What is more important, political gain or economic gain? [Article]

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“No amount of political freedom will satisfy the hungry masses.” – Vladimir Lenin

If we will all agree, especially those of us who may never hold political office, the zero-sum game or the “winner takes all” situation in our political structure is leading us to hell.

John Mahama, as the Vice of the late President Atta Mills once said that, ‘… a cursory look at our media would seem like we are a nation at war. Newspapers and radio stations are lined up in the political trenches with their political allies or paymasters; throwing printed and verbal grenades and taking potshots at the “enemy lines”. … The recent Wikileaks cables have accentuated the media warfare. Nothing matters anymore.’

Indeed, nothing matters anymore. And the rhetorical war is gradually turning into physical. The only thing that matters is capturing or maintaining political power. Nothing else counts. Nothing.

As a country, both leaders and the led, not all, are losing the essence of leadership. The hard-won political independence from the British was not just for us to remain stagnant economically. The economic independence of Ghana and therefore Ghanaians is equally important as the announcement on 6th March 1957. As a matter of fact, without us being economically self-reliant our independence is useless.

However, 63 years after Kwame Nkrumah declared Ghana as politically independent, we seem not to understand this. I don’t believe we do.

If we did, we will not vote for our leaders because they give us bicycles, fridges, cutlasses and television sets among other trivial things. If we did, nobody will engage in armed and fistfights in the manner we have been witnessing for leaders who are bereft of leadership. If we did, we would listen attentively to their policies and not devote ourselves to their inanities. If we did, we would just care about the future of this nation. The generations after us will not bother about who led us so much as to how they led us. Whether the potential to realise one’s capabilities optimally is available to the next generation Ghanaian is more important than our temporary wishes. The next generation of Ghanaians will lay the blame not only on the so-called leaders but will blame and acclaim the ordinary people alike. Our future is a collective choice!

On the part of our leaders, who are by and large enlightened and therefore are supposed to use their knowledge to guide us out of our penury, recent evidence suggests many of them do not care about the economic emancipation of the larger populace. It cannot be right, no matter the religious persuasion and manipulation of the populace, when we decide to spend millions of cedis to build a cathedral whereas roads, schools, textbooks, food, yes three square meals, are luxuries to millions of Ghanaians. GEEDA, SADA; the Zoomlion contract which gives one individual the opportunity to benefit from the toils of poor Ghanaians cannot be right. Where in the world will a contract that pays 100 cedis to the labourer and 400 cedis in so-called management fees be tolerated?

As the Supreme Court once said, these are ideas which create avenues for looting and sharing.

Our politicians will rather “manufacture consent” as Noam Chomsky calls the manipulation of the electorates, to get their votes rather than genuinely put forward what they can capably deliver. Because this sort of manufacturing is expensive, they borrow to create this product. Unfortunately, when the electorates do not buy their merchandise they collapse in shame and bewail. They will say anything, do anything and promise anything just to get political power.

But, you and I know that as a people political power has been used for the parochial interest of a select few for far too long in this country. Even so, and for some incomprehensible reasons, most of the population are emotionally attached to politicians. Many people in this country seem very satisfied to see their favourite politicians in power and do not mind if this power is being used to advance our lives. This begs the question: what is more important to us; political gain or economic gain?

The real purpose of political power as demonstrated elsewhere is its usage to make a people economically powerful.

But how long will we travel on this unproductive and destructive path? How long?

We like to think that we are hopeless and that our politicians have tied our hands behind our backs and so we must bootlick or lick our wounds for supper. Nevertheless, the politician who makes clear his or her intentions of improving our standard of living with cogent ideas is jettisoned because he refuses to buy our votes; because she refuses to satisfy our present desires. We have become like the biblical Esau. We are selling our destinies for bags of rice and gari.

We cannot say we are hopeless when we continuously shove our destiny into the hands of people who cares not about our collective progressive. More so, I think we have no right to ask them for anything, anything, so long as we allow them to buy our votes.

Unless we start shunning those who come with freebies and promise a sugar candy land that they know doesn’t exist, our economic situation will continue to wobble. Unless we pay attention to the rhetoric we are being bought with and make appropriate decisions from it, we will continue on this rickety economic path we are on as ordinaries.

The author Kofi Boateng is a student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism.

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