massage our minds to remain hopelessly hopeful in our despair. Our leaders had loved mediocrity and led us to celebrate trivialities in our national affairs. Our politics has been one that abhors truth and adores falsehood.

Our kind of politics can simply be defined as the shortcut to absurd riches through state looting. It is the kind of governance in which the ruling class and their cronies enjoy the dividends of their daytime state robbery with impunity, while the majority of the people continue to suffer daytime nightmares within their confined prisons of poverty and anguish. Yes, that is the politics and governance we’ve had.

We have had a kind of politics and governance that cares less about future generations; one that has corrupted the minds of many young folks into believing that patriotism no longer matters; money is everything and that the synonym for the word future is now. It’s a sad state.

But we have to have hope. We need to hope that one day, the politics and governance we have had over years, shall give way to the kind of politics and governance Ghana needs and deserves.

The politics Ghana needs is one that is inspired by patriotism and motivated by a sense of Ghana first; one that detests greed and punishes corruption. The politics and governance Ghana needs are those anchored on our motto – Freedom and Justice – where wrongdoers are punished irrespective of their party affiliation and status.

Politics and governance that deals with the root courses of our problems rather than their effects is what Ghana needs; one in which Presidents will focus on big picture policies and changes to national orientation and aspirations; one in which Presidents will feel embarrassed to see national resources spent on putting their faces on public buses while a huge number of citizens live on less than a dollar a day and don’t have portable water.    

The politics Ghana deserves is one that is based on truth rather than falsehood; honesty rather than propaganda; and sincerity rather than deceit. The politics and governance needed those that are characterised by a genuine concern for the welfare of the people at all times; rather than what we currently have which is characterised by a pretentious and deceitful show of concern for the people only when elections are approaching.  

So yes, our politics and governance have been bad. Change is, therefore, crucial and change must happen. But I am not talking about the kind of changes we have had in the past two decades, which have just been changes in the name of parties and persons who lead us.

In other words, I am not talking about a change that will simply be a swap of names of party and president from NDC to NPP and from John Dramani Mahama to Nana Akufo Addo. No, I am talking about real change in our politics and governance regardless of which party or president is in power.

I don’t know who will offer the real change we need – whether NDC or NPP. I can imagine NPP and NDC supporters debating this. I imagine the NPP supporter saying: “Change is coming, Nana is bringing Change,” while the NDC supporter rebuts and says: “you are dreaming of change when we are already changing lives.”  So both NPP and NDC are talking change. But their type of change is not what I am talking about. 

The real change will be the one that takes us from the politics we have had in the last two decades to the kind of politics we need. I remain doubtful about the NPP or NDC giving us that type of change.

My scepticism is based on the fact that we have had promises of change in the past and we have had changes before. But they all turned out to be simply changes in the name of party and leaders that lead us, rather changes that brought real change to the destiny of our nation.

In the year 2000 for example, the NPP asked Ghanaians to change, they called it positive change. At the time, President Rawlings and his NDC desperately asked that Ghanaians should continue to be with them. The change was necessary at the time and had to come. So there was a change that brought the NPP in. It turned out to be just a change in the name of the party and the president who led us. The NPP didn’t give us the politics we need.

In 2004, the NDC was singing the 'change' song. The people of Ghana ignored them. The people wanted to give President Kufuor and his NPP a second chance and they did. The NPP could not get the people the kind of politics and governance they needed. So in 2008 when the NDC increased the amplitude of their change song, the people decided to teach NPP a lesson in the hope that the NDC had learnt some bitter lessons in opposition and will thus reform. So NDC was brought back.

Apparently, the NDC had learnt no lessons. They have opted to serve the people with a cocktail of the same politics we have rather than the politics we need. So eight years on, the NPP is back loud melodious rhymes of change. My conviction is that they are talking about the same kind of changes we have had in the past – change in the name of the party, president, ministers and in the list of potential beneficiaries of state goodies – rather than the politics we need.

So I am not sure about any real change in our politics and governance soon. But I have a prayer: May the winner of this year’s elections be a leader who will get our country’s headlights on, and get us on the right path. And may the party that will get us closer to the politics we need be the winner.