Adversities prevail when men of reason fail to apply common sense. And it even worsens when those who know right refuse to walk in the path of common sense. That is why when the late Muammar Gaddafi refused to heed to commons sense, his fall was devastating. He should have known that his empire was crumbling when the odds were obviously against hm. In this regard, will Bashar al-Assad of Syria bend his ears to the innocuous cry of common sense? A cry for him to exit office in peace and not in pieces?
It seems our leaders never learn until they are bombarded with the negative effects of their actions. In Kenya, if it had not been for the mass peaceful protest to reject the unreasonable end of service benefits for outgoing legislators, the burning of coffins by protestors will have degenerated into the burning of human beings. The demands of these greedy legislators were so ridiculous that the president had to swiftly veto their proposals in order to calm tempers.
In Ghana, we are told our noble legislators are to receive a colossal amount of 50,000 cedis as their rent allowance. I presume this amount is not taxable and not part of their ex gratia. Day in day out we are inundated with excuses that government is handicapped financially. But the Arabian Kings’ lifestyles of our leaders speak the contrary. Does it mean that if the legislators serve their term and they are re-elected, they will be given another dose of 50,000 cedis or bigger amount for rent? Good heavens, the government must prepare itself for labour strikes because what is good for the goose is good for the gander. In my humble opinion, would not it be prudent if our honourable MPs do the honourable thing by dropping such a demand and rethink a suitable alternative? Can’t they table a proposal where bungalows or flats are constructed with state funds to house them? This action will greatly help save the public purse from constant drainage.
If not for greed or selfishness, I do not see why the MPs, after enjoying a quantum leap in their salary and other fringe benefits, cannot for the sake of our fragile economy drop their move. Are they trying to create the picture of parliament being a gold mine and not a place of service?
Aside this, I am sure that after the approval of their rent allowance, they will clamour for car loans to buy expensive cars whose total price can construct numerous roads and schools for the one million Ghanaian children who have no access to classrooms. As someone succinctly suggested, can’t there be a pool of state vehicles that can be used for official purposes by these sage legislators? Of a truth, our African leaders are a unique sort endangered species who must be protected at all cost before they harm themselves or rope others into their steeped mental sense of singular possessiveness that has the capacity to turn the country upside down. When it comes to the management of the economy, apart from the usual strategic policies that must be implemented, one other essential element that is critical for the country’s development is sacrifice. And it appears that is what our leaders are lacking or refusing to apply in their actions. The need for them to forgo certain pleasures today for the sake of posterity is what is needed. This is because we cannot in the midst of abundance stretch our arms to beg for alms or loans from countries whose leaders greatly sacrificed everything to save their countries from the pangs of hunger and poverty.
It is, therefore, dangerous for a country to enjoy relative peace when poverty is high and the gap between the rich and the poor keeps on widening. We should not forget the Arab uprising sprang into full force when a graduate who hawks on the street set himself ablaze all because he could not bear the raw deal he was receiving from those who should have known better. So when our leaders are acting, they must act in the general interest of the populace because it does not take long for the animalistic tendencies in man to find expression in any form. If the MPs are granted their wish, then, two forces are at work in the country. It could be that the country is economically vibrant to the extent that we have 13,750,000 cedis to give to 275 Ghanaians who sit at certain intervals to speak for themselves. The other reason may be that the economy is in tatters hence they must be given this amount lessen to their economic hardship while they wisely decide for the poor majority.
Leadership from the perspective of common sense is all about selflessness. If the masses are enraged due to the seemingly insensitivity on the part of leaders toward them, can we blame them if they vent their anger?
The underpinning principle of political common sense in this part of our world is, ‘chop make I chop’ or ‘live make I live.’ The me-myself–and-I tendency will ultimately crush the country we are struggling to build. In developed countries, it appears political leaders there are extremely careful to provide the basic needs of the populace. There is an added bonus of shelter homes for the homeless and other well funded NGOs to support the less privileged.
Have you ever wondered why some Ghanaians travel abroad, wash dishes, clean toilets, brush the teeth of horses and they return to build houses for the middle class to rent? I crave for a day where sanitary workers would be paid on time and adequately remunerated for them to own their houses. If teachers, nurses and other public sector workers are struggling to find their feet, I shudder to think of what will happen to those beneath their scale? In Ghana, as a result of the high level of poverty and illiteracy, politicians exploit the gullible citizens. Typical African politicians would rather love to keep a chunk of the national cake to themselves and cunningly compel the populace to follow them in return for paltry handouts. They even recruit people to do dirty jobs for them which are targeted at their opponents. With these negative skirmishes at play, can we ever see the light of development at the end of the tunnel? I can render countless acts that have and are being committed by our honourable leaders that are inimical to our national development. But the sad thing is that if our leaders fail to see the slow pace with which they are developing the economy, then there is little our constructive criticisms can achieve. If they fail to apply common sense in developing this country by implementing pragmatic and progressive policies, then we should know that this generation and the successive ones are forever doomed.
It goes without mention that most politicians love mediocrity. That is why they build a six unit classroom block, sink boreholes, donate buses to institutions, renovate dilapidated structures and they shout through the roof for us to hail them. While their counterparts are industrialising their economies, our good politicians cannot complete housing units left behind by a previous government or do better.
Our colonial overlords despite their dominion and questionable actions left behind a lasting legacy of education and technology. Our very own seem to be pursuing their personal agenda other than pursuing the common interest of the populace. They divide and rule the educated and the illiterates alike along frivolous lines. Indeed, common sense is very common but not so common to people who refuse to heed to its pleas. There is a price we will pay if we plug our ears to its wisdom and listen to the dead noises of individuals who do not have the interest of the nation at heart. Ghana is a peaceful country but there is the need to maintain the peace through a progressive and proactive good sense of judgements that will propel the country to the promise land we yearn for.
AUTHOR’S NAME: OKOFO-DARTEY SAMUEL