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Opinions of Wednesday, 8 January 2003

Columnist: Kaytu, Kwame Atta

The Bother with Messrs. Rawlings and Kufour

My literature lecturer once told the class, which I was part of in an interesting analogy that we human beings are struggling in a big sack. But nobody can climb to the top easily so one has step on the shoulder of another person till the first person gets out. Sadly, when the first person gets out, s/he tightens the neck of the sack and roam around with the rest of the people like his tennis balls. This is done just to prevent another person to come out and enjoy the free human sanctity and decency of life.

The class was talking about a poem but I am not sure if my lecturer had a shrouded premonition for our political whirligig in Ghana today.

Ghanaweb published an article on 2nd January, which appears to be the concerns of Ghanaians urging President Kufour and Mr. Rawlings to unite - referring to the sordid relationship between them. In the short article, Mr. Kwabena Agyapong press secretary of Pres. Kufour and Victor Smith, the press secretary of Mr. Rawlings both admitted the strain relationship between the two political figures. Joyonline (Joy FM site) has also published another article on 4th January, supposedly being the comments by Mr. Ekow Spio-Garbrah, the spokesperson of the NDC flagbearer Mr. Evans Atta Mills, calling on the government to set up a probe into assessing why Mr. Mills refused to accept a presidential protocol gift for the X'mas. I will not comment on the probe issue in this article since I do take such a comment with mixed feelings. My serious mental rambling stems from the source of the issue and the personalities concerned. I am not sure if people have soon forgotten a crusader's wish on 'integrity', which stormed our homes for almost 20 years whereupon the source for this -Mr. Spio-Garbrah and Mr. Mills' wish - probe is affiliated to. I hate to say some or many of our political leaders are not serious but that is the truth.

Analysing this whole tension is hard for me. The fact is I do not see any tension at all. Or if there is in some tension, I personally feel it is meaningless right now to our focus as Ghanaians as far economic, social amenities, freedom and democracy are concerned. In any democratic dispensation not all people will be pleased. Not all people will be friends. Not all will actually be free at all. A deeper reflection reveals that a number of questions are not answerable here:

    1. Is it compulsory for Mr. Rawlings and President Kufour to be friends by all means and what for? - As individuals they have the right not to be good friends. If not being good friends does not affect the peace and tranquility of innocent Ghanaians then there is no need for us to worry. As I see it, the media is given too much attention to the individual lives of these two personalities and the tension that can affect and distract the focus of the President. I do not think every Ghanaian is a friend to President Kufour and so are past political leaders. So what is the big deal here if the two are not happy of themselves? I would have love to see the former president get involved in development projects, neutral political participation and advisory personality to the sitting government. This I will be happy to see the media catapult him to limelight and commend his efforts. He presently roams around seeking votes for Mr. Mills, renewing his wedding vows, assuring the nation of NDC come and that I s all. What is it that he would have done best if he had been given another 4 years after the 8 years he spent as president that he cannot offer as advice to the NPP government? Do we REALLY have to focus on this behind the scene personal conflict at all?

    2. Is the past a lesson? - If the former president is not happy about the current situation in Ghana what has he to offer now that he cannot do while he is out of office? It is important to post for reading again that personal view and directions cannot be the ultimate choice for all Ghanaians. In any case as in good or bad governmental system, the sitting president may not be able to satisfy all the demands of the diverse political parties. That is why each party has a manifesto and since the sitting president's manifesto has been accepted and voted for, it is criticisms, I mean constructive criticism that should be our focus. I do not see either the failure/success of the NPP government should be manufactured into tension by an individual and to be accepted by many.

    3. Is it not a history? - That Nkrumah was in prison when CPP won the election for him to become a Prime Minister. Nelson Mandela epitomises this historic feat also when he came from the walls of politcal prison to lead ANC into today's South Africa's finest political life. The Dutch parliamentarian, Mr. Fortune was assassinated before the elections in Holland and yet his party won the majority seat. It does not matter where one is, the influence of a good leader can be carried alive by any means. The predicament of those mentioned above is no near that of the former president. In my earlier article entitled 'Dear Ghana, Mr. Rawlings and Mr. Kufour' published on October 4th, I challenged Mr. Rawlings that he can still do more to offer peace and growth in better to Ghanaians than what is going on Ghana now. Are we being justified to swallow our fear of not allowing a former ruler/president to live, imprisoned or whatever? I bet this tension is nonsense.

    4. Can the two persons concerned even tell us what is their problem? -

The bane of Ghana is 'cycloned' around our political individuals. I dream with fear all the time with lack of clear-cut policy to tackle our economic woes. I know that politics offer a great deal of individual's ambition to help his or her country. This is not to say to lead as one wishes but a determined effort to create a change for the better. This is why I am worried if certain acrimonious traits will be carpeted to shield the focus of President Kufour at this particular moment rather than to assist him in any way possible. He may not be the best president but he be the best if we support him well. I believe this appeal should cover a bigger space in the media than the tension between the two.

As Ghanaians, we are being challenged of our political thoughts today. We cannot always vote and sit aloof to observe with great reservation. It is becoming a time that our voices should be greater than our votes. Imagine this, United States do have their elections a month or so before we in Ghana will have our elections in all the time. As at now, President Bush's eye and mind is on Iraq. May be he thinks the economy of his country can still be destroyed by terrorist threats. That also I think is the eye of many Americans too. The Democrats are now waiting and looking forward for individuals to offer and run for their primary elections to elect a flagbearer to challenge Mr. Bush. In Ghana, the biggest opposition party NDC went into congress in 2002. As I write this article, the ruling NPP is in Sekondi-Takoradi holding their congress too.

In US, two things may be at stake, Iraq and economy. In Ghana as I see it, it is all about winning the next elections in 2004. I know for sure that the next 23months prior to the 2004 elections all our political direction will focus on bogus utterances, personality attack, political failures/successes, and a lot of talk. Not much attention will be given to the economy and the harsh economic lives many Ghanaians are facing. No need for those parties to even raise campaign money as US will do, they already have their campaign monies. They may be praying so hard for 2003 to vanish. It?s a big joke!

Democracy is about accountability and participation. This is where we as Ghanaians should vote for people we think can lead the country and so well. We may have to learn not to vote and wait for the government to do what they like. Not the time again for elections to see individuals driving to villages to smile with T-shirts and bags of rice. We have to question them what they did for Ghana and not what they are bring for next elections. We should continue to redefine ourselves and our political interests otherwise the whimsy political roller coaster that has entangled the fabric of our social life will deepen our woes. We are going to be more miserable unless we raise up questions and for reproach the very people who preach about integrity and education tell us the meaning and its application. Its time we object to personal welfare than Ghanaian good will.

We have to vote, yes. Voting is power and accountability is the result. Under no circumstance should we separate the two. We may have taken leniency on accountability and that is why every individual parade thru our dusty roads with pickup tracks to solicit only votes and nothing else - never willing to account for what they did. As I humbly call on the Council of State or the Parliament of Ghana to openly call our two political figures Mr. Rawlings and Pres. Kufour to reasoning we should also ask them as Ghanaians to tell as their problems. For now we know that their families will be the last to be hungry, ever lack money, face the scourge of unemployment, sleep in the dark and the first to run away peaceful to enjoy life in another country when Ghana is no Ghana tomorrow.

So you see dear reader, the bother of Mr. Rawlings and Pres. Kufour is that they do not have any problem!

Ps/ I happily welcome criticisms and comments.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of Ghanaweb.