When Trivia Thrives Over Issues: The Ghanaian Politics Case

Last week December 7, the people of my country – Ghana balloted to elect a new leader. Being a young fella this is going to the first election since I began to make sense of policies and certain issues of governance, so I observed keenly. They say my country is the beacon of hope for African democracy and to some extent they are right, but that’s because the standard they’ve set for Africa is too low. The December seventh election was an eye opener.

Trivia politics is the kind of politics that thrives in my country. For instance promising to build a factory in each of the 216 districts in the country without telling what and how it will be done. Promising to give each of the 275 constituency a million dollars, the form this fund will take? We weren’t told. Those were some of the promises made by the opposition leader who is now the president elect.

A polling station. Accra,Ghana
A polling station. Accra,Ghana

The incumbent who will soon be ex president characterised his regime with corruption and mismanagement. Invested so much in infrastructure – which were misplaced in some cases and did too little to improve the nation’s economy, create jobs and better the lives of the people he governed. This led to hike in prices and left a lot of mouths hungry so when someone come promising food, they need not ask how it would be cooked to accept.

Majority of the people who form the electoral college in my country have little education –sometimes none. Also, because of the colonial system which establishes the education system that we have does’t make it any better – they needed some guidance. This is where our elites and the media failed them.

In the midst of the trivia there was a third force who talked about real issues, practical ways that the public and private sector can partner to bring growth in areas of agriculture and manufacturing. Practical ways to cut government expenditure by reducing ministerial positions and striking out some miscellaneous in governance – was it just a political talk? We don’t know but at least, he brought real issues to the table. And he has an impressive business record and a political experience.

Voters waiting to cast their ballot. Accra,Ghana.
Voters waiting to cast their ballot. Accra,Ghana.

The media and our elites slept on these policies, failed to compare and contrast them with what the big two were preaching and allowed them to use gimmicks, religion and tribalism to appeal to the emission of the people thus winning their votes. They slept on the fact that the two leaders refused to grant interviews to the media and attend presidential debates to put their policies and promises to test like the others.

The media’s role in governance is very vital, but unfortunate the media is my country is more for the powerful than the people. They’ll rather be a mouth piece for political leaders than watch dogs. And the under skilled nature of our journalists also isn’t helping, this reflected greatly in the coverage of our elections.

Most of the correspondents from the various news media were terrible and our institutions training them have to quadruple the work they are doing. In a society where our education system isn’t helping much, the few enlightened must use the media to enlighten the masses. That’s the only way we can have a functioning society which can elect leaders based on issues and hold them accountable as well.

Because the two major political parties align themselves with gangs that cause trouble, some poling stations are heavily guarded.
Because the two major political parties align themselves with gangs that cause trouble, some poling stations are heavily guarded.

To the third force and those who wish to try out a real change in our politics, the work must begin now. You don’t have to wait for a campaign season to start informing the people on issues, start now. You must help the people hold the government accountable and explain the consequences of their actions and policies in a manner which they can understand. Don’t wait till after elections then say “Oh, I thought he will be a force” “I wish he got the chance”.

The media, please, please and please, you have a lot of power and you must use it to enlighten our people. Instead of wasting airtime on unethical, bias and arrogant party spoke persons, do some research on your own, involve outspoken resource people, grow some balls and be creative with your reportage to make better understanding.

Our elections also got the hands of too many foreign stake holders involved. After 59 years of independence and our status as a ‘’beacon of hope’’, an election is something we should be able to conduct without seeking validation and funds from external sources.

As much as I literary have no hope in the president elect, it is my wish he puts me to shame and work better than his predecessor to bring real change in the lives of my people. I hope he doesn’t sell us out to multinational corporations and swallow every bitter pill prescribed by the international community who seems to have thrown a lot of weight around his victory.

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