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Opinions of Wednesday, 6 April 2005

Columnist: Appiah-Danquah, Kufuor

CJA/Wahala What is your Agenda?

NO one has a monopoly over social justice Let us not forget

I have no problem with demonstrations that is the price of free speech and a functional liberal democracy. Demonstrations are not new on the Ghanaian political scene neither is it unique to the current ?wahala ? issue. ?Kume preko? demonstrations ?kill me at once demonstrations were organized by the Alliance for Change (AFC) in 1995. However Ghanaians must never forget that the ?kume preko? demonstrations were organized and conducted against the background of a regime that was undemocratic, tyrannical and unrepresentative of the people. Moreover decent folks lost their lives during the ?kume preko? demonstrations
Before I get into the crux of my article, let me assure Ghana web readers and fellow Ghanaians that I will fight for the voice and rights of the minority groups and parties in Ghana to be heard as that is the role of true democrats
Low Pay Unit/UK Experience
Labour Party
I have been a lifelong supporter and active member of the Labour party in England for the past 23 years. The party had to wait for 17 years in the wilderness before the electorate entrusted the reins of government to us.
During those bad times I was employed as a research /project officer at the Low Pay Unit and together with Chris Pond (Director) and now Minister of Works and Pensions and other senior members of our party we campaigned and worked tirelessly against the abolition of the wages council in UK by the then Conservative Government. The Unit had around 20 staff but we campaigned, wrote books, attended conferences, spoke on radio and television on behalf of the poor and low-paid in England.
Current Ministers, MP?s, MEP?s and our Prime Minister a whole lot of us stood in the rains, shouted, yelled and sometimes cried at the unjust policies of the Thatcher government. Jobs were being lost at an alarming rate, the primary purpose rule was introduced for immigrants, overseas student fees for overseas students was introduced, the poll tax was introduced and the right of children born in the UK to British citizenship was abolished. Folks it was tough.
1993 Elections
We were incensed by the perceived injustices and the fact that the choices of the minority constituency were not being considered. When Neil Kinnock lost the 1993 elections grown up men including myself wept. We did not lose hope, we picked ourselves up and prayed for the day that our campaign for a National Minimum Wage the reason for the Low Pay Unit?s existence will come into fruition with the election of a Labour Party.
1997 Elections
In 1997 party members worked like hell to get our message across- through dialogue, leafleting, knocking on doors, in pubs on the trains, in the cold winter months and hot summer days ? we knew our ideals and vision was right and we believed that the people will elect our party one day. .Our time came when Tony was elected and that gave us a chance to lobby for social justice issues in UK and Ghana. It also led to the appointment of Paul Boateng and Lady Amos to the cabinet ? We are proud of them .
Wahala Campaign ? What is their true agenda?
Petroleum Increases
Let us get it straight. I am not in favour of high petroleum prices neither is the President or the majority of NPP members. The President contemplated hard, bargained hard and had to give in to the economic reality of the market. The fact that the Government had to increase the price of petrol does not mean the Government is uncaring, autocratic and lacks compassion .We are all Ghanaians, we share in the pain and suffering of our kith and kin and most us in the Diaspora sent big chunk of our income back to Ghana.
Yes- the petrol increase has increased hardships among Ghanaians but let there be no mistake the cheap grabbing headlines and dangerous moves towards destabilizing our country must be faced headlong.
The NPP information machine is letting down our President. The NDC has chosen the issue of social and economic justice as one that they can use to destabilize the NPP
Come on NPP information machine get your act together .Let Ghanaians choose between a truly democratic party and an intolerant NDC. Do not let Jerry Rawlings wrap himself in the mantle of social justice and act as a modern day Robin Hood ? he is not .The facts do not support this contemptuous lie.
Do not sit down idle and allow the NDC to paint President Kufuor black when the facts do not support it . Come on Kwabena, Dan, JAK. Lord Commey. Vida(easy) Kwadwo et al do not let your President down. Get on the bandwagon - Put the facts in front of the people of Ghana- do not let Kofi down. Get your message across. The NPP did not create the slums? The NPP did not create the crap educational system? The NPP did not leave a creaky hospital infrastructure? The NPP did not tyrannize women? President Kufuro has not slapped Alahji Aliu?
Issues /Facts
Fact 1- Slums
The NDC during their rule used the people of Nima, Ashiaman and the poor in the slums to do their dirty deeds for them. Rawlings and the PNDC/NDC were in power for more than 20 years. What did the NDC achieve for the people of Nima? How can Jerry Rawlings rant on about his believe in social justice? When the NDC Ministers were busy building mansions and lining their pockets did they ever think of the poor at Aboabo, Nima, Ashiaman, Abossey Okai, et al ? When did the NDC become the voice of the poor? When did the NDC realize that the poor had a voice? Give us a break No one in Ghana has a monopoly over social justice.
Fact 2 Building of Mansions
When Kwamer Peprah was organizing lavish, extravagant parties (birthdays) did he ever think of the poor? When ET Mensah was building his mansion at Ada did he ever think of the poor? When PV Obeng was building his mansion did he think of the poor? When Dan Abodakapi was busy building his Tema house did he ever think of the poor? When Akwasi Agyemang was showering cedis at funerals like a Nigerian idiot where was Jerry ? When the Ahwoi?s were building their empire with state loans where were you Jerry? Give us a break No one in Ghana has a monopoly of social justice.
Fact 3 ? Hospitals
What was the state of Korle Bu when NDC left power. It was rotten, decayed and in shambles. What about the other state hospitals ? it became the mortuary for poor people. Water did not run, electricity was not functioning and most of our state hospitals were left in total state of decay. Where were you Jerry and the NDC?
Where was the NDC when our mothers, sisters and aunties were dying because of lack of drugs? Did any of your Ministers visited these hospitals? The NDC ministers were always admitted to the cardio- center as that was the only place fit for them. Give us a break No one in Ghana has a monopoly of social justice.
Fact 4 . Education
I challenge any former NDC Minister to refute my allegation that none of their siblings attended any of the slum schools in Nima, Abossey Okai, Ashiaman, Aboabo or the poor part of town. Our education system was destroyed whilst Jerry send his children to the UK financed by so- called friends. I have stood at a school at Kasoa where there was no roof, toilets and running water. Where were you NDC and Jerry? Children travel more than 2 miles to attend school at Sabrunom without chalks, pencils, tables etc Where was the NDC ? Give us a break NDC and Jerry you have no monopoly over social justice.
Fact 5 Tyrannical Actions- National Reconciliation Commission/Dagbon Crisis
Can any Ghanaian honestly equate Kofi to Jerry? Can any honest Ghanaian say the President is covering up the murders of the Ya Na? Are the actions of President Kufuor the actions of a dictator? How on earth can Jerry bring in the murder of Ya Na as an issue to paint Kofi black? Give us a break Jerry . You are the only living President in the world who actually slapped his Vice- President. Ghanaians s must never forget..
Like all other Ghanaians, I believe and hope that the murderers of Ya Na will be caught, tried and punished. Some members of Ya Na family fled from Yendi and one of them is living with us in the UK. Give us a break , Jerry the NDC has no monopoly over social or economic justice.
The NRC was set up to reconcile the nation and help us learn from the past , reassess the present and hopefully move forward together as a nation. It did open up old wounds, yes some of the issues that came to light were not pleasant and it needs to be dealt with. However, I can only deduce that the intention of the Walhalla CJA/actions is to create public animosity towards the NPP and destabilize the nation.
What Do you want Kwasi Pratt & Co ?
First , we e live in a democratic state and the NDC had the opportunity to improve the lot of ordinary Ghanaians living in the slums.- they did nothing when they had their chance.
Second, the NPP Government has a democratic mandate to rule and the people of Ghana have a democratic freedom to demonstrate. The Government has maintained that it will not reverse the petroleum price increases as that will drive coach and horses thorough its economic policy/strategy. That is not negotiable.
The NPP were elected to rule and take hard decisions on behalf of the whole nation. They may get it wrong at times and being true democrats must have the humility to step back. In this particular instance, I believe they are right and must not negotiate with the wahala demonstrators . No one has given them any negotiating right. They are taking up the time of the police.
I suggest the organizers of CJA/Wahala must be asked to pay for the policing of the demonstrations as they are not organized labour and the police need to spend their scarce resources in catching armed robbers.
However, as a matter of urgency the NPP government must bring forward proposals that will mitigate the effects of the petroleum price increases on the weaker members of society and our rural folks. When impartial political commentators, economic analysts and decent people of all ages and shades of opinion start to moan and complain about the hardships facing the country the NPP Government must listen, learn and adopt policies that will have a positive lasting impact on the lives of ordinary Ghanaians. The party must also get smarter in presenting its message and policies to the general public.
Get your Act Together ? NPP Information machine.
Third, the NPP press gurus must present their case to the people on the social justice issues. They must organize peaceful campaigns and explain their side of events. The NDC has no monopoly over social justice. Come on NPP, do not let the President down . Let the people decide who is on their side.
Fourth, if the NDC want to spread their message over ideas on FM stations, markets, church halls etc as we did in the Labour Party, the door is open. They must stop hiding behind the petroleum price increases, which has been introduced legitimately by a government elected by the people.
Jerry/NDC/Wahala/CJA , come 2008, the people will have another choice. If the NPP has failed them as Lady Thatcher failed the British people they will be thrown out and NDC can sell petrol for 5 cedis a gallon or give it away free .
In the meantime the Government has made its intentions clear the petroleum price increase will stay and they will introduce policies to mitigate the effects of the rise. Democracy is bitter but so is life.
God Bless Ghana
Appiah Danquah Kufuor



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