I love my aunt, Elizabeth Ohene. She is as courageous as they come and she was right to have questioned the PNDC at a time when many others were silent. Unfortunately, I cannot agree with her current stance on the NGO and CSO.
Whether liberal or socialist, right or left, successive governments have taken us for granted and engaged in transactions, contracts and actions that are inimical to our interests.
It is the proper role and the constitutional duty of CSO, NGO, media, and other state institutions to keep government in check, to do so loudly and to do it repeatedly.
When, in those days, the “people” attacked my auntie as an all knowing editor, we, as students, supported her.
The “people” were wrong then to question and attack her knowledge, motive and even morals merely because she dared demand accountability and transparency from government.
And, with their teeming “fans,” they succeed in intimidating many. As such, many are afraid of saying something to government because it will unleash its attack dogs on them.
Many are afraid of questioning judges because they will hold it against them when they appear before them.Many are afraid of questioning teachers because they will fail us, etc.
They have succeeded in silencing most of us!A simple question to a DCE is bound to be met by are you my coequal? Do you know who I am? Yet, our national creed calls on us to cherish fearless honesty and to resist oppressors’ rule with all our will and might.
CSOs and NGOs are right to demand that our mineral royalty income should be used in a beneficial, responsible, accountable, sustainable and transparent manner.
They are right to insist that the Auditor General should be allowed to do his work.They are right to question why and how Ghana lost $200M because of PDS.
They are right to question the economics and governance of Agyapa. They are right to ask why Korn Ferry is used as a head hunter in 2020 and how much is paid to them.
They are right to ask how much was paid to Agyapa’s transaction advisors when the Attorney General department could do same work for free.They have asked such questions not just of the current government but also of all past governments as is their right to do.
The notion that unanimous Court decisions should end debate is alien to those who love the law. Re Akoto, Ayine, France etc. were all unanimous. Few agree with them!
CSOs and NGOs have made no claims to loving Ghana far more than anybody else and definitely more than anybody in politics, as my auntie alleges.
They simply raise questions about government policies that they consider problematic. CSOs and NGOs have not claimed to have answers to every problem merely by asking questions that government would rather are not asked.
So I am not ad idem with my auntie on that allegation that she made.CSOs and NGOs are not openly disdainful towards those in politics or in government, as claimed by my auntie.
They are disdainful of those who misappropriate their positions to convert state resources, as they should be.
If NGOs and CSOs operate on the principle that governments are corrupt, they do so not because they want to.
They do so, auntie Elizabeth, because that is the empirical reality, which is also the reason why those who framed the Constitution emphasized the role of the citizenry and the media in ensuring accountability.
The assumption of Government chicanery is the basis for separation of powers, checks and balances, the Fourth estate, the RTI and indeed of alternating government.
The cycle of attacking those who choose to be active citizens by those connected to power is hardly new.
All governments encourage it and oil a machine to do it for them. It is an attempt to divert attention from those who are entrusted to govern to citizens who are merely asking questions.It is the people who are sovereign, not government.
It is government that must be held accountable, not the people who seek government accountability.By all means stay quiet and disinterested in government, if that is your choice, but do not stop NGO, CSOs, media and other individuals from discharging their constitutional responsibilities.
And by all means, let us not caricature them as all-knowing organizations, as the people did to my auntie merely because of her editorial asking people to speak truth to power!!
It did not break the will of my auntie during the military days and it should not and would not break the focus of CSO, NGO, free media and active citizens now, tomorrow or decades from now.