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Opinions of Sunday, 17 July 2011

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

2012: Why Dr. Gyan needs the big band sound

By George Sydney Abugri

Jack Russel: Sounds like the name of some famous bloke or a tough and mean fellow of the type you know better than to monkey around with when he is in a foul mood, yah? Look the name up in the dictionary: A Jack Russel is actually the name of a very small dog with short legs.

See, Jomo? Words can create menacing mental images far removed from reality or brew up raging hurricanes in beer crown corks. It is one fact not lost on the media and their chummy chums on the propaganda circuit.

The National Democratic Congress’s national delegates' congress came and went last week and surprise, surprise, Jomo: The sky did not crash down on our republic or the earth stop spinning on its axis.

Time did not stand still in space and former first lady Mrs. Konadu Agyemang Rawlings who was supposed to unseat President Mills as the NDC's presidential candidate and go on to run for president next year managed only a miserable three percent of the vote.

Such had been the propaganda-driven and over-zealous concentration of radio, television and print on the NDC ‘s scheduled congress, the looming threat of violence and the supposedly inevitable breakup of the party, that the entire nation had little time for any other political party but the NDC for many weeks running.

It was one hell of a propaganda overkill if you ask me and it backfired, as in the end, the NDC got a massive overdose of publicity which seems to have achieved the exact opposite of what the media blitz on the expected sudden collapse of the ruling NDC was supposed to achieve.

Instead of the chaos we were told to expect, voting by delegates was preceded by a big dance party with a life band belting out bam, bam sounds.

Congress delegates and party supporters who were supposed to be pushing, shoving, scowling and menacing each other, were dancing away to their hearts’ content like a Holy-Spirit lifted congregation dancing in the aisles of a huge church auditorium.

On second thought, the campaign may have found a firm footing in the fact of every previous NDC congress having been marred by hostility. That only days before the congress, a mysterious sniper of a gun man took a pot shot at the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the party while he was driving his motor car, did little to dispel the NDC’s perceived propensity for violence.

Anyhow, I was spinning this yarn about the NDC’s congress, wasn’t I? At one stage band leader Jewel Ackah in a weird ten-gallon hat to match his burly frame, got his band to play Jerry Hanson’s rendition of Eddie Floyd’s original “Knock on Wood”, which got some seniour citizens across the political divide humming along and toe dancing in their rocking chairs.

I would part with a day’s wage to know what psychological impact the dramatic dance-partying congress had on the large population of floating voters who watched it all on TV.

So enthralled was he indeed by what he saw, that former NDC Chairman Dr. Obed Asamoah, who with a handful of aggrieved, faithful disciples broke away from the party to form the Democratic Freedom Party in 2006, promptly announced the likelihood of his return to the NDC.

The last but one national delegates' congress around, Dr. Asamoah got the biggest scare of his political career! It is a bizarre story worthy of a couple of chapters in our partisan political history.

It was all on account of Dr. Asamoah’s attempt at the time, to seek a second term as party chairman. This was at a time those fiery boys on the extreme left of the NDC, reckoned that Dr. Asamoah did not fit their definition of the party cadre after all, and wanted him replaced by someone approved of by party founder Jerry Rawlings.

Dr. Asamoah has since recounted how on arrival at the congress venue at Koforidua, he was suddenly surrounded by a mob which appeared determined to pluck the limbs off him one by one.

Armed police personnel rescued him and sent him into the conference hall where for nearly 24 hours, he sat and sat and sat, literally strapped to his seat by raw, mortal fear.

Eventually he was famished and starving to death. At one stage he badly needed to move to the loo to evacuate a swollen bladder or bowel or both. On both occasions, it took armed police officers to escort him to the points where he could attend to his physiological needs.

At the close of congress, a team of muscular police officers formed a shield around him and tried to smuggle him out of the building but the mob was waiting for them when they emerged!

By his account again, the police vehicle in which he was, took off like a rocket and would have run over members of the mob who appeared bent on getting him out of the police vehicle, had they not scampered like rabbits out of the way...

If the rare phenomenon of a dance party at the national delegates conference of a political party made it possible to avoid a looming threat of electoral violence, Electoral Commissioner Dr. Afari-Gyan may well consider giving the strategy a shot too in 2012.

He could have life bands playing patriotic songs about Ghana at polling stations. All within 20 meters of ballot boxes excluded, all other voters in queues may dance to their hearts’ content while waiting to vote.

It worked to put the cap on a brewing volcano in the NDC and it can help us pull off 2012 without any Kenyan, Ivorian or Zimbabwean scenarios.

Now we await a J.E.A Mills-Nana Akufo-Addo rematch. This is a golden opportunity to cure ourselves of the deadly viral affliction of the power-sharing nonsense which has come close to blowing up some states on the continent.

All we need do is play back a reel of Election 2008 like a motion picture story, right from the moment Mills and Akufo-Addo hit the campaign trail.

From there, we work our way through the first round of voting, the troubled bye-election and the invasion of the Electoral Commission by disgruntled party activists.

We continue through the sight of machete-wielding party supporters on the rampage and the intended court action by the opposition that had the potential to spark of full scale war across the republic, to the eventual announcement of the election result in an atmosphere charged with raw electricity.

That should make it possible to determine what was done right and what was done wrong in 2008, and make appropriate amends. That should deliver a peaceful poll whose tally should be acceptable to the majority, unless of course it is the case that there are some who would have our republic go up inflames either way.

In that case those whose activities have the potential to promote electoral violence next year should be taken very careful and particular note of, just in case we ever find ourselves in dire need of candidates for the global house of justice in The Hague! Website: www.sydneyabugri.com Email: georgeabu@hotmail.com