columnBy Anthony Kwaku Amoah
"The biggest threat to democracy is the 'Monetisation of the Electoral Process'. Mr. Chairman, the practice of using money and other resources to entice voters are worst forms of threat to the social and economic development of Ghana." -Jerry John Rawlings, at the Freedom Power Lectures, on 0ctober 29, 2012.
I cannot agree more with former President Rawlings when he again says: "...corruption is and has caused a lot of harm to our institutional framework to the point that our political process has been so monetised that people see election periods as harvest season or cocoa season as some call it."
He also observes: "Right from constituency primaries for party executives to regional and national executives and even the election of presidential candidates, huge monetary and material inducement of offensive proportions are employed to sway elections in favour of the highest bidder."
Ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor is on record to have alleged that the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) is just dishing out money and resources to electorate in order to retain power.
Recently, Chief Justice Theodora Georgina Wood has also called for a stop to the infusion of money into politics and advised politicians to ensure that every citizen's vote "is a clean vote cast in good conscience and not affected by any improper considerations."
She urges, "The youth must constructively challenge the leadership of political parties and governance institutions to perform better. We must assist in the creation of a democratic society of integrity by being courageous and sincere in our criticisms of those we have reason to believe are corrupt."
An article in The Chronicle of Tuesday, November 6, 2012 (p.14) titled, "Money swine! NDC plotting to buy the vote" by Ebo Quansah in Accra did claim that the ruling NDC is giving out classy vehicles to some chiefs and party activists in parts of the Central Region.
Others also say they have evidence of how executives of the Tertiary Educational Institutions Network (TEIN) of the NDC are given posh cars as motivation for them to 'die hard' for the party to hold onto power.
Few days to elections, government has given luxurious cars to the National House of Chiefs to enhance their operations. As to what exactly calls for this move at this crucial period of electioneering still remains a matter for deeper appreciation.
DCEs, MPs, government and party officials are being accused of corrupting imams, opinion leaders, women, youth and even school kids old enough to vote with pieces of cloth, cement, roofing sheets, bicycles, motorcycles, cars and money. National Health Insurance policies are also being purchased for the aged.
Observations are that this behavior is rampant at areas with swing-voting patterns, of which incumbent MPs entertain fears of defeat. Youth in such areas are being promised heavily, including being assisted to enter the Army, Police, Immigration, CEPS and Fire services.
Residents of the new Akatsi North Constituency of the Volta Region wake up daily with new, refined promises from candidates and supporters of the NDC, NPP and CPP, all in attempt to win the mandate of the people. In fact, the race is getting very competitive and interesting!
As the NPP promises free SHS, among other things, the ruling NDC preaches its chapter two of the 'Better Ghana' agenda, with emphasis on widening access to senior high schools and colleges of education as concerted efforts are also made to soil the attractive free SHS package.
Indigenes are glad for the opportunity to have their own MP, DCE and other leaders. But the question is if proper steps are being taken to get the right ones.
The serving NDC is enjoying more privileges than any other party one can think of. Funds are being used dizzily to market the party through the display of quality gears and billboards.
As brand new motorcycles have been allegedly distributed to some youth in town, Okada boys are also supplied with fuel on a daily basis for effective campaigns.
It is criminal for parties or candidates to distribute gears to activists for use but it has to do with prevailing economic conditions as against the nature of gears given to just a few persons, usually for free.
It is just annoying to see some beneficiaries of these gifts mock others who have not been privileged to receive anything at all. Should power be given on the basis of who spends more resources on us today? Let's identify and vote competent parties and persons with good ideas and policies.
Looking at how stylish our leaders and their relations spend, it is hard to appreciate that Ghana has not got the wherewithal to implement and sustain Nana's free SHS policy.