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Opinions of Sunday, 29 March 2009

Columnist: Appiah, Kofi

Jack Where Are You ?,

Jack Where Are You ? Where are you, Adam? This was a question God asked Adam, when he realized that his last creation had disobeyed him by eating of the fruit that he had forbidden them not to. As a result of the positive defiance to disobey their hiding somewhere in the Garden of Eden. Jack, where are you, used to be a juvenile leisure play organized at home or at school in the olden days. It was a kind of play that normally entailed the blindfolding of one child with either one of these - a hand-kerchief, a rag, or a piece of cloth. The players would have used a napkin in this modern day. The child who played victim offered to be tied or blind-folded and asked to show his prowess by trying to locate the whereabouts of his friends who had gone into hiding. Any successful person who was able to identify that location was given his freedom by removing the blindfolds. Many children were able to regain their freedom faster because, oftentimes, those who had gone into hiding could not help remaining silent but resorted to laughing and teasing the victim so he was able to trace the very place they had gone to hide to betray themselves.


Mr. Moses Asaga is a well known economist in Ghana and also known to be a man who never stopped criticizing the NPP government while in office. He came to political limelight on the ticket of the NDC as the Hon. MP for Nabdam Constituency in the Upper East Region. Inargu -ably, he is the number one person that every electronic media house delighted to consult with soon after the NPP government announced either the National Budget, the State of the Nation Address or the National Petroleum Agency announced fuel price cuts. Certainly, the media houses save a couple have made him an economic wizard in Ghana today. But how truism this assertion is, only the experts at the headquarters of the World Bank may know. Honestly, during the 8 year rule of the NPP, there was hardly, never a single State of the Nation Address by HE President Kufuor in the NPP era that this wide-mouthed Johnny-knows-all Moses would not come out to discredit or debunk the said Address. He always had reason to condemn it and many people even wondered that the more he probably condemned the NPP’s actions, the more grease that was sent to grease his elbows or received under-cover per diems from his superiors. He was often quoted as saying that such addresses and budgets were the same old jingles and therefore needed not to be taken seriously. In short, to him, whatever was pronounced was the usual ‘national anthem’. For the 8 years stay of the NPP in government, there was never, ever any one particular day or time that this Moses Asaga man, now swimming in sagacious flooded waters, created by himself, appreciated a budget by the NPP – either by the former Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Hon. Osafo Maafo or the late Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu. In short, to him, everything NPP was ‘bull-shit’. As there is always green light at the end of the tunnel, little did many people know that his penchant criticisms against the opponents were not for nothing; it was later realized that such behaviors earned him his bread and butter from the paymasters. The harder he hit, the more the source of his daily bread arrived in greater quantities. Anytime he rattled on air to the hearing of many, he was often commended, ‘well done, boy, will you come home for your per diems’? In the Akan parlance, “Ennye eda a wobeto eboo atwa Firawo no na mpafee benya woo”, literally translated to mean that it is not the day you throw a stone across the Volta River that you develop pneumonia. One does not develop the sickness in a day, it is a gradual process.


The frog is a kind of amphibian animal that can live in water and on land; but the toad has the water as its place of abode. It is the type that can spring like a sprinter. The frog is the common one found in our homes whilst the toad lives predominantly in pools of water or in streams. One can hardly measure its full length unless it is killed, that is why the Akans say ‘aponkyerene wu a, na yehunu ne tenten – literally, it means, you’ll never know the full length of it until after its death. Again, people often tease and joke with their friends with the saying that ‘aponkyerene se, se wanto nsuo hyee mu a, nka onnim se nsuo gu ahoro‘ – in short, the frog/toad says, it never knew that there were two kinds of water – hot and cold – and not until it accidentally fell or drowned in hot water, it did not know there was danger elsewhere. For those who do not know, the toad is presumably, one of the best dishes in the Republic of France. It is reliably learnt that it is a very expensive meal in restaurants all over France. In general, the toad is the one that normally gives the nice choruses to herald heavy downpours anytime thick and heavy clouds form in the skies.


Hon. Moses Asaga entered the political terrain in January, 2001 after winning the 2000 General Elections of that year. Since January, 2001he has been in parliament on the NDC ticket on behalf of his constituents, the Nabdam constituency. His vociferous contributions in Parliament, even though constructive, many a time irrelevant, have helped the NDC and his constituents to keep him to date. One wonders whether with the help of his district assembly, he has been able to transform the lifestyles of his people to an appreciable level by way of infrastructure in the surrounding villages. Happy were those friends and foes who heard his name mentioned including other presidential nominees. Rather unfortunately, his subject became a stillborn and could be likened to the untimely death of a baby whose christening or naming ceremony was preceded by an accident. No doubt, he would have gone through easily with the parliamentary vetting of ministerial appointees because of his rich experience but luck eluded him. The Transitional Team caught him pants down. Like Adam, he had positively defied God’s vivid instructions and went ahead to eat of the forbidden fruit – the End-of-service benefits (ex-gratia) had already been encashed to the discomfort of his colleagues. When many people had not thought of it, he had already made use of some portion of his lot. Later disclosures indicated this unhealthy situation brought about some row between himself and his party hierarchy. The news, according to sources very close to the presidency, infuriated the president and when he became saddened, he had no option but to revoke his nomination and replace him with another MP, Hon. Abongo, from nearby Bongo constituency, also in the Upper East Region, to take up the ministerial appointment.


‘Na who cause am’ is a pidgin English teaser that many people often tease their friends with whenever they’re in trouble. Mr. Asaga has by default and admission, accepted his guilt and pleaded for clemency; he even stated in his press conference that his contribution to national cause would by far outweigh the trivial and negligible mistake and/or misconduct of taking the ESB he ought not have taken but the president stood his guns and never budged. He has been hit as the first casualty just as Hon. Mallam Issa, the first Sports Minister in the Kufuor Administration. You have shown by greed that you dug your own grave and nobody should ever sympathize with you. As a result of the political maturity of Ghanaians, he has been used as the sacrificial lamb for the sustenance of the current administration that seems to be jittery by the day. Unlike the days of yesteryears, he could have been pardoned after receiving some ‘dirty slaps’ on the cheeks, but since we have come of age in politics, these nasty incidents have gradually disappeared from our fledging democracy. Uncle Atta does not have the guts to do so.


Many Ghanaians were really and shockingly taken aback when Moses Asaga of all persons this time round, failed to click and comment on the above national issue. Did he notice his master fumble with words and cohesion? Did he intentionally keep quiet with a view to be re-considered for yet a ministerial portfolio or an ambassadorial appointment? And is it true that he who laughs last, laughs best? Silence is golden but many people wonder whether Mr. Asaga’s silence could push him for a job in the near future. The writer wonders whether Mr. Asaga never made any money or headway while in office as a minister of state. Meanwhile, however, now that he would have perhaps, grabbed his ESB with his left, right hands and centre of the body, he finds himself completely in the oblivion. Jack, where are you? Any responses? If you are a snake eater and continue to eat them all the time, there is the likelihood that one day you would be choked with its tetanus-infested spikes and send you to the grave. That is how Moses finds himself now. No tears for Ananse the Spider. While his boss flopped in the House of Parliament for the time he met the full house and the foreign media, Moses never saw anything wrong to correct him. While he fumbled to disgrace Ghanaians and foreigners alike, the sagacious Moses Asaga saw nothing wrong. While he caused some people to develop dysentery and kept murmuring the prepared speech which the experts had spent sleepless nights preparing with difficulty, Moses, probably was dosing off. Just as somebody never was attracted to a situation in the Supreme Court some 20 years ago, he equally also never saw anything to the contrary. After flopping and causing disappointment amongst the audience, he (Moses) had every cause to stay away from that fallacy. Moses, take it or leave it, this year’s Nation’s Address was the most abysmally one performed by anyone Head of State as lips kept murmuring words and wondering whether it was the learned tax law professor they knew sometime ago at the university campus as to the clarity and cohesion that were non existent throughout the speech but his party men having the majority in parliament, tried every means to intermittently, obstruct the occasion with the thunderous applause of yea, yea, to distract the attention of the large audience listening to him. Could it be that, the opposition NPP members had stuck their feet firm on the ground to serve as voodoo hence his inability to obtain the pass mark just as his swearing-in ceremony? Wow!

Kofi Appiah - 0277 122 909