When one becomes the First Citizen of one’s country, i.e. Head of State, one is accorded numerous privileges which no other person can enjoy.
For instance, one is humbly “serviced” by public servants, some of whom might be more educated than oneself.
All manner of people stand up when one enters a room. These include people who might be one’s elders; one’s former teachers; or one’s seniors in a past job.
Even one’s own traditional rulers, or chiefs, stand up for one.
The respect which all these people accord a President springs from their recognition that if their country were to be attacked by another, it is the President who would organise the country’s self-defence and inspire the entire populace to resist foreign tyranny.
Yes, a President can order his fellow citizens to die for their country! And they will do so gladly, as their patriotic duty.
Now, giving one’s life to try and save one’s country is the most profound sacrifice a person can make. You see, each of us has only one life. We do not know its origin; physicists tell us weird tales about it being given to us, while billions of particle-composites, just like us, ended up as annihilated, in the process of formation. Yet, we gladly offer this unique gift of life to our country, at the word of one person: our head of state.
But “we don’t call you a chief for nothing” (says an aphorism played on our talking drums.) Yes, the drums do rain encomiums on our traditional rulers. But they never stop reminding them of their duty to their people,.
The drums tell the chiefs to behave with dignity: “A chief steps out with care and deliberation”, they say. And our customs ensure that a chief does not speak out of turn but must pass what he says through the lips of a professionally-trained spokesperson. This is done so that even if what the chief has to say is not pleasant to hear, at least the words that convey his message might not be too painful to the ears of a subject.
Above all, the chief is enjoined to defend his inherited land. The land bequeathed to him by his ancestors will necessarily contain rivers and forests that sustain life. The land would have been selected for its water, its animals and life-sustaining plants.
In some areas, parts of certain animals killed by hunters and trappers must be presented to the chief; as are certain precious mushrooms. The chief, though these acts, is reminded that he is first and foremost, a custodian who must preserve the natural endowments that made his ancestors choose their current habitat.
Unfortunately, we have adopted a foreign form of government that can alienate us from our rulers. We cannot bring our President into a public meeting to hear him and his “councillors” deliberate on matters of importance to us, or to settle our disputes.
Our President lives and works in an “aban” [fortified fortress] where he and his advisers take decisions in secret . Where, once, the citizenry took an active part in a public decision-making process, citizens are now expected to accept what has already been decided.
We have surrendered, through the assimilation of foreign norms, an active and organic participation in governance, and replaced it with an indirect consultation process, mediated through professional politicians. Some of these may render true service to their constituents. But others may see their interest as – remaining at post by all means.
An election campaign is good for wrenching masks away from the faces of the self-seekers amongst our politicians.
The electorate might be too equable to challenge the utterances of such politicians. But those who take it upon themselves to be “leaders of public opinion”, must sift through the promises of the politicians, and expose those that must not go unchallenged.
This is why I bring to your attention, a promise by Mr John Mahama, flag-bearer of the NDC, that he would grant an “amnesty” to people who have been convicted for polluting our waters and destroying our landscape, through galamsey.
Grant them an “amnesty”, Mr Mahama? The problem we face, as a nation that wishes to continue to exist as one, is not that too many people have been convicted in relation to galamsey but that too few of those caught doing galamsey have been taken to court and punished!
Onlyten percent, according to one estimate!
Of course, the Government of the day is not unaware that the galamsey issue can be unfairly exploited by its opponents/ And so, it has been treating galamseyers with kid gloves, in the opinion of many people. What one would have expected of an opposition with the public interest at heart, is to back stronger measures against galamseyers, so that we don’t end up in a country where everyone has to buy sachet water to drink, or even to cook and wash with, and finally import water from abroad!
But in the face of such abominable possibilities, what do we hear? Out comes Mr John Mahama with the following:
QUOTE: “The flag-bearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John DramaniMahama says he will grant amnesty to all arrested galamsey operators if voted into office come December 7 polls.
“John Mahama disclosed this at a durbar of chiefs and people at Odum-Banso in the Western Region…. Addressing the Chiefs and people of the community, he stated that his administration will give these offenders a second chance to better their lives.
“When we come into power, I will grant amnesty to everyone who was arrested for operating in Galamsey. I believe that these operators are remorseful towards any unlawful activities, so we will give them another chance.” UNQUOTE
I am sorry, Mr Mahama, but this is a disgraceful example of pandering to the criminal propensities of a part of our populace that seeks to destroy our water-bodies and natural habitat. Instead of giving them hope that the NDC would, if elected, exonerate them from their diabolical crime of destroying our inherited water-bodies, you ought, Mr Mahama,to put your weight behind the uninhibitedimplementation of the new legislation the Government has passed, which seeks to increase the punishment for those caught doing galamsey.
Ghana has given you much, Mr Mahama, and you must reciprocate the respect and deference shown to you by your fellow citizens when you were head of state.
Anything else will be a demonstration of ingratitude; an unpatriotic attitude that will arouse the indignation of all those who want Ghana to nurture healthy generations in the future.
By CAMERON DUODURead Full Story