As the 2016 elections draw closer, various entities have issued predictions and polls; some are reasonable, others are nothing more than wishful thinking.
This has been the trend since pollsters and political communication outfits realized polls and endorsements as means of keeping hopes high.
Our kind of democracy has proved that it has a mind of its own, but some ventriloquist elements still feel the need to hold themselves up as the oracles of electoral outcomes as far as this darned democracy is concerned. Interestingly, some of these people are chiefs and spiritual leaders.
The former are prohibited by the constitution while the latter are expected by society, to remain neutral, as arbiters of last resort but they too, have minds on their own.
Whatever informs the reckless departure from statesmanship is not particularly known. What is known, though, is that these endorsements lack the wand of influence that would change electoral outcomes.
It has been written in the history of election years that endorsements from musicians and movie stars on various campaign trails don’t necessarily influence the voting pattern of followers of those celebrities. The Ghanaian voter simply has expectations for political parties. They know what-time-it-is as they cast the ballot in the booth, and this year does not promise anything different.
In a country so polarized as heaven from hell, one wonders how much influence chiefs, pastors and Muslim clerics think they have on deciding who becomes the next president.
A few chiefs are doing their best in bringing development into their traditional areas through lobby activities and advocacy.
This notwithstanding, many chiefs contribute to the retrogression in their communities. For instance, it is known that many chiefs contribute to the depletion of land and water resources in communities through illegal mining activities, also called ‘galamsey’ in local parlance. The haphazard nature of ‘galamsey’ operations cause immeasurable harm to the people than it contributes to the local and national economy.
But some of these shameless chiefs who contribute to the destruction of community resources still have guts to be involved in notorious politicking, pointing the index finger at the politician not recognizing that the other fingers point at themselves. Discretion seems not to be part of their ‘oath of office’ and definitely, not a value they consider.
As election 2016 and its attendant drama unfold, some chiefs are making reckless pronouncements, endorsing politicians. Some are desperately installing candidates and their wives as development chiefs and these absurdities continue.
A chief gets a V8 vehicle or some cash depending on whether the candidate is incumbent or in opposition and forgets the plights of his subjects.
Needless to say, a chief receives cheers or insults from political activists and that depends on which political aisle is pampered. There is the disheartening allegation that chiefs who endorse opposition leaders do so not in the interest of the development of their community, but because the government of the day denies them the largesse that colleague chiefs receive. That perhaps, is why some go as far as asking their subjects to vote for their candidate of choice. Ridiculous!
Very recently was the questionable demand from the chiefs of Kumasi asking for the removal of the KMA boss, Osei Bonsu, because of a blunder he committed. What is baffling is that the constitution does not recognize chiefs in matters of political appointments. Interestingly, many of today’s chiefs are schooled in reputable institutions yet, fail to let their certificates add honour to their actions.
Religious leaders would also not allow the fray to pass them; they leap onto it with glee. Some of these clerics who teach spiritual wisdom now act like drunken men with unhinged tongues. Many of their election prophesies have failed in the past but they would not learn lessons. Rather, all they do is justify their prophetic failures.
I believe the politicians on whom they confer such prophesies do not even believe them anymore because, experience from previous elections has thought the politicians hard lessons. These clerics are harming themselves by trading integrity for needless attention.
Although I am not a member of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, I wonder how many Presbyterian pastors would endorse a second term bid (if need be) for Rev. Prof. Martey, taking into consideration his recent, irresponsible commentaries and the subsequent backlashes.
I do not know how I would fare if I were a chief or a clergyman but I believe chiefs and religious leaders should tread cautiously if they want to live above reproach.
By: Frederick K. Kofi Tse