NO ATHEIST IN PIGEON HOLES.

Originally Published, December 6, 2012
                                                    
As we brace ourselves for “sovereign election” on 7th December, 2012, the posture of our politicians are now overly appealing  to our religious sentiments as they attempt to play the “faith card”.
An atheist is a person who does not recognize the existence of God, let alone accept God’s role in the universe. Their main stay has been to vigorously smear God and vehemently deny his role as a God who makes interventions in human affairs. 
But it is interesting what we observe about humans who are about to suffer calamity. There is a frantic instinctive effort to reach out to a higher external transcendent force to come to their aid. When that situation arises that innate urge is given expression and you hear people shout Jesus!, my God!, or whatever their inner self believes in. 
I am not the least suggesting that any of our political activist is a an atheist, but it amuses me how political parties in Ghana have now been forced out of their pigeon holes onto new frontiers where they hope to play the “God factor”. 
When the late Atta-Mills trumpeted his faith in God, he remained conscripted in the pigeon hole of his faith as a Christian, without being conflicted in the roles that came his way through divine providence.  

In other words,  Atta-Mills, whether as a tax-man, a lecturer, a sportsman; Vice President or President, it was about what his faith in God had produced in him.  He was not a politician trying to woo the nation through his Christian faith, but rather a Christian serving in a public office.  
This point has to be made clear in order to erase any presumptions and to scrape off the opportunity of attempting to equate “faith in God” with visionary leadership in governance, which the country so desperately needs today. 
And that brings us to the question: what are Ghanaians looking for in their leaders and government as we head for the polls in December?
Visionary Leadership
Since 1980, this country has had crisis managers as leaders. To be fair to them, whether it is Jerry John Rawlings or John Agyekum- Kuffour, or John Evans Atta-Mills, these leaders emerged at the time when the nation was submerged in very formidable economic challenges which made long-term planning not a very pleasant risk to embark upon. However with the skill of civil engineers rebuilding from the ruins of war, they did their best to reposition the Ghanaian economy for a smooth take off.
 Rawlings and his economic team, from 1980 to 1990 embarked on a series of democratization reforms which yielded positive results  that made the world  look at Ghana’s success story as a working literature for other struggling economies. 
Then entered J.A. Kufour and his economic team who made significant social interventions like public transportation, the school feeding program, and  the national health insurance that brought  relieve to the ordinary Ghanaian.
The historic single digit inflation recorded under the Mills led administration, together with the building of educational and medical infrastructure is not just commendable but should be a spring-board for the next president to do better.
It is fair therefore, to pass these honourable public servants and commend them for successfully wagging us through those difficult times. 

However, with the turn of events including a growing democratic dispensation; the economic stability and the extra income from the oil and gas resources together constitute a game changer for the kind of leadership required to move the nation forward.  
Regrettably, what stands out in our politics is just the increase in the pitch in the barking of the “hounds”, which seem to suggest that we don’t have a blueprint to move this country forward. 
 The tenor of the yapping among politicians seem to suggest  a yearning to  preside over the nation’s wealth and sovereignty for their parochial interests.   
  Accusations and counter accusation over the issue of corruption by functionaries of  Npp and Ndc, who have ruled us for the past twenty years, makes it difficult to choose between the “sordid”  reputations of these parties. 
And with the oil revenues increasing by day, and the potential growth in the drug trade, the salivating greed of some politicians is on fever pitch.

WHAT ARE WE VOTING FOR?
Why should people vote come December 2012?  What is at stake?  Even though most Ghanaians are religious, we will not head for the polls with the estimation that the “faith” of the candidate is what gives good and competent governance.
What we seek as a people, is a leadership that is able to dream up a good future for the nation and to share that vision in a simple intelligible manner. 
Increasingly, Ghanaians are beginning to realize that what brings a nation enduring wealth and ensures prosperity for the broad mass of the population is not the short-term, populist interventions that seems to be the top sell of the current generation of politicians. 
Ghanaians are increasingly looking for a long-term vision that is able to motivate and stimulate growth in a greater sector of the national economy; with a clearly defined un-cluttered road map in all sectors where they can make their pitch and engage in. 
The Gulf States are dreaming up futures that are least dependent on oil revenues, and passionately re-engineering their economies towards that end. A daunting challenge by our standards; but that is what dreams and visions are meant to be. 

Their decisions  to re-engineer their economies are weighted by their strategic contributions to the re-designing and refitting of the society for a future that all citizens of the nation can imagine and are therefore, looking forward to. 
What is the Better Ghana Agenda about?  Where is free SHS leading us to? What is this New Ghana thing about? What is the driving force behind all these? What nation do we want to build? One of excellence or mediocrity?
Are we hoping to build a nation of few oil oligarchs with the rest of us living in abject poverty as their serfs?  Or, all we wish to do is to produce a literate country with most of its citizens striving to work in offices or trading in cheap foreign made goods? 
 We needn’t remind  our flag bearers that when they travel abroad, the life-styles they experience had been imagined and conceptualized several decades ago with the support of extensive research; and built with ardent discipline according to well thought out development plans, with nothing taken for granted. Ghana stands at the brink of a new  era that calls for rethinking and visionary leadership.
Participation of the people in the National Economy
When Ghanaians go to the polls, our greatest aspirations will be about having opportunities to implement our economic initiatives; improve upon our economic fortunes and thereby improve our standards of living. This is not a privilege extended to the people by a government. It is an alienable sovereign right. 
 Governments should institute programs and policies to boost enabling conditions for the citizens/residents- to actively participate in the economy in order to improve their living standards. 
Less than 1% of voters will ever receive any direct largesse from government for any reason at all, what ordinary folks look for is unencumbered space within the national economy where they can earnestly and honestly create a living for themselves. 

In an era of globalization the quality of training and education offered in the building of the human capital of a country is very crucial. The burgeoning economies of the ASEAN countries could be directly attributed to the quality of human capital and their ability to add value to commodities at relatively lower costs.  On the contrary, our system is designed to produce docile persons who are conscripted to think within the box and not outside the box.
One of the indices informing the prediction that China may become the world’s leading economy within the next half century, is predicated on the number of high-end students Chinese Universities are graduating in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), who are expected to increase research and development in all sectors of national life to propel the country towards a clearly defined position of world leadership.   In our case, the rancor over our schools are never about producing high-end students to drive innovations in science and technology in the country. We are still arguing how to fix basic education all this while. 
The next President should be  capable of projecting a niche within the comity of nations and  lead the nation to achieve it, with government demonstrating a direct link between higher learning and the national aspiration of accelerated development.  

 Security 
To the average Ghanaian, God’s insignia blessing for the nation is peace and security. If political parties are treading out of their pigeon holes to trade in evangelical clichés, then they must put a halt to their efforts to set the nation up for a conflagration.
Some of our politicians talk as if going through violence and mayhem is a desirable fad, which must be fostered on us at all cost.  If our politicians are on one hand preaching “faith in God” and at the same time plotting the weakening of the State, then I advise that they abandon both.

 Conclusion 
 Ghanaians are religious and admire leaders who express faith in God, however the duties of the high office of President  and political leadership should not be offered just on the premise of admiration. 
It is too presumptive on the part of politicians to think that shouting religious slogans will squelch our demand for the right caliber of leadership.  Keep  the faith but in addition offer me Visionary leadership. 

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