After few a year and few months in office, President Akufo-Addo has dangerously demonstrated autocratic, if not tyrannical tendencies. Political scientists say- “Most of power of authoritarianism is freely given”. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what this repressive government will want, and then offer themselves without asking. Snyder, says, “A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do”. He calls this behaviour “anticipatory obedience” and in the past few months many of us including the so called neutrals, pastors, civil society organisations etc have exhibited this behaviour by willingly and easily conceding power to the government time and time again, in the name of it so called war on corruption. Our institutions of state including the police service, the BNI etc are there to defend and protect the rights and welfare of the citizenry, but often we forget that they need defending themselves. History shows that tyrannical rule comes on the heels of the deaths of democratic institutions. These days, the media are being manipulated, heads of our security agencies are being threatened with dismissals, Chief Justice threatened with impeachment, heads of public institutions being threatened with transfers and removal. Institutions for not protect themselves. They fall one after the other and that is what we witnessing under this government.
The tyrant seeks legitimacy and he does this through an ideology that he peddles to the mob, whether it’s the superiority of whatever or “Ghana beyond aid”. The President sells this mythic vision through a propaganda war, it behooves progressives to challenge this tyrant and liar by a constant and dogged search for the truth. It is said that if there is one thing the tyrant is deathly afraid of, it is facts (truth). It is ones ability to discern facts that makes him or a her an individual. The individual who investigates is also the citizen who builds. Let me dwell on “the politics of the everyday” to explain ways people succumb to or fend off the encroachment of tyranny. Much of the initial power granted to non-democratic leaders is given freely, via heedless acts of conformity, long before popular docility is requested or required. Hitler, threatened to invade Austria, regular Austrians citizens looked on, or joined in, as local Nazis detained Austrian Jews or stole their property. “Anticipatory obedience is a political tragedy”.
The early days of Nana Akufo-Addo Presidency have seen many acts of impunity and corruption. Our pastors, intellectuals etc look on whilst the administration penetrate such acts of impunity. What these groups and individuals should know is that- civil servants as well as doctors, lawyers, the Clergy, bear special responsibility when individual freedom are at risk. It is hard to subvert a rule of law state without lawyers, or to hold show trials without judges. Professional associations, the Clergy, with their codes of ethics, best practices and collective voices, can command attention, creating forms of ethical conversation that are impossible between a lonely individual and a distant government. Ghanaians have just been advised to watch politicians and leaders who use slogans to deceive the masses. Akufo-Addo and his team used patriotic expressions and the mindless repetition of political catchphrases, whether in the news media or on their campaign platforms “Change” “one district one factory” “The money is here” “no more borrowing” etc. The agenda was that “When they repeat the same word and phrases that appeared in the daily media etc, Ghanaians will accept the absence of a larger framework, and permit a narrowing of vocabulary and thought that only empowers the deceiver. Truth began to fade but we must be mindful of the divine fact that elevation of mythology over truth has consequences. The danger Ghanaians are facing today is- under this same administration, is the passage from politics of inevitability to the politics of eternity, from a naive and flawed sort of democratic Republic to a confused and cynical sort of fascist oligarchy. The path of least resistance leads directly from inevitability to eternity.
INSIDE HIS OWN PARTY
The early cautions that Akufo-Addo could become a dictator, a tyrant and a failure who will trample our sad checks and loser balances came years before he ascended the throne. Few months in office, the warnings have become more specific and resigned, and thus more believable. We’ve just been told by some aspirants that he has called them and cautioned them against their desire to contest his preferred candidates and has asked them to step down for his favourites. These revelations came from his own party members contesting for party executive positions. This should tell those who still see this dictator as angel, the true nature of the man they fear to criticise. We saw same behaviour when the party was in opposition which led to deaths and maiming in his party. This is the man others describe as “the law” “human rights advocate” and democrats. If he cannot see eye to eye with persons who supported his campaign because of his rigid stance on internal Party issues, then how can he accommodate views of his political opponents or those outside his political territory. This attitude confirms speculations that, he held secret meetings with the security agencies who investigated corruption allegations against his appointees and was behind all the atrocities his vigilante groups unleashed on innocent citizens including his own regional security coordinator and the noble judge. Instead of bringing all the forces together, he is still pursuing his divide and rule tactic using intimidation and other brutal methods to silence his party folks.
INTIMIDATION OF THE OPPOSITION AND THE WITCH-HUNT PHENOMENON
Akufo-Addo’s language since he took over rejects legitimate opposition. He pushes his will on the masses and any attempt by those who disagree with his decision or understand his actions in a different is defamation of the President. The man Ghanaians described as human right advocate doesn’t care about Justice. What he cares about is his personal welfare, and his political empire. We have a Justice system in this country for a reason, we have various institutions for a reason. And when a duly elected President uses then to pursue political and personal ends, it insults our founding creeds and tarnishes the legal and ethical foundation of this noble country. Akufo-Addo, is nothing short of a threat to Ghana as we know it. The witch-hunt phenomenon adopted by this administration isn’t just an attack on the opposition. This is an attack on the very foundation of the Ghanaian Justice system, the legislature and the executive. If we allow prosecutors and state security agencies to go after political opponents using bogus procedures, then the law ceases to have any meaning, and politics ceases to have any fairness. Under Akufo-Addo, your fate in the legal system is determined by how he feels about you, there may be a judge, may be even a Special Prosecutor, but it’s all a show, a fiction, a set up.
THE POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES
The key idea of monarchy is that one person embodies the personality of the state. This is the kind of system Akufo-Addo wants to establish in Ghana and in his own party. A system in which no outsider will ever win the race for Presidency no matter how intelligent and popular he can be, unless he is one of the members of the few, or under his tutelage. The danger is, we likely to see a “pay back” phenomenon if the NDC takes over. The pain and bitterness this administration is inflicting on its political opponents is too much to take. The nation is too divided, the anger in the system is too heavy . What Mills and Mahama did the eight years to balance the political atmosphere are gradually dying out- that old acrimonious politicking is back. Soon, the political parties will start relying on their own forces and operate within their own sets of rules. These are the issues our intellectuals, the Clergy etc should evaluate. Ghana’s rating in all sectors continue to drop. Reports coming from the world bank, transparency international, IMF, Amnesty International, Barclays South Africa and other independent local rating agencies contradict what government tells Ghanaians everyday via their pro government media platforms. Ghana has just been named among 18 countries with high risk of debt distress in Africa despite all the bonds issued to reprofile our debt. Government has borrowed over GHC 40 billion but yet to point to Ghanaians, one major project implemented from this huge amount. Meanwhile, the administration has implemented many funds consuming policies without considering the low revenue generation headache facing the country. It means, funds from our oil revenue which should be channeled into developmental projects especially infrastructure to reduce the huge deficit hanging on our heads, are going to be used for populists policies. So how do we pay back these loans.