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Opinions of Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Columnist: Appiah, Papa

Kwabena Agyapong - How the Mighty Are Falling!!

NPP’s Mr Kwabena Agyapong - How the Mighty Are Falling!!

Kwabena Agyapong amazes me. This is a guy who used to be a hero of mine. To be fair, this was at a time when I was much younger and more foolish than I am now and anyone who correctly strung a few English words together was a hero of mine. I particularly remember watching the 1990 World Cup on television when Kwabena Agyapong, alongside the likes of Foe Amoaning and Carl Tuffuor charmed the nation not only with their wide knowledge of world football, but also with their eloquence and demeanour. Unfortunately, the charming young man who then was has grown into what appears to be, an angry old man in a complete reversal of the usual course of the rhythm of life.

Watching him on Newsfile a few times recently, he talked and looked very much like a guy who had seen better days and as if life had given him a raw deal. But this is a “multi-talented” civil engineer who started off as a sports presenter, dabbled in football management amidst allegations of financial impropriety, ended up as presidential spokesman and then as presidential candidate of the NPP. To see him viciously attacking the personalities of his political opponents was sad indeed. In one such exchange with the young NDC “parrot” Felix Kwakye-Ofosu, he conceded, that the NDC communicators had a deliberate ploy to attempt to make their opponents angry on air, and then, with his face contorted in sheer fury, belched “But I am not angry!!” I bowed my head in shame. The guy had lost it right before our very eyes. How the mighty are falling.

Speaking English well can only take one so far. While we all admire Mr Agyapong’s eloquence, when he starts to attempt to ridicule others and question, for instance, why anybody would elect Mr Hassan Ayariga, “ a man who cannot get his grammar right” as their presidential candidate, the alarm bells start ringing for some of us. Sorry Sir, you seem to be getting carried away. What has speaking English got to do with anything? I would not vote for Hassan Ayariga, but not for a reason as so hopelessly ridiculous as his grammar, but because he failed to address any of the pertinent issues to my satisfaction. Until such time as we eradicate that entire mentality that equates an ability to rattle another man’s language with competence, we stand the danger of being ruled by well-spoken fools.

The issue of Nana Addo’s rather unexpected departure from Oxford University came up in one of the debates, and Mr Agyapong sought to lambast Mr Tsatsu Tsikata for daring to say elsewhere, that he had heard rumours of Nana’s departure from Oxford when he entered the university but was not sure what the actual reason was. Again, Mr Agyapong, lips trembling, went to town, expressing gross disappointment in Mr Tsatsu Tsikata; a guy who used to come to their house, a guy who was the beneficiary of Mr Agyapong’s father’s legal cases when the latter had been called to the Supreme Court and so on. Has this guy completely lost his marbles? What has all that got to do with anything? I felt embarrassed for him and for the NPP. If such was the mentality of the people the party put forward as communicators, then it was no wonder the party could not connect with the ordinary floating voter in Ghana.

Kwabena Agyapong was amongst the NPP top hierarchy that fought tooth and nail to have their own polling agents in every polling station and at every point, all the way to the Electoral Commission’s strong room. They may deny that now for political expediency, but the purpose of that was to take the onus of responsibility for the accuracy of the results at the grassroots from the Electoral Commission into the parties’ own hands. The argument was that if the results were signed off by all the party agents, then the results would have been certified as fair. That is why Kwabena Agyapong’s analogy, that if you have a security man at home and your goods were stolen, you would still complain to the police, sounded quite embarrassingly childish to me. Of course you would tell the police but what you would not do, is to blame the police.

And when Mr Agyapong relates Nana Addo’s illustrious past and personal sacrifices in the battle against dictatorship and the establishment of a free and democratic country, few would argue with that. We need to give the guy some credit. After all, he was involved in Radio Eye when it was ever so dangerous to do so in those days, and has been a presidential aspirant for years. How then do we reconcile these lofty democratic credentials with all-die-be-die? Again, while Nana’s legal credentials are not in doubt, it is baffling why such a legal luminary would file a case in the Supreme Court and then hold a press conference to try the case in the court of public opinion and to whip up sentiments. I have known cases thrown out of court for just these same reasons.

There are too many contradictions to contend with. At one time Mr Akuffo-Addo was going to accept results as declared by the Electoral Commission, now he is only going to accept a Supreme Court verdict. But is he? Who knows? And by the way, Mr Agyapong, it does not matter which country a man comes from, how old he is, what qualifications he has, what sacrifices he has made in the past, how many lawyers he has taught, if he then goes on to promote a policy of all-die-be-die and fails to publicly condemn genocidal sentiments expressed by a close political ally, we are perfectly entitled to disrespect him. For at the end of the day, some of us care more for the lives of our grandmothers in the village than for some buffoons of politicians.

Electoral processes are dynamic. Even America, with their long tradition of voting, had to contend with unacceptably long queues and people being disenfranchised in their recent elections. Obama had to promise to get those problems “fixed” in his victory speech. So we owe it a duty to our democracy, not only to audit performance after each single election to ensure that we identify mistakes, but also, to effect changes aimed at making our system stronger. And thank you very much; we are well capable of doing that as a nation, without NPPs reckless declaration of results, demonstrations, useless press conferences and stabbing of innocent Ghanaians.

We have come a long way as a nation in our electoral processes. We started by changing over to transparent boxes. That was not enough. We introduced picture ID cards. That was not enough to prevent multiple voting. We asked for foreign independent observers. Five different groups of observers are no longer enough. We asked for party polling agents every step of the way. That is no longer enough. The Electoral Commission should be responsible for how these agents perform, according to Mr Agyapong and the NPP.

We asked for results to be faxed. That is no longer enough. The faxed documents, apparently, are being intercepted and altered to favour one candidate. We requested biometric verification. That has now become the problem rather than the solution. Now, to top it all, Mr Agyapong is asking for the Electoral Commission as currently constituted to be disbanded and one set up that has representatives of each political party. You have spoken like a true prodigy Mr Agyapong, but would that be enough should the NPP lose an election? Your guess is as good as mine.
Papa Appiah