We Need Politics Of Equal Opportunities, Not Stereotyping


There comes a time when men author their opinion, which is their veritable truth. Many have done so on political and economic issues pertaining to the development of Ghana in recent times. Truly, we can all express our opinions verbally or in writing and be protected by the freedom of speech and expression we enjoy as a democracy in as much as our utterances and write-ups are not intended to incite violence or amount to treasonable acts even if it make no policy and economic sense. And now I feel it is my turn to say something, centred on the stereotypes about the north, northerners and Ghanaians of northern heritage especially those in politics and government.

A long habit of not thinking that northerners and Ghanaians of northern origin are capable of ascending to high ranking government offices, gives it a false appearance of being true. This raises first the challenge for northerners to erase such doubts by educating the populace about our ethnic diversity in the north, that the term northerner is not an ethnicity just as the term southerner is not, and second to see the possibility of occupying higher positions and gaining a formidable place in our politics and government. Now some of you reading are saying to yourselves, what is he talking about, isn’t a northerner, John Dramani Mahama, the current president of Ghana? Exactly my point, but I have my explanation for you in later paragraphs to help dispel your stereotypes about Ghanaians of northern background in politics if you hold such stereotypes.

As reason often failed many Ghanaians of northern heritage to see this possibility of ascending to high political offices, changes and transformations we see in our time already made such reason closer home and won more Ghanaians as converts to the ideals of true democracy and representation. It is now up to northerners and people of northern origin as Ghanaians to see that democratic possibility and to rise beyond the limits imposed by our political stereotypes and of ourselves; to judge our competence not by where we come from or by the perceived political failures of some leaders of northern descent but by the expertise and contribution we can make as individuals and as Ghanaians to our political and economic development.

Why is it that our past and present leaders of Ghana have always talked about the slow development of the northern regions in comparison to its southern counterparts before elections and during campaigns but not after they have won power? When will our government and political leaders realize that the cause of the north is, to a greater extend the cause of Ghana? For if one part of Ghana is underdeveloped, all parts of Ghana is not developed. It is the government responsibility to make sure that all parts of Ghana received a fair share of economic development, significant enough to forestall violent aggressions among the youth who mostly have nothing to do, and generally make a positive difference in the lives of the citizenry.

Most Ghanaians know better how we can strengthen our democracy, and will stand together with Ghanaians of northern heritage to conscientiously denounce scores of people who are playing bitter and divisive politics of regional labelling and finger-pointing rather than advance policy arguments as the country’s current economic problems exacerbate. And I am not suggesting any excuse for our current president who happens to be a Ghanaian of northern descent. But isn’t the president a Ghanaian first before he is a northerner? And remember, the north alone doesn’t elect presidents, Ghana does. I am not against criticizing President John Dramani Mahama for our near economic meltdown because it is happening under his watch.

But don’t tell me we are having such economic problems because the leader of our nation happens to be a northerner or comes from the north! That is blatant ignorance and childish, unfounded and illogical assertions that cannot be substantiated with factual evidence. I find it very troubling for the future of a democratic Ghana, when high profile politicians and uniformed individuals and groups attribute our current economic struggles to regional and ethnic incompetence rather than policy decisions. In fact, where you come from and the ethnicity you belong to cannot by itself win elections in Ghana today.

In a true democracy, all we can do as individuals is speculate the competency or incompetency of a government. The true judge who renders the verdict of competence or incompetence of a governing body is the electorate who go to the polls and vote. In a true democracy, the people decide who leads the government. Yet, the same electorates can vote out the very government they voted into power if they perceived the government to have failed to meet their expectations. In a true democracy, every citizen who is capable of leading a party or government have the same equal opportunity to do so.

Clearly, why don’t the naysayers to northerners come to terms with the progress we have made as a nation in our time, that the slight majority of Ghanaians stand together against the long perpetual lies and stereotypes that people from the north and northern heritage for that matter are only fit for certain political offices but not others. And don’t go there again, our economy isn’t struggling merely because we elected a president who comes from the northern part of the country.

The sun never stopped rising from the east with its beautiful glows which illuminates our common national and developmental goals and require us to tap talent from anyone and everyone, and from anywhere in Ghana regardless of our ethnic and regional differences. For instance, rising political stars who happened to be Ghanaians of northern heritage have been deliberately sidelined and sabotaged in the past, in their own political parties and government.

And a review of such trends only lends credence to the recent rumors about strategic calls in some quarters of our nation’s political parties to curtail the rising status of some political figures of northern descent as they become obvious threats to the presidential ambitions of their southern counterparts within the same party. In fact, in a true democracy, whoever can possibly lead a party into power or is perceived to have such qualities to lead a party to victory must be given a chance to participate in the democratic process of both party and nation.

Obviously, no ethnicity and or regional background of any Ghanaian should be used as the primary yardstick to deny or automatically guarantee participation in the democratic process or be seen as the preserved for holding specific offices in government. Let such selections in our political processes be based on expertise, competence and merit regardless of regional and ethnic backgrounds.

Let us embrace the diversity of our ethnicities, and regionalism as a nation, which we have long misconstrued as our differences. Together let’s much forward for Ghana’s development and give every Ghanaian with sound political acumen the opportunity not to be swept into the dustbins of our nation’s politics and government anymore than the nation tapping into their expertise as formidable stakeholders in governing.

Source: Paddee A. Gomdah

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