By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
The quoted question in the caption of this column was reportedly uttered by Archbishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle, the Metropolitan Catholic Prelate of Accra (See “Palmer-Buckle Questions Quality of Ghana’s Political Discourse” Citifmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 7/2/14). It was in connection with what Bishop Palmer-Buckle envisaged to be the grossly misplaced priorities of Ghanaian leaders. Recently, for instance, the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, and his cross-partisan associates ordered a full-set of furniture from China to replace the Ghanaian-made furniture in the House which these leaders had written off as obsolete and rickety.
Interestingly, many of the newly imported pieces of furniture were found to be broken and unfit for use even before the full-set had been installed in the main chamber of the House. At the time, in response to widespread criticism that the importation of such basic furniture was a flagrant waste of hard-earned foreign exchange, the Parliamentary Majority Leader, Alban S. K. Bagbin, claimed that the measure was aimed at preserving the country’s forestry resources. Well, the last time that I checked, which was at the time of this writing, Ghana was still a net exporter of raw timber. And so it is not clear to me which country the National Democratic Congress’ MP for Nadowli-West, in the Northern Region, was referring to.
The fact of the matter is that not many prominent Ghanaian leaders have the interests of the country at heart. Even as Archbishop Palmer-Buckle poignantly indicated, you would have thought that these leaders would pursue policies that aim to advance our indigenous and local industries. Our leaders think and make decisions almost as if they were posted to represent some creatures from outerspace in our august National Assembly. In posing the clearly rhetorical question that appears in the caption of this column, the Metropolitan Prelate of Accra wanted to confirm his well-founded suspicions as to whether the leaders of our legislature had both individally and collectively undergone lobotomy. If they are not the arrant fools that Archbishop Palmer-Buckle has diagnosed them to be, then maybe they ought to invite this most prominent of Ghanaian religious leaders to further explain himself before the Parliamentary Privileges Committee.
But I also sharply beg to differ with Bishop Palmer-Buckle that it would be savvy to draw our parliamentarians aside and Nicodemously counsel them to conduct themselves right by the judgment, or opinion, of those who democratically entrusted them with their decision-making mandate. Else, Bishop Palmer-Buckle would not have so boldly undertaken to publicly deliver the sort of rhetorical dirty slaps that he unleashed at our “Honorables” a couple of weeks ago. At a time that hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians are coming down daily with a simple hygiene-determined disease like cholera, it sadly appears that the leaders of our two major political parties would rather invest the bulk of our commonwealth in the funding of gangster-like vigilante groups to help them win by-elections, as was recently witnessed in the wanton acts of violence that characterized the Talensi by-election on July 7, than see to the creation of a healthy environment for Ghanaians to benefit from.
Ghana’s Interior Minister, Mark Owen Woyongo, would subsequently claim that the National Democratic Congress-sponsored Azorka Boys gang was fully justified in attempting to stop supporters of their political opponents, largely sympathizers of the New Patriotic Party, from casting their ballots. For Archbishop Palmer-Buckle, the bane of Ghanaian political culture is the abject lack of a concerted and cross-partisanly minted national development agenda. “We need a national agenda, that come high or low [waters]…will be the measure by which any government’s performance will be adjudged” in order to productively move the country forward. “Unfortunately, we don’t have it. It is only political manifestos; and each political manifesto is merely aimed at enhancing the political agenda of one partcular party.”
Bishop Palmer-Buckle’s latest call is for Ghanaian leaders to start behaving more like statesmen and women than election-oriented politicians. I couldn’t have put it any better, Arch!
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
E-mail: [email protected]