The Dying Spirit of Patriotism
A great political thinker said: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The spirit of patriotism has been lost on our leaders. The kind of patriotism we see today carries a lot of connotations. And it has created a lot of cognitive dissonance for many of us.
In the past, politicians and public office holders adopted a subtle way of stealing from state coffers. The subtlety in which it used to be shrouded made it difficult to see. But the rule of that game regarding stealing of our money has changed. It's now done openly and nakedly. We see and smell reaping of the state. We see our country bleeding before our very eyes. When you say it, you are tagged as working for the opposition.
But is this new to us? Absolutely no! Same and similar things happened when the opposition was in power. People who had the courage spoke against it and were tagged as working for the opposition.
The two major political parties that have alternated power in the fourth republic have always assumed a certain posture that says if you don't like what we're doing, you can go to hell! Yes, hell. In fact they aren't wrong because they have actually created hell for us.
There are three arms of government. Each one of them has its own functions. But their ultimate role is to provide checks and balances over their individual constitutional mandatory roles. This is how a governance system should operate. Instead, what we see happening amongst the three arms of government is 'scratch my back and let me scratch yours.' We saw it transpired in the sale of Ghana Telecom (now Vodafone) including a few others.
But I think our parliament has failed us. We voted for those people who want to be called 'honourable' but have often failed to do the honourable thing. We put them there to fight for our rights but not what suits them. Why can't parliament carry out due diligence on contracts that come before the house? I know the majority carries the vote. And once the ruling party has the majority, its decisions will have its way. So there is very little the minority can do under those circumstances. However, what about staging a walkout? Yes, I mean walkout when you realize the deal stinks. Walkout when you realize there is no value for money in that deal. Walkout when it's clear the deal will not benefit the poor taxpayer. When you do this, as it's been done in the past though with a lot of political twists, then you have some level of credibility before the people of Ghana.
The AMERI deal which is now an albatross around the neck of the government and blowing up Ghc3.6m on branding buses with the images of former presidents including the sitting president, are reckless misappropriation of public funds. The defence being put up by government still remains questionable.
Those in government have a duty to defend every government decision whether it is good or bad for one does not point to his home with the left hand. But that would not make it right. If due diligence was done by parliament on the AMERI deal, we wouldn't have been in this quagmire.
Our parliament has failed us once again. We hope this becomes a good lesson to guide them in the future. Hope they won't run to approve government deals and contracts that have very little to benefit Ghanaians.
Now, let me ask: who doesn't know Rawlings, Kuffuor, etc were former presidents of Ghana? So what does the government intends to achieve by branding those buses with their photographs? Is it another way of showing how patriotic we are? That Ghc3.6m could have been used on other pressing development needs of the people, especially the chronic power crisis. A lot of revenue could have been generated if businesses and corporate organizations were allowed to brand those buses with their products and services.
This government is shooting itself in the leg ahead of the 2016 elections. In prior to the 2008 elections, the ruling government at the time did same to itself. So it has become a norm and very characteristic of any government in its second term of office. Of course a wounded animal does not fear its death. But it's a worrisome trend that we must check.