Someone just wrote ‘…most valuable commodity in any democracy: trust.’ I find it intriguing because when we polled Ghanaians in October 2000 about which candidate they trusted to lead them, the one they chose eventually won the election. It is the one thing the politician covets. At the same time, it is one of the things that easily get dissipated by the politician after successfully garnering it.
When you are trusted, you have goodwill. So when twinned with goodwill, it becomes a formidable political asset. So one expects politicians to be examining themselves for how much trust and how much goodwill they enjoy from the people of the motherland, my compatriots. In relation to elections, they say its honeymoon.
Years ago, before 1919, or before one hundred ago, a hymnist, one John H. Sammis, wrote a Hymn 467 in the words: ‘Trust and obey, For there’s no other way, To be happy …’ One inference from those words as strung together, is that happiness has something to do with having trust in tandem with obeying rules. It would be interesting and, indeed, useful to establish that. The happiest country/motherland would then be the one in which compatriots are most compliant with rules and regulations. In our motherland, we have all these thieves in public office among us compatriots who paint a picture of no rules to confuse, to steal and make it seem like thieving is a legitimate business for a public office holder.
A man uses his position as a parliamentarian to steal from the state, and therefore, the rest of us, while enjoying the perks and frills of his office. When he is caught, he says he cannot be caught because that same institution by which and through which he has stolen, protects him from being tried for stealing through it. In the language of thieves, he is above the law because the law allows him to steal, so prosecute him for anything else but not for stealing from the institution that makes the laws. We are talking of an individual whose lying deeds have more than on one occasion, made a laughing stock of the august body, and, therefore, diminishing trust in it.
Trust is at different levels. The higher the better, the lower the concern to make an effort to raise it. Usually, with post-election victory euphoria, trust in the winner is at its highest. It begins to fluctuate not long after the honeymoon period. Serious politicians measure to know the levels in order to develop the appropriate responses with regard to lifting or deepening it. ‘I Trust’ in the leader grows or wanes.
Excerpts from ‘The World’s happiest country 2019 [Finland]’ rank: ‘countries on six key variables that support well-being: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity. … All Finns were happier than rest of the countries’ residents, but their immigrants were also happiest immigrants in the world … It’s not about Finnish DNA. It’s the way life is lived in those countries. … They pay high taxes for a social safety net, they trust their government, they live in freedom and they are generous with each other. .. They do care about each other. That is the kind of place people want to live.’’
For the purpose of a motherland’s status as developed without aid, these indices ought to be of significance and interest. Developed without aid is only an abstract concept. Make it a construct, if you like. Developed, that one’s condition has changed from bad to good, good to better or better to best is meaningful to the compatriot in terms of the concrete; what the compatriot individual can feel, such as food on the table, roof over head, money in the pocket and how all that interplay into the level of comfort.
If there is one obvious thing missing from that kind of leadership, it is moral uprightness. Time and again, I have raised the issue of morality to complement legality for fuller mandate to be in charge of the motherland and the compatriots within. It’s immorally criminal to create, loot and share, and then, use the stolen money to buy a ticket into parliament, and stick it into compatriots’ nose that you are immune from prosecution. As for that one, No way o!
A leader assiduously works to cultivate and maintain the trust of the led. Any perception of betrayal of public trust can have devastating impact on the confidence the led has in his or her leadership. One set of perception that can erode the people’s trust in their leader is broken promises. It is a sign of betrayal of the trust of compatriots. It can have the terrible consequence of dashing hopes of a thumb-printed victory. To be thumb-printed into victory is to be trusted without doubt.
By Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh