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Opinions of Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Columnist: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Age and senility are relative terms, Hassan Ayariga

He is in his mid-40’s; and under normal circumstances, he would be considered a man in his prime. But when he opens his mouth, it instantly becomes disappointingly clear that Mr. Hassan Ayariga has the mindset and temperament of a child who never grew past six or seven years old.

He is also too fat and uncouth to be voted into the apex political seat of the land that he fervidly seeks and has been clamoring for ever since anyone cares to remember.

Even the name of his breakaway political party woefully lacks creative imagination and originality. If I recall accurately, the name All People’s Congress (APC) was originally copyrighted in Nigeria, where Mr. Ayariga and his parents went into exile when Chairman Jerry John Rawlings ousted the Limann-led People’s National Party (PNP) on December 31, 1981.

And so it is rather amusing to hear the man vow to ban all “grandfathers” from contesting for the presidency, if he was afforded the mandate to govern the country. This sort of unforgivably benighted thinking has absolutely no place in the constitutionally democratic Ghana that the giant likes of Messrs. R. R. Amponsah, A. Adu-Boahen, William “Paa Willie” Ofori-Atta, J. H. Mensah and Ms. Hawa Yakubu, among a legion of others, fiercely fought to secure for the rest of the Ghanaian citizenry.

Where I come from in Ghana, we deem this kind of troglodytic rhetoric to be reflective of the mind of a budding dictator. We have come too far to relapse into such ratiocinative primitivism. The fact of the matter is that when he speaks, Mr. Hassan Ayariga strikingly sounds like a certified clinical basket case. He is a veritable buffoon whose very demeanor scandalously lacks the kind of gravitas that is invariably associated with deep thinkers and statesmen and women. The last time that he participated in a presidential debate, this clown irritably coughed his way throughout the entire affair.

It has, indeed, been widely rumored that he had been handsomely paid by the other northern-descended participant on the IEA-sponsored program. The one in whose notoriously profligate government his younger brother, Mahama, serves as Minister for the Environment, Science and Technology.

And so you can put one and one together and arrive at whatever answer they add up to. Yes, Hassan Ayariga, rumor has it, had been handsomely paid by some movers-and-shakers in the Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress to deftly punctuate Nana Akufo-Addo’s presentation with coughs, thereby ensuring that the listening public would make next to nothing about the import of the policy agenda of the New Patriotic Party, unarguably the country’s most progressive and visionary political party. Mr. Ayariga has since vehemently denied that any tongue-uncleaving grease had been poured into his mouth.

Whatever the real case on the ground may be, the very idea of the legal imposition of an age limit for gunning for the presidency is nothing short of the untenably preposterous. This is because the life-expectancy of the average Ghanaian citizen is not evenly spread throughout the country. For instance, on average, the life-expectancy of a resident of Bolgatanga may be remarkably less than the life-expectancy of a longtime resident of Accra or Kumasi.

What this means is that relatively speaking, a 72-year-old Nana Akufo-Addo may really be 85 years old in the nouveau-rich Ayariga family. Rather, the one imperative limit that ought to be imposed on presidency, is people whose spoken English grammar leaves much to be desired.

The talk of “grandfathers” and, I suppose by logical extension, “grandmothers” being banned from contesting for the presidency is also insufferably preposterous because on average, most Ghanaians become grandfathers and grandmothers by age 50. And so practically speaking, both Messrs. Ayariga and his comrade-in-stupidity, Mr. Jacob Osei-Yeboah, would only be committing political suicide if they make any serious attempt to impose an age limit on one’s qualification to run for the presidency.

I hope these two “dumb-blond” politicians could solicit a modicum of wisdom from Ghana’s most famous 72-year-old astute lawyer, statesman and freedom fighter…Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.