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Thursday, July 7, 2022

The foot-soldier and politics in Ghana

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In recent months and weeks, the issue of foot-soldiers and their actions and inactions has dominated news stories in the Ghanaian electronics and print mediums. From the

look of things, the situation is going to persist since government for now seems to be short of actions to take for the calming of the nerves of these disgruntled young men and women. All they are doing is talking and not walking the talk. This piece will look at the actions of foot-soldiers in recent times and juxtapose it to the general political behaviours of our leaders.

Though the actions of these young Ghanaians (who are branded foot-soldiers by political parties because of their youthfulness and the role they are assigned by their parties) has assumed a prevalent and endemic proportion in recent times, it actually did not start just some months back, but years back. This is given weight by the explanations given by the NDC youth who decided to seize public toilets in Cape Coast in the early days of the new government. Their defense for that action was that, they were subjected to the same situation when the NPP government took over the reigns of government in 2000.

In the same vain, it should be made clear that the phenomenon is not limited to only one political party as some newspapers will want Ghanaians to believe. The situation in 2000 may not have been serious as it is today, but the fact still remains that it can happen to all political parties, depending on how those young politicians are oriented. You don’t expect a youth to put his life on the line with others for their party to come to power only to see the ‘others’ enjoying the fruits that they all laboured for. The Ghanaian of today is not that sacrificial because situations are too ‘hard’ to merit that sacrificial attitude.

Impunity and the foot-soldier

The culture of impunity has assumed a different dimension this time round. Aside the issues of people taking the laws of the land into their own hands and doing unlawful, immoral, and ungodly things in Bawku, Dagbon and other flash points, the youth has also taken up arms and are calling on the leaders to share to them their portion of the national cake.

Right as they may be in asking the government to do something about their plight, the problem however lies with the path they chose to send out their grievances. Seizing of public toilets, invading a political office and locking out the officers there, seizing of NHIS offices, threatening MCEs and DCEs out of their offices among others, is surely not an endorsed way of sending out grievances. If party faithful resort to these kinds of actions, what then becomes the use of political party offices with officials elected to man them? Why can’t these disgruntled youth send their grievances to their elected party officials for onward delivery to the government?

SACRIFICE

The Vice President, some few days ago lamented over the actions of the foot-soldiers of the ruling party. In his effort at condemning the unlawful actions of the foot-soldiers, he brought out the all important phenomenon of SACRIFICE. He tried very hard to relate the term to politics and how politicians of yesterday sacrificed for others to rule and how the situation has changed today.

According to the vice president, the foot-soldiers of yesterday sacrificed their efforts in all kinds to ensure that the party’s aspirations are met. This they did without asking for any reward back. The situation these days is different, as the youth want something back for the sacrifices they make for the party. My question to the vice president is that: were these foot-soldiers promised good life when they sacrifice their lives for the party or they were just told to sacrifice for others to improve on their living standards?

African Democracy and politics does not allow for the principle of sacrifice-for-no-reward to operate. It is in this light that I find it difficult to believe in any way that political party foot-foot soldiers in years past put their lives on the line, compromised the truth, and perpetuated lies (all in the name of defending the interest of the party), just for the sake of it. This only happens with civil society groups and other non-governmental bodies who fight for unacceptable policy changes as, for instance, was the case of Kume Preko in 1995.

The vice presidents was right by his condemnation of how the foot-soldiers chose to send out their grievances, and how they want to be given special treatment by government as against the generality of the Ghanaian youth. But the sacrifice issue is really a debatable one considering the fact that the foot-soldier is considered the pillar of a political party and who will only sacrifice for a course if he/she is promised something good in the end.

The Politician

The foot-soldier situation is also brought to fore the political culture that as a nation we have assumed for ourselves. It is an undeniable fact that the average Ghanaian is now enlightened when it comes to politics and governance, unlike the situation in the past when people voted for leaders to do whatever they want with the state. Ghanaians now take the politician for his words and demand for the fulfillment of promises by politicians.

In years past a politician made wild promises, knowing very well that when he comes to power he will not be able to fulfill them. They however, get away with those promises because the electorate did not see the politician as the solver of their problems then. This situation is different this time round. You make wild promises at your own risk. As obdurate as they can be, the Ghanaian politician has not still changed and is still playing on the intelligence of the Ghanaian electorate. The NPP flag bearer aspirants and some independent aspirants are going round making promises they cannot fulfill.

The electorate in Ghana today sees the wild-promising politician as a goldmine where he/she can exploit for his/her gain. This state of affair is also created by the fact that, a person who is known in society as a ‘nobody’ goes into politics and within some few months starts riding in Pajeros, saloon cars and living in mansions that he would have otherwise taken years to acquire. In other words the politician sees politics as goldmine and the electorates also see the politician as a ‘galamsey’ mine where they can get their share of the gold resource. Politics is now the easiest way to be rich and so a lot of Ghanaians are now in it to make wealth.

The funny thing however, is that some politicians have the guts to make statements to the effect that, going into politics have rather impoverished them. They claim politics has rather made them poor. Ironically, these same politicians do not want to leave politics for others to also ‘serve’ the nation as they claim is what they are in politics for-SERVE THE NATION. Well, isn’t that wonderful and aren’t we lucky to have such benevolent and charitable politicians in our mist, and yet Ghana is still far behind in development. Nothing also shows that there is even light inside the tunnel let alone for it to reflect at the end.

The politics of spending so much money on campaigns and taking back those monies when the party wins is trickled down to campus politics. The future leaders have emulated their elders and are exhibiting wealth and the use of money to influence votes on our university and polytechnic campuses. All you need in recent times is to be able to make unachievable promises (lies) and support it with cash and you have the position you are vying for. These student leaders after school will surely go into mainstream national politics and what happens next is a situation worse than what we see today. We are seeing signs already with some of the youth in national politics who were involved in student politics few years back. So far none of them to my estimation has been impressive or shown signs of different politicians who will uphold truth and morality no matter the situation.

I am a youth who wants a better future for all Ghanaians and that is why I wrote this piece. All I ask is for our politicians to change their ways for the better, and the future of Ghana will be a prosperous, harmonious, peaceful and a habitable place for generations of today and future ones.

Credit: Sagito Musah Issakah
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