In Politics there are no permanent Friends or Enemies…True or False?
Recent events in our body politic have proved more than ever to be what we have been told again and again but refused to learn; that in politics there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests. In this case, you scratch my back, I scratch yours – we tame the itch and stop fidgeting.
Gradually, politics is becoming a dangerous game. Someone can kill your mother today, but after she has been laid to rest, the person joins your political party and you naturally become best of friends, comrades or patriots. This kind of political friendship does not require any standard of proof or evidence beyond any reasonable doubt. It does not care what the rest of the family think or feel, as long as you both stand to gain from the friendship. That is permanent interest.
Friendship is a difficult thing to maintain even among the closest of friends or close political allies. Friends are hard to come by, so hard to keep and at times even so hard to get rid of. Not in politics though. Here friendships are easy as ABC. You can change them like underwear without having a bath and it is just okay. It is so because of what we tell each other, how we open up to lies and gossips, our strong desires to outwit and jump over friends, and that strong determination to occupy a safe position on the political arena.
Who ever thought that the Rawlingses and Akufo-Addo would one day be as close as a finger and a ring. But they had permanent interest – to get rid of an NDC administration they both described as corrupt, assume the leadership of the country and hold it tight between them so no one can wrest it away from them. Akufo-Addo was seeking for political power, and the Rawlingses wanted the NDC administration out. After striking a common bond and targeting their common enemy [The NDC administration], they rode on the public’s anger against the Mahama administration as a result of lies told about it and campaigned overtly and covertly on the ground that the Mahama administration was corrupt. In Nigeria, we saw same trend prior to the 2015 election. Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan were close political ally. Obasanjo was the political godfather of Jonathan but we saw how Obasanjo strongly campaigned against his political son’s reelection and made sure he lost that election. We can also talk about the story of Grace Mugabe and Saviour Kasukuwere. We have people who are experts in the politics of manipulation, deception and using people before dumping them- that is ruthless Machiavellianism. What about the fathers of Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta. They were very close political allies but we saw what happened when the two decided to fight for their interest from different ideological and philosophical standpoints.
Who knows about tomorrow in this political world of permanent interest? It would not be surprised to see bitter political rivals one day eating, joking and laughing together while sitting at the table of brotherhood, long after their supporters have killed each other, created widows and widowers, orphans and refugees. We saw in Kenya, we saw it in Sudan, we saw it in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
What did Machiavelli say in the Prince about how to be a dictator? “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Pragmatism pervades other relationships, political, communal, marital and personal. In Ghana, some of our politicians change political loyalty after every presidential election, conveniently embracing erstwhile opponents and undermining erstwhile friends.
Politicians and political parties take strategic decisions to help their agenda. They bury the past and create convenient political environments to smoothen their movement.
Nana Akufo-Addo and the Rawlingses have confirmed the assertion that political friendship does not require any standard of proof or evidence beyond any reasonable doubt. Whoever imagined what we witnessing between them. It is so with the politicians, political parties and the media and same with the politicians, political parties and civil society organisations. Here, the dynamics are different. When it comes to the media, it is more about the political agenda of the proprietor than ideology. The Washington post for instance shares the quality of being perceived as trustworthy by Republicans. Democrats and those who lean Democratic give the post a +40 rating while the Republicans and those who lean Republican give it a -65. Among Republicans and those who lean Republican, CNN is considered the most biased news organization. The wall street journal is the only media organization that both democrats and Republicans rated favourably. It is same in Britain. We have pro labour news organizations and pro conservatives news outlets. In Ghana, we’ve seen few post election changes. The presenters, reporters etc working with the various Media organizations have their personal political inclinations but cannot push them on their platforms because of their organisations designed policies. Antagonising a Media houses is not a healthy thing to do as political party.
President Akufo-Addo feels more comfortable dealing with Rawlings than Kufour. One may ask; Why should the current President deal closely with a man who constantly attack his boss (Kufour). Permanent interest have also seen religious leaders hold political prayer rallies for their political friends even against God’s wishes. I know few powerful religious leaders whose loyalty shifted just after 2016 election declaration. Editorial policy of some media houses changed after the 2016 election declaration. Some proprietors had to do that to save their companies from executive pressure and intimidation. Some journalists changed their style of presentation and stance on issues to enable them assess government scholarships and other favours. Some worked for opposition parties because of certain assurances they get from political leaders.
The trend is same when it comes to the politicians and our security institutions and it is worse here because of the constitutional authority conferred on the executive to appoint heads of our security agencies. About 80 to 90 percent of our security personnel change their loyalty after every election or change of government. TUC and other labour organisations used to be natural allies of the NDC as they were to the CPP but NDC’s failure to protect and maintain that comradeship link has collapsed that link.
In my subsequent articles on this topic, we shall go into why some trusted comrades of Nkrumah betrayed him and why some persons who were opposed to Nkrumah joined the CPP.
Source: Ohenenana Obonti Krow