Feature Article of Thursday, 6 December 2012
Columnist: Appiah, Kofi
The day Tuesday, November 27, 2012, has come and gone. It marked a very historic and significant milestone in Ghana’s democratic journey. It would perhaps, be an indelible imprint/blueprint for posterity. History was made in Kumasi. The venue was the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology’s Great Hall. His Majesty, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene, the pivot of the Ashanti Kingdom, ensured that his dream child was born on that eventful day and truly he was born. As the proponent of that colourful event, it was not a surprise therefore that he was gorgeously dressed and clad in one of his best and never-seen-before traditional Kente cloths matched with priceless and meticulous ornamental gold rings on the two opposite ring fingers and special symbolic leather talisman on his head for very special occasions such as this. He was surrounded by Ghana’s two ex-presidents, Jerry John Rawlings on his right and John Agyekum Kufuor on his left. The seating arrangement was, however, a delight to watch our former presidents on the television sets who, occasionally, were in a tete-a-tete with the Otumfuo seated in the middle. On the right side of these distinguished gentlemen and on the left side of our television sets were seated in grand style, the members of the National Peace Council, the National House of Chiefs, Her Ladyship, the Chief Justice, Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, some leading members of the Institute for Democratic Governance and probably, an empty seat meant for Dr. Kwadwo Afari Djan, who was very conspicuously missing from the action spot to give room for suspicion. His absence till now continues to give room for speculations as to why such an important occasion, he failed to attend.
STAKEHOLDERS FUNCTION - May be, the organizers would know better why he was not there for that important stakeholders function that hinged more importantly on PEACE before, during and after the 2012 crucial ‘Who is Who’ elections that was around the corner. Centrally seated to face the audience in their thousands were the eight presidential candidates of the registered political parties from which only one would definitely emerge after the elections to become president. In the wisdom of the organizers, the candidates were however seated according to how their names and party emblems appear on the ballot papers. So it was no wonder that the president, H.E. John Dramani Mahama, who also doubles as the NDC candidate, was seated first on the right side of the television set. He was followed on his right by Dr. Lartey of the GCPP as the second. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo of the NPP and Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom of the PPP were the third and fourth respectively. Mr. Akwasi Addae, aka, Odike of the UFP was the fifth; then the man of the moment, who has now taken over from the late Kwame Nyanteh, a Somanya-based businessman of ‘Oko dada, dada fame’ to become a household name by the coin of a new acronym, Ayaricough or Ayarigate, Mohamed Hassan Ayariga was the sixth, to be followed in that order by a Madam Sarpong, the running-mate to the CPP candidate, Dr. Abu Sakara Forster, stood in perfectly for him as the seventh person. He could not make it due to flight connection problems. FInally, Mr. Jacob Osei Yeboah as the eighth, contests as an independent candidate.
ATTENDANCE - In fact, almost every invited guest and spectator who thronged there was fully dressed for that special occasion and the size of the gathering was such that when it was the turn of ex-president Jerry Rawlings to talk, he expressed his shock and sensation about it. The attendance, according to ex-president Rawlings, was fantastic; the colourful pomp and pageantry, was at its best and beyond description. The Ghanaian version of the paparazzi and the drones of local and international press, were not left out as well as the dignified Diplomatic Corps were there in their numbers to grace the occasion. Generally, the whole of Ghana was represented except, strangely and, of course, for no special reason, the Electoral Commissioner nor his agent or assign was ever represented. None of his two deputies, Messrs Sarfo Kantanka nor David Kanga, let alone the Ashanti Regional representative was asked to be there. This deliberate show of arrogance or was it justifiable absence would continue to agitate many discerning people for quite some time. Again, many people who had never seen this great King rattle the Queen’s English before really marveled, because, he was so eloquent and fluent with the language that people who watched the television became petrified as he proved all of them wrong. Someone would like to know why; the reason is, because the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, all of us know, normally spoke in the Akan Twi language to most visitors to the Manhyia Palace and at most functions, so that occasion proved many skeptics wrong.
BACKGROUND - Before I begin with the significant importance of the Kumasi Declaration event, please, let me first give you a chronology of background events in the country that must have accounted for the need to propel the Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, proponent and the organizers, the National Peace Council, the Institute for Democratic Governance, ably supported by the National House of Chiefs and the Vice Chancellor of KNUST, who, possibly obliged, them accommodation could not in any way deny him because the Asantehene was the Chancellor. Meanwhile, however, and except of course, a visitor who was visiting the country for the first time today, would not know what was happening on the ground. Honestly, many Ghanaians and foreigners alike who have permanently stayed here throughout the last four years should bear with the author that the country had reached an unimaginable elastic limit. Dirty politics has almost torn it apart. The partisan posture of the Ghana police headed by ‘the see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil’ Paul Tawiah Quaye, EMBA holder, has rendered many a Ghanaian impotent. They have tried to cow the populace but it would not wash. They can’t impose the culture of silence on anybody now. What is black we would say is black and what was white we would say is white; no more, no less. They can go hang as I have let the cat out of the bag. In trying to consolidate its position therefore, the government; despite its abysmal and unprecedented performance, the same appointees vehemently deny that assertion with childish propaganda. They claim that they have laid the foundation stone for ‘PROJECT GHANA’ and what actually remained was for Ghanaians to help prop them up again through the ballot to ensure their BETTER GHANA AGENDA succeeded; forgetting that they had taken so much loans than any other government since the days of Nkrumah without much physical developments. They have clandestinely coerced their partners-in-trade, the police, to be in bed with them so that they would do their dirty tricks for them with intimidation of all kinds; but, believe you me, if they tried to wrestle power with the connivance of the EC by rigging, then, they should, to quote Lt.-Gen. Rtrd. Quainoo, prepare for an inferno. We would definitely resist the oppressor’s rule as enshrined in our constitution as well as from our National Anthem. If they ventured, then all of us should be prepared for the onslaught, i.e. the re-visit of the ‘2011 Cairo Tsunami’ in Ghana for the UN to step in. Could it be a truism that two years after passing out, a police officer takes home some cool Gh¢900.00 per month while his counterpart with the Prison Service who has even served for 9 years after passing out takes a paltry sum of Gh¢400.00. What kind of natural injustice and disparity is this, Fair Wages and Salaries Commission? Are you being fair as your name depicts? What has happened to the S.S.S.S. concept?
PATHETIC - Pathetically, the country’s governance system and mechanism have reached a boiling point in chemistry and melting point in physics for even the blind person to know what was happening. Corruption and enormous daylight thievery by non-starters and first day public servants, especially, politicians, have become the order of the day. It has reached such an alarming rate that, with courtesy to Hon. Martin A.B.K. Amidu, who has coined some terminology for Ghanaians; it is of gargantuan proportion. The corruption has gone unchecked by the powers that be, because all of them were accomplices, and it looks as if Ghana was sooner than later going to be submerged by an unsuspecting devastating tsunami of Indonesia so everybody should scramble for his/her bit. For space of time, I would like to give below a few lines of each of the circumstances that must have contri -buted to the idea for mooting the Kumasi Declaration by the Otumfuo.
ECONOMY - The economy is in total disarray; the indices of the inflation rate have no bearing or significance whatsoever for the ordinary man in the street. While the world continues to pamper government for a job well done, the prices of commodities kept escalating in Ghana by the hour because the Mahama government has ill-gotten money to buy cars and share to chiefs, students and foot-soldiers to drain the economy. Cement, spare parts, building materials, food, customs duties, fuel and lubricants, utility bills, school fees, university user fees, washroom fees, and what-have-you, beer and tobacco products, clothing and even akpeteshie; you name it, have all gone high without immediate solution to it. Shameful, isn’t it? So much money have been taken or collected from sky-rocketing taxes; toll booths increased to 1000%, yet the government does not utilize same for development projects. The government tries to self-masturbate because they have nothing at stake and it is a pity indeed. Since it is visionless, the citizens would continue to live in abject poverty because there are no economic plans, structures or mechanisms put in place by ‘spendthrift’ finance minister, Kwabena Dufuor to make life worth living for Ghanaians.
EDUCATION – The less said about Lee Ocran’s education ministry; the much better it would be as the irresponsible reversal from the 4-year senior high school to their 3-year status quo, has jeopardized the system hopelessly and would not come to terms with Ghanaians and say, we are deeply sorry for the big mistake. As a result of the prevailing hardships, the school authorities have resorted to demanding essentials such as cement, paint, and, in some cases, cash sum of Gh¢1,000.00 from parents/guardians before a student was admitted depending on the classification of the school. Subventions from the central government to the CHASS or authorities have stopped forthwith. Why? No clue.
HEALTH - The least talked about Alban Sumaila Kingsford Bagbin’s health ministry, the much better it would be. If we turn our attention and focus on Sallas Mensah’s ailing NHIS rightly supported by Ametor Kwami, everybody knows their intention was to reduce the population of Ashanti because of their size by experimenting a pilot Capitation Grant programme there so that not many people could afford the health facility and prefer to die rather than to indulge in the cash and carry system.
LAXITY IN GOVERNMENT MACHINERY
As if by design or ill-fate, there is total break in government machinery. Virtually everybody, Tom, Dick and Harry are all scrambling for wealth and prosperity for fear of political wind change; ministers and their deputies, as well as in the regions, their cronies, district, municipal and metropolitan chief executives and their assigns including the chairs of all boards of public corporations and others have joined the fray to loot the state coffers or eat the national cake with their hands and legs with impunity; some take huge bribes and all of which could easily cater for the fees of more than 250,000 senior high school students for more than 10 years, not forgetting the irresponsible judgment debts, et cetera. The wastes in bloated government expenditure – 6-unit classroom block that cost Gh¢85,000 in Kufuor’s Administration, now costs Gh¢3.5m and all this could sufficiently cater for the national educational deficiency. The mad rush by government appointees to becoming parliamentarians was also another pointer.
SECURITY LAPSES - For those who do not know, the IGP rank/position was seven steps down the ladder in terms of seniority to the CDS. Certainly, his equivalent would be a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Army who is also some six steps below the rank of his boss,(please vide the earlier article captioned, ‘The Obstinate, Unethical conduct of Mahama’, so, for people to address the IGP at functions before the CDS was highly and grievously improper – ‘antwa yie koraa’. The fact that the Ghana Police has some 10 or so senior members from the North, in the persons of COP Rose Bio Atenga, DCOP Hamidu, DCOP Patrick Timbilla, ACP Angwubutoge Awuni, DSP Yakubu, to name a few and also, still have, before the demise of the late president, as many as 12 ministers most of which form the cabinet, (Hons. Mumuni, Bagbin, Iddrissu, Inusah Fuseini, Avorka, Pelpuo, Yieleh Chireh, Ben Kumbuor and the three regional ministers from the north)so the best the president could do was to win the IG to his side and all would be well since they say blood is thicker than water. No matter their political inclinations, they would never turn their backs towards their field marshall. This is some scheme that may have escaped the sight of many Ghanaians. The above scenario may well be a grand design that accounted for the neglect and negative neutrality stance of the police when the several bye elections took place; the police had their hands stubbornly tied at the back. That was a master plan to execute their grand design to perfection at the expense of the opposition NPP. The fact that the military have not been deeply involved in the internal security does not in any way relegate them to the background.
THE HISTORIC KUMASI DECLARATION
In view of the foregoing, it became obvious for any discerning mind such as His Majesty, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II’s caliber to moot such a strategic idea to cool tempers down and the escalating tension mounting between the two major political parties; one struggling to capture power and the other too, trying to consolidate and perpetuate itself in power. The author expresses in an unequivocal term his profound gratitude to His Majesty, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, his advisers, the Vice Chancellor of the KNUST, his entire team of academia, the organizers, especially, the National Peace Council, the National House of Chiefs, the Institute for Democratic Governance, the Diplomatic Corps et cetera who took time off their busy schedule to be present and more especially, the two former presidents who, despite their tight schedules, tried to grace the occasion with their presence. When the cock crows tomorrow, I say, Ayekoo for the unity that was expected to have been forged at the Great Hall of the university.
MESSAGES OF PEACE
Former President, Excellency Jerry John Rawlings, was the first to speak to be followed by his successor, ex-President, J.A. Kufuor. All the two distinguished personalities spoke about peace to set the auditorium ablaze to give Ghanaians the tonic for peace we expected before, during and after the polls. Soon after that, the Moderator, one Dr. Akwetey, called upon the 8 presidential candidates, who had lined up as if they had assembled there for an interview for jobs or grilling by a team of panelists for promotion. He later disclosed that their seating arrange -ment was done in the order of how their names and party symbols appear on the ballot paper. Their brief speeches, which were to take turns, were to centre on peace and the advice they have for their teeming followers. This was because, in his opinion, the whole event hinged on their individual shoulders and
H.E. MAHAMA It was therefore not by accident that HE John Dramani Mahama, who doubles as the president of the Republic and candidate for the NDC was called upon to deliver his speech on peace as primus inter pares - first amongst equals. He did his best but quite significantly, no special mention was made or came from him as to how he would ensure that his partisan police would comport themselves in a competitive situation such as this and to be devoid of allegiance to him. He was immediately followed by Dr. Lartey, son of the late Dan Lartey, of GCPP Domesti -cation fame who, by dint of hard work and the father’s goodwill for continuity, elected him to be the candidate. The subject matter peace was echoed; we need peace and it was re-echoed and re-echoed; no war, no war thrice and soon after, took his seat for the next speaker so that he would not bore the audience. His speech that lasted some two minutes was probably the shortest at the function to save time. NANA AKUFO ADDO Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo did not mince words at all to emphasize that if there would be peace, then, he expected that there was fair play and impartial performance by the EC. He also charged the security services, especially, the police to deal with glaring and pending cases such as the Atiwa, Akwatia and Cherepone bye elections and the Agbobloshie violence that were directly perpetrated by the NDC and supporters for which, till date, the police have continued to show bias to be inactive and unprofessional. Furthermore, he re-iterated the bestial display of violence by Nii Lante Vanderpuye for the untoward hardship that he and his hired thugs and machomen inflicted on NPP’s parliament -ary candidate, Ursula Owusu and her supporters during the biometric registration in the Odododioodioo constituency in May this year. He went on again to castigate a cabinet minister, Hon. Collins Dauda, who has arrogated power unto himself in the Asutifi constituency with impunity without any police action. He charged the police that they had a duty to perform and should be up and standing and not be partisan and remain focused since they were not there for one party but for the State. He castigated Yaw Boateng Djan who, for purposes of this election, and probably with the assistance of the security agencies led by the IG, had infiltrated their ranks to unconstitutionally recruit some miscreants from outside and dumped them into the security forces illegally to cause mayhem before, during and after the election. In view of these happenings, one may dare ask this pertinent question: Do we really have a CDS at all in the Ghana Armed Forces who was unaware of all these nasty things? If he was aware, why can’t he put his foot down to halt the bluff of the IG and his men/women to order? May be, he was not being briefed on daily security intelligence report. Whilst these deadly meetings and wicked actions keep rearing its ugly head, was he not aware or has now become a toothless bulldog in the system or patiently wants to protect his job security till he retired? These and many more were the pressing issues that he dwelt on to ensure there would be sanity to allow for a free, fair and credible election; failing which, he was optimistic that no sane person would ever allow such impunity to continue to reign for election results to be declared for one particular party whereas there had been some arm twisting and cheating elsewhere in the system. The election results would be generally accepted if the police and other security agencies played an impartial role to the delight of all, he affirmed.
OTHER SPEAKERS - Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, the fourth on the list and the PPP candidate, had his turn to speak. As characteristic of him, he did not hide his feeling but also to hammer on peace before, during and after the elections so that Ghana could continue to be the beacon of democracy in Africa and go on to have the best democratic credentials in the world. Mr. Akwasi Addae, a Kumasi-based businessman, a.k.a. and popularly called Odike, was the fifth speaker. Probably, because he had never before talked to a large crowd such as that one including very distinguished personalities started fumbling with words like a day nursery pupil in front of his class. Mr. Hassan Ayariga, inarguably, the Kwame Nyanteh of modern day Ghana democracy, was a delight to watch as he started with his usual jokes to liven the auditorium with intermittent coughs as a result of which his earlier intrigues hypnotized former president, Jerry Rawlings to coin a new name for him as Ayaricough. As the sixth speaker on the list, he too announced his presence with a clarion call for peace, nothing but peace so that Ghanaians would continue to live in unity. He also dwelt on peace and said because of his penchant desire for peace to reign in Ghana that was why anytime the late president travelled outside Ghana and returned home, he was amongst the crowd that MEMORIAL - Ghanaians would, however, remember him by his contribution made to the IEA Debate in Tamale and his concern for the peace that Ghana needed at the just ended Kumasi Declaration confab last Tuesday, November 27. When the history of the 2012 elections comes to be written, it will not be complete without the mention of his jokes that created much laughter. The next speaker was the running mate to Dr. Abu Sakara, a Madam Sarpong, who stood in for her substantive candidate. The CPP candidate could not make it to the KNUST campus due to flight connections from outside Ghana. Madam Sarpong, on her part as the seventh speaker, advised that nobody should allow him/herself to be cajoled by politicians to engage in violent acts that would jeopardize the elections. She entreated all and sundry to eschew violence because if someone sold his conscience to fight for a politician that person would obviously be thrown out when that person won power. She continued to warn Ghanaians that for Christ’s sake, nobody should allow him/herself to be fooled into doing the dirty work for the politicians for the love of Mother Ghana so that they do not die for them to enjoy at their expense.
DECEPTIVE ACTS - Ghanaians, she continued, should desist from such deceptive acts so that all of us would live in unity. The last speaker to round off the segment of speeches of the candidates was Mr. Jacob Osei Yeboah, who stood as an Independent candidate. Even though his political lineage could not immediately be known, he gave a very solemn thought provoking speech that kept the auditorium spell bound. He cited an example with his 80-year old mother who was too old to be evacuated from home to a safe haven if there was no peace but war erupting in Ghana due to the elections. He also advised that it was elections so Ghanaians should not be driven into conflict of war to disturb the peace we enjoyed now because if there was war, the vulnerable ones like the women and children and the aged in society would be the hardest hit. When he finished, the moderator, Dr. Akwetey, specially asked that the audience should give a special round of applause and the noise that ensued was so deafening that it could shake the foundation of the Great Hall.
CHIEF JUSTICE In performing her official duties to meet with international peace accords and high moral standards, Her Ladyship, Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, showed her class that indeed, she was an exceptional role model of womanhood in Ghana. She showed her class by taking cognizance of the vital document that would bind all the 8 candidates to accept the results of the elections if they were indeed credible. She explained the modalities and the legal implications of the document; took extra time and extra mile to read the four or so page document to the hearing of the candidates and entire gallery before the appendage of their signatures to affirm their support for the peace accord. Sooner than later, Her Ladyship herself, Naa Prof. Nabila, in his capacity as the president of the National House of Chiefs, Most Rev. Asante Antwi and His Majesty, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the creator and initiator of that important peace accord, lined up to append their respective signatures as principal witnesses. In all, ten copies of the document were submitted for signature and it is assumed that the Chief Justice would be given one for keeps at the Supreme Court for the future; another copy for the Otumfuo for keeps at the Manhyia Palace, probably, as a special souvenir for tourist attraction; while the remaining eight would be given to each of the
CAUTION In view of all this, peaceful solution for the prevention of any chaos before, during and after the December 7 elections rests on the shoulders of the Electoral Commi -ssioner. If anybody, whether the President or Nana Akufo Addo were to condone and connive with any group of people, the hurriedly trained Boateng Djan’s ‘mercenaries’, the police or whatever for his/their selfish interest to cause mayhem to become the next president of Ghana by foul means, the Good Lord should strike him dead instantly like Achan of old in Israel to save the innocent, vulnerable and defenceless Ghanaians. The rumours doing the rounds currently allege that some prominent personalities at the presidency were said to be implicated with rigging machinery to ensure the elections went in their favour no matter what. The author does not want to believe this assertion with the police connivance but, if it were true, as speculations were too rife, and forget to distance themselves from those fabricated and unprofessional acts, the Lord should strike the direct accomplices dead without mercy. The lucky ones should be struck with stroke to become life-long bed-ridden patients. The remaining ones should get maimed through motor accidents and the rest to be infested with incurable and chronic diseases to serve future selfish cheats in society as deterrent. Mr. Mahama and his NDC without the Rawlings’ consent, blessing and involvement, should ponder anew, meditate and reflect soberly and solemnly for the wrong deeds against Mother Ghana for the unprecedented dissipation of public money. Pray fervently for forgiveness, and finally take a cue from the late Komla Agbeli Gbedema’s National Alliance of Liberals in the 1969 General Elections.
EARNEST PLEA - We need peace for development. Ghana needs absolute peace for survival. The World needs peaceful co-existence. Peace, nothing but peace. Peace perfect peace. May the Good Lord bless His Majesty, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene, that, mortal as he is, in his earthly wisdom, God granted him Solomon’s bit of wisdom to moot the idea of that big stage dubbed, ‘THE KUMASI DECLARATION FOR PEACE’ for our two ex-presidents and Her Ladyship Justice Georgina Theodora Wood to grace the occasion with their presence at that colourful ceremony that paraded all the 8 presidential candidates. God bless the genuine God-fearing Clergy who continually pray for peace in Ghana. Let the thoughts of the wicked person(s); such as the Yaw Boateng Djans, the Paul Tawiah Quayes, the Asiedu Nketiahs and others because of selfish interest, fall and die by their own swords, rifles, pistols, machine guns, G3s and AK47s. The operators of the armoured and tear gas vehicles should also die from the suffocation of their filled-to-the-brim gas as well as ballot box snatchers with motorbikes and the special drivers for Yaw Boateng Djan’s fast and swift vehicles in the course of duty or line of nefarious action. In this case O Lord, search the hearts of the IGP and the pro-NDC senior police officers who, till now, have no blood stains on their door posts and, if found guilty, should be struck dead. The security personnel and hired agents alleged to have voted secretly under cover of darkness for the government (with support from EC officials because of wealth and property at the expense of the millions of impoverished Ghanaians) before the special voting on December 4 should, also, equally die miserable deaths like the 24,000 Israelites in one battle that brought the fear of God and sanity. O Lord God of Israel, thy servant’s humble prayer and hope have always been heard and answered. Show your might now or never. Let your mighty hand be on Ghana so that the oppressed people of Ghana would believe in you and serve you faithfully in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour of Mankind. God bless us all.
AFTER THE HISTORIC ‘KUMASI DECLARATION’ FOR PEACE, WHAT NEXT?
Dr. Afari Djan, don’t gamble with your life and think that you’re playing with day nursery pupils and their toys. You can disenfranchise some civilians some of the time but not extend it to the security servicemen this time round. Many people want a change now! A word to the wise, . . . .
SUMMARY - Generally, the solemn and memorable occasion were delightful, but still, wonder whether there would be any positive defiance to the peace accord despite the live telecast. His Eminence, Maulvi Wahab, Emir of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, gave the closing prayer.
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