THE ROLE OF THE INTELLECTUAL LEADERSHIP IN ENSURING PEACEFUL ELECTION 2012
THE ROLE OF THE INTELLECTUAL LEADERSHIP IN ENSURING PEACEFUL ELECTION 2012, DEMOCRACY, AND HUMAN RIGHTS.
Ghana has been known as one of the peaceful countries across the continent and above all the beacon of Africa cannot afford to compromise this hard earned reputation to power-drunk politicians who will like to use all means to assume power. As such, there is the need for steps to be put in place by political parties, interest groups and other relevant agencies, coupled with the Ghanaians’ lust for peace, which would guide the nation through another monumental history come December 7, 2012. Ghanaians need to also possess all the necessary ingredients for peace before, during and after the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections. The Ghanaian intellectual (Youth) is no exception from this role and therefore needs to put in our maximum best to safeguard the peaceful environment for posterity sake. This I hope needs to be done without any form of fear, tribal sentiment or partiality which will mar our hard earned reputation globally; for us not to be blamed by our posterity.
As we endeavour to redeem humanity from both physical woes such as poverty, unemployment, diseases, illiteracy and violence among others, and spiritual decay such as corruption, selfishness, greediness and all atrocious acts that spell doom for the soul, as youth and Africans, we need to ponder over the following questions: Is Africa an accursed continent and destined to suffer calamities? If not why are we experiencing so much insecurity on the continent? Are the enemies of Africa development within or without? What is the key to the promotion and achievement of peace on the continent?
Indeed, tremendous harm has been done to ordinary people and innocent communities across the continent including La CÔte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Guinea, Sudan, Somalia, Tunisia, Egypt, Rwanda, Nigeria and our beloved country Ghana, especially Bawku and its environs. Africa is the most conflict endemic continent in the world. Interestingly, Africa is relatively the most fortunate in terms of resources endowment and hold true for most African countries notwithstanding the global unevenly distributed nature of resources. The continent is blessed with gold; bauxite, uranium, diamond; oil; timber; cocoa; arable land; rivers/sea and able-men and women among others. The then AU Chairperson, the President of Malawi, President Bingu Mutharika during the 2010 annual conference of Africa Union held in Malawi did indicate that, ‘ Africa is not a poor continent but that it is the people of Africa that are poor’. He made this assertion on the premise that Africa has huge and unexploited wealth consisting of natural and mineral resources, wildlife, fish, lakes and huge arable land as well as large pool of labour could be drawn for rapid economic development (IPS News, March 31, 2010).
Paradoxically, Africa tops the poverty league with relatively large number of the population being unemployed. The root causes of insecurity in the continent must be identified and addressed. Rothman (1992) has pointed out that, when symptoms instead of causes are addressed, wounds are merely bandaged not healed and they may fester. The wounds of Africa should be healed.
The root cause of the woes of most African countries is attributed to bad leadership especially political leadership which manifests in political corruption or greediness. This invariably is closely linked to violence (insecurity), unemployment, human rights abuse, marginalization and poverty across the continent. Political power has become the surest way of amassing wealth by most African leaders and their cronies to the detriment of the masses and also an instrument of oppression of the citizenry. Political power has become a means to perpetuate ones stay in political office and immunity from prosecution. The outcome is that most African economies have become “minority haves” and majority “have not’s” bringing untold hardships to the people, resulting in popular demonstrations, deadly agitations and violence across the continent as witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, La CÔte d’ Ivoire and Guinea among others. Of course, Ghana is by no means an exception. The payment of huge sums of monies to individuals and collective groups by government officials for works not done as revealed by the Public Account Committee of Parliament depicts the social environment in which we live which calls for redemption.
Bad leadership has largely contributed to high unemployment and insecurity in the Africa continent. Unemployment with its allied poverty is slow but a decorative destroyer. The sporadic violence across the African continent in contemporary times is largely attributed to unemployment and poverty which deny individuals of their basic human needs including shelter, clothing food (BBC News, 2011; the Daily Sun, July 13, 2011). The Tunisia and the Egypt episodes of 2011, have demonstrated that, in a seemingly jobless and awful poverty condition, violence, an unacceptable phenomenon may be pursued as normal. After all, as the African adage says ‘A hungry person is an angry person’. Food, Clothing and shelter are survival needs and people are likely to pursue such ends regardless of the consequence if they are denied of such needs. As pointed out by Handy (1999), ‘if you are starving, your needs for esteem or status will be unimportant; only food matters’.
Most African countries over the years have not witnessed meaningful peace and development. Bad political leadership resulting in marginalization and exploitation has degenerated into violent confrontations and destruction in most African countries. The Rwanda genocide which has become a mockery of human history in supposedly civilized world could largely be understood on the basis of marginalization not withstanding other contributory factors. The question as to why and how it became possible for Hutus and Tutsis who seem to have so much in common and a binding identity, notably language and long standing intermarriage relationship to massacre themselves with impunity within a short period of time in 1994 (Hazoume,1999), remains a nightmare but not largely to explain. The perceived Tutsis dictatorship and the systematic discrimination against the Hutu majority, robbed the Hutus access to political power, land ownership and higher education which resulted in accumulation of ill feelings and anger.
Asante (2007) and others have pointed out that whether it is genocide , enslavement , abuse of women , or political corruption, Africans must be in the position to condemn human outrages that exist in the name of the people of Africa. It is true that no amount of explanations could justify such horrendous act. Yet the fact remains that any human social setting embedded with gloss cleavages of marginalization has the tendency to slip into momentary barbarism. If Karl Marx explanation of exploitation, alienation and revolution is anything to go by, then it could be said that, any social environment perceived to be imbued with gloss marginalization and inequality on the basis of racial, ethnic, religion, social class and geographical has the potency to explode into violence.
Africa is neither destined to suffer calamities nor having its enemies “without”. The seeds of insecurity are planted by Africans emanating from bad leadership. The food for thought is that as we approach the 2012 elections, we should not only yearn for peace but most importantly we should cultivate the seeds of peace. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, in a voice of America Radio Broadcast; ‘It isn’t enough to talk about peace; one must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it; one must work at it’. Good governance, visionary and selfless leadership is a key to Ghana’s peace as the country goes to the poll in December.
In our pluralistic society with different religious traditions, cultures and ethnic groups, it is only when we learn to live and tolerate divergent views; it is when we respect one another in our own peculiar circumstances, it is only when we eschew abusive and provocative words, it is only when we recognize that we are one people with one destiny, can we ensure a peaceful election and enjoy a peaceful co-existence .Marginalization and all forms of practices that discriminate against individuals and collective groups including : ethnocentrism and ethno-politics should be condemned in no certain terms.
The wake up call is that, as torch –bearers of peace, both within the church and the school setting, as well as the larger political context, we should play our watchdog role vigorously. We should praise, where praise is due and constructively criticize when criticism is due. We should demonstrate to the masses that we are intellectuals par excellence. Intellectual leadership requires that we should eschew all forms of behavior that have the potency to engender violence including destructive demonstration. Intellectual leadership enjoins us to avoid meaningless and endless debates, promiscuity, drunkenness, drug abuse and all shameful acts that bring the reputation of Christ into disrepute.
Intellectual leadership requires that as ambassadors of Christ, we should carry nothing but message of hope, unity, comfort, fraternity and salvation, before, during and after the 2012 elections. Intellectual leadership requires that we continuously dialogue with people with different religious traditions. Intellectual leadership requires that we disseminate timely information that will help empower and emancipate people from all forms of social injustice; including discrimination against women in particular. Intellectual leadership requires that we should be advocate for the voiceless in matters that affect their very well being. Intellectual leadership requires that we should play an instrumental role in the governance of the country. Intellectual leadership requires that we should sacrifice our time, our knowledge and our substance for the interest of others especially in the area of education and training. Above all, Intellectual leadership requires that as young warriors of Christ, our life-style should be Christ-like in thought, speech and action. By this Christ may be in all.
The crucial roles played by government machineries and constitutional institutions such as judiciary, security, and the Electoral Commission in ensuring peaceful elections cannot be underestimated. These institutions over the years have contributed their quota to safeguard the peaceful environment in our dear nation which has won for us a respected reputation as a beacon of Africa. Nevertheless, there is more room for improvement since they are still faced with lots of challenges.
The judiciary during this electioneering period should let justice prevail with all issues relating to electoral violence without delay to prevent all forms of acrimony from other parties. The Movement also supports the idea of having a separate court of jurisdiction to specifically deal with electoral violence. This Movement believes will help speed up proceedings to that effect. Transparency should be upheld by the judiciary in discharging their duties.
In regards to our respected security, since promotion of peace is their hallmark, we encourage them to be neutral in their dealings and exhibit professionalism and diplomacy. They should also make sure that enough security officers are deployed at all electoral stations to check violence. We deeply crave their indulgence to also tolerate all forms of constructive criticisms which is a sign of a growing democratic state.
The Electoral Commission which is at the center of affairs so far as the election is concerned is the body which with the little negligence can put the this country into jeopardy looking at previous occurrences .As such, nothing more is demanded from them except organizing free, fair ,transparent, and credible elections. They are to make sure all their undertakings favours all the political parties especially those in opposition. Their personnel’s nationwide should be given a especial re-orientation more importantly those in the strongholds of the various parties to prevent all forms of tribal sentiment in discharging their duties.
The government in power should prevent all forms of interference and allow all the constitutionally mandated institutions so far as the elections are concerned to exercise their duties accordingly. We also expect the government to caution all her functionaries to exercise constraints in their duties especially when they are on air.
The National Peace Council and the NCCE should join and empower all peace promoting stakeholders to campaign massively for peaceful elections 2012.We appealed for tolerance, mutual trust and respect despite the political, ethnic and religious diversity so that a united, peaceful and prosperous nation of which the future generations will be justifiably proud of, since we are one people with a common destiny.
Let us hold firm our faith in Christ, our master, great leader and saviour in our efforts to help redeem our country Ghana and humanity at large from both physical woes and spiritual decay. Let us remember that intellectual leadership has a great reward. Let us comfort ourselves with the assurance given by Paul. (I Cor 15:58), ‘Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoved, always abounding in the work of the Lord. For as much as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord’. Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that work in us, the only wise God should equip us all with the skills and knowledge necessary to undertake this all important duty as youth. Long live the church! Long Live mother Ghana! God bless us all.
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