NEWS COMMENTARY ON MONETIZATION OF POLITICS AND THE PLACE OF INTEGRITY IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The recently-held primaries of the New Patriotic Party continue to grab the media headlines for two major reasons. First is what some have described as a “tsunami”, the political tidal wave that swept forty of the sitting MPs of the NPP off their seats, come the Eighth Parliament of the Fourth Republic. The other aspect of the elections that continues to make waves and raise concern at all levels of our body politic is the inducement of delegates in the electioneering process.
Large amounts of money and consumer goods and, in one trending case, over two hundred bicycles were reported to have exchanged hands, in a bid to influence delegates. One may take a popular line from the repertoire of legendary highlife star, Gyedu Blay Ambolley, and ask, “Wetin dey there?”, for candidates to sell off their houses to finance their bid for parliamentary election.
This monetization of politics so pronounced, probably as never before, at even the primaries stage is a cause of worry. The day Parliament resumed sitting after the weekend of the primaries, Leadership and Members on both sides of the aisle spoke passionately against this canker, and its potential to corrupt our democracy, with dire consequences for the nation.
Making a salient observation on the matter on the floor of the House, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Joseph Osei Owusu, said, “We are describing a problem: the real issue is how dishonesty is increasing in this country!” The Minority Leader and MP for Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu, also called for a national conversation on the phenomenon of money in politics as it affects the attrition rate in Parliament. Richard Quashigah, MP for Keta, wondered about the source of funds of those who engaged in “monecracy”, as the worrying practice has been creatively termed. He tinkered with the idea of EOCO and the security services investigating such individuals.
To nip this growing trend in the bud, legislation may be initiated to criminalize monetization of our politics and to a greater extent our democracy, which is held in high esteem, not only on the African continent, but in the world at large. But some may say if gold rusts, what would iron do? That is, it is those who would enact the laws to ban bribery in politics who are some of those who are expected to be in Parliament, that are caught in this practice.
So, Members of the Legislature who are averse to money in politics, in collaboration with the Executive, can lead this worthy crusade against it. The relevant situation contextualizes the words of mid-twentieth century British politician, Lord Samuel, who said “Without doubt, the greatest injury of all is done by basing morals on myth. For, sooner or later, myth is recognized for what it is, and disappears. Then, morality loses the foundation on which it has been built.”
Without a doubt, the attitude of politicians who buy delegates to win elections is a reflection of a society that appears to be basing its collective morality on the myth of money and the philosophy that opportunity and responsible position ought to go to the highest bidder. This proposition questions the basis of sound domestic and national values. And this is why the First Deputy Speaker’s passionate call on us to reexamine our honesty and integrity foundations as a nation, is timely. For, integrity of its people is the best bastion on which a nation can be built.
Respectable societies, the world over have been founded not necessarily or only the wealth of nations, but importantly on the collective efforts of good citizens, be they scientists, philosophers and saints, soldiers, sailors or craftsmen. The story is told of how after the medieval Chinese built the Great Wall to protect their flourishing empire from external attack, enemy forces were still able to infiltrate the highly fortified and guarded territory. It was found out after investigations that the enemy forces frequently bribed the military guards at the various gates of the Great Wall to breach it without any skirmishes. Integrity or its absence – is thus the gateway to all the good or evil that can flood an individual or take control of the institutions of State.
The problem takes on an ominous outlook when we consider how even elementary schoolchildren vying for elected positions in their various schools, are reported to bribe their classmates and even teachers to influence the outcome of those polls in their favour! This is how critical the matter is, making the Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu’s call for a national conversation on integrity and money in politics crucial.
Even though a paraphrase of British poet and playwright, T.S. Eliot, suggests that every generation has its fair share of moral or amoral appreciation of ethics, our elders of old placed a high premium on good name over riches, as the Bible enjoins us to do. One such patriots of old, Dr. Ephraim Amu, penned in Ghana’s alternative national anthem, Yen Ara Asase Ne, as translated into English, that, as to whether the nation thrives or not, there is no denial of the fact that the character of its citizens is the determining factor.
May our character and integrity contribute to making our nation great and strong.
By Raymond Tuvi, an Author and Media Consultant.