Together let’s get Ghana working, Haruna Atta writes



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How many Ghanaians remember “The Decade that Stopped the Decay”? This was the message that sprung up on billboards in Accra – and possibly around the country, during the tenth anniversary of the coup of December 31 1981.

Governments would often come up with such things to convince themselves that they are either doing well or enjoy the goodwill of the governed and are “carrying the people along”.

Some are also meant to build a personality cult around a “leader” and so images of whoever at that time is in charge pop up all over the place accompanied by quotes from his or her sayings.

At one time in the not-too-distant past, the state-owned media started referring to the PNDC Chairman as the “Leader of the Revolution”. It did not catch on and fizzled out after a while. The same state-owned media, specifically in this case, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, had much earlier toyed about, during the Acheampong NRC days, with “Voice of the Revolution”! Military regimes are rather fond of these things…

During civilian administrations, electioneering periods offer opportunities for political narcissism, now accepted as a legitimate part of the game and citizens are bombarded with images and sound-bytes that are intended to wiggle out the votes from us. Whether they succeed in that or not, basketfuls of money are expended from campaign war chests to get the messages following us all over the place.

 

Election 2016 has come and gone. A change from one administration to the other has been, by and large, smooth and seamless. Stunned into silence, the departing administration has vacated the agitation-propaganda space, now dominated by the victors’ part sneering, part triumphalist messages. The “Ayeeko” immediately after the change-over were fawning gloats from party people and can be excused as post-election celebratory exuberance, but official sounding ones have also made an appearance. Two that caught my attention in the weeks after the change-over were the one commanding us to get together and get “Ghana working” and another one with a “Pledge” as its theme…

As public exhortations go, who can quarrel or indeed why take issue with a national rallying call to get together and get the country working?!

It is just that something about them doesn’t sound convincing and genuine – perhaps rather contradictory and hypocritical to the reality.

First of all, our multi-party dispensation does not make the exhortations possible and secondly the people behind such exhortations lack the kind of sincerity and magnanimity that will get all of us getting together to get our country working.

Our (mis)interpretations, over the years of elections, is that the winning party has all the wisdom, expertise, knowledge, experience and human resource to run our affairs single-handedly. A tradition, therefore, of discarding vital human resources after elections, that do not belong, has been established. Very good people have been put out to pasture simply on the grounds that they do not belong. They have been discarded not on the grounds of inability, incompetence or crime against the state but simply because of elections…It is a long inglorious story of nugatory vindictiveness and pettiness, spanning these past 60 years of our nationhood. Our immediate post-election periods often mirror military take-overs.

In the 4th Republic, there have been three real change-overs: 2000, 2008 and 2016 when one political party has handed over to another and true to form, they have all been fraught with the military take-over mindset…

There is nowhere more victimised than the public services where CEOs fall prey to witch-hunts and purges. A couple of examples will suffice: When the NPP came to power after the 2000 elections Dr. Akoto at TOR was a victim. When the NDC came to power after the 2008 elections, Dr. Sarpong at TOR was also shown the exit… These are two MDs I worked with whose abilities I can vouch for and who deserved better than their politically-motivated booting out of office. There are many, many, of such humiliating exits…

But one recent one that has chilled my blood is the booting of Alfred Ogbamey from his communication job at the gas company. The office he was occupying before Election 2016 was not even at the CEO level. Rumour has it that his “case” came up at a cabinet meeting and like in a Roman arena where blood-thirsty spectators bay for the blood of the vanquished, the thumbs down for his blood were overwhelming and he had to be axed. Other rumours claim that the letter for his decapitation emanated from the highest office of the land!

So with this kind of purge mentality, how can we, together, get Ghana working? The exhortation, that “Together Let’s Get Ghana Working”, is not only patently insincere and hollow, but rather insulting, in the face of these witch-hunts.

A nation, said Abraham Lincoln, cannot survive half free, half slave; true, a developing nation like Ghana, I also declare, cannot make progress with half in vilification and half in self-righteous Machiavellian axe-wielding! This electoral cycle of tit for tat cannot be the catalyst to encourage, grow and nurture the spirit of “Together Let’s Get Ghana Working”.