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Friday, December 11, 2009

Political Sociologist: Too early to judge Mills

President J.E.A. Mills seems to say, Wait and see"" border="1" class="tn" style="border:1px solid #999; padding:1px; margin-top:2px;"/>
President J.E.A. Mills seems to say, "Wait and see"

A Political Sociologist and Lecturer at the University of Cape Coast, Kingsley Adjei, says it is too early yet for any fair assessment of the Mills administration, barely a year in office.

Kingsley Adjei also predicted that it will be very difficult for any political party to win the people’s mandate for a third consecutive term in office, saying Ghana is gradually becoming a two-party state.

Explaining the phenomenon of CHANGE in contemporary Ghanaian elections on Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sεn discussion programme, and whether the ruling National Democratic Congress government could win a second mandate given the sort of bickering that has attended its near first-year in office, Mr. Adjei said Ghanaians tend to forget certain things, recalling that just six or seven months into the Kufuor administration in 2001, Ghanaians were murmuring that the president was slow. He said Kufuor had just finished appointing his ministers – and the people doubted what he was capable of.

He said he does not agree with those who think the Mills government has not done anything so far and may therefore last only a term in office given the early signals.

He cautioned that things can change within the second and third years when some of the things Ghanaians think are not moving fast enough may move very fast. He said many people appointed into ministerial positions are now finding their feet because they have not been ministers before, reminding all that nobody masters politics out of politics, while again sometimes, people are appointed to positions away from their fields of specialty.

Mr. Adjei said a fair point to assess the performance of the government and what it can do for the nation in four years will be between a-year-and-a-half and two, and it would be improper now, based on any signals so far, to conclude that the NDC government will last only four years.

He added after the second year we can all fairly analyse and relate President Mills’ performance to the same period during the regimes of presidents Kufuor and Rawlings because circumstances can change.

Citing ex-President Kufuor’s first year in office in advising that we do not limit our analysis to the physical only, but also engage intellectually, he said Ghana subscribed to the HIPIC initiative in the first year but there was no credit crunch, while President Mills met with the credit crunch, and given these two situations, one was more likely to perform better in his first year.

He also pointed to the leadership style currently in practice in Ghana - a democratic system of governance - not a military coup where one could engage in arbitrariness, but one that must obey due processes and under which the constitution is the working law, emphasizing that there is need to give the NDC room to operate and thereafter assess if they have acquitted themselves creditably and therefore deserve another chance or they failed and must therefore be voted out.

Explaining his assertion that Ghana is becoming a two-party state and why it would be difficult for any party to stay in power beyond eight years, Mr. Adjei said it is almost now predictable that government’s would rotate between the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party, explaining that the other existing parties are not so prominent during elections.

Parties, he said, win a second term in office because usually after four years it is difficult to convince oneself that the ruling party has done all it could, while the parties themselves even campaign for more time because they claim they met with debts and other difficulties. However if after eight years a government is unable to achieve all it must, its mandate cannot be extended any more so go it must.

He said the world over, parties are finding it very difficult to stay in power after two terms, and given what Ghana has seen from year 2000 and 2008 when the NDC and NPP respectively failed to keep their parties in government, the trend is also becoming our tradition.

As for only one term it is possible but that will depend largely on a very abysmal performance. Kingsley Adjei said if the generality of the public decides that a party does not deserve another chance, perhaps owing to its actions considered unhelpful to the nation, then the opposition, for whatever reason they were voted out may be returned. On the reverse, the people may also decide that even though they are not being served as desired, they want to renew the mandate because those in opposition were worse.

On the clamour for change at elections, he said it is usually the opposition that chant the change slogan especially so when a ruling government has conducted affairs in such a way as to discomfort the people. He explained that in Africa and elsewhere where multi-party democracy is practiced, safe for cheating, after eight years the electorate usually concludes that a party has done all it could and must go – more so when a party staying for about 30 years could be a recipe for coups.

Another thing that fuels the clamour for change, he said, could be how the living conditions of the political leadership has changed - money, cars and houses - Knowing the people elected into office did not have these previously. It could well be that they are doing very well but looking at how their conditions have improved, even if they are humble, we tend to say they are arrogant and so must go.

Kingsley Adjei said Change is good but it must not be sought for its sake, and it is the shortcomings of ruling governments, just like a team in a football game may concede a lot of goals if it makes too many mistakes, that ensures the opposition wins elections. The opposition does not have much to do but to sell your shortcomings to the electorate, and the people may also consider that perhaps it is only four years so they want to extend the time with another four years, during which the shortcomings may increase, while people in the party may likely become corrupt.

He also cited the role of ethnic associations (Northern Peoples Party, Togoland Party, National Liberation Movement from the Ashanti Region, and the CPP that touted itself as a national party) and their relation to the political leadership; access to a fair share of the national cake; and the crucial role of Ghana’s swing regions – Western, Central and Greater Accra – as other factors that may keep a party in government or not irrespective of its performance, will drum home change until it is achieved.

Story by Isaac Yeboah/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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