Photo credit: Media Foundation for West Africa

Last week I watched two contrasting videos shared on social media, which have prompted me to feature their content on this column. The first video depicted, the chairman of the Church of Pentecost, Apostle Eric Nyamekye giving an insightful sermon on the qualities of leadership at a forum organized by the leadership of Parliament.

The second contained ace comedian Akwasi Boadi Akrobeto in a satirical video that featured the various spokesmen and women of opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) struggling to rationalize and explain the “24-hour economy” campaign policy.

I am not sure if Apostle Nyame’s video is a recent one; nevertheless, its content is timely and relevant in this election year when vote buying and political double -speak will dominate political discourse. In attendance were the Vice President and presidential candidate of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the Speaker of Parliament Alban Sumana Bagbin.

Redefining democracy

In his speech on leadership, Apostle Nyamekye advocated for a reconceptualization of democracy to embrace our indigenous systems, as it is obvious that the current western practice of democracy is not yielding the desired results for Ghana. “If we think we cannot practice the American type of democracy we must stop it and design something that will be meaningful to us”, he stated in the video. Apostle Nyamekye is probably advocating a colonization and dewesternisation of our governance systems and consider introducing indigenous knowledge systems into our politics.

In classical western literature, democracy is supposedly the rule of the people, but this has hardly been the case. In that regard, democratisation has been defined “as political change of moving from less accountable to more accountable, from less competition to fairer competition, from severely restricted to better protected civil and political rights”. This means that a truly democratic country prioritises the needs of the people above the egos of politicians, as Apostle Nyamekye is advocating. However, in Ghana and Africa, this is rarely the case. Regular elections have never been synonymous with democracy, fairness and justice. Too often, elections have failed to yield democratic outcomes because they lack competitiveness and inclusiveness.

Monetization of democracy

According to Apostle Nyamekye the monetization of democracy is too dangerous because Members of Parliament are making democracy too expensive. He stated that if the current trend of offering cash for votes is not discouraged in future Ghana will struggle for good leaders. This is because those without money but have good leadership qualities can never aspire to compete for political office.

He further noted that the current if trend of vote buying continues, people will occupy leadership positions, solely based on their ability to buy votes and not their zeal to serve the country unconditionally.  Democratization must therefore involve action, choices and initiatives of persons or groups working to change the structure of society for good, as Apostle Nyamekye and others are advocating. A vibrant civil society, including religious organisations can therefore make the difference, where the state and its institutions are failing to live up to deliver its social contact.

Bleak future

“It is dangerous, I am even afraid of the future. How can you deceive people with cutlasses. I pray that God will save this land because, the people are poor and instead of investing in them, you deceive them with cutlasses and lanterns”, he lamented. “When you do this, one day you are no longer of the constituency, no one will notice you”, he added.

He admonished all people aspiring to be leaders to critically examine the causes they live for, adding that all Ghanaians who desire to have good names should live for good causes by serving humanity. “Why are you in politics, why are you a pastor, why are you a lawyer, why are you a chief, what is your motivation to assume leadership roles; Is it for money, power of fame”, he asked.

In the video the “24-hour economy”, Akrobeto and his content producers took the pain to collate the various interpretations given to the 24-hour economy perhaps, to alert Ghanaians about the vagueness and inherent inconsistencies in the explanation of the NDC’s campaign message. In an introduction to the video, NDC’s information officer, Sammy Gyamfi described the various interpretations of “24-hour economy attributed to some spoke persons of the party as fake.

The first to explain the 24-hour economy on TV3’s “Hot Issues” was the MP for North Tongu, Okudzeto Ablakwa. According to him the concept entails the provision of infrastructure across the country, such as airports in each of the 16 regions of Ghana. It also entails the provision of farm banks to enable farmers to undertake various farming activities for 24 hours a day.

The next speaker was Felix Ofuso Kwakye, a presidential staffer of former president John Dramani Mahama and presidential candidate of the NDC. Felix stated that a future NDC government will stimulate demand for “waakye” , (a favourite  food of many Ghanaians). The high demand will necessitate waakye sellers to work for 24 hours.

The third speaker, whose face I was not sure of put on a brave face in a desperate attempt to ratinoalise 24-hour economy. Also on a TV political discussion programme, he argued that a JDM-led government will bear the cost of providing security for banks, pharmacies, fuel stations and other businesses to operate 24 hours at a cost to the taxpayer. When the host of the programme pushed him to provide further information on the security  he, replied, ‘what are the police there for, the state will take that responsibility.”

Torrid time

Taking her turn, Nana Oye, the former Minister Children, Gender and Social Protection had a torrid time trying to justify 24 -hour economy. Nevertheless, she stated that a future NDC government will identify people who need resources, technical knowledge and security to operate their businesses. According to her government identify companies operating in the free zones and help them to retool and build their capacity to operate 24 hours. On the issue of labour, Nana Oye explained that a policy and legal framework will help to realign how people work will work for 24-hours a day. She explained that instead of working from 9-5pm there will be a shift system to promote 24-hour economy. “This shift system will generate more employment, more resources, revenue and a big market for export”, she said.

Foot soldier 

Another person on the video called Iddi Tabora, an NDC foot soldier made an entire mockery of what could become a major policy direction should NDC win power December 7, 2024. In his view, once workers of both private and public entities run shifts, that translates to 24-hour. Perhaps, Iddi Tabora can be pardoned for making a complete mess of the campaign message of NDC, but when the whole chairman of the NDC, Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketia sounded unconvincing about what his party’s campaign policy has in store for Ghana; it gave cause for worry about the future of our economy.

Asiedu Nketia unconvincingly argued that his government will reduce the cost of electricity for hairdressers, welders, mechanics, bakers and other businesses to enable them to work in the night. In Asiedu Nketia’s logic electricity becomes cheaper when businesses operate in the night. Practically, there is usually huge demand for power in the nights, so it does not make sense for anyone to think of reducing the cost of electricity in the nights as a policy. This smacks of political double-speak.

In another discussion on Asempa FM’s political programme, a female representative of the NDC switched into a defensive gear when the female host pushed her to wall. Out of desperation, she proclaimed, “anyone who does not understand the 24-hour economy is mentally unsound.”  On that rude note Akrobeto signed off, in his usual style “viewers this is where we end the show.” In fact, Akrobeto is fast establishing himself as a comedian, who uses satires and parody promote political communication, to entertain and educate Ghanaians through social media. Anyone who watches Akrobeto’s compilation will be compelled to read between the lines.

One thing that is clear from the 24-hour political discourse is that the NDC as at now has no credible campaign message. The manner they are struggling to rationalize suggests that currently they are offering very little, if any policy alternatives. Perhaps, the lack of trust and sincerity in our political discourse is what Apostle Nyamekye alluded to as “deceiving people with cutlasses and lanterns, instead of investing in them.”

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