You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2016 03 03Article 420814

Opinions of Thursday, 3 March 2016

Columnist: Africanus Owusu-Ansah

Bob Okalla and Nkomode Cantata in Parliament?

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams – this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be.

Miguel de Cervantes Saveedra

Don Quixote

PARLIAMENT is a term derived from Anglo-Norman or French ‘parlement’ -from the verb ‘parler’ (talk). The meaning has evolved over time. In the past, any discussion or conversation would be described as Parliament. Now, Parliament is a recognised body of people’s representatives who ‘parley’ and make laws for a country. Members are expected to use ‘parliamentary (polite) language’ there.

At independence, 6th March, 1957 all the parties including CPP and NLM were aiming at winning all the 104 seats available, so the number 104 became a magic one, 104–Freedom. and the members of Parliament were expected to ‘talk’ and debate on issues, including taking a decision to turn Ghana into a one – party state in latter years.

Various countries claim to have the oldest Parliaments: The Kingdom of Leon (Spain) had the Cortes of Leon around 1188. Others include the Sicilian Parliament, the Icelandic Althing, The Faroese Logting. The British Parliament is acclaimed to be the “Mother of Parliaments” and comprises the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Ghana’s Parliament has evolved over the years, and now with the 1992 Constitution, Parliament has found its rightful place. Article 67 of the 1992 Constitution makes provision for the President to address the nation. It says: “The President shall, at the beginning of each session of Parliament and before a dissolution of Parliament, deliver to Parliament a message on the state of the nation.

Last Thursday 25th February, 2015 was the day for President Mahama to deliver the message on the state of the nation. The Presidential stamina was marvellous; his ability to stand and ‘parle’ for nearly four hours was enough demonstration that truly he is a young man born after independence in 1957, or perhaps he was pepped-up by what he was drinking -pepol or energy drink or punch—‘etuo mu ye sum.’ The President’s ‘evidence – based’ delivery appeared to have been well – received by his party (NDC) people; the protagnists waved white handkerchiefs. To the antagonists, the speech was wishy-washy; they showed red flags. In football, a red card shown to a footballer would send that footballer off the field, and to the antagonists it signified the belief that President Mahama would be shown the exit in the November polls, “to go and sin no more”. In the days of yore, people would say: “We shall uproot you like cassava.”

But what was happening in Parliament? Everything done in a jocular style? I like jokes, a joke here or there; yes; but an over – kill of such jokes could be over-stressed and over dramatic. Don’t we have to give respect where respect is due?And the whole world was watching. The diplomatic corps, among Nananom and other dignitaries were all there. Such curt remarks as ; “Listen to this very carefully” and the casual approach smacked of a nation unprepared for a serious parliamentary take-off.

What did the President seek to attain when he displayed fifteen or so beneficiaries of his social intervention programmes – one Zenabu (a Moslem or non-Moslem) benefitting from LEAP doing pig farming to earn her living; a hapless SHS leaver now maturing into a nurse; one Aboagye a known or unknown NPP activist earning a big hug for a road project – a demonstration of an open un-biased governance? But was that the whole story? People are asking very many questions: what about the Woyomegate ……. what about the GYEEDA – gate …. what about the gargantuan loans we have taken …… what about the excessive taxes imposed on so many imported items ….?

And the NDC burst into a song: “So, so wonders, Mahama de do; so, so wonders, Mahama de do”. The NPP would not let it go unanswered. They replied: “So, so stealing, Mahama de do; so, so stealing, Mahama de do”. You may remember the “Ananse story” in which Ananse sneaked into the room of Sasabonsam’s wife, As Sasabonsam approached the room of his wife, he would sing: “Hon-hon, hon-hon ne hon-hon, Adu Boahemaa me yere ne no. Ananse would not keep quiet; he would reply “Twee-pe, tweepe twepeepe, twepe tweepepe, twepee-pepe”. The banter continued until Ananse was ferreted out of his hiding place and thrown down to our earth – to fructify.

Reacting to President Mahama’s speech, his name- sake, Dr. Edward Mahama, the flag-bearer of the People’s National Convention (PNC) described it as a “long speech of politics of deceit”. He noted that “Speeches meant to deceive people were often long but do not contain any substance that the people could hold on to and remember after their delivery.” Among other things Dr. Edward Mahama said was that “There was a pent-up feeling of frustration among the youth and nothing should be done to precipitate in Ghana, in particular, and Africa at large civil strife similar to the Arab spring”. Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, the founder of the Progressive People’s Party described the address as a “theatrical performance”. Dr. Nduom added; “This is what the seed planted in the 2012 elections had brought to the people. You get what you vote for”

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the NPP delivered their version of the State of the Nation at the Conference Room of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Accra. Nana Addo wondered whether President had not lost touch with Ghana. He felt our nation was “in crisis”, and flogged the President for the “theatrical show” that belied the true state of suffering, in a nation where “government throws so much money at fewer projects”.

Bob Okalla and Nkomode, in their heyday, would send people bursting into a paroxysm of laughter with their antics. Now, Nkomode is no more, and Bob Okalla keeps thrilling his fans with his clock-sized wrist watch. The show in Parliament last Thursday appeared to be a replica of the Bob Okalla – Nkomode tango of those days.

Readers may not know the headteacher called Rosina Diedong of Kpesiri Primary School (Wa). Was she being quixotic when she revealed to Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia her school’s lack of furniture? People should not so soon forget the scourge Mrs. Juliet Oppong had to take for requesting for chalk for her school at Kukurantumi. These two teachers demonstrated the Yaa Asantewaa spirit to showcase the ‘objective’ State of the Nation, if the word ‘true’ is an anathema.

General Mosquito, Asiedu Nketia, may have stung Nana Akufo-Addo over his version of the State of the Nation. Says he: “Instead of a direct evidence-based disagreement over what the President said last Thursday, Nana Akufo-Addo dabbled in anti-government propaganda of the most revolting kind.” It may not be healthy nor moral, politically speaking. However, such exchanges are to be expected in a democracy like ours. Let us try to accommodate one another’s views. Their mouths ‘no be gun’ It is nowhere near the fist-fight in the Georgian Parliament between Soso Jachvliani and Giorgi Baramidze or the ugly free-for-all scene at the Albanian Parliament or Guy Fawkes who was executed for the failed Gunpowder Plot on the House of Lords in 1606.

You know it rained in most parts of Ghana last Monday, after Nana Addo’s address, but it did not rain after Mahama’s State of the Nation address on Thursday. Those who believe in the Supernatural draw a link. Do you or don’t you?