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Opinions of Sunday, 16 January 2005

Columnist: Amankwa, Kwame

Amanfuo ? if anyone knows of any impediment why

Amanfuo, the voting is over, the results have been declared, the accusations of frivolous irregularities and mud slinging has been in full swing for sometime now. The poor voter has been left perplexed by some of the comments and actions of some of our so-called politicians.

Amanfuo, the other side of this unfolding event has been the emergence of all sorts of politicians ? some doggy, some true patriots etc. Some are elephants ready to crush, build or destroy, whilst some are umbrella shaped, ready to hold us from getting drowned or they leak badly with the potential to get us all wet. Some are honourable, whilst other lack any pinch of integrity.

Amanfuo, before we embark on another four more unknown, and potentially difficult journey to our preferred or dream land, let us pause and do a bit of soul searching. One question that has often bothered me has been whether any good politician can come out of Ghana. Colin Powell has decided to ?retire? because he is ?tired?. David Blankett has decided to resign because the woman he thought was just his ?own girl? and quickly used his office to fast track a settlement visa for her nanny (the most important nanny in the world) has left for another buddy. Can our politicians ever emulate these ?shinning? examples?

Amanfuo I visited out lovely country during the just ended election campaign period just to have a feel of how the toddler of all democracies was doing. I was overjoyed to meet an atmosphere of tolerance, thoughtfulness, anticipation but also trepidation.

Amanfuo, I started to look back over the years to determine which period in our nation?s history could at least be described as peaceful, ?enjoyable?, speech ? free, but also dull. Added to this was the decision sort to explore which of the political parties and which leaders were the ?best? in terms of non-kolikoism, independently mindedness, politically maturity, empty-promise prone, boring or exciting, whether asomdwe or abotarehenes. Also what they all stood for and whether Ghana was going to move forward on the basis of the calibre of politicians around.

To obtain a true picture of the situation, I avoided bringing the main candidates into a copycat American-styled presidential debate and grilling them about some useless and irrelevant issues in a language, which nearly 60 percent of the masses will not comprehend anyway. Instead, I invited two real people, staunch supporters of the main political parties ? the NPP and the NDC for a discussion.

I called on a friend of mine, a fully bloodied NDC supporter. His economic situation was deplorable. I reminded him that most of us did not gain anything from the revolution which gave birth to the (P) NDC and that his current circumstances bore no semblance to the fortunes of some his party big ?shots. I also added that most NDC big shots had big houses, kept huge sums of money under their mattresses to which only their house boys had access, with some even removing their children from Ghanaian schools and sending them abroad whilst his kids were struggling to keep up with the most basic of needs.

His defence was that at least he was sure to get the ?leg of a fowl? at election time. His charge was that when Kuffour?s administration first came to power, they asked all the unemployed youth to go and register at the labour offices for certain ?incentives? which never arrived. The big question for me was when was a promise not a promise? Only when a politician made it. They do it in America, UK etc and even in Ghana.

Prior to election day, none of the parties made any tangible, elephantic promises. Whilst the NPP dwelt on it?s past ?achievements?, the NDC relied more on their ?below-the-belt? type tactics, banging on about the intimidation of their supporters, government bribery, corruption, tampering with voters registration documents, increased poverty ?? their charges were and are many. For once I thought I was watching the movie titled ?the good, the bad and ugly? where the latter has a rope round his neck on horse back with a litany of charges being read out before being hanged. I couldn?t also stop thinking what on earth happened when these guys were in power for over 20 years? the disruption of our schools system which is yet to be fixed, commandos rampaging through peoples homes and lives, thievery, jobs for boys and tribe, the killing of women and judges and other unimportant citizens, the awarding of contracts to incompetent friends, the sale and pocketing of the proceeds from our state enterprises - the charges are endless.

The NPP no doubt has some very, very bad nuts and may even be starting to follow the footsteps of the erstwhile (P)NDC. Amanfuo, the big question is how do we ensure that only people of integrity, honesty, peace loving, less aggressive and traits like that get into the highest offices in the land. Unless we ensure a high degree of accountability, responsibility and those mechanisms that exist to nip any of the evils, which the NDC has been preaching about in the bud.

Amanfuo, let me narrate to you a personal experience about how the work of evil people was thwarted. It happened when I was in high school. Those were the good old days.

It was then common knowledge that kitchen staff, the matron and bursars were pilfering student food stores and government allocated monies with impunity. A friend called K. Joe and I understudied these kitchen staff over a month and realised that anytime they reported for duty, they will straight away start putting away stolen items in special bags in a special place ? an uncompleted building behind the kitchen. Amanfuo, they were all in it, the matron, cooks, pantry boys and girls etc. They positioned these ?precious bags? at such angles that they had a clear view of it all day.

Amanfuo, one day we decided to raid the place. It was a very brave act as failure could have resulted in very serious consequences. Remember the dinning hall prefect was also in it. We chose a rainy day, employed gorilla tactics normally adopted in the bushes, crawling on our bellies in a camouflaged manner to the site from a different angle. Within 15 minutes the whole operation was over and we were about 10 bags of groceries rich. There was rice, eggs, milk and all the ?essential commodities? that we had been denied for so long. Amanfuo, we proceeded further into the surrounding bushes and unpacked our ?lucky booty?. We had a big feast. Amanfuo, we did not go for supper that day. The more enjoyable aspect was when we had to watch from the balcony of our dormitories these desperate maggots scanning the building site and surrounding bushes for the stolen booty but little knowing what had hit them.

Amanfuo we have precious treasure but enough has been stolen. The NDC and other parties should stop ?booming? in ways which smacks of double standards and rather concentrate on reinvigorating the mechanisms and wheels of accountability which grounded to a halt under their administration.

The Koliko effect:

Most aspiring and current politicians suffer from this syndrome ? kolikosis (the act of being remote-controlled from ?behind?). This is a dangerous and debilitating condition. Amanfuo let me give you an example to illustrate my point. Prof. Mills is a man I admire and President Kuffour is a man I respect. I watched Mr. Mills say in Cape coast last year something along the lines of please vote for me as this will be your only opportunity to elect a president from this region. I think the chairman agrees with me. yeiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii. The second was at another rally where he spoke shortly after the chairman Rawlings had spoken. Again he added, ?as the chairman was saying ????. I started thinking which part of his body has the strings that are being pulled? his lips, ears, legs, bottom or where. The koliko factor has never helped any politician and certainly not my friend. Look at Bill Clinton and Margaret Thatcher and all the people they endorsed or kolikoed.

The other issue relates to those politicians who are out to stir ethnic trouble through their utterances. Amanfuo, because of my training and work in the Air force, I have often been accused of shouting out too loudly and using menacing words, but what some of these politicians say and the pitch of their voices certainly puts my compatriots and I in the shade. Some local and foreign political commentators have also ignorantly jumped on the ethnicity bandwagon, interpreting the election results in ethnic terms. As to why we cannot refer to geography rather tribe when describing events in Ghana baffles my thinking. In America, the parties are largely homogenous in terms of their constituents; their voting patterns are just about the same year in year out. The presidents have mainly come from nearly the same geographical area unlike Ghana where we have had a fair geographic spread. Yet some politicians and commentators prefer to analyse issues ethnically and these are dangerous characters.

Amanfuo, after my tour, I was left in doubt at all that something positive in terms of infrastructural development was taking or had taken place. My greatest joy was seeing the proper construction of roads in the rural areas, the intensive HIV-aids campaigns that had reached as far remote places like my village Kimkim.

On the minus side, I witnessed significant problems which needed sorting big time ? unemployment, poor health facilities, unproductive and damaging chieftaincy disputes, the unequal and expensive educational provision (excessively aggravated by headmasters taking huge bribes from poor parents before allocating their children school places which should naturally be theirs etc). These are all waiting for the honest, dedicated and patriotic politician to sort out. Like Kofi Wayo said in one of his speeches in Legon last year, that it was possible to provide free education for all up to university level if only we could sell and manage our natural resources properly - cocoa, timber etc. I wonder why this has not been done already.

Amanfuo, our next set of ministers and MP?s or honourables as some prefer to be called, are just about to take office, but before they do we need to fish out and expose those who escaped through the election nets - the lazy, corrupt, unpatriotic, dangerous and aggressive ones.

So once again, if anyone knows of any reason why any of our politicians should not hold a ministerial or public office or enter the parliamentary building, they should say so now or forever remain silent.

God bless Ghana and it?s people, the most peaceful place on earth.


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