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Opinions of Saturday, 1 September 2012

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Half a word too many

…or the ballot guardsman’s manifesto

By George Sydney Abugri

The chap who wrote the English dictionary could not have been up to any good, Jomo: He is as guilty as mortal sin of multiple omissions. For example, you wont find the word monger in the dictionary.

Yet there are multiple shades of mongers swarming around all over the place: There are our beloved mothers, the fishmongers. Then there are the scandal mongers, gossip mongers, rumour mongers, hate mongers, propaganda mongers and war mongers..

The explanation I presume from the list above, is that if monger were left to stand on its own as a word and used to describe a person without any context, the meaning would be wide open to assumptions.

In other words, Jomo, monger is only half a word: You need another noun to qualify and give “monger” a precise meaning! Any suggestion that monger can stand as one word meaning “seller”, may apply only to the fishmonger, because I am yet to see anyone selling hate or wars for hard cash.

Most of the mongers on my list are a constant threat to peace but especially so in an election year. There is only way of winning them over to the side of peace but it is most unfortunately, not one many will readily ascribe to!

The way to peace has its roots in the most unlikely of places: Faith. Even astral geophysicists, quantum mathematicians, nuclear scientists and the other geniuses of this world, usually do not have a darned clue what this Faith business is all about and could take a lesson or two on the subject from toddling Sunday school children.

One day I went for a church service with Jack Okito and the Osofo preached about love of neighbour. “Love my neighbour? That Osofo does not know my neighbour that is why he was talking by heart like that”, Okito told me on our way home from the service.

“The man burns rubbish behind my window and literally smokes me the way a hunter does a rat in a hole. He turns his stereo loud enough to wake the dead and is so loud, brash and intrusive…”

Poor Okito. If only every bloke were a nice chap and easy to get along with, what a happier man Okito would have been, what blissful peace we would all be swimming around in come to think of it and how far less acrimonious our national politics would have been.

Unfortunately, life is not like that, Jomo: Some folks are indeed extremely “difficult”, to put it very mildly: Insensitive to the feelings of others, uncouth, quarrelsome, argumentative, disrespectful, meddlesome, violent, arrogant, too loud etc. Yet a truth some may find difficult to accept, is that God loves them too, even if they will ultimately have to pay for their conduct and transgressions in the fullness of time.

It is very unnatural to love someone who is very unpleasant or who does not like you one bit, but God is not asking a favour of us on this score but commanding us to do so.

Apart from that, responding to such people with the same hatred, disdain and anger can only lead to the kind of violence that then easily leads to full blown conflicts in an election year, especially.

With yesterday’s confirmation by the NDC’s National Congress of President John Mahama as the party’s presidential candidate and the NPP’s launch of its campaign and 2012 manifesto, it is warm up time behind the starting line for Mahama and Akufo-Addo. That is, if war mongers, propaganda mongers and litigants don’t ruin the show before it starts.

The trick is to weave this “Love Thy Neighbour” equation into the rest of the campaign even as it picks up fiercer steam on the last lap.

I scanned the media for signs of trouble this week and some discomforting headlines tumbled menacingly forth: When a former president and statesman warns three months to an election, that the republic is sitting on a time bomb, who can blame me for sitting up ramrod straight with a mighty start?

Former President JAK who has maintained a fairly low profile the past couple of years, concentrating on his international engagements as a statesman and watching politics from a distance {if a short one}, sent the great hackles flying all around when he asked the Electoral Commissioner this week, to “desist” from the demarcation of new constituencies, which exercise he said ,was “not sensible”, coming as it does, only three months to the elections.

He said the creation of the constituencies at this time was a potential “time bomb” and recipe for chaos. I said unhuh, asem kesie papa aba. “Former president Kufuor is in effect, threatening the Electoral Commissioner!” the NDC leadership predictably fired back.

“Since when did an opinion become a threat?” some NPP activists asked. “Since when did a threat become an opinion?”, their opponents countered. Back and forth, back and forth, the arguments and counter-arguments go like a vertical yo-yo…

The Minority in Parliament has also asked what makes the creation of the new constituencies so urgent that the EC cannot wait until after the elections. It is unclear what the opposition’s argument is premised on but the opposition has also argued that apart from the potentially negative impact of the exercise on the smoothness of the coming elections, the creation of the new districts will unduly favour candidates of the ruling party.

Some NPP stalwarts have even taken the issue to court, asking judges to determine whether or not there is indeed a legal basis for the creation of the new Constituencies in the mere wake of the earlier creation of new administrative districts.

Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan has insisted on the independence of his commission and existence of a legal basis for the demarcation of new constituencies. Parliamentary primaries have already been held in some of the new constituencies anyway, so the die is all but cast!

There is something else bugging me, old chap: While some peace mongers are trying to psychologically condition leaders of the two leading political parties to be able to accept defeat without a raging fuss if it goes either way, some propaganda mongers are rowing against the tide:

Some of the pre-election polls and surveys of dubious methodological design and adequacy of respondent sampling, which promise political parties straight and easy victory in December, may be a source of amusement to researchers but they also constitute one of the gravest threats to post-election peace:

Genuine polls may serve a purpose but in a country where large sections of the population are non-literate, the results of such unscientifically-crafted polls unduly raise the expectations of many party supporters when read on radio in the local languages. If victory does not come, then why, it must have been stolen. So? Watch the polls mongers too! Website: www.sydneyabugri.com Email: georgeabu@hotmail.com