Curiosity brought me upon an interesting finding. My interest has for a while been tickled by the Political Opinions/Views of my friends and in general others on Social Networks, and here I have Facebook as my reference.
I discovered that quite a number of people especially females, appear apathetic with regards to the subject of politics. A good number by their comments seemed to be saying, “Politics? Forget it”. Some seen to say, “It is their game, let them mind their business, while I do mine”. I wished
it were that simple. If Joshua Clottey, Aziz Zakari, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, Accra Great Olympics Football Club, Arsenal FC, Barcelona FC or the Black Stars of Ghana were to get it wrong at their respective sports, they and a very few would feel the impact. Not so with this so-called game of numbers called politics. Its effect is not only far-reaching but encircling.
There are also those who share the sentiments of Alexander Pope, the satiric 18th Century poet who said,
“For forms of government, let fools contend; whichever is administered best is the best”.
Those are deep words and for a moment you might want to accept it. I cannot do so on a wholesale basis, because I see an underlying principle of the end justifying the means, a philosophy that doesn’t sit well with me. A fish swallowing Jonah and Jonah swallowing the fish is not the same swallowing. Both would make the news, one would make the headline, and every good journalist or even critical person can tell which. I believe the processes leading up to a goal are as important as the goal itself, else what business has the referee or umpire issuing sanctions in a game?
But aside the aforementioned is the religious or faith position. I appreciate this side of the debate, where some faiths and sects are partially or totally averse to politics. I know for example that the Jehovah Witnesses as well as the Rastafarian sect are indifferent, critical or outright antagonistic when it comes to politics. I am not about to question or pass judgment on adherents of these beliefs; after all, every human being is at liberty to believe what they choose to.
However I have a nagging question on my mind – in fact a series of questions all on the same main point. I am wondering, should we be interested in politics – as individuals, as citizens and as a people?
My concern has been particularly heightened precedent upon recent developments in the Cardio-Thoracic Centre at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, Ghana. On Friday 26, August 2011, the Head of the Centre, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the renowned Heart Surgeon, one often seen as Ghana’s version of John Hopkins’ Ben Carson got the boot. He was summarily dismissed from office for reasons even colleagues considered spurious.
To be clear, there were no indictments, no charges of corruption (the usual knock-out jab for public servants), no professional incompetence, no misconduct, really nothing except to hear that his dismissal is based on the fact that he is supposed to be working and receiving his remuneration from the Ministry of Education and not the Ministry of Health or something to that effect.
Naturally anyone would ask why: for example, why not a simple transfer or inter-ministerial collaboration on the matter? Or did that option fail? Well, up until the time of my writing, nothing of the sort has been said, and even a Deputy Minister of Information – a usually vocal and apparently up-to-date person – appeared to be bereft of answers to these questions.
What is the catch here? And what has politics got to do with any of these? Well, it is the person and political affiliation of the man Professor Frimpong-Boateng.
Professor Frimpong-Boateng apart from being an excellent gentleman, a doctor and surgeon per excellence, science and technology savvy, practical, forthright – all attributes easily and undoubtedly shared by a good number of people – and also a politician. He isn’t just a sympathizer to a party’s cause; he has on more than one occasion vied for the Presidential bid of a party – the New Patriotic Party, currently the largest opposition party in Ghana.
So now you see, it is extremely difficult for any observer with these bits of information not to think along the lines of partisan politics, whatever the explanations.
My further concern in all of these is in response is in the response colleagues and protégé doctors advanced. As I write, seventeen (17) doctors have not only petitioned the President to reverse the decision but have served notice to attend to only existing patients and not any fresh cases – not even new emergencies.
Often doctors are criticized for breaking their professional oath in not caring for their patients and saving lives while making industrial and labour demands. But in this instance, with all the facts available, one cannot but at least see through the eyes of the doctors whose very careers were built literally upon the goodness, goodwill and generosity of this man in question.
Today, if something isn’t done quickly, only God can tell how many precious lives would be lost. I imagine a breadwinner astride life and death being turned back and fearfully ushered into an undeserved early entrance to eternity. I imagine a lovely kid recently diagnosed of say hole in heart condition due for surgery or some other procedure this morning. Would we be losing another future professor, maybe a future Professor Frimpong-Boateng? Well, I fear so, and sadly so.
So back to my spectrum of questions: if such a grim and grievous possibility has been orchestrated by the policy execution of a politician, shouldn’t we be interested in the process(-es) that get these people into office? Please don’t get me wrong, I suspect some of my readers are already, I write based on the facts available, and I am not even passing judgment on the minister, party or government in power – even the good medical Prof isn’t. My beef is in the consequences of the policy actions at play here.
Now remember I only used this incident because it is recent and further triggered an idea I have ruminated upon for a while now. There are no other examples: for example, post 9/11, I had a major disappointment when my aunt had all the deodorants, body sprays and perfumes marked for us, her relatives, confiscated at an American airport as part of a new American government policy to check and counter terrorist activities which they believe could be executed using alcohol-based product such as were seized from my aunt. In fact, the Bush administration even ratified the USA PATRIOT Act (popularly referred to as the “Patriot’s Act”), a law that grants the American Intelligence, Counter Terrorist and Security agencies powers to make arrests and detentions away from the conventional methods and duration.
Recently the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) actions in Libya, British governments approach to rioters and France’s involvement in La Cote D’Ivoire makes me wonder if indifference or even rage is the right attitude towards the art of governance by policies and politics.
The politician sitting at parliament, congress or cabinet determines in a very strong and encompassing way what happens to us as citizens. Recently, I had some troubling times as the duration of Senior Secondary education kept vacillating to the peril of stakeholders. And up until now, those who understand are on tenterhooks, only hoping and praying that the grass in this political combat sustain minimal and manageable injuries.
By plain definition, politics is the act, art and activities associated with governing a country or area. We should be interested in who and whose idea does this job, shouldn’t we? For example, would anyone care nothing if a certain group insists on coming to power with a one-sided, intolerant and even radical or extremist religious agenda? Surely not, or?
I write these not oblivious of the deep-seated mistrust and disappointment towards politics and their art and acts occasioned by several years and tenures of unfulfilled promises, broken covenants with electorates, underperformance, outright deception, reneging on previous electoral stance and not to mention the flagrant abuse and misuse of power. I can appreciate the disgust and anger citizens feel as they watch a once-upon-a-time vote-begging politician turn up his nose and wind up his car windows in arrogance and opulence. I see a lot of it too. But shouldn’t that be the very reason for which we should be interested in politics – to get the good guys there and get there ourselves if we believe we are good enough guys?
I realize I am not asking or saying anything new; it is still the same matter of politics is a dirty game and neat people should stay off, and all the counter arguments associated with it. Nevertheless, I would yet raise it or if you like resurrect it.
To be frank, I find it unacceptable hearing people who say they have no business in or with politics complain about cost and quality of living. When I hear self-disenfranchised fellows complain about corrupt, weak, or incompetent governments and government officials, I ask myself, what were they doing on the day of voting? If politicians are collectively bad, why wouldn’t they at least bring to power the better of two evils? Or better still why do they not sponsor and support the good guys or offer themselves for that service? I also wonder why some religious persons would rather hide behind their thin curtain of vigorous prayer and fasting to avert an impending crisis when they could have forestalled the same by a simple thumbprint on the ballot paper and ballot box? Why, just why?
In his book, The Transparent Leader, Dwight L. Johnson makes the point that it is a myth to believe that a utopia could be erected: that some “New Jerusalem can be built using the tools of politics”. I share such sentiments. But he also indulges the thoughts of William Armstrong, who strongly believes that God calls Christians to participate in the whole political process including but not limited to registering, voting, sponsoring and supporting candidates of good standing, speaking and writing into the media on matters of community/national interest, holding elected officers accountable and if felt called, running for office. I think Armstrong’s suggestions are well worth our time and consideration.
Business people and Entrepreneurs, Academics and Researchers, Sports people and Showbiz folks and for want of a better word, the ordinary man is not only touched but I believe gripped by the decisions of the man entrusted with the reins of power. If this rider spurs our horse in the wrong direction or thoughtlessly whips our thoroughbred called a nation, then the outcome is better imagined than experienced – unfortunately, some are not given the option of imagination; it is their real, heartrending daily experience.
Given that there are options of better health services delivery as against sham services, reasonable taxation as against cut-throat duties and excise, freedom of expression as against gagged and suppressed media and citizens, fair and even distribution of developments as against selective and lop-sided agenda, shouldn’t we be concerned enough to make an active decision? Should we not be interested in politics, the process that would at least lend us some opportunity to make a choice? Should we be interested in politics? Or otherwise put, shouldn’t we?