Time for consensus building

BY: kobby asmah

This morning at the West Africa Senior High School (SHS) in Accra, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will officially launch the free SHS educational programme.

The flagship policy will help to reduce considerably the financial burden many parents who want their children to pursue secondary school education go through.

Prior to this, the Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration had already introduced other promising development projects, including the “Planting for Food and Jobs” and commenced with the “One-District, One-Factory” project at Ekumfi Eyisam in the Central Region. There are many more such projects in the pipeline waiting to be inaugurated within his four-year tenure of office.

NPP vrs NDC projects

However, in all of these good social intervention policies being rolled out, one key ingredient that can make them stand the test of time and become sustainable is the need to implement them devoid of partisanship so as to encourage the populace to own them.

It will be highly unfortunate if these laudable programmes are perceived to be solely NPP projects or NPP vs National Democratic Congress (NDC) programmes.

Already, there are signals pointing to that effect where some political activists not belonging to the NPP look at the projects with suspicion and do not see any good coming out of them.

While the NPP touts these programmes as key to transforming the national agenda, some other political parties and activists insist the projects are stillborn and bound to fail because of poor planning.

The Minority in Parliament view the ruling government’s flagship policy, the Free Senior High School, as simply not sustainable.

Their position is strengthened based on what they believe is the inability of the NPP to identify a clear and reliable funding source for their Progressively Free SHS.

One would have wished for collaborative problem-solving efforts on how to implement the policy to guarantee the survival of quality SHS education in Ghana. But once again, it appears getting a consensus for the all-important policy will remain a mirage.

Not way to go

Clearly, this is not the way to go if we are to accelerate the national development efforts. As a ruling party, it is in the interest of the NPP to create the needed consensus building gestures so as to get all diverse interests and opinions on board to forge a common ground that will not undermine the integrity of the laudable projects. It will definitely not be in the nation’s interest if the flagship policy is looked on as an NPP project rather than national, since scarce state funds were used in the implementation.

I am aware the NDC also embarked on a number of significant development projects such as building of Community Day SHSs across the country, the Komenda Sugar Factory at Komenda, expansion of road networks, water projects and hospitals, among others.

These projects also attracted similar criticism and in some instances, the projects were also branded as NDC projects.

Strangely, over the period, we have always seen the NPP and the NDC disagreeing on major national issues.

The blame game is at its peak during budget presentations and mid-year reviews of the economy.

Whether deliberate or not, many a time while the ruling party is always in full praise of the budget hearings, the opposition party is not the least impressed about figures presented.

Sometimes when at the helm of affairs, it is also easier for the ruling party to rubbish other development viewpoints. This is certainly not the way to build a nation.

After all, since no one political party will perpetually hold the monopoly to governance, there is the need for our political parties to work in concert, reduce the hot air and continue to talk about nation first.

Criticising for the sake of criticism is becoming too common in our body politic and is a huge bane of national developmental efforts.

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Constructive disagreement

By all means, constructive disagreements can be tolerated in any growing multi-party democracy but at the end of the day what matters most is the interest of the nation. This is where consensus building is paramount and cannot be treated lightly as it can seriously undermine rapid accelerated national development.

The interest of the nation must continuously reign supreme in all critical decisions, while selfish individual interests or partisan consideration are relegated to the background.

After practising democracy for about 25 years under the Fourth Republican dispensation, the time is right to put the nation first and place premium on the very basic things that affect the well- being of the ordinary Ghanaian.

The divisive partisan politics that we are used to in the country will lead the nation nowhere.

Ghana, at this moment in her development strides, deserves better and the NPP, once again in government, has the greatest opportunity to endear itself to the Ghanaian populace.

This can be done through a collaborative approach and a good working relation with civil society, including the media, governance bodies, teachers and other professional bodies.

Civil society also has a key role to play in all of these enterprises. They cannot choose to remain silent in the affairs of state and how the nation is being governed. There is the need for civil society to help bring their influence to bear on national discourse. Instead of highlighting partisan interest, the focus should be national.

Collectively, we can all play our parts to ensure good governance arrangements prevail for better and higher living conditions for all Ghanaians no matter which political party one belongs to.