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Feature Article of Saturday, 10 November 2012

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

On Melcom Tragedy, President Mahama Couldn’t Care Less

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

That he was on a whirlwind electioneering campaign tour of the northern-half of the country when the Melcom Shopping Center building, located near the site of the Old Neoplan plant in suburban Achimota, collapsed may not necessarily be a pure accident altogether (See “Melcom Disaster: Those Whose Negligence Caused This Will Pay! Mahama Swears” JoyOnline.com/ Ghanaweb.com 11/7/12).

Not altogether a happenstance because in recent weeks, President John Dramani Mahama has been deliberately and divisively telling Ghanaians of northern ethnicity and/or birth that he is the one candidate that they have a bounden duty to blindly and massively vote for and elect as their leader, regardless of his abysmal administrative performance because, in his own words, “I am one of your own” and “The only candidate of whose political success you can genuinely be proud.” Which ought to, perforce, leave the rest of us southerners scratching our heads and wondering whether, indeed, Mr. Mahama’s selection of Mr. Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur as both his arch-lieutenant and presidential running-mate has any credibility beyond the sheer expedient strategy of using the latter to roguishly siphon the decidedly “alien” southern vote in order to serve the especial and exclusive interests and needs of his “northern brothers and sisters.”

At any rate, on the Melcom tragedy, it is not clear whether he is on a fool’s suicidal errand, or mission, when Mr. Mahama rather self-righteously vows to severely punish those whose “technical” negligence may have caused the building collapse that cruelly snuffed out the lives of at least five people as of this writing (11/7/12). And here we maintain the preceding, because it was squarely under the watch of the Mills-Mahama, and now Mahama-Arthur, administration that the Melcom building was designed and constructed. And the president would have to first and foremost inform his countrymen and women precisely why employees of the Town and Country Planning Department, or whatever the name of the government’s civil engineer is these days, did not inspect both the beginning and progress of the construction of the Melcom building in order to ensure that the appropriate zoning and building codes and regulations were being followed to the letter.

Obviously, the unmistakable observation here is that it takes two to tango, as it were. In other words, if the government department charged with oversight of building codes and specifications is found to have shirked the duties, and responsibilities, for which its staff is regularly and fully paid, then President Mahama may well have to begin executing the penal code or punitive process with members of his own administration. For that matter, we fervidly hope that he is not vacuously referring to the engineers and contractors who erected the veritable death-trap that was the Melcom building.

And then also, since he claims to be first and foremost a citizen and president and presidential candidate of northerners, Mr. Mahama had better make sure that the culprits involved are northerners, or maybe members of the Trokosi Alliance and Al-Qaeda Wing of his National Democratic Congress. Else, he would be committing a crime which may very well provoke an “international incident” between the northern and southern halves of the country. And on the latter score also, it bears reminding our readers that President John Dramani Mahama emphatically told potential and eligible voters in the wake of the Tamale presidential debate barely a fortnight ago, that Ghana is veritably composed of two strikingly different nations and peoples – i.e. his own “brothers and sisters” from the North, on the one hand, and his peevishly domineering “neighbors” and “kayayei” exploiters from the South.

You see, we Ghanaians from the South – the “Kabongas,” or “uncircumcised barbarians” – are not in the nescient (or lame-brained) habit of voting for self-righteous principals of “political victimology” to rascally and disdainfully lord it over us. And I hope that my Southern kinsmen and women will not forget to bear the foregoing in mind come December 7, 2012.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net. ###

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