- The main problem in our part of the world is that, the citizens are too polarized politically. We attach emotions, inclinations and attachments to every issue that arises. We therefore cease to look at issue holistically to see the general sense in them.
There has been a plethora of views proffered by the proponents of each of the mentioned movements from the traditional social media platforms to the traditional media outlets. However, a very fundamental question still lingers on the minds of well-meaning Ghanaians, begging for answers. Does one necessarily need to fix him/herself before the general agenda of nation building can take place? Does the fixing of a country include the fixing of the minds of the individual citizens?
I will attempt to address the above vexing matters by drawing inspiration from the Hobbesian social contract political theory. According to this theory, the individual citizen in a state, who are the gate keepers in the political system, engage in a fiduciary contract with the state through voting. As a result, the state is tasked with a responsibility of providing social goods to satisfy the needs of the citizens. The state in this regard act as a trustee of its citizens.
James Madison, a medieval American statesman is credited with a very powerful statement which I will like to quote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”
Read also: The #FixTheCountry Social Media Campaign
Every government has a fundamental duty of providing social goods for its citizens to achieve the best possible social order in a polity. That is why prior to every election, political parties are allowed to campaign on the basis of their political platform (manifestoes) which outline their developmental vision for the country, which ranges from the economy, health, infrastructure, education and a host of others.
Political platforms (manifestoes) are therefore record documents that can be accessed and verified at any time by the individual citizens of the state to assess the developmental progress of any government. This is a sacred task that must be performed by the citizens in all fairness and soundness of mind.
The individual citizens, who are the gatekeepers of the country have every right per their social contract with the state, to demand accountability for the progress of development. Therefore, I will at any day see as preposterous, any attempt to denigrade any citizen of a country for demanding performance accountability from the state. This is a duty of right and sanctity.
As mentioned above, men (citizens) are not angels that is why an institution called government is established to act in trust of the citizens. In the same vain, the state and its actors are not angels. So what is wrong with men seeking accountability by putting their fellow humans on their toes? The fact is, humans are very fallible so it will certainly take another fallible human to make two fallibles, infallible to a certain extent.
Nation building is a complete and holistic process which thrives on the individual citizens. Mind you, it is the citizens who are the end users or beneficiaries of every project undertaken by the government. Wherefore, the citizens must be of the right mindsets and attitudes to ensure the success and longevity or relevance of any governmental project and initiative. The question is; whose duty is it to fix the attitudinal and behavioral defects of the citizens?
Attitudinal and character formation are basically nurtured at home. That is, the first point of call for every individual. Nonetheless, the state, which is the ultimate authority, must put in place structures and initiatives to deal with deviance that will spill out of the character nurturing roles of the family.
That is the more reason why every state has its coercive arms or forces to ensure compliance in a polity. Accordingly, if the character and behavior of the citizens in a state do not help or support the state in fulfilling its mandate, it is the duty of the state to use the powers at its disposal constitutionally or otherwise, needs be, to ensure compliance. After all, it is the state that will assume responsibility for the failure or otherwise of its citizens.
#FixTheCountry or #FixYourself; I strongly think that they are all needful, logical and fair but I think that these movements are not mutually exclusive. It is the duty of the state to fix the country. There is not shred of ambiguity about this. Also in the process of building the country, the character and behavior of the citizens ostensibly have to be fixed through the policy creativity and ingenuity of the state. I therefore see nothing wrong with citizens demanding for their country to be fixed.
The main problem in our part of the world is that, the citizens are too polarized politically. We attach emotions, inclinations and attachments to every issue that arises. We therefore cease to look at issue holistically to see the general sense in them. It is however unfortunate that the movement #FixTheCountry was wrongfully attributed to a specific regime or government. This attribution also stems from our inability to accept issues holistically.
To this end, I will indicate that we need a crop of citizens, who will see issues with objectivity in order to put our leaders on their toes in the bid to enforcing our social contract with them. Until this is done, our country will continually witness the regime of confused priority application in state developments and funds. Ghana deserves better whether you belong to party A or B.
Nana Osei Boateng
(Political Scientist, Broadcaster, Educator, Columnist)