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Opinions of Saturday, 5 March 2011

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

God, power and kenkey issues

{letter to jomo}

God, power and kenkey issues

Akosua’s cartoon on the font page of the Daily Guide of Thursday February 24 depicted New Patriotic Party presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo as a staff-wielding prophet preaching a sermon to a sea of party faithful and quoting from the Old Testament’s Second Books of Kings.

This is the cartoon I have been waiting for all these years, Jomo. It brings up the question of whether or not the majority of our politicians and political leaders have any personal relationship with God. . Renowned Ghanaian Professor Sitsofe Anku was on TV3 this week promoting the teaching and learning of mathematics in Ghana. Just before he left the set, Professor Anku left Ghanaians with an equation for successful living and his equation incorporated a mathematical “constant “A”.

In his equation were other mathematical symbols representing other values needed for success in any human endeavour, such as hard work, diligence, attitude etc, but guess what the constant “A” stood for? God, Jomo!

Professor Anku said the constant represented God. No matter what endeavour is being undertaken, the effort must have God at the center if it is to succeed.

Now that astral geo-physicists, quantum mathematicians and people of abstract thought whom you would normally expect to be agnostics are preaching God, relatively less cognitively-endowed individuals with fat bank accounts, great political ambitions and party activists and propagandists at the their beck and call, now have no excuse to keep God out of their ambitious pursuits, do they?

Unfortunately, it is a tough proposition, Jomo: To gain and then be able to maintain political power, politicians very often engage in the kind of cloak and dagger activities incompatible with the life of a true Christian or Moslem.

Politicians know that they cannot profess a personal relationship with God and yet pay people to threaten, harm or defame opponents in the media and through phone text messages disseminated to the public

Some try to be hypocritical but it does not work: Only moments ago there was a lady political activist on a radio panel discussing programme. One minute she was talking about how it is God who determines this and God who determines that and the next moment she was making very insulting remarks about some prominent personalities in sharp, shrill and irritating voice.

Politicians are aware that they cannot maintain a personal relationship with God and continue to carry themselves with the trade mark arrogance we have become painfully accustomed to. A true Christian or Moslem who is a legislator for example is most unlikely when interacting with other law makers, to show them disrespect.

We sometimes watch them on television with a mixture of irritation and angst: Some carry themselves with such condescending conceit and in both speech and tone, make themselves out as very special people with very exclusive knowledge no mortal could ever possess.

Were they not restrained by gravity and other natural, physical forces and the very restraining force of their own human skins, some of them would fly out of their very selves into the atmosphere, to diffuse their egos into the open spaces, trust me or don’t if you so choose.

Our leading clergy have never missed an opportunity to call for an end to the acrimony and for civility and humility in our politics: The Rev Dr. Lawrence Tetteh last week warned that the prevailing politics of insults, attacks on personalities and ethnic divisions could tear the nation apart. Would that have been the case if politicians had any serious personal relationship with God?

With God in our politics, the kind of atmospheric electricity that threatens to electrocute the republic every election year would have been absent.

By the way, Jomo, the potential threats to peace in elections are sometimes so malignant that most people do not pay much attention to them. Take the case of political reporting in the media:

NDC faces 2012 defeat. At least that is what a daily newspaper proclaimed in a loud headline last week. The “research” techniques used were indeterminate and about 90 percent of the “sources” the reporter gathered the “facts” from to arrive at the conclusion, were anonymous!

The sources included “various segments of society”, “Ghanaians”, “players in the rice industry who spoke on condition of anonymity”, “political analysts” “many residents” ‘some NDC gurus who did not wish to be named” “stakeholders in the rice industry including market women” “major stake holders”etc.

Evidence used to support the claim of looming defeat for the NDC included “signs of defeat ...visibly written on the wall”, “Ghanaians are annoyed about the steady rise in the prices of staples, “media reports” that farmers were contemplating suicide as a result of the drying up of the Afife dam and a resultant rice crop failure etc.

This is a news report that will gladden the hearts of some in the largest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party, who may not put the report though the scanner of critical linguistics and the conventions of hard news reporting.

That could lead to complacency among party rank and file who may be given the impression that someone has done a meticulous investigation and his findings must be reliable. It makes it difficult for those who have been mentally conditioned to expect electoral victory at all cost genuine defeat!

The same goes for pre-election polls which employ dubious voter sampling techniques and other questionable research tools to arrive at a desired forecast.

This week, there were some kenkey and fish issues: I heard consumer rights campaigner Kofi Kapito urging Ghanaians to rise and protest a hundred percent increase in price of sachet water.

Recent increases in electricity tariffs and the cost of goods and services already led to an erosion of our wages and consumers cannot take any more. The government recently increased public sector wages but it was a joke if in terms of impact on the quality of life of working people.

That apart, implementation of a new salary structure for the public services has been so fraught with blunders that public servants have been grumbling: Teachers embarked on protests in various parts of the country yesterday, claming the new age structure had left them worse off!

Things need to change and you know what? We took a very significant step to change the laws of our mighty republic this week. The National Constitution Review Commission has toured the nation from coast to northern borders and received more than 85,000 proposals for fairly drastic reviews in the 1992 constitution.

Darned expensive and tricky somewhat, this thing called democracy: From Tema Station and Kaneshie Market in Accra through Kajetia in Kumasi and Techiman Market to the first pito bar you come to up on the Savanna, the mass of our people who should be determining what the country’s laws should be, do not really have the foggiest idea what all the talk about the constitutional review is all about.

If the majority of our people do not really know what a constitution is, how could the document and its review reflect their real aspirations? Methinks that is one of the challenges of democracy in developing countries like ours: Promoting qualitative mass literacy as a necessary condition for promoting democracy.

So back to Dr. Nkrumah’s original agenda we go and happy 54th independence anniversary, old chap!