By Michael Addai
In this series of articles, attempts would be made to explain why “Ogyakrom’s” could not be taken seriously as an independent state, capable of managing her own affairs and resources, if the most destructive surviving trace of her colonial past was not dismantled with immediate effect.
Top-down and bottom-up approaches
It was about time we had this discussion about our attitudinal change towards anything government, public property vis-à-vis our collective social responsibility. Thus, the recent banter between the advocates of ‘fix the country’ and the counter proposal of ‘fix yourself/mindset’ in “Ogyakrom” is quite intriguing and interesting. This is akin to the age-old argument about the chicken and egg situation/paradox as to which one comes first.
As far as nation building and its pursuit and realization of its ambitions or promises are concerned, the ‘chicken and the egg’ can both come first in this situation, since it requires both: (i) a ‘bottom-up’ approach — i.e., a society whose citizenry is willing and prepared to have an attitudinal change, enabling it to develop an unquestionable ‘ownership mentality/mindset’ towards its resources with ‘law abiding mindset’ as well as having an awareness of (and in tune with) its social responsibility whilst having (ii) a ‘top-down’ approach — i.e., a strong, unscrupulous, selfless, devoted and dedicated leadership that is willing to enforce this attitudinal change, indiscriminately, in that society without fear or favour. Noteworthily, all the above (i) and (ii) approaches, clearly, happening simultaneously since it takes two to tango.
Considering “Ogyakrom’s” history as a nation, it appears that both the ‘top-down’ societal attitudinal change by the leadership as well as that of the ‘bottom-up’ societal attitudinal change by the citizenry are as such needed at the same time.
Behaviour of past governments
“Ogyakrom” as an independent state has tried the ‘top-down’ leadership approach, right from Kwame Nkrumah’s CPP one-party dictatorship through the many military ‘do-before-complaint’ interventions and the wasteful self-serving Jerry John Rawlings’s revolutions to the present presidential democratic system of governance in the 4th republic — where the electors tend to look up to the elected president, not only to solve their problems but to set an example and take charge to effect the attitudinal change. There again, the electors become so suspicious of the elected that they often shirk that crucial responsibility that comes with the freedom of choosing their own leaders. Hence, it’s no wonder the recent refrain of ‘fix the country’ agitation.
Arguably all the above instances of ‘top-down’ leadership approaches failed miserably, and the various leaders infamously fell on their own swords i.e. right from the spectacular failure of Nkrumah’s self-serving grand political and economic emancipation — managing to turn a generous surplus generating, buoyant economy into a deficit leaking economic ‘pit-hole’ disaster within 6 years in power, and then converting a fledging liberal democracy into a dictatorial one-man-rule regime with visionless ‘Soviet-style’ economic emancipation all for some inordinate political ambitions, and then through these selfish military regimes whose leaders only came to redeem themselves rather than the masses, culminating in the ‘mother of all’ populist hypocrisy — the Rawlings’ regimes which shamefully and disastrously failed to live up to their hollow revolutionary mantra of ‘probity and accountability’ — to the present liberal democracy that “Ogyakrom” has.
However, when it comes to an era of liberal democratic dispensation like the 4th republic that “Ogyakrom” is currently enjoying, even though the ‘top-down’ leadership approach is very important, it equally requires the buy-in from the ‘bottom-up’ citizenry approach to effect any meaningful attitudinal change. It must also be noted that in a liberal democracy where electors are allowed to freely elect their leaders without any imposition, the leaders they elect are the reflection of that society, true to an extent of a majority decision. The leaders are not elected from anywhere else but from that society, thus a particular kind of society gets its kind of leaders, as it’s often said.
By the way, it should be emphasized here that, of all the above phases of ‘top-down’ leadership societal attitudinal change approaches, Rawlings’ were probably the most unfortunate ones because of the spectacular missed opportunities to effect this attitudinal change in society after all the bloodshed, atrocities, pains and sufferings.
This debate needs to be had as a matter of urgency to re-establish that ‘ownership mindset/mentality’ which is a responsibility that comes with “Ogyakrom” being an independent country, capable of making her own decisions, managing her own affairs and taking her destiny into her own hands.
As an independent country, citizens of “Ogyakrom”, collectively, seem to have carried that colonial mindset of treating everything government as foreign and, therefore, are entitled to partake in its exploitation, ‘looting and sharing’ with perhaps the sole aim of still ‘raising the middle finger’ at the long-gone colonialists. And even with those who decide not to partake in it, some either choose to encourage it, put a blind eye to it all or become helpless in their quest to see the end to the exploitation, ‘looting and sharing’.
Furthermore, there is this colonial mindset of the citizenry waiting on or expecting the benevolent state and government to do everything for them and even to intervene in their private lives and then choosing to be spectators rather than citizens as “Ogyakrom’s” constitution enjoined them to do so.
Unfortunately, Kwame Nkrumah’s CPP regime abysmally failed to dismantle these entitlement strangleholds despite having the political momentum and the necessary ‘buy-in’ from the citizenry on the regime’s accompanied rhetoric of political and economic emancipation.
The urgent need to break this entitlement mindset/attitude/culture that appears to have been carried forward from the colonial past into the independent state cannot be overemphasized.
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