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Opinions of Thursday, 11 June 2015

Columnist: Appiah, Papa

Little Differences - NPP and NDC, Ghana and Nigeria

There are little differences between NPP and NDC officials, according to Mr Kennedy Agyapong, a guy I have been listening to a fair bit lately. I don't know whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, listening to Kennedy Agyapong. The guy is quite engaging. Did you know, that apart from Walter Bloomberg, Kennedy Agyapong claims to be richer than every American parliamentarian? Did you know, that all his children are educated in America and his eldest is studying to be a neurosurgeon? His annual bill for school fees is in excess of two hundred thousand dollars?

You cannot help but be impressed by his intelligence, though he makes a deliberate attempt to conceal it in political discussions preferring, perhaps as a political tactic, to sound like a street mob. He is so forthwright and honest in his views, except when you attempt to enquire about the source of his wealth, when he becomes all defensive. He attacks his detraractors for linking him to the drugs trade and questions where they were when he was washing plates in Germany and driving cabs in the USA. Ebei, Mr Agyapong, we are talking of a multi-million dollar wealth here and all you can tell us about its source, is driving cabs?

Anyway, as I was saying, Kennedy Agyapong believes there is one significant between NDC and NPP officials. An NPP official takes his margins and delivers the goods. While an NDC official takes his share and does not get the job done. So basically, they all take their margins, as he calls it. This is a guy who was in government and was involved in negotiations for the award of contracts for the Bui dam. He must know what he is talking about.

Which reminds me of a story I heard some years ago. There was a Ghanaian and an Indian in Oxford university in the forties. They both finished and went back home to help in various political struggles, becoming important ministers in their countries. The Indian invited his Ghanaian friend to visit. The Ghanaian went over and was amazed at the opulence displayed by his friend.

"How did you do it?" The Ghanaian asked

"Come, my friend" the Indian said, taking his friend to the window.

"You see that motorway over there? Ten percent!" The Indian said

"Oh okaaaay!" The Ghanaian nodded.

Two years later, the Ghanaian invited the Indian to Ghana. The Indian was shocked his friend had become much richer than he was.

" How did you do it?" The Indian asked

"Come my friend" the Ghanaian said, taking his friend to the window. " You see that motorway over there?"

The Indian craned his neck. There were a few scattered equipment but no motorway.

"Hundred percent" said the Ghanaian.

There are little differences between Ghanaians and Nigerians. In the words of a British old lady I met who was proud to tell me she spent part of her youth in both Ghana and Nigeria as a daughter of a colonial civil servant, Ghanaians are more "peaceful". Difficult to understand what she really meant by that, and she could not explain it either but I've resorted to calling my Nigerian friends, " Our noisy neighbors". Of course there are exceptions, but on the whole, as a Ghanaian working in the diaspora, I would rather have a Nigerian boss than a Ghanaian. The Nigerian will treat you like his own brother, if you show him respect.

There are other differences too. Nigerians celebrate the birth of a child and love to celebrate their birthdays with big parties. Once a man dies, they make much less fuss. Ghanaians enjoy their funerals. People wait for their relatives to die and then try to turn the funeral into business ventures and make profit. Family disputes begin at funerals as people engage in vicious manoevres to appropriate as much wealth to themselves as they can. You are judged in society by how much fuss you can make when your parents die.

And I believe Nigerians are doers, and Ghanaians talkers. Just listen to Akuffo Addo.

He was asked - Buhari's decision to declare his assets publicly ahead of the election reinforced his anti-corruption credentials. Would Akufo-Addo be willing to do the same?

"Personally, I would. I can't speak for the views of my col- leagues, but I think it is a debate that we're going to have long before the election. We should not be grandstanding.

"Let the parliament have a look at this to decide the is- sues of disclosure and confidentiality so that it isn't just an example that's set by one or two people but an obligation that covers all office holders," he explains.

Quite inspiring, I thought. Big English! But what does it really mean? Your guess is as good as mine.

Papa Appiah