Political party’s decision-making is more than just the story of a particular party’s laws and policies at certain times and places. It is also, and more fundamentally, the story of how particular kinds of political parties emerge in different settings and different times, to make decisions that have impact on the economic development, for better or worse, of a nation.
Over the weekend, thousands of delegates of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and supporters sprung across the length and breadth of this country to gather at Koforidua to elect new National Executive Officers. The decision-making process of electing new National Officers brought to the fore some problems which I would like to address.
DISPLAY OF OPULENCE
The root of discontent in this country lies in poverty. The average Ghanaian has an income level of around 14 percent of the average citizen of the United States and can expect to live ten fewer years. UNICEF report in 2017 indicates that poverty is still high in Ghana, although it has reduced from 57 to 24 percent from 1991 to 2016. There is a growing level of malcontent among the populace, especially the youth who are plagued with an astronomic increase in unemployment – but political leaders of our dear nation have no compunction to display their opulence.
Mr. John Hayward, the Conservative Party Representative from the United Kingdom, stole the occasion at the Conference in Koforidua with his blunt criticism of the NPP’s showcase of profligacy, especially in these hardened times of the country’s economy. If a party candidate can boast of distributing 275 buses to each constituency in the bid to sway delegates votes, meanwhile the economy of Ghana can only provide 57 ambulances for medical services, it merely renders the politics of Ghana hopeless to development. The overwhelming omen of this is that when politics in Ghana becomes expensive the corresponding corruption is prodigious.
NPP AS A CONSERVATIVE PARTY
Members of the NPP pride themselves as conservatives. What are they conserving? Is it the remnant of the colonial government or the power that belongs to the people? The truth is that no British Colony in Africa had her independence with the conservatives in power. And after the Second World War, Winston Churchill once said: “I have not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.” It seemed they [conservatives] had no seeded thought or intention to grant freedom to any colony in Africa. Is it the philosophy that the NPP seek to perpetuate in Africa? It appears so, because, the motto of the NPP is “Development in Freedom”. That is reactionary and non-dialectical thinking. Freedom emerges out of development. Are they conserving reactionary?
One other problem of the conservatives has been the lack of awareness of the evolution of power. Somehow, the zeitgeist that arises from the contradiction of the powers of governments determine which side of the poles power goes, not by the display of flamboyance and wishful thinking. At the National Delegates Conference, the Party Chairman spoke that they want to stay in power for over 60 years. In fact, do not be taken aback by his statement. Arguably, it is said that politicians do not learn. The period in which a party stays in power in Ghana had followed a global trend for decades now, for the conservatives’ right and the progressives left. We saw a global landslide of conservative victory in the previous general elections across the world – for Muhammadu Buhari, Theresa May, Donald Trump and others.
It happens that this phenomenon has never defaulted, and it is bound to happen, especially between Ghana and the United States of America. All what it may require for the NPP to lose the election on December 7 2020 is for the US Republican party to lose on November 8 2020. Understand that politics is scientific. This observation is no superstition but based on the hypothetical analysis of events that had occurred.
To my knowledge, there is no conservative party in Ghana. Ghana and the United Kingdom do not have the same social raw materials, i.e. we do not have the same cultural values, family systems, social beliefs and structure of inheritance to depict the same body politics. We are only hatching on global alliance to latch on political power.
The mere ritual of voting does not mean democracy if there is poverty on the grounds. That is elitism. This makes people lose confidence in the political system, to the extent of having a representative from our former colonial masters coming to espouse on the need to make use of our resources to the benefit of the people. When we talk about politics, it is nothing but the concentrated form of economics. If the manifestation of this is to display affluence then we must be very careful. For in the long run, political organization must deliver the aspirations of the people.
These lessons are not just to the NPP but to all political parties in Africa. History tells us that 39 years ago, the neglect of the masses led to dramatic overthrow of governments in Ghana by the masses. Prof. Kwesi Botchwey’s report on the election defeat of the NDC revealed that the party was a victim for ignoring the grassroots. Interestingly, why should a candidate who campaigned on the slogan ‘The Job Dey Ground’ lose in his election as the National Youth Organizer of the NPP? Are we going to see another overlook of the powers of the grassroots in the NPP? Indeed Friedrich Hegel said that, “the only thing man learns from history is that man does no learn from history.” Well, it is my hope that after four years, I would not write another piece highlighting these problems.
By: Michael Sumaila Nlasia
Centre for Data Processing and Geo-Spatial Analysis