Feature Article of Monday, 23 April 2012
Columnist: Thompson, Kofi
Teeming Masses Struggling To Survive
By Kofi Thompson
It is the poor in society who always bear the brunt of the debilitating effects on our nation, and its economy, of the violence and chaos, resulting from clashes between party supporters during election campaigns.
Those politicians who instigate and benefit from such violence, and their immediate families', seldom experience the consequences of the violence directly, themselves.
An old cynic and wag whom I am acquainted with, made the point the other day, that Ghanaians ought to ponder whether the fact that high-level corruption exists in Ghanaian politics, has anything to do with the violence we have been witnessing, in the biometric voter-registration exercise, now going on in the country.
He used the situation in the Ododododio constituency, to illustrate his point. It occurred to him, he said, that the passion shown there was most unusual - and seemed more intense than was normal.
He noted that both the parliamentary candidate for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Ododododio, Nii Lante Vanderpuije, and the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) candidate for the neighbouring Ablekuma South constituency, Ms. Ursula Owusu - whose attempt to mobilise her party's supporters in Ododododio to register in their numbers, is reported to have triggered off the violence there - appeared to be more focused in their approach to the biometric voter-registration, than has usually been the case in such exercises in the past, with most of Ghana's politicians. My acquaintance wondered whether the fact that Nii Lante Vanderpuije and Ursula Owusu, had both sampled the delights associated with the holding of political office in Ghana, was a factor in the determined approach the two central figures in the Ododododio drama had adopted, and the key to their determination to be on the winning side, in the forthcoming December presidential and parliamentary elections, come what may.
"Having tasted power Kofi, they both know how sweet it is - and want to be able to do so again, after the December polls," said the old wag and cynic to me, with a wry smile.
As readers will recall, when her party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was in power, Ms. Ursula Owusu served as a top-level appointee, in the Attorney General's Department for a time - when her party's presidential candidate for the December poll, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, was then serving as Ghana's Attorney General.
And when the now defunct Ghana Airways went into liquidation, she was also able to acquire a residential property belonging to it, "for peanuts" (to quote my acquaintance the old wag and cynic).
And as readers will again recall, the erstwhile national carrier, Ghana Airways, was deliberately killed off, during the golden age of business for Kufuor & Co. And in the end, some of those connected with the party in power at the time, the NPP, were able to participate in asset-stripping it.
In the view of my acquaintance the old wag and cynic, perhaps the passion displayed by politicians such as Ursula Owusu, is precisely because they know at first hand, what the material benefits of being an office holder, when the political party they belong to, is in power, actually are.
And they also know what a life-changing experience, a stint in office can be, for the clever and grasping political operator - alive to the many possibilities available to political appointees to increase their personal net worth, dramatically, and by stealth, during their party's tenure in office.
The average well-connected party member of any significance, is invariably aware of precisely where the bulk of the untraceable-and-unaccountable-cash sloshing around the system, oiling lucrative deals for the regime's crony-capitalist pals (who bankroll politicians and political parties across the spectrum - to hedge their bets), can be found.
For his part, today, thanks to the opaque nature of Ghanaian politics, and because of his position as a presidential aide, Nii Lante Vanderpuije, leads a comfortable life, courtesy the hard-pressed Ghanaian taxpayer. Only heaven knows what he is actually paid, and what perks he enjoys, as a presidential aide.
So, like Ursula Owusu, he too knows that being an appointee of the regime in power at any given moment, in our nation's history, can directly benefit a smart and well-placed government appointee.
And thus, dear reader, are the seeds of violence in our homeland Ghana planted, metaphorically, in the deep recesses of the minds of ruthless and clever politicians - many of who daily participate in the propaganda war fought on the airwaves of FM radio stations across Ghana, and in the columns of the "rented-press" that mostly serve the interests of our educated urban elites.
Having germinated, those seedlings-of-destruction are then transplanted, as it were, into the thought processes of desperados who spend the bulk of their miserable lives, in criminal gangs, which rule the back alleys and pot-hole-filled streets of slums and poor neighbourhoods, up and down our country.
Alas, when eventually ordered to do so by their puppet-masters, those remote-controlled seedlings-of-destruction, suddenly mushroom nationwide, causing violence and chaos that only compounds the misery of the teeming salt-of-the-earth masses, struggling to survive from day to day across our homeland Ghana.
Tel (Powered by Tigo - the one mobile phone network in Ghana, which actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109. Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone from Vodafone