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Feature Article of Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Columnist: Casely-Hayford, Sydney

Oleeee, Oleee, Olee, OYE

Critical News, 3rd February 2013

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

We went past another milestone when Parliament accepted that Nana Oye Lithur could be made Minister for Gender, Children and Social protection. Like many other new descriptions and positions created so far by Government, I don’t know what that job entails, but I am glad Nana Oye was nominated and accepted. We will debate the ministries issue later when Kwaka Baako comes back from New York, where he is chilling for a while. But I will say here and now that President John Mahama has no problem with gay rights. It has nothing to do with Mr. Solomon sitting to his left at his book launch, it has more to do with what I asked him at another book launch. JDM believes in protecting citizen rights; that I know for a fact, because he knew where Nana Oye was coming from before he nominated her to ensure that the rights of the underprivileged in society would be catered, and I asked him and he clarified at a public event.
What he is facing is the mounting evidence by the NPP that a possible 11,916 polling stations could have been “contaminated”. On January 31, the NPP team filed an amendment to their petition claiming a much larger number of voting irregularities and a more humongous change to the election results. The count now is 4,670,504 out of the 10,995,262 votes cast are invalidated. If you work through the arithmetic you will arrive at an amended position where John Mahama ends up with 39.1% and Nana Addo would have won the election with 59.69%. The areas of discrepancy are many; from pink sheets not signed, to excess ballot papers printed, to more votes recorded than filed and additional non-existent polling stations included in the vote count.
The motions and preliminary objections and requirements have hopefully been dispensed with and we look to starting the real petition and present evidence from Tuesday 5th Feb. The frightening end result is what the courts will decide when this is all over. Meantime, Ghana is slowly grinding to a halt. There is very little activity around town. I made it to Labone junction from McCarthy Hill via the NI Highway on Saturday in 17 minutes, a record by any standards and I marveled at the quiet in Accra. The match was to start at 3pm, so there was no reason for anyone to stay at home all morning. Trading activity is low but coconuts are selling briskly at one cedi, even in Ahsaiman.
Have you been to Ashaiman? Like really gone to look around the place and try to understand what a modern Ghana Municipality looks like? You should. It will make you wonder whaddup with all the fuss about the 45 districts. You get no real support from Government when you are declared a municipality, none. How much less a District. Ashaiman is the pits. Dust, potholes, congestion, scary corners and alley ways, with all sorts scampering to and fro with an intensity and purpose unrivaled anywhere I have seen in Ghana.
Budget will be read soon in March, pray the NPP will not boycott that hearing and we can balance the debate.
Koforidua police, eeh! Still do not understand that the people of this country do not need their permission to hold a public event. We the people have to inform them of the event and their job is to do all that is possible for us to hold that event. Gabby Otchere Darko and the Let My Vote Count people are bent on holding a rally at K’dua to elaborate on some rights, Sunday. K’dua police say they will not allow it. We might head to court in defiance. Simple matter. We are either heading for a Police State, a Theocracy or some other crazy form of rights abuse that only happens when the NDC is in power.
I am not interested in promoting Gay rights. I have no specific interest in making people homosexual or lesbian if I had the power to do so, but I firmly believe that everyone in this world is entitled to their choice of worship, situation, sexual preference and lifestyle. We make it what we want in the privacy of our lives and it is not my place to determine what another person can and should not do in the privacy of their four walls.
The Constitution of Ghana is clear that engaging in unnatural carnal knowledge in Ghana is illegal. Nowhere does it state that being a homosexual is illegal. If you equate homosexuality to unnatural carnal knowledge then of course it becomes illegal. But even then, everyone has a guaranteed right to defend a preference of whatever form. What is so difficult to understand about that? The fundamental right of every Ghanaian is protected in the Constitution. Read Chapter 5 carefully and especially paragraph 17. Our Parliament could not understand this and took us through unnecessary shenanigans in the media, debating religious and cultural dictates and juxtaposing the gay position with a human rights position. All because, they are not ready to push the boundary for protection of human rights. Nana Oye Lithur did not do a good enough job herself, saying what she stood for, but not educating the mid-level thinking of some committee members better. The dribble from the partisan vetting committee was simply a waste of time. In the end they came back to endorse her nomination. And she is right. Even if you are gay or lesbian, you have a right in our society to a fair hearing. But why does Nana Oye want this job anyway? Being a minister will tie her hands and stop a career in rights protection mid-stream. I hope that when she completes her term she will go back to defending the disadvantaged. We need more of her in the open.
Even His Most Homophobic Reverend Professor Martey of the Presbyterian Church, who went public to condemn Nana Oye Lithur and succeeded in making her the devil’s advocate, calling her a liar and a lover of gays, probably did not realize what mayhem he could have caused if Nana Oye had not been confirmed. Does he realize we still lynch people in Ghana when someone yells “hee djulor oo” in this country? Is he aware that mob action is still not prosecuted to the fullest and that criminals get away with murder under the guise of eliminating suspected thieves? Is he aware that, large sections of his congregation are semi-literate and follow willy-nilly every word from his pulpit? And would he be willing to accept that reactions to his sermons are his responsibility? Same way he expects his followers to respond and do the good deeds he encourages that benefit the church, same way he should face his responsibilities when they go awry on his say so.
Coming back from Kumasi on Thursday listening to public comments, I heard many listeners vowing to lynch Nana Oye if she dared step in Kumasi, because she was a friend to gay and lesbian persons. That is how far below we straddle the human rights totem.
And where is the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice in all this? The country was making a statement on fundamental rights of the citizens. We have lost a bite in the bastion of our protection with the appointment of Lauretta Lamptey. The defender of public rights should have waded into this controversy immediately it came up and cleared the air and misconception sown by Parliament. I think if this job is too complicated for Ms. Lamptey or if she does not want the job, she should step out and let a more committed person take the lead. It is not enough to just head an Institution and pick up a fat paycheck month on month.
Black Stars Oleeee, Olee, Olee, Ole. Still under-performing, but managed to eek a 2-0 win out of Cape Verde. We expected to win as we always do, putting the Stars under some serious stress and Asamoah Gyan kicking some butt up front for 90 minutes. His trip-up that won us the penalty shows you do not need to score a goal to be the hero. I like the man, more so because he was an Academician. Bleoooo! So, we win the next match 1-0 and play in the final. It will be gye. The supporters had best shower as much as they can and not get used to the constant and regular power supply. The Better Ghana is starving and depriving us of the most essential but basic of modern needs and our rights are totally violated after all the taxes and bills we pay.
Ghana, Aha a ye de papa. Alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!

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