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Opinions of Saturday, 19 February 2011

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Hark, the war gong for 2012!

By George Sydney Abugri

Jomo, when some folks have leveled a goat meat-capped Adfajato of fufu and pepper soup right down to the bottom of the apotoyuwa and let out a couple of thunderous belches, they declare how nice it would be to have a beautiful civil war in Ghana!.

The 2012 war drums are beating with a muffled but quite audible sound and though the sparks may not be flying yet, they are beginning to appear on the radar of common sense, which come to think of it, is far from common!

I daresay most of those who have a made a virtual pastime of beating war drums here have never been anywhere near a village machete fight. Expecting them to be able to conjure up from their retarded vision, clear mental images of the horrors or war and especially civil war, would be asking too much of them, don’t you think?

By the way, Jomo, have you observed that loudmouths, bullies and braggarts with the I-am-a-warrior- all-ready-and-rearing-to-go attitude, are typically those often disposed to take off in record-breaking flight at the first sounds of pow! Pai! pow-pow! papapai..!?

I have noticed a cleverly orchestrated pattern of weekly propaganda-related episodes apparently intended to achieve indeterminate, clandestine objectives but which certainly have the potential to up the chances of conflict in 2012 significantly.

Every week, politicians and the various secret disciples of political propaganda and skullduggery, with a little help from our media, talk up a very huge storm over an issue. It is typically something a prominent politician said, that that got the goat of his/her rivals across the political divide.

The storms typically rage in propaganda tea cups for between three days and a week, and then propagandists and the media float another controversial statement or remark which has the potential to cause disaffection for the politician who made it, and/or his party and it goes on and on...

Many among the public just keep falling for the trick week after week. The key words and phrases which fly about in the weekly talk-storms are kill, die, violence, boot-for-boot, Rwanda, Kenya etc.

One of the longest lasting talk storms was the “cat talk storm” a reference to the an uproar that went on for days on end over a statement made by NDC Chairman Dr. Kwabena Adjei, which statement was interpreted by the opposition to imply a threat on the lives of top members of the judiciary.

Another one of the longest lasting storms have included the “villager talk storm.” President Mills’s Communication Director Koku Anyidoho had called NPP General Secretary Kwadwo “Sir John; Owusu Afriyie a villager or something to the virtual effect and immediately, the third world war of words broke out.

Last week’s storm, the “all-die-be-die storm”, lasted longer than most of the previous ones. The New Patriotic Party’s presidential candidate, Nana AkufoAddo addressing party faithful at Koforidua, told them to brace up for possible violence at next year’s election and reminded them in West African pidgin, that “all die be die.”

My Twi is darned rusty, old chap but one bloke translated those portions of the candidate’s speech which Akufo-Addo’s political rivals said, not only sought to intimidate his opponents but which also played very dangerously to the constantly conflict-prone ethnic gallery:

“We Akans are not the cowards we are perceived to be by the other tribes…The little violence that we displayed in Atiwa is just a tip of the iceberg of what the NPP would do in 2012… 2012 is going to be a do-and-die affair, after all, all die be die.”

A very loud and re-vibrating roar of protest went up across the nation with NDC politicians and activists and other people saying the statement by the presidential candidate amounted to no less than an incitement of NPP supporters to violence at next year’s election.

It is unnatural for staunchly loyal followers of a leader to publicly criticize the leader when he leaps mightily before looking and lands in a deep pool of putrid murk, but hey, it should be possible to whisper to him behind closed doors, “you’ve well and truly botched this one, old boy. Let us make amends since all there are so many people shouting themselves hoarse over he matter, by saying or doing this and that…”

No such luck, Jomo: NPP chairman Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, party General Secretary Kwadwo Afriyie and other leading members of the party went to Akuo-Addo’s staunch defence. The NPP had reasonable grounds to suspect that the NDC planned steal the 2012 polls by employing violence and other illegal means, they said.

The presidential candidate they insisted, was therefore justified in making the statement especially as the NDC had previously employed violence in bye-elections at in Chereponi, Akwatia and Atiwa. Some party members even said Akufo-addo had not gone far enough in his warning!

Apparently delighted beyond measure by the show of support from his party, the candidate, far from rendering an apology as his opponents demanded, repeated his statement several more times with even greater emphasis.

When a politician {and this is not in particular reference to Nana Akufo-Addo} urges his followers to be prepared to die in the pursuit of his ambition, he will in all likelihood make sure that his own family and precious loved ones do not come anywhere near the heavy gunfire, flashing machetes, billowing smoke and the smell of human blood.

It is the large number of young people across the political divide who is usually the first to be caught up in any civil inferno.

Many of them are unemployed, restless young people with a very misguided understanding of politics, who amid the nation’s economic difficulties and high unemployment rates, think by associating themselves with the country’s two leading parties, they may have a social umbrella to take refuge under and subsequently obtain jobs.

Machete, stone and club-wielding party supporters rampaged through parts of Accra and others besieged the Electoral Commission’s strong room and there was so much electricity in the air during the last election, remember?

As long as steps are taken to ensure total transparency, fairness and the absence of serial technical hitches, emerging from Election 2012 in one whole piece and in peace should not be a giant deal. That is, unless it is the case that dark forces are indeed conspiring to add Ghana to the list of ruination-bound African states if they lose or fail to win power.

Talking about states, ours certainly has the responsibility to protect its citizens from any such forces. Our Western friends in the pursuit of democracy and the rest of the international community should be made to understand the emerging, subtle threats to our democracy.

This is necessary so that when the stringent security measures needed to be taken to protect lives and property during the next election are taken, the wrong impression is not given the international community that the security forces in Ghana are being used by the state to suppress intimidate voters.

The sensible thing to do if you ask me or even if you don’t, is to ensure that voters are told clearly what they should do: Queue up, obey all electoral laws and regulations, vote and go peacefully home. The security should be so equipped as to be able to deal very promptly with mobs and to act very decisively against people who show signs of posing the very least threat to peace.

Cheerio, buddy, I am off to wait for the next talk storm.

Email: georgeabu@hotmail.com Website: www.sydneyabugri