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Opinions of Wednesday, 10 May 2006

Columnist: Kwamena, Ato

It?s Poverty, Stupid!


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PS:: The title of this article was inspired by the campaign theme of Bill Clinton?s 1992 Presidential Campaign ? It?s the Economy, Stupid! ? which was coined by the Democratic Party strategist, James Carville, to help keep the campaign message in focus. Hence, this title is to help keep the crux of my message in focus, and should not be seen as an insult.

Friend, when the writers of our 4th Republican Constitution wrote that document, they knew that ours is a pluralistic society with different tribes or ethnicities, different religions, different ideologies, and different needs, amongst others. Such pluralism called for a legislative arm of government where the different groupings would choose their own representative to represent their own interest in a common Parliament. That is the basis why each constituency in Ghana has their own representative in the form of an MP (Member of Parliament). The primary goal of an MP should therefore be to vigorously push his or her people?s agenda. To do this, it?s sometimes important to join forces with other MPs of even different political backgrounds or ideologies, to collectively fight for a common interest. This is why Parliamentary Caucuses are formed. In the United States Congress they have the Black Caucus, Clean Energy Caucus, etc, etc. In our own Ghana, we have the Volta Parliamentary Caucus which fights for the interests of their people. There?s absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of people with identical interests coming together to join forces to lobby for their own people?s interest. That?s part of democracy.

Recently, it was announced that the Volta Parliamentary Caucus has lent its support to the Volta Forum Trust and has pledged to push the fight to help the Volta Region gets it?s first State-funded University. This to me is a demonstration of the beauty of democracy. That?s what MPs are supposed to do ? fighting for the people?s interest. There may be hurdles to overcome with respect to our limited resources and our crippling bureaucracy, but they (Volta Parliamentary Caucus) must lose no hope but continue to push this agenda; for there?s always light at the end of the tunnel. Getting a State-funded university in the Volta Region will make it possible for many people of the Region, who may have otherwise missed the opportunity to further their education, to upgrade their academic credentials and training. Bringing a University to the doorsteps of people of the Volta region would be in the socio-economic interest of Ghana at large. Hence, the success of a university in the Volta region should not be seen as a loss to any other part of the country, but a gain to us all. And I do hope and pray that the efforts of these MPs along with that of the Volta Forum Trust comes into fruition one day. For after all, ?It?s Poverty, Stupid!? It?s poverty we are all trying to fight. And a solid education is an important means of fighting this canker.

It is this type of togetherness that I?ve often called the representatives of our Northern people to embark on. I?ve never heard of any Northern Parliamentary Caucus. It just doesn?t exist! To me, the interest of the Upper East, Upper West, and Northern Regions are very similar and intertwined. I therefore don?t see what is stopping MPs from these regions from coming together, forming a Caucus ? like what the Volta MPs have ? and fighting for their people?s interests. Why can?t they come together, irrespective of political affiliation to fight for better Potable Water, Roads, Hospitals or clinics, Schools, Housing, Opportunities, etc, etc? Why are they more dedicated to their political parties to the detriment of their people? For calling for unity of purpose and effort amongst our Northern MPs, some people who are noted for pitching tribes against tribes, have branded me a tribalist. But is this call for unity so difficult to understand? Is this rocket science? Amazing! I?ve been reminded that some of the Northern MPs are Harvard educated or have PhDs. ?So what?? I ask. What?s the point of paying $40, 000+ a year for a Harvard degree if that education cannot be used to solve fundamental problems or basic needs: Peace, Food, Clean Water, Housing, Hospitals, etc? In that case, I?d prefer someone with a degree from University of Development Studies (UDS) who has the sense to tackle these basic problems. Keep your PhDs to yourself, but give me guinea-worm-free water and I?ll bless your soul! We are from a culture where degrees and the institution from which a person got their degree are more important than what they have used that degree for. No wonder why a military dictator after metamorphosing into a constitutional leader saw the necessity of purchasing a doctorate degree in 1995 from Lincoln University. And he didn?t just get it for himself alone but another for his side-kick ? his wife. (I guess it was a case of buy one, get one free). But again, I think it?s imprudent to spend $40,000+ a year at Harvard if you can?t use what you learnt there to help solve these basic problems. I think it?s sacrilegious if after such an expensive education all you can do is to pitch groups of people against each other ? Andanis against their own blood brothers, the Abudus; or Ghanaians resident in Ghana against their brothers and sisters domiciled outside the country. So friend, forget about PhDs, and what not, because It?s Poverty, Stupid!

I challenge anyone to read any of my past articles, especially the ones that I geared towards the Northern Intelligentsia and political leaders to quote any part of it that sought to denigrate the Northern people. Some people have a problem with comprehension, I admit. They just don?t see who the subject of those articles is. So I?ll help them. Those articles were critical of the Northern Intelligentsia and political leaders, and not the ?ordinary innocent man or woman? in the North who faces whatsoever problem he or she faces mainly because of fate. Those articles of mine challenge the LEADERS of our Northern people to change course, and care more about the socio-economic development of the people.

I?m told that the elevation of Archbishop Dery to Cardinal and the winning of the Miss Ghana Contest by our Northern sisters are the reason why am envious of Northerners. But when did I say that I have any interest in being the Pope of the Catholic Church? When did I say I?m interested in being a priest, let a lone a Cardinal? Or when did I say that I wanted to win the Miss Ghana Beauty Contest, even though am a guy? If this sort of debating is not infantile, than I don?t know what is! The sort of debating where you put words into the other person?s mouth and attack him for those words same words you put there ? giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it! That?s the sort of debate akin to their Godfather. I?m not surprised that his worshippers are like him. He?s the father of lies, and there?s no truth in him; and so is his cultists. If I have any envy in me, it is to see that every person in our beloved country is as prosperous as can be and poverty has been erased, and every Ghanaian can realize their full God-endowed potentials. So ?It?s Poverty, Stupid!? And not any envy.

I?m told that the sanctimonious obeisance of the Northern MPs to serving their Godfather?s interest is because they know that the interest of the Northern people can only be served by the NDC Godfather and his handpicked leaders. But I say, ?that?s not based on reality.? For the reality is that the Godfather had 20 years to improve the socio-economic lot of our Northern people, and he couldn?t achieve ?jack?! The reality is that the Godfather used certain Northern leaders like the Giwas, the Akatapores, the Adabugas, the Chris Atims, etc to stab one of their own ? Dr. Hilla Limann ? in the back and overthrow him; making the Godfather the leader of Ghana. But when they succeeded in cutting their own noses to spite their faces, then the NDC?s Godfather showed them his true colors. He murdered Giwa. Murdered Akatapore, etc, and sent those who were lucky to flee, including Adabuga, into perpetual exile until President Kufuor came to power. So go learn the history of how our Northern leaders have bitterly failed their own people, and then you can come back and tell me that these Northern leaders are serving their people?s interest! No one could have served the interest of our Northern people better than Limann; but him the leaders of the North stabbed in the back, because their allegiance was to Jerry and not to the people. So when I say that the Northern leaders are used as disposable citizens by the Godfather to achieve certain evil goals, and when he has achieved them he trashes these leaders it is with precedence. He?s done it before, and if given the chance he?ll do it again.

But sadly, our Northern leaders are repeating the same thing! They have not learnt from history. When Kufuor came to power in January 2001, his National Security Advisor was Lt. Gen (rtd) Joshua Hamidu, his Interior Minister was Alhaji Malik Alhassan Yakubu, Major (rtd) Abubakar Suleimana was a top operative in the National Security Office, and on top of it his own Vice-President ? the second most important person in the land ? was and still is Alhaji Aliu Mahama. In effect the then new President surrounded himself and entrusted some of the most important and sensitive positions in our land to our Northern brothers. But ask yourself how many of these people are still in government? None but one: only the Vice-President is still in government. What happened to the rest? They were pressured by puppets or mouthpieces of the NDC?s Godfather who had alleged that these men were behind the atrocities meted to the Ya Na and the 40 others, leading to their deaths. Led by Drs Wayo Seini, Yahuzu Gomda, and Adam Gamel Nasser (all of them Northern Intellectuals), they maligned, insulted, and eventually committed libel against these government officials by providing a series of unsubstantiated allegations upon allegations to the press ? most of them concocted from their own figment of imagination. It was libel because a competent court of our land found these three men guilty of libel for publishing malicious and defamatory stories against these officials. The 3 were also fined 50 million cedis each. At the end of the day, whose loss was it? Mine? You gotta be kidding! After quenching the voices of these important men who had the President?s ears, and had his utmost trust (so much so that he entrusted his personal security to them), then we hear cries from the other NDC MPs, ?there?s not much Northern representation in the President?s cabinet?. So friend, you see, PhDs and Harvard degrees alone does not make a wise man out of a born fool, to paraphrase a quote I read in the Free Press years ago.

Nevertheless, the most important thing is unity. So again I plead with them (Northern MPs, Intelligentsia, and other leaders) unite! Form a Caucus. Fight for the Interest of the Northern people. Stop being used by ?faceless? politicians! Denying a fellow Ghanaian the right to vote (anti-ROPAB) will not feed our people in the North; it will not House them; it will not improve on their economic plight; it will not educate them; it will not cure them when they are sick; it will not provide them with clean drinking water when they are thirsty; it will not eradicate guinea-worm. Food, Housing, Jobs, Schools, Hospitals, and a Water treatment plant will! Is that so hard to see? Do you have to be an Einstein to see the truth in this? If this truth offends you, then there?s nothing that can appease you. For I refuse to feed you with lies to make your day. If the truth is so offensive to you, I say, ?be prepared for more bombardment of the Truth ? call it a Shock-and-Awe of the Truth, if you please.? So the end or goal of my articles about our North is one: It?s Poverty, Stupid! Let?s fight it and stop all these nonsense about tribes and envy!

Comments? Send them to: ato_kwame@yahoo.com



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