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Opinions of Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Columnist: Ebenezer Afanyi Dadzie

Greenstreet’s comment: An attestation of our dishonesty?

I have followed with keen interest the storm of condemnations, commendations, insults, and arguments in favour or against an audacious comment made on any platform in recent times.

Call it positive defiance, and call the speaker a non-conformist or a free spirited character and you will not be wrong. The name, Ivor Greenstreet, on the 20th of December 2014, captured the news headlines during and after the National Delegates Congress of the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC).

If the elections were a contest for popularity, then the General Secretary of the age-old Convention Peoples Party (CPP) literally stole the shine from the real contestants.

Assisted in his wheel chair onto the dais, in the presence of thousands of NDC members, sympathisers, delegates, legislators, Ministers of State, top party executives including Founder Ex-President Jerry John Rawlings, the President John Dramani Mahama and his vice, Mr. Greestreet gallantly delivered his version of what has become known in the Ghanaian parlance as a ‘solidarity message’ on behalf of the CPP.

During the few minutes speech, he was booed by a section of the crowd, as some chanted ‘away away’. Gradually, the demeanour of the gurus on the dais changed as if an unwanted substance had been released to pollute the air around them.

Mr. Greenstreet was deemed to have committed a sacrilege because he altered the conventional content of solidarity messages, which are mostly filled with messages of felicitations, such as ‘’we wish you well and hope that you have a successful congress’’ we wish to extend a hand of friendship to let you know that we are friends’’ and so on...But in reality, the hard truth is that, these political opponents don’t mean what they say.

Having observed the acrimony and the polarization in the Ghanaian political landscape, I can say without a shred of doubt that most often, the opponents who deliver these so-called unifying solidarity messages, are looking forward to negatives from the congress and beyond, so they could use them to score cheap political points.

So there is nothing honest about those words.

Now, Ivor Greenstreet decides not to extend false well wishes, or extend a certain hand of friendship that in reality isn’t friendly.

He opted to speak the truth rather than be a hypocrite. But as dishonest as we are, many of us, depending on where we find ourselves on the political divide in our extremely partisan society; have chosen to hang him instead of taking his words in good faith and taking a cue from it.

And lest I forget, who developed the template for delivering solidarity messages? I humbly need an answer. I have read that change is one of the permanent things.

I have heard arguments that it was not politically expedient for him to criticize or speak the truth on such a platform. I beg to differ. I have asked myself, is there a particular time or platform where truth must be spoken? No! Truth can be spoken anywhere and anytime.

And the President in his usual style spent precious time to respond to something he should have perhaps and aptly accepted partly even if not wholly, ponder over it and then act on it to prove that he is indeed capable of lessening the burden on the suffering masses. A gentle response albeit in an amusing manner to a frustrated and disappointed citizen’s remark, would have done the trick.

Ivor Greenstreet is first a citizen before a member of a political party. Mr. President; from the insignificant knowledge I have, leaders don’t act same way like followers. There must always be a distinction. I think you lower yourself sometimes in responding to practically everything. I am told the last time you also responded to the content of a song by Hiplife Artiste Sarkodie, which sought to speak about the hardships Ghanaians were facing.

I can’t confirm that those were your words though. But must you personally respond to anyone who criticizes your performance constructively or otherwise? Whatever your performance is, the electorate know better and they can decide at the ballot box so responding every time makes little or no impact. I think your best response will be the results of your work and not the talk.

A word to the wise they say is enough. Sometimes what we do in this country is a clear case of tickling ourselves and laughing. Let’s embrace honesty for a moment. It doesn’t kill.

And if the template for solidarity messages, does not allow for criticisms, then it equally does not allow for praise-singing or campaigning as we know to be the norm. My premise for the above statement is hinged on the fact that, Madam Akua Donkor, Founder and Leader of the Ghana Freedom Party, also altered the format because she campaigned and sang the incumbent Government’s praises. So why didn’t the President respond to her as well? Obviously it’s because you found her comments favourable albeit filled with half-truths, untruths and ignorance? This is hypocrisy and dishonesty.

What did Mr. Greenstreet say that has not been reiterated on other platforms by political opponents and even by some sympathizers of the NDC either harshly or softly?

Former President Rawlings in his speech alluded to some of the bad times in the country although in a soft tone. So when a political opponent says it loudly or harshly doesn’t change the facts? I think this equally fits into the selective myopia description given to his comment.

Mr. Greenstreet said “currently nobody, I mean nobody is feeling your better Ghana.” Continuous ‘dumsor dumsor,’ corruption from top to bottom, left right, inside-out, and all the challenges you are facing [are] suffocating the Ghanaian people,” Greenstreet added.

“The most painful thing of all is that you don’t care,” as he implied that the party would lose the 2016. “Make sure you’ll elect executives who will be able to steer your party’s affairs when you are in opposition. Boys abr3” added the CPP General Secretary.

When the President mounted the stage to address the congress, he said he had had to “restrain” himself from “frontally” responding to Greenstreet, since in his opinion, certain politicians have allowed their view to be blurred by incessant partisanship.

“Government is a continuum and I’m therefore not one to play the blame game, and I’ve therefore had to restrain myself from responding, frontally, to the solidarity message that was given by our colleagues from the CPP.

“Petty partisanship is the bane to our democracy and the wish to acquire power becomes so insatiable that we put on politically coloured lenses and make it difficult for us to see what the reality is. It is said that selective myopia is incurable and so I’m not going to stand here and attempt to cure selective myopia,” Mahama said in response to Greenstreet’s criticism.

I conclude that the single action of bravery exhibited by Ivor Greenstreet, has given credence to the notion that we are very dishonest as a people. A man boldly reminds you of your failures and promises to the masses, and as if hooting at him and a whole Alban Bagbin saying he was demon-possessed wasn’t enough, someone uses his disability to even insult or mock him.

As for that fellow, all I can say is that, he doesn’t seem to have an idea about life and its circumstances. Real life is not that which you acquired by certificates and titles in schools, because if they were, Ghana would have been a better place. We have had and continue to have the finest brains with certificates and titles at the helm of affairs for decades, yet we are still marking time.

Maybe when your own disability strikes, you may not even have the ‘luxury’ of a wheelchair. A word to the wise.

When Madam Akua Donkor in her illiterate mind came to sing empty praises for her parochial interest, the President and almost everyone in the stadium was excited and Mr.Rawlings even spent time in his speech acknowledging her. Yet when a man spoke the bare truth we are attacking him. Are we not rather the hypocrites?

The other opposition party representatives didn't criticize on that platform but will do worse than that anywhere else. Will that make any difference? I salute u Mr. Ivor Greenstreet and I know many right-thinking Ghanaians are proud of you.

Bravery isn’t in muscles or picking arms. Bravery is in a strong mind. I watched you closely as you were wheeled off in front of all the people on the dais and you still had the courage to wave at them.

But on a lighter note, if you dare did this in a certain era, I bet that by now you would have had more than just a special hair cut on the instructions of President boom. Democracy has really given us enough freedom to speak, although it has failed to give us meaningful development in our part of the world.

But I dare say that on any day, you will be a good leader. Ghana will sink further if we continue to allow partisanship to cloud our judgment. This baloney and balderdash trend in our politics must stop.

He who has ears let him hear. Proverbs chapter 9:8-9, ‘Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee, rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be yet wiser. Teach a just man and he will increase in learning’.

The Writer, Ebenezer Afanyi Dadzie is a Freelance Journalist