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Opinions of Sunday, 27 February 2011

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Now that Mills and Kufuor are smoking pipes..!

By George Sydney Abugri

President JEA Mills and former President J.A. Kufour have not been the chummiest of buddies on the political turf since the first gentleman was sworn into office more than two years ago, but hey, there is nothing like a potential election crisis brewing in the eye of a gathering storm, to get even the deadliest of political foes puffing merrily away on peace pipes in a presidential castle.

President Mills right out of the blue, extended an impromptu invitation to Kufuor to meet him at the presidential castle this week, which invitation the former president graciously honoured, whereupon, John and John barricaded themselves behind steel walls and talked away to their hearts’ content.

When they emerged from what could not have been old-time social banter to kill time, they staunchly refused to tell us a darned thing about the motivation for their new found friendship and what it was they discussed behind sound-proof walls.

All the president told reporters was that they discussed matters domestic and international, that their meeting had been held “in a cordial atmosphere”, that it centered on “the national interest” {whatever that means in specific terms} and that he and the former president shared a common obligation to “manage the national interest with decorum and self respect.”

That left us without so much as half a clue, Jomo, but all human creatures have a fair sense of the basic mathematics of life and human relations and we added two and two and came up with four: The meeting we speculated, had something to do with the multiple signs of trouble in the making.

Days before the meeting, Mills had delivered the annual presidential state of the nation address at Parliament House, were he announced that he had instructed the security agancies to declare a state of red alert. Hey, red alert? That is pretty serious talk in national security vocabulary.

It is uncertain whether the president was pulling his opponents’ legs and watching them fidget or a case of random words falling where they do not belong:

President Mills had in the course of his address, declared his administration's determination to deal “decisively” with rabble rousers. This was interpreted by many to refer to NPP presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo’s recent “all-die-be-die” remarks, which many have said was an incitement of his supporters to violence next year.

So my guess is that they discussed what the leaderships of the NDC and the NPP need to do to ensure that things do not spiral out of control as the days go by. The pre-election temperature keeps rising progressively by the day:

Former legislator and Greater Accra Regional Minister Sheik I.C.Quaye reported during the week that his family residence was attacked and property destroyed last Sunday by people claiming he had a cache of arms and ammunition stashed away in the place.

Sheik Quaye said the idea of him stockpiling arms and ammunition was ‘stupid” and claimed the vandals who attacked the residence were National Democratic Congress supporters.

Enter NDC National Propaganda Secretary Mr. Richard Quashigah was right on time with the explanation that it was all a stage-managed incident. The propaganda chief claimed NDC intelligence had gathered that a series of such stage-managed incidents had been planned to discredit and cause public disaffection for the NDC ahead of the 2012 election.

This week the MP for Assin North, the Hon Kennedy Agyapong who owns a modest media empire incorporating television and radio networks, launched a rage-fuelled tirade against pro-Mills activist Alhaji Bature and subjected him to some of the vilest and most revolting abuse I have ever heard from a law-maker.

Exploding like a human volcano on radio, the legislator called the activist a “Papeni”, which I am told, is a derisive reference to a Northern Ghanaian and that the activist had tended goats and sheep when he was growing up.

Want to hear the rest of the nauseating stuff that was let fly, Jomo? Nah. It won’t do you any good, old chap. What was it the loquacious and verbose Paul told Timothy about such matters? Timothy, remind your people and give them a solemn warning not to fight over words. It does no good but only ruins the people who hear them.”

Political opponents apparently dig up information they could use against political rivals but it appears they sometimes get the wrong information.

Remarkable coincidences are my daily lot Jomo and in this particular instance, it is this: When I was teaching at the St John’s Middle School at Bolgantanga in1971, Alhaji Bature who is one of the most vociferous political activists in the country today, was in primary school.

Bature and his Family were my next door neighbours and I don’t recall seeing him shepherding any bleating ruminants because it was an urban environment with no grazing grounds for kilometers around.

His father was a building and road contractor and one of the wealthiest residents of Bolgatanga at the time. I recall that his father had a fleet of cars and his elder brother who was a teenager at the time, was driving a Mercedes from the fleet to inspect one of his fathers contracts project when he crashed on the Bolgatanga-Tamale road and lost his life. Age has caught up with me but that much I remember.

Now here is the incredible twist: It is I who am trying to set the records straight that rather spent my childhood tending sheep and goats on the Agoli Hills [Agolzous} outside Bawku. I did not choose to be born on the Savanna or to become a shepherded but hey come to think of it, I loved it.

As I have repeatedly told you, it was a great life in the wild with nature. In those days the environment had not been so ravaged by desertification and there was enough lush, fresh vegetation and grazing ground to feed a trillion goats and sheep for a couple of centuries.

We wrestled, acted as referees when our rams fought, drunk from clear streams and hunted fat squirrels and rats which we roasted over twig fires and feasted under trees. There were enough wild fruits for desert.

It makes no difference today: You grew up with a trillion-carat gold spoon in your buccal cavity. I grew up a goat shepherd. I end up travelling world like no Gulliver’s business, meeting great people and doing great things, so what difference does it make?

Young people are listening to the political conversation and they must be encouraged to see other people as children of God no matter their upbringing disadvantaged origins and the social status of their parents.

Others said Alhaji Bature deserved the verbal walloping because he had provoked the MP by publicly alleging that the legislator’s mother etched a living from selling plastic products at a local market and that the MP had made his wealth from cocaine smuggling. That was too much for the MP who in his rage threatened the life of the activist on radio.

Someone claimed Kennedy Agyapong had a very fiery temper loosely held on the shortest of fuses and that he is in the habit of threatening people. The bloke then proceeded to reel off, a very long list names of prominent people whose lives Agyapong has allegedly threatened.

Alhaji Bature said he had reported the legislator's threat on his life to the Criminal Investigations Department. Everyone is threatening everyone else over matters political. A reporter on a newspaper claimed the Coordinator of National Security Colonel Gbevlo-Lartey had threatened his life and he was going to report th4 threat to the CID.

Report the security chief to the people whose work he supervises? That is how crazy things are getting truly bizarre here but take heart, for with Mills and Kufuor now smoking pipes, the reading on the thermometer of national political conversation might take a dip in coming weeks, or will it?