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Opinions of Saturday, 30 April 2016

Columnist: Asare, Kwame Ohene

Cry my beloved country ,cry – Part 4

By Kwame Ohene Asare

“To err is human. But when the eraser wears out ahead of the pencil, you should know that you are overdoing it” (Jenkins)

I woke up early morning on that fateful day, hoping for something really refreshing, in my life, in my business and above all in my motherland. The song “Do something new in my life” kept ringing umpteen times in my ears. I began to sing it aloud and for as many times as it repeatedly came back to me. My daughters (9 &11) came to see me together like a contingent. “Dad isn’t that silly?” “Why”, I wondered? “You keep repeating the same words over and over again”. “It’s a prayer”, I said. “But you could have spent some of that time doing a lot of new things for yourself.” They said it so innocently, dispassionately and with the dispatch of kids brought up in England. That’s why I feel the best ideas are not cloaked in any Latin or grammar. Nevertheless I still hoped for something new; anything that could nurture one’s body, spirit and soul.

Lo and behold in the course of the day, I saw something new was beginning to seize the motherland’s well being. Not entirely new. Tribalism, a pre-existing condition, was beginning to take on a new dimension. The canker was now beginning to gain a pernicious and an incurable hold over our beloved country. Yes, most rational beings have feelings of some nostalgia, sometimes sheer sentiments and often a sense of misplaced belonging to hometown and tribe. However, for the Leaders of our country to now begin to plead with tribes to keep them in power in order to protect them from legitimate prosecution and punishment is near catastrophic.

For a minute, Dzifa Ativor’s comments left me bereft of words – I could not find appropriate words to describe the former minister’s conduct.

It should be noted that the President of the Republic set the pace. In the 2012 elections he brazenly showed a propensity for tribalism and invited people of the Northern Region to vote for him because he hailed from there. In the last few weeks he has been back and forth from the Volta Region. He went to tell fibs about his achievements in the Volta Region. Subsequently, he went there and unashamedly promised development projects in the context of the Region being their ‘sure bankers’ in the upcoming elections. The context was wrong. It was completely unconstitutional. What is our beloved country coming to? In the 21st Century?
Fellow Ghanaians, the bible says that, spare the rod and spoil the child.
Ghanaians should do something really discerning in their lives for a real change. We should all have been up in arms over the statement of this former Minister of Transport, in that, Ewes were at risk of incarceration from the NPP in the event that they should vote against her own party. By her statement she suggests very seriously flawed practices by the main political parties.

She suggests that NPP will selectively prosecute Ewes with or without fault and that under the NDC, even errant Ewe ministers or members of Government will not be prosecuted. She said this, knowing full well, that she had only recently been reeling under a scandal of sorts which should have been criminally investigated. Worse still, she relies on the past, successful prosecutions of Ewes in properly constituted Courts of Law in this our nascent, if not infant democracy. Dzifa Ativor was recently moved from her ministerial job over suspicions that a contract for the rebranding of state buses had been inflated; which under a properly functioning Government would have been punished as a criminal offence under our constitution. She could have either appropriated or caused Ghana a loss of $2 million dollars or more!

Dzifa Ativor must be a very well educated and intelligent woman. She is not reported to have suffered any recent defect of the mind such that she could be held not to have understood the nature and potential impact of her remarks on the minds of her audience. She undoubtedly knew what she was doing, even if she rather intriguingly failed to anticipate the rather mature rebuttal by former President J. J. Rawlings. I also found her Party’s dissociation from the statement as a very welcome development in our politics. Besides, the Peace Council has been prompt in its condemnation of Dzifa’s statement. When Nana Addo’s call for his party’s followers not to be cowed or bullied by the opposition was interpreted as a call to violence, he apologized at the earliest opportunity. Has Mahama apologised for any of his ethnocentric remarks? He almost always engages Northern folks in his Government as if there are no other tribes left in the NDC party.

Ghanaians, especially the Voltarians and folks from the Northern Region, who in the past, may have been spoken to in these terms, should learn from this and teach the NDC Government what to do with the Country’s funds. Nobody, irrespective of where he or she hails from is entitled to inflate Government contracts with the intention of making some 2 to 3 million dollar profits when some of the same Voltarian/Northern voters cannot even afford 3 square meals a day, save for election time and then for errant ministers invoke tribalism for fear they will be prosecuted.

This is a palpable rape on Ghanaians. ‘We for no sit down’. Any fear of Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo is definitely not borne out of any extant tribal tendencies of the man but it is all about the fear of Nana Addo’s sense of propriety, of Justice, and of his incorruptibility. It is pretty outrageous that our brothers and sisters at the helm of affairs in Ghana today are so incorrigible.

Madam Dzifa’s appeal to Ewes is simply criminal and rather contemptuous. For a woman of her stature and education to call on Ewes to exercise their franchise simply to protect those fleecing the Country of its meagre resources simply by virtue of their tribal origins, is damn ludicrous. It is time for Ghanaians to do something new with their God-given Franchise to ensure the fulfilment of God’s purpose for our motherland. It can never be part of God’s purpose to protect the despicable plundering of the Nation’s resources by a few, be they kinsmen or aliens.