By Joseph Ziem
Character is one of the most important assets in a man’s life. It is a person’s distinctive identity, whether good or bad. It can also be your attitude and actions in secret; who you are when no one is watching. If a man does not lose his character, then there is hope for his/her destiny.
Thus, a story is told of the vulture, one of the biggest birds on earth. It can fly as high as one can imagine, and also travel far and wide on its wings in search of food. The vulture mostly feeds on decomposed corpses and has no mercy for even weaker preys that are about to die. In fact, it is largely a carnivorous animal that salivates incessantly whenever it smells a decomposing corpse, its best delicacy.
Ghanaian politicians have the ability to fly as high as the vulture with their people to the “promise land” no matter how strong the storm is. Unfortunately, a greater number of them can fly to any extent to satisfy only their whims and caprices, mostly leaving behind their people due to a corrupt character they acquire immediately they assume any public office.
For Ghana to reach greater heights and attain economic freedom like the United States of America or the United Kingdom, which are the best role models often cited by her citizens, then that will depend largely on the good character of its political leadership. If her political leadership is morally right, the institutions within which they work or supervise would also be morally upstanding, strong and resilient in spite of difficulties and challenges.
But in recent years, most Ghanaian politicians at the District, Regional and National levels [whether as DCEs, Regional Ministers and Ministers of State], have all failed and continue to fail their people in their bid to take them to the promise land. Like the vulture, they seize every little opportunity to prey on the people they represent and only think about them when their bellies are full and they can eat no more. Seriously, they have no mercy towards the ordinary people they represent just as the vulture has no pity for the already dying prey.
I have not lost my senses and neither have I gone round the bend if that is what is going through your mind as you read this piece. However, I’m simply mincing no words to voice my frustrations after peer reviewing the behaviour and conduct of our politicians over the years and in recent times.
For instance, I like many Ghanaians heard it in the news the other day, that each of the 275 legislators was going to receive GH¢50,000.00 as rent allowance and truly, in less than a week our President John Mahama and his people, who claim single spine pay policy is draining the state coffers, paid the money with alacrity. As if that was not enough, each legislator was again given an US$70,000 to buy their official cars.
In fact, what provoked the larger Ghanaian populace and caused most of them to be talkative overnight was when Mr. President didn’t even care a hoot and went ahead to pay former legislators huge sums of money as end of service benefits [ESBs], with the least taking home not less than GH¢100,000.00.
What preceded all these payments before the beginning of 2013 was the increment of monthly salaries of the 275 legislators to GH¢7,200.00. Besides, it is believed the current Ministers of State and their Deputies receive monthly salaries of GH¢9,000.00 and GH¢8,000.00 respectively. It is also said that each of these ministers of state receive GH¢200.00 every week as fuel allowance for those heavy Toyota land cruisers and Nissan patrols Mr. President used our money to procure for them all in the name of running a government. Like the legislators, no minister pays water and electricity bills. Everything for them is freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. How then can these politicians feel the pain and suffering of the ordinary citizens?
The fraudulent behaviour of these politicians who belong to both the NPP and NDC [that rule the country in turns and anyhow] has over the years compelled civil servants to embark on strike actions in an attempt to get what is also due them. Thus, it is open secret that recent strike actions in the country’s labour front are as a result of monumental payments of salaries and ESBs to the executive and the legislature who only want the citizenry to keep quiet as a sign of patriotism rather than complaining. As the trend reaches its crescendo, right thinking citizens including me are even more worried than ever considering the fact that the country’s oil money is already in DANGER.
Majority of Ghanaians cannot easily forget about the fact that most appointees of the Mills-Mahama Administration like their counterparts in the Kuffour-Aliu Mahama Administration, built two or more houses each within four years, establish fuel filling stations, radio stations and an array of other profitable ventures for themselves and their immediate families. Those who wanted certain degrees to appear on their curriculum vitae acquired such certificates within the shortest possible time from the best academic institutions one can think of. Those who are lucky to be appointed again in the Mahama-Amissah-Arthur Administration will definitely continue to feed fat at the expense of the ordinary Ghanaian taxpayer through legitimate and illegitimate means.
Indeed, all these things are happening because the church and its leadership has lost moral grounds and mostly find it difficult to chastise the political leadership when it goes wayward. Some of the politicians are serving as chairmen of committees in some churches and making donations towards church projects, so it becomes almost impossible to bite the hand that feeds you.
Some of the men of God are also politicians themselves or sympathizers of the NPP and NDC, thus it brings to question how honest and objective they can be as men of God who are supposed to guide the conscience of society.
In spite of all the recent agitations and industrial actions that are drawing the development of the nation back, all that some of our self-centered and arrogant politicians continue to tell civil servants is that they should not compare themselves with them. What Mr. President and his appointees continue to say is that there is no money; government can’t afford to pay what civil servants are demanding. Please come again Mr. President. When it comes to addressing concerns or grievances of hardworking civil servants you say there is no money, but when it’s about the executives and the legislature the money is available. I think that this is provocative Mr. President.
If I have my own way [as President of Ghana] politics will be something a lot of hungry and greedy Ghanaians who only want to use it as shortcut to make money overnight, will never dream of associating themselves with. No legislator or Minister will take home a monthly salary of even GH¢5,000.00. Ministers of State and their Deputies will not be given four wheel drives because it’s not necessary. All ministers and legislators will pay utility bills and their monumental sitting allowances for whatever duty they carryout will not exceed GH¢200.00 no matter the number of days they spend doing it. Besides, the respective ministries have cross-country vehicles and ministers or their deputies can use them when they are travelling outside Accra to attend a function.
For instance, why should a minister of state who leaves in Accra be using a four-wheel drive that consumes so much fuel instead of using fuel efficient vehicles? I know that there are preparations underway to prevent ministers and their deputies from using their official vehicles after working hours. But just like the directive to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies to stop watching television in their offices failed, the same way this new directive will fail.
Seriously, I sometimes wonder whether our President listens to radio and whether he deals with allegations of corruption that are leveled against some of his appointees. Because it’s amazing that some public officials within few years of being in office will be able to build houses, put up a radio stations, establish fuel stations and nothing is done by you Mr. President. Please Mr. President such allegations don’t need to be reported to you officially before you take action. And if you want Mr. President, just dedicate a phone line in your office to the public to report officials of your government who are corrupt and I can assure you that, you will receive such information in dozens. In fact, you’ll be shocked that the gluttonous attitude of some of your appointees is disgusting and this is making many Ghanaians to begin to also think that using unconventional means to make money at their places of work is the norm.
It is Rev. Billy Graham who said: “If you lost money, you lost nothing. If you lost health, you lost something. But if you lost character, you lost everything.” Thus, I urge all politicians of this country to read the biblical story of Job and take a cue from one of the noblest men who have ever lived. Job was a man of character and that is why when he lost everything that he had, God blessed him again in abundance. Joseph the dreamer is another man of undisputable character. When he was proven innocent of charges of rape leveled against him by Portipher’s wife [his boss’ wife], he was freed and made the second most powerful man in Egypt.
The writer is a freelance journalist but regularly writes for The Daily Dispatch Newspaper. Views or comments may be sent to him via firstname.lastname@example.org/ +233 207344104.