Over the past decade or two, Ghana has witnessed the mushrooming of think tanks of all forms which, in an ideal world, should have helped in shaping not only our fledgling democracy but also policies idyllic for the growth and development of the country.
What we have seen in recent times, however, is a departure from the very purposes for which think tanks and CSOs are formed.
It is important to abreast ourselves with some of the core duties of think tanks worth their salt. Think tanks, the good ones, are in the business of pushing for change through research, ideas and networks.
The dominant understanding is that think tanks exist to mobilize expertise and ideas to influence policy-making in countries they operate in. The raison d’être for most think tanks is to serve as important catalysts for ideas and action.
In a world facing many pressing challenges and problems that include extreme poverty, inequality, climate change, rapid urbanization, the spread of infectious diseases, armed conflicts, international terrorism, organized crime, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, good ideas that can be acted upon are essential to outwit same.
At their best, think tanks possess the ability to capture the political imagination by brokering ideas, stimulating public debate, and offering creative yet practical solutions to tackle the country’s most pressing problems.
Unfortunately, in Ghana, our think tanks and civil society organizations are in a competition for who can slight the Electoral Commission best. It has become a daily practice to see CSOs and their affiliate think tanks engaging in writing of long and elaborate thesis against the Electoral Commission.
It is as though these CSOs and their allies have the sole responsibility of overseeing the activities of the Electoral Commission by not offering alternative ideas or proposals but by ordering the EC to do their bidding. They have self-appointed themselves as the police to the EC.
Ghana’s CSO’s and think tanks have only perfected in the habit of strenuously looking for mud to throw at the EC at every turn. They have abandoned their core duties to become fault finders with respect to the Electoral Commission.
It has also become quite obvious that without the Electoral Commission, these CSOs and their partners in crime (think tanks) would become extinct entities. They appear to be in business because of the Electoral Commission. They cannot seem to focus on any other thing or ideas apart from their unwholesome fixation on Electoral Commission.
Until our think tanks and other civil society organizations redirect their energies, resources and attention to ideas, policies, programs and projects that can better the lots of Ghanaians instead of this obsession with the Electoral Commission, well-meaning Ghanaians would continue to see them as entities existing for the self-serving reasons of their bank-rollers and those who stand to benefit from their sometimes needless but empty rantings and advocacy.
Competing in who can write many anti-EC pieces and thesis on social media is not part of the core functions of CSOs! They should reinvent themselves and their core mandate and stick firmly to same.
P.K.Sarpong, Whispers from the Corridors of the Thinking Place.