In his masterpiece Arrow of God the celebrated Nigerian Novelist, Chinua Achebe makes the observation: but let the slave who sees another cast into a shallow grave know that he will be buried in the same way when his day comes.
Sadly, that appears to be the situation in our country today. Instead of building on the values that our forebears shed their blood for in order to leave lasting legacies for generations unborn, we are each seeking our individual and group interests.
We have allowed political power to divide us so much that in recent times, even what we held true in the past have become subjects of partisan definitions and interpretations. Whither are we drifting Ghana?
The proliferation of media avenues for communication have opened the floodgates for every Kweku, Kofi and Akosua to speak out and say what they ‘feel’ without regard for decency, decorum and respect for humanity. I will be the last person to speak against media freedom, but in all seriousness, the trajectory we are following in the name of free speech without strong regulations will land us in trouble.
Morality and leadership
Gradually, we are acquiescing to a philosophy by those who believe that morality in governance matters not, so long as the individual in a leadership position carries out their work with diligence. In that regard, breaches perpetrated by such leaders should be subsumed under their excellent performance. I say that is balderdash.
It is wrong. We must aspire to the point where we exact from our leaders the highest moral standards so it flows down to every member of the populace. People who have a penchant for stealing from the public purse, misapplying funds, lying and clothing themselves with behaviours unbecoming of their office should be booted out with funfair.
Our nation should see the day when public office seekers would be denied the opportunity because they are either found to be wife beaters, irresponsible fathers or mothers, child molesters or for even simply failing to clean their immediate environments. We must have very high litmus tests and not reduce leadership to mere certificates, induced testimonials and family connections.
Since the broadcast of Number 12 by Tiger Eye PI and Anas Aremeyaw Anas, some people, many of them highly respected in our society, have questioned the methods used to procure the evidence as being unfair to the individuals caught on tape and shamed. Opinions must be expressed freely, but nobody needs to have a university degree to be able to tell the difference between a woman and a man.
If we assign responsibility to a man to take care of our football development and we hear him clearly stating that as for Ghanaian referees, all you need is gh¢200 and a woman and you are sorted, must we continue to entrust our precious game to this person?
The logical question you would ask is; what has he done all the time he’s known about it? And, did he indeed plan to set up a company to fleece all of us and cream off a percentage?
For partisan and personal reasons, we appear to be lowering the bar all the time because it is to do with one of us. Otherwise, leaders, some of whom have been elected to protect the public purse, will not be heard arguing that breaches of our procurement laws are ‘mere’. When public office holders speak this way, it does not inspire hope and confidence in the nation’s future.
It is time we got the message out clearly to people that we are a nation of nearly 30 million heterogeneous multi-cultural groupings and, therefore, whoever gets into a leadership role must see it first as a privilege and also as an opportunity to chart a path for generations after us following the highest standards and values.
Not only a matter of law
Let’s not get these things twisted. Those who are propagating their individual interpretation of our Constitution and explaining away legalities in support of some of the people axed from office should be told in plain language that nations may be governed by laws, but great nations are not built on laws only. There are socio-cultural, religious, solid educational and historical imperatives that collectively make nations respectable and admirable.
If Ghana will see genuine growth through patriotism and selfless devotion to her development, those at the helm should not think and behave as though this was a competition among ourselves. The completion we are confronted with is to perform better than generations before us. Placed in that proper context, we shall come to realise how abysmally we have performed as regards environmental sanitation, academic standards, sports, civil and public service performance, policing in general and the containment of crime, for example.
When we extol mediocrity on the altar of political and partisan expediency and ignore excellence, the result is a cascade of rot and incompetence down the line in every facet of our public and even private discourse.
Development of civic culture
In the 1970s, the late General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong introduced into our civic culture, the concept of one nation, one people and one destiny. This was very religiously propagated in all public schools until it became nearly part of our national anthem and pledge.
Today, there are no such slogans and actions carefully thought through to unite us as a people. Partisan politics has so divided us that statecraft that produced the Alex Quayson Sackey, Kofi Annan, Victor Gbeho, Mohammed Ibn Chambas and K.Y. Amoako has been reduced to partisan bad and loud-mouthing of political and ideological opponents to serve parochial interests.
Continuing on this trajectory has the potential of breaking our nation apart. We are not super humans to assume that what happened in some African countries cannot occur here. The political threads and fibre that weave together mature nationhood are being torn to shreds by the warped values we are gradually admitting into our social fabric and the powerless in our society are fast losing confidence in all levels of leadership.
We stand indicted if we cannot add any value to our much-touted democratic election accomplishments. Ghana beyond elections;how do we see ourselves in the mirror of development?
• The writer is a media/PR Practitioner