As Ghana takes careful and anxious steps towards another very difficult election in its infantile democratic life, the cries and prayers for peaceful polls are resounding louder than ever. A lot of civil organizations and think-tanks are doing all within their means to help organize peaceful, free and fair elections. There is a public outcry against some political maneuvers that serve as threats to the peace of the state chief among them being political insults and intimidation which can degenerate into conflicts that might end up leaving an indelible blot on the peace map of Ghana. Efforts being made to ensure peaceful elections must be applauded in as much as activities that seek to undermine peaceful polls must be bemoaned and condemned outright irrespective.
A cursory look at the nature of our politics exposes a lot of inadequacies and dangerous practices that are detrimental to the development of Ghana. As frantic efforts are being made to ensure the nation comes out unscathed after the December polls, we need to take a holistic look at the root cause of the kind of politics that does not aid development and see the best prescriptions that can help minimize such diseased politics in the country.
Our tertiary institutions, being the highest repertoire of knowledge is arguably the grooming grounds for people who will take over the mantle of leadership in the very near future. Our universities and polytechnics have been major grounds for the grooming of politicians. So if there are problems with our politics, it is just prudent to take a look at how politics is handled over there.
Political activities actually rub shoulders with academic activities on our campuses. That points out how vibrant politics is in our tertiary institutions. The quest for power is just a little below what we witness in national elections. There are a number of positive sides to campus politics. However the negatives of campus politics are speedily relegating the positives into an unwanted corner.
Elections on our campuses today have been reduced to an activity of personality attacks instead of being issues-based. It is amazing how students go to the length of creating ridiculous stories to tarnish images of their political opponents. It is equally amazing how these same people find it a herculean task when asked to explain their own policies and why they want to be leaders.
Tribalism is yet another dangerous canker that is eating deep into the grooming grounds of our political leaders. Anyone who ever involved himself in campus politics will attest to this fact. It is so disheartening that institutions of higher learning who are supposed to know better are the worst culprits when it comes to the use of tribalism in politics. There have always been two sides to it. One said being people campaigning against a candidate just because he is from a particular tribe. Another facet is where candidates who think they come from minority tribes mischievously create their own propaganda to make it look as if they are being victimized. This is done just to gain sympathy votes. Which ever form it takes, it is in very bad taste.
Corruption and electoral malpractices just did not descend on the nation from outer space. They are very rife in our tertiary institutions. Issues of vote buying, rigging, bribing and many other malpractices including intimidation characterize elections. When one delves a bit deeper into students politics, these horrible revelations will not be taken with a pinch of salt.
The infiltration of partisan politics can not be excluded. General interest of students are easily traded for political party interest. It is therefore not surprising when politicians seek the interest of their parties even if that interest will be to the disadvantage of the country. This partisan interest has deeply taken root in the umbrella body of students unions in Ghana, where instead of fighting for the interest of the Ghanaian student, leadership waste their energies on unnecessary partisan political wrangles.
If the grooming grounds of our politicians are bedeviled with such negative attitudes of politics, one can easily draw a conclusion that our politics have very shaky and feeble foundations hence the anxiety created even during bye-elections.
The efforts being made by various bodies are very laudable. However if a builder keeps beautifying a house with shaky foundation, one day soon, the whole building will come crumbling down and the consequences would be very devastating.
What we need as a nation is rigorous education and attitudinal changes. Frantic educational campaigns even on our tertiary campuses on the dangers of tribalism is very much needed. Our tertiary institutions at this stage needs it as much as our unlettered folks. Sensitization on the possible outcomes of certain negative electoral practices should never cease on our campuses. However Education alone is not enough since education without attitudinal change is just like decorating an orangutan. If we really want to develop as a nation especially in this time when the golden sun of economic buoyancy is shining on the continent of Africa, then we need to make serious adjustments to our attitudes. We need to put up attitudes that will lubricate the wheels of development. We need to develop attitudes that will attract investors. Investors are also only interested in politically stable countries. Therefore our attitudes must be those that help build a strong foundation for our democracy. A misunderstanding of what politics is about is partly responsible for this. Since our tertiary institutions are the major grooming ground of our political leaders, the education and attitudinal changes must start right from there.
Politics is basically about the best ideas to help use limited resources to solve unlimited wants. If everyone should have this understanding, we would not go to the length we go that ends up putting the lives of the masses in danger. Our democracy is in danger because our foundation is shaky. Let us therefore go back and build a stronger foundation.