Tuesday, September 16, 2014

As the Christian Council touches raw nerves…

Monday, September 15, 2014
Folks, the politics of attrition is in full gear. Critics of the Mahama-led administration are relentlessly chastising it for various reasons while the government itself continues to insist that it is on course, in total control of the situation, and is doing all it can to solve national problems, especially the depreciation of the Cedi. True, the Cedi seems to be gaining some strength these days, even if marginally, and the government is pursuing its development project agenda and promising to complete all abandoned projects for the people to have their money’s worth. To the government, then, there is no cause for alarm. Its critics think otherwise and hear nothing but the alarm bells tolling about a bleak future for the country.
The battle lines are clear: those opposed to the government won’t change their minds no matter what happens; and the government isn’t prepared to bow to the pressure that they are mounting on it (whether through street demonstrations, unsavoury public utterances, or threats against its electoral chances). These critics think that the government has failed and are poised to ratchet up their criticisms and predictions of doom and gloom for it (and the country). The latest to toe this line is the Christian Council of Ghana, which has ruffled feathers. In a communiqué that it issued after a meeting on Sunday, the Council alarmed the government with its claim that “majority of Ghanaians have lost confidence in President John Mahama and his government”.

The Council said the citizens have grown tired of the numerous unfulfilled promises of the National Democratic Congress government and that is manifesting in the alarming rate of demonstrations, labour agitations and suicide in some churches.
It advised the government to sit up because the economy is worsening and living conditions have become unbearable. The communiqué (signed by the General Secretary Rev. Dr. Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong) also called on the government to honour its obligations of paying statutory funds on time, adding that the non-payment of funds for the National Health Insurance Authority, Ghana Education Trust Fund, and educational institutions, among others, is making life very uncomfortable for most Ghanaians. It advised the government to honour these payment obligations so as not to destabilize the system. (See: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=325806)
MY COMMENTS
Certainly, the Christian Council has indicted the government at several levels, creating the impression that it is in bed with the bitter opponents of the government whose daily insinuations resonate with the Council’s own perspective, especially on the factors motivating labour agitations and “suicide in some churches”.
No wonder, then, that it will be taken to task. George Loh (a member of the government’s Communication Team and MP for North Dayi) has been quick to describe the assertions of the Council as “unfortunate and surprising”.

Speaking to STARR NEWS, Loh raised intriguing questions:  “What are the statistics? What has the Christian Council done? Have they conducted a poll to be able to tell us that in the beginning, the President had this percentage of Ghanaians reposing confidence in him and that as of the time they issued the statement the number had dipped?” He added that the issues cited by the Christian Council have existed during previous regimes and therefore finds it a bit “worrying” for the Council to rate the President on such issues. (See: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=325900)
I see sense in Mr. Loh’s concerns and reiterate them as such. How did the Council come to the conclusion regarding “the majority of Ghanaians”? Did it do any opinion poll to determine that “majority” or is its assessment based on assumptions and personal opinions? That’s the rub. For the Council’s claim to be respected, it must be based on provable evidence. The Council needs to do more than pandering to the woeful political posturing of the bitter opponents of the government. It must steer clear of this line of thinking and talking. It is easy to say “the majority of Ghanaians” but difficult to prove with evidence; and the Council should err on the side of reason and commonsense, not political posturing.
Considering the parameters already set by critics of the government for their political manouevres, it is obvious that comments of the sort coming from the Christian Council—a known critic of governments formed by the NDC—will irritate instead of motivate the authorities to “walk the talk”. Had the Council not already been known for its anti-NDC politics, its comments might come across differently. The fact that members of the clergy have of late made public utterances to undermine the government is enough affirmation for the impression created that they are wont to see nothing good about the government to commend; instead, they will sing the song of the partisan political rivals that the government has lost the confidence of the “majority” of Ghanaians. This line of action feeds the public discourse that detracts from the government’s worth; and it won’t be tolerated.
While those members of the clergy are busily picking on the government for open verbal attacks, they come across as bed-fellows of the politicians doing same. Take, for instance, the utterances of the Methodist Bishop of Obuasi (Bosomtwe) and you can’t fail to make connections between the kind of politics that he is doing to sustain the NPP’s rogue politics and anything genuine for the good of the country.
Criticizing the government cannot be stopped; but if those in the clergy really want to be taken seriously, they should know how not to use their criticism to boost the anti-Mahama politics going on. After all, the clergy are expected to be “watchdogs” for the good of society, not any particular political camp. As soon as they join arms with a particular political camp in their attacks on the government, they lose credibility and value. That is where the Christian Council seems to be heading and which is why the government won’t agree with it on the issues contained in its communique. It needs pointing out that there are bad nuts in the Council itself and that church reform can help improve lives.
I suppose that the Council’s communique might be well-intentioned to step on the government’s toes and prompt it to action and that the government should accept the criticism in good faith; but if the Council is positioned as politically motivated, then, a different picture emerges. If both the government and the Council exist to seek the welfare of Ghanaians, then, they must work toward creating a climate of trust and credibility. That is where good reason and commitment must come in. Can the government take into confidence the Council and level with it regarding its national development agenda so those not informed about issues can be “educated” and helped to see things differently?
In a democracy that is designed to succeed, no one seeks to hide anything from anybody, especially when it comes to governance and the expenditure of public funds. Not so in our kind of democracy. If the government levels with Ghanaians, they should see things clearly and sympathize with it as it struggles to solve problems. But for as long as people are kept in the dark, they will have no other option but to blame the government and wish it ill instead of identifying with it. The Christian Council may be harsh in its criticism, but it seems to be giving the government a heads-up prompt for it to act more decisively in solving problems so it can remain viable. The criticism may not necessarily be motivated by political mischief or be the product of manipulation by the bitter opponents of the government. It is timely and must be accepted as a challenge for the redoubling of efforts.  
I shall return…
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