I am not sure if Manhyia has already apologized to President John Mahama. He was hooted at when he attended Asantehene’s mother’s funeral. It was a shameful act, and my inkling is that, although Manhyia did not sanction the behavior, Otumfuo may need to publicly condemn it, to show he does not endorse such unruly behaviors.
Anyway, the first time I was involved in a pre-election poll was in the year 2000, when the CDD, during an unrelated research interview, asked all enumerators to find out, as a last question, who the respondents will vote for in that elections.
This year the polling has assumed some complex religious dimensions. Pastors have done their polls. My friend, Obinnim has gone to the extent of making sure that all NDC members will sleep on the election day, and they will only wake up during the counting, thereby giving the NPP nearly 100% of the total vote cast.
In the midst of these polls are very inviting songs. Songs with perfect rhythms; songs that encourages love and affection for the competing candidates. Most of these songs have no message. And let’s be honest with ourselves, the “Onaaampo” song is now the most popular political song, with dancehall danceable flavors, but the most useless in terms of substance. I did not want to do any equalization here, because I don’t care if I am accused of being one-sided, but the Onaampo song is as useless in substance as that of “Nana ye winner oo, oye winner” song. What is it that contains in those two songs that we can derive anything from? Onaaampo, and oye winner, and then what?
So on Wednesday December 7th, all of us will wake up very early in the morning, to queue, some in the sun, to cast our votes, one for Onaaampo, the other for Nana ye winner? That we are not asking any questions of what those songs mean for our future, our children and their education, we are not asking why the quality of our education has become so poor, so much so that going to school is no longer a skills acquisition mission, going to school has now become a fashion for our young people; everyone is going to the university, so I am also going.
And we have translated the same thing into our democratic journey, that we don’t really care about why we are queuing to vote, what we care about are Mahama Onaampo and Nananana ye winner oo, oye winner aaa.
In the end we are queuing to vote because somebody gave me GHC5 today, the other person gave me GHC50, so that has given me the energy to vote for him, we are queuing to vote because NDC or NPP is my party, and I have to vote for my party. It doesn’t matter whether the person you are voting for is a thief or is someone who promote thievery. Once we have decided to vote, we vote out of nothing.
It worries me that our political parties have become like Hearts and Kotoko for us. Supporters are driven by passion and vain enthusiasm for the parties; their only interest is that their party wins in the elections. We have reduced governance to mad circles; our election is now driven by cheerful hearts, no matter how awful leadership looks or will look, no matter how bad the offerings are, we are prepared to support any group of thieves to be elected as our leaders, simply because they represent our parties.
I have said time without number that it is ok to belong to a political party. It is ok to like and support a candidate. But it is not ok to vote for the candidate of the party you support at all course, even if the person representing that party is nakedly corrupt.
Ghana is a rich country. The only reason why we are poor is because our resources are leaking. Stealing, procurement abuse, looting of the state resources, these are the reasons our villages are suffering, these are the reasons we are suffering. It is estimated that for every one million Cedis given out in contract, nearly half of that amount leaks into corruptible pockets. Young people who have not had any business experiences suddenly become rich, and they can afford unlimited luxuries, and we fail to ask them questions as to their source of riches.
And the followers of these politicians continue in poverty. The politicians steal in large volumes, and live ostentatiously, and they will bring the poor the crumbs during elections, use psychological tricks to enforce loyalty though in pain, and these politicians snatch the votes away from the poor, and we see them again in the next elections when they need to gather our votes again.
Unfortunately, although in a lot of cases our politicians force us to vote on tribal lines, these political thieves amass their wealth in the cities, enjoy with their families in the cities, and the poor person who votes to empower them, does not benefit from any of the loot.
I am a very unhappy Ghanaian, so I reflect a lot, especially within the context of all that Ghana stands for, we should ask ourselves what roles our votes will play in setting our country forward or backward. Who amongst the contesting candidates has a genuine capacity to guaranty sound development, and whose clean integrity is deserving of our votes?
Unfortunately because of political expediency, we blind ourselves, we block our conscience, and we vote for unemployable people to go to Parliament, to make laws for us, and to govern our country. And they go to Parliament, some becoming burdens to themselves, others in constant expectation of what they will receive at the end of the month.
We are in a critical moment. We are called upon, divinely, to exercise the talent God gave us, to choose wisely, with the interest of Ghana at heart. Why can’t we say, in the spirit of patriotism that, yes I like this or that party, but I will not vote for the person representing the party because that person is not fit to be trusted with our resources?
My worry, my brother, is that this party politics is gradually replacing religion, it is gradually replacing our loyalty to Ghana our motherland. The connection between party loyalty and the human soul is deepening just too much for comfort, and both the NDC and the NPP are exploiting our gullibility.
In America, for several decades some of their citizens were not allowed to vote. They fought for the right to vote. For so many years women were unqualified to vote. It took several years of right activists to gain the right to vote. There are so many countries in the world where even in the 21st century, some women did not have the right to vote.
In Ghana we fought to restore democratic rule. Before independence, and virtually from 1966 to 1992, we were not given our right to choose who leads the country. The 1992 Republican Constitution gave back our voice, and bestowed on us the responsibility to choose our own leaders.
The voice that the constitution has given us is not to be taken for granted. The right to vote, especially only once in every four years, and once we have taken that decision, we have to wait for another four years to either repeat our decisions or change our minds, that right is not to be taken for granted.
So I will cast my vote next week, and I will do that without any pomp. I will do it quietly, and I will not come back to the polling center to witness the counting. While in the queue, while waiting for my turn, I will reflect over my personal life, I will reflect over my community, all the children whose lives are cut short because they could not afford malaria treatment, I will reflect on all those children who died of malnutrition, I will ask myself questions, questions about opulence and human suffering, and I will ask myself why we are rich and yet we are so poor.
One of the questions I will ask during my solemn moment will be whether I am about to cast my one vote sincerely, conscientiously, and whether I have reflected enough to merit the opportunity I have been given to participate in this voting exercise. And while in the ballot box, I will invite God to be my witness; whether I have been responsible in exercising the power that the constitution has given me, the power to choose who leads my constituency, and the power to choose who leads this country, and in that prayer mode, I will cast my vote, and I will walk away quietly, and I will sing, God win...
James Kofi Annan