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Opinions of Thursday, 24 October 2013

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

I Feel Sorry for Brig.-Gen. Nunoo-Mensah

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Of course, the laudability of retired Brigadier-General Joseph Nunoo-Mensah's erection of a nine-classroom block for the O'Reilly Senior High School in Accra cannot be gainsaid. But the fact of this laudable gesture, in of itself, does not give the retired Ghana Army chief-of-staff the moral authority and/or justification to impugn the incontestably intelligent struggle of the diligent Ghanaian worker/civil servant for a dignified and livable conditions of service (See "Nunoo-Mensah to Striking Workers: Get Out If..." 10/20/13).

It is quite clear that Gen. Nunoo-Mensah, who is also President Mahama's National Security Advisor, had a more personal agenda than to merely impugn the integrity of striking Ghanaian workers. His main objective in mordantly attacking the latter was simply to draw vainglorious attention to his kindly gesture to the students and administrators of the former O'Reilly Secondary School. Ironically and sadly, however, in the process of so bizarrely advertising his otherwise statesmanly gesture, and remarkable contribution to the education of Ghanaian youths, the man has ended up making an ass of himself.

I hope that he would muster the courage, decency and humility to shortly come public to profusely and unreservedly apologize for overreaching himself, in a necessary bid to salvaging whatever might be left of any modicum of respect that he may still command among the Ghanaian public. For starters, Gen. Nunoo-Mensah is not the first Ghanaian citizen to have built a physical structure, or an architectural landmark, to house our schoolchildren. Others have done so well before him; and more philanthropists are likely to do so tomorrow and even long after he has passed off the scene.

What I also want to point out for his own edification, as well as that of our countrymen and women at large, is the fact that the Winneba Presbyterian School which Gen. Nunoo-Mensah attended was lead-cofounded by my maternal grandfather - The Rev. Theodore Henry (Yawbe) Sintim(-Aboagye) of Akyem-Begoro and Asiakwa in 1945. I don't know how old our National Security Advisor was then, but the future President Kwame Nkrumah had yet to return to the erstwhile Gold Coast from his advanced studies abroad.

Indeed, if he cares to peruse the Golden Jubilee Anniversary Brochure - or booklet - issued by the Winneba Presbytery, he would notice that my grandfather's photograph was used as the frontispiece. And even as I write (10/21/13), with tears suffusing my eyes, in the very town in which he was born and was buried, the old man's well-cemented grave has no identifiable marker, or tombstone, on the spot in which his mortal remains were laid to rest, at the ungated entrance to the old Akyem-Asiakwa Presbyterian Cemetery. I hope this personally embarrassing state of affairs will not be for very long.

Anyway, tombstone or no tombstone, the venerable Presbyters of the Winneba of old, and those conscientious descendants who survive the latter, still saw it worthwhile and fitting to reward the Rev. T. H. Sintim(-Aboagye) with the enviable immortality that one's etching into the collective memory of the nation confers. And I am quite certain that the old man's living spirit is eternally grateful to the people of Winneba and their extant great chief, Nana Ghartey, whom the old man so dearly loved and respected.

To be certain, what Gen. Nunoo-Mensah ought to be asking of himself is why government officials like himself should be so profligately availed the free use of taxpayer-financed bungalows with "unmetered" access to electricity and water, while the rest of the citizenry sleeps in Stygian darkness and solvently famished. Is this the sort of yeomanly sacrifice that our National Security Advisor is talking about? Couple the preceding with the quadrennial, or termly, humongous ritual of "gratuity" packages self-awarded our parliamentarians and their executive associates, and Gen. Nunoo-Mensah's indictment of the average Ghanaian worker could not be more preposterous.

And by the way, did the retired Ghana Army Brigadier-General pre-arrange exit visas for citizens itching to be spared the patent hell being callously rained on their pates by the Mahama-led government of the so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC), before asking those uncomfortable with the abject administrative ineptitude of his boss to vamoose into voluntary exile?

I am also intrigued in no small measure to hear Gen. Nunoo-Mensah, who unwisely and unprofessionally allowed Flt.-Lt. Jerry John Rawlings to literally lead him by the nose into staging a coup d'etat against a democratically elected President Hilla (Babini) Limann, smugly accuse legitimately striking Ghanaian workers of being "undisciplined."

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
Oct. 21, 2013