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Feature Article of Monday, 25 June 2012

Columnist: Akyeampong, Prince

Politicizing Mills' Health: Who Is To Blame?

He claims be the "asomdweehene" and "father for all." Ironically, his tenure in office as President has been characterized by several acts of lawlessness as well as political and ethnic violence. From North to South, various individuals, local leaders and factions have taken the law into their own hands by trying to bulldoze their way through conflicts that could be amicably resolved through prompt government intervention; conflicts that call for a no-nonsense approach from President Mills. Yet, in spite of frantic calls and exhortations by well-meaning Ghanaians to the President to adopt a nip-them-in-the-bud approach to the ever-increasing deadly conflicts springing up all over our dear country, he continues to remain silent; a deafening silence that some of us find extremely irritating. Mr President, need I remind you that you are still Ghana's substantive President? As Ghanaians, we should all be concerned about our President's health, which incidentally is the only thing he's talked about recently; but if he claims he's well and strong, it's hard to wrap ones mind around why he's refused to comment on these troubling incidents and why he's failed to visit some of these conflict zones.

Mills' inadequacy aside, there is the need to strongly condemn the various factions engaged in these nation-wrecking acts. I would like to start with our brethren in the North where violence seems to be part and parcel of their lives. It's as if there's always some kind of conflict in the North. I remember the Konkomba/Nanumba deadly conflict in this area several years ago which claimed many innocent lives; and now, it's the konkombas and the Bimobas? I've often wondered why there's so much strife in this area. Is it because Northerners are prone to violence or simply very short tempered? What happened to Nkrumah's free education policy for Northerners which was supposed to bring about enlightenment and development in that area? Has it come to naught? Wake up Northerners; free education should not lead to free-for-all fighting! Show some sense of decency and civility.

Our next stop is Hohoe in the Volta Region where recent disturbing developments have threatened to shake the very foundations of inter tribal/ethnic co-existence and tolerance in our dear country. Coincidentally, this is a conflict that involves our compatriots from the North and the locals. Folks, the Hohoe incident has the potential of spreading nationwide if not resolved completely. Zongo and Ewe communities are spread all over the country, and if care is not taken to decisively clean up this mess, there could be deadly reprisals in the near future. If I'm not mistaken, the Nigerian civil war was mainly precipitated by ethnic tensions and violence which spiraled out of control. This jungle warfare situation that is gradually gaining grounds in Ghana attests to President Mills' loose grip on the reins of government. Apparently, Egya Attah's strategy is to pretend to be "unruffled" in the face of increasing acts of violence nationwide. If the President considers that to be a show of strength, I have news for him; it's a sign of weakness and helplessness!

Mills' continued silence in the face of these increasing acts of violence nationwide is obviously what set tongues wagging about his health status. As Ghanaians, shouldn't we be concerned if our leader does not respond to acts of lawlessness? As Ghanaians, and essentially as humans, there is the likelihood that in the absence of any credible information regarding Mills' unresponsive attitude with respect to the status quo, we are liable to rely on the last resort; the rumour mill, which unfortunately knows no boundaries. Much as one appreciates Arthur Kennedy and Dr. Nduom's condemnation of those "politicizing" Mills' health, it's not very clear what they intended to achieve. Perhaps it's these two gentlemen who are rather politicizing Mills' health by attempting to score political points with these "condemnations." The point is, whether Mills was rumoured to be very ill or dead is beside the point. It was essentially the state of concern and helplessness that drove Ghanaians to that point.

If you happen to be an opposition member or supporter, it is only rational that you would try to capitalize on this issue; and I wouldn't blame you. It's not as if opposition members prayed for Mills' death; which is Un-Ghanaian, but, I don't think it's out of place for supporters of the opposition to say - look, this President's unresponsive attitude is apparently due to serious health issues he's having to deal with; so, fellow Ghanaians it wouldn't make sense to vote for a man who's having to contend with constant health issues and a fragile economy at the same time. In other words, the opposition is urging Ghanaians to vote for someone with a more stable health background who can consequently focus on the economy. In so doing, Egya Attah would thus be able to attend to his health needs without having to worry about managing the nation's affairs. Nobody wishes President Mills dead; however in this instance, I believe there's some justification in politicizing his health (in a good way). If Mills constantly faces health issues, why in the world would he still try to remain our leader for another four years? It's hard to understand politicians sometimes. It's as if their mentor is the devil himself; they really don't think much of the electorate, do they?

The opposition may be up to their politics-as-usual style and Ghanaians may have gone a shade too far by thinking Egya Atta was dead; but; can you blame them? The President brought it upon himself and once again, in this instance, there are certainly some positives in "politicizing" Mills health. There are some things you can't just sweep under the carpet or you may live to regret the action later. If Mills is facing challenging health issues, he needs to come clean with Ghanaians and in the interest of the nation, make way for a more healthy candidate. We cannot afford to have a leader who is constantly distracted by health issues. God bless mother Ghana!

Prince Akyeampong, Washington D.C.

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