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Opinions of Saturday, 12 March 2011

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

2012: The jinx, Dr. Gyan and the Gonzo boys

By George Sydney Abugri

Warmest greetings old chap. Have you noticed how time in its typical stealth, sometimes takes very speedy flight when you are not paying attention, leaving you suddenly stranded in space with a project or a planned event far behind schedule? If you haven’t, just watch how 2012 creeps up on us.

Considering the acrimony, tension and very brisk trade in insults raging on between the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party on the eve of the election year, our key concern in 2012 will be the maintenance of peace, law and order. Luckily for all and sundry, I have the perfect plan for a peaceful election.

Step One: Let us have all ready ahead of 2012, an elaborate rapid response system for identifying, deactivating, disabling and promptly neutralizing those forces which always surface every election year and begin to heave mightily at the nation’s peace and security.

Since there is much more to the avoidance and management of conflict than the employment of deterring force, Step Two in my plan is even better, as it emphasizes total transparency and fairness as non-negotiable conditions for a peaceful election.

Step Three is dependent on our ability to pull off Step Two: We must chase, catch up with, wrestle down and pin to the ground, that mysterious and ever elusive jinx which has messed up every single national project we have embarked upon in this country. He is the leading threat to a peaceful election:

We embark on a national identification project: He sneaks in and messes it up. We start a National Health Insurance Scheme: He comes along and throws in a monkey wrench so that the scheme it is fraught with a trillion difficulties.

We set out to count the national population and there he shows up again and gives the Government Statistician such an excruciating headache, that it is a miracle the GS is able to arrive at a total count of 25 million.

We try to hold by-elections and he breathes confusion into the skull of the Electoral Commissioner and the delivery of voting materials and other logistics to electoral areas takes a millennium and a couple of centuries and sometimes not at all!

Only last week, the migration of the country’s classroom teachers to a revised salary structure called the Single Spine Salary pay structure, was so messily handled that the teachers embarked on protests across the country and refused to participate in our 54th Independence Day celebrations.

We cannot afford this kind of potentially disastrous bumbling at a national election, can we? Killing the jinx should mean giving all blundering bureaucrats and technocrats the marching orders from today onward.

The level of objectivity in news reporting on the activities of political parties and circumspection in all interactive media programmes but especially on radio before, during and after the election, could make all the different between a peaceful election and a violence-prone one:

Radio political talk show producers and hosts need to start re-writing the rules for studio discussants and for phone-in segments: Keep your submissions as short. Go straight to the point. Stick to the topic. Be civil and respectful to all. No sexist comments. No ethnocentric remarks and certainly no insults.

Gonzo journalism was coined in the 1970s to describe the work of journalists like the {in} famous Hunter S. Thompson.

Gonzo journalism makes no pretense and offers no apologies for its lack of objectivity, fairness and balance. Gonzo journalists say that objectivity is only a myth and that striving for objectivity only gets in the way of telling the truth. It is not the kind of journalism I would recommend for any political reporter or editor in an election year or any other year.

Step Four is as tricky as it is very critical, because it concerns the youth who are usually at the forefront of political violence and election-related civil wars.

Some politicians whose consciences have gone to sleep exploit large numbers of unemployed, poorly guided and ill-motivated unemployed youth to perpetuate violence and for other dishonorable ends in the pursuit of power.

Thanks to such politicians, many youth appear to have gained the sad impression that anyone who belongs to any party other than their party is an arch enemy for life, who must be must hated with venom, despised, and kept at arms length on all occasions.

They watch and listen to rabid politicians strutting their overly aggressive stuff and conclude that civility, circumspection, respect for others and tolerance of others views are stupid and cowardly dispositions.

You will sometimes hear apparently respectable and well educated party functionaries promulgating among young party faithful, the weird political philosophy that what is wrong is right where there has been a precedent:

Insult, disparage, vandalize, distort, fabricate, lie, loot and burn. Our opponents did the same thing on this and that occasion, so why not we too, buddy?

Under the negative tutelage of those they perceive to be their political mentors and role models, some youth and are being deployed to wreck havoc on political opponents during radio phone-in programmes, in the print media and to a lesser degree on television and the Internet

Some politicians have misguided and corrupted some youth and turned them into rabid and ferocious party attack-and-maul dogs and thanks to internet technology, launched them into cyberspace to discourage the expression of dissenting political opinion. Visit Ghana web’s news and features pages any time and you will find them very busy earning their unwholesome keep.

When some of their nation’s accomplished political leaders, academics, scholars, clergy, traditional rulers and senior citizens express their views on matters of state, governance and current events in the nation and these are published on the internet, these young people subject their elders to putrid insults and vile abuse:

Some of this breed in the service of some politicians and political parties, who cannot spell “is”, “it” or “this”, let alone make sense of an intellectual argument, spend so much time doing this.

Their favorite insults are ‘stupid’ “idiot”, “baboon”, “fool”, and “monkey”, “useless” etc, with generous doses of ethnocentrically-motivated hate communication thrown in for good measure.

If you spy a fellow with a mischievous, political glint in his eye seated behind a PC or lap for extended hours to the point where he begins scratching his balls and farting while still posting insults merrily and determinedly away, get him, buddy! That is the chap, alright!

Without a doubt, it is the well brought up, disciplined, intelligent and sober youth with demonstrated good human and leadership qualities who will inherit the leadership of our mighty republic when the present generation of political leaders is gone and they soon will...

Yet unless something is done now, those undisciplined youth who are fast graduating under the mentorship of selfish politicians into another breed of ill-motivated individuals in active partisan politics, will give the future leadership of the nation sheer hell with a capital “H.” Email: georgeabu@hotmail.com Website: www.sydneyabugri.com