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Opinions of Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Columnist: Adamu, Tanko Balik

Freedom of Speech under Threat in Ghana – Please Check it!

I am not one to agree with Kofi Wayo on most issues but when it comes to his right to speak freely about anything and anybody in Ghana, I think we as a people should guard it jealously. I find it disturbing that Ghanaian parliamentarians who are tasked with promulgating laws that will protect the people they purport to represent are actually in the business of trying to gag the same people. In a recent report Mr. Kofi Wayo is said to have called all parliamentarians as self seeking criminals and to this they react by actually spending the nation’s resources to debate what they should do about what a Ghanaian thinks about them. I hate to be the one that will remind our moronic representatives that Ghana is a democracy but it is, and in a democracy people have a right to express themselves in whatever way they choose. Kofi Wayo like any other Ghanaian has the right to say what he thinks about the people who for over 16 years of their existence can not boast of a single achievement for the people they represent. Apart from approving loans and agreements between the government and other countries and in some cases fraudulent organizations, can anybody tell me what exactly the Ghanaian parliament has done for our people? Has the Ghanaian Parliament enacted any forward looking laws for our people? Where is the freedom of information bill? In debating and enacting budgets, has any parliamentarian ever bothered to ask where the money we were spending as a nation was coming from? Why is electronic voting still not the law of the land? On the other hand however, we have evidence to show that some Ghanaian parliamentarians have engaged in dubious activities that has landed some of them in jail in other countries. Where their crimes were discovered in Ghana like when one of them pulled a gun on his girlfriend, they were simply covered up by their colleagues which makes all of them guilty of at least not doing anything. With these in mind, I will like to say that Mr. Kofi Wayo is not far from right when he labels all of them as criminals and self seeking.

In other countries, parliamentarians compete amongst themselves to see who has the most initiatives for his/her people. When they seek re-elections they talk about what bills they have written or supported and allow the people to judge them based on what their understanding of the impacts of those bills will be on them as a community. Their voting records are public records that you can access just by a click of your mouse. Does any parliamentarian even know how they voted on anything? Until our parliamentarians can come up with pro-Ghanaian initiatives on their own, they should eat their pride and shut up!

The issue of freedom of expression however goes far beyond what Mr. Kofi Wayo said, it goes into the underlying principles that are lacking in our society. The fact that Ghanaian parliament even has something they call contempt of parliament in itself is the problem. What does that even mean? This idiotic law was put there because we had anticipated the fact that we were going to have morons, who are barely aware of their own existence in our parliament just like we had in the Constituent Assembly that wrote up the constitution. This will protect them from those who can read in between the line.

Ghanaians sat by and watched as Mr. Rawlings and his ilk with the help of a half educated judge dragged another Ghanaian to court to waste his time simply because he dared to suspect that Mr, Rawlings might have burnt his own house. Instaed of state resources to be dedicated to finding out how the house was burnt, we rather shipishly deployed it on poor Nana Darkwa. The state agency that was tasked with the responsibility of finding out what had led to the fire came back and said they could not ascertain the cause of the fire and we just ate it up as a nation while poor Nana Darkwa is being dragged to court for expressing his opinion on the matter. Anybody with elementary knowledge of fire which our Fire Department is expected to have, knows that whenever there is fire, there has to be three (3) things, a fuel source, oxygen supply and an ignition source. We know oxygen is found in the atmosphere and all our paid fire marshals needed to do is tell us at least the point of the ignition and what the fuels were in Mr. Rawlings’ home. No parliamentarian even thought of dragging the Fire Department to the floor of parliament to explain this simple phenomenon or at least tell us why they could not identify the source of the fire. They however have the impetus to complain when we think they as a group are incompetent? I wish I could get it in a chorus! Parliament is incompetent.
The freedom of people to think out loud what is in their mind is what will make our country great. We need everybody to say what is in their mind, the intelligent and the stupid things have all got to be said. From the variance of opinions that we will get as a nation, we will be able to select the best ideas that will build our nation. We can not shut everybody down simply because we are afraid somebody might say something that we rather not hear.

This is one situation where I will like to once again repeat my call for an informed Ghanaian group to be formed for the defense of the rights of individual citizens who are not capable of fighting these state institutions. As brave as Mr. Kofi Wayo is, I doubt that he will be able to withstand the Ghanaian parliament all by himself. Democracy loving Ghanaians should appear with him in Parliament when he is summoned. You do not have to love Kofi Wayo. It is the principle you are going to be fighting for. I don’t personally like him but in this particular instance, he is saying something that will go a long way to improve our democracy. I urge you all to stand with him whether you are NDC or NPP. Our country is greater than those parochial interests of ours.
God Bless our Beloved Country Ghana!

Tanko Balik Adamu
Piitsburgh, PA