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Opinions of Friday, 9 December 2005

Columnist: Koney, Ebby

Mojo Odyssey: NDC Congress will be Successful

...despite Invidious Propaganda

The Book of Jeremiah in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible at page 698, speaks of Prophet Jeremiah's "call and commission" by Jehovah God to tell people of Judah things they didn?t want to hear and things they would simply prefer not to know. When called by Jehovah God, Jeremiah protested, "I am only a boy', but Jehovah God told him not to be afraid because "They (Enemies of God) will fight against you: but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you.....to deliver you", Jeremiah 1:6, & 1:19. Likewise, the Jeremia! h of Ghana. He was relatively a youngster in Ghana Politics in 1979, when imbued with the spirit of nationalism, he felt compelled by the iniquities of the times to rise up and speak fearlessly before a Military Tribunal determining his fate, destined to certain execution, in the minds of his captors.

Jeremiah of Ghana, was ?miraculously delivered from the jaws of death' and has never stopped talking since, and especially after 2001, where his ?Boom? words in which he has been telling Ghanaians, friends and foes alike, things they don?t want to hear and would simply prefer not to know, just like his Biblical namesake did in Biblical Times. His outspokenness has caused some of Ghana?! s punditry to wish Jerry Rawlings would ?shut up?. But are these ?Jerry Boom? Statements not timely messages that speak truth to power? As the novelist George Orwell commented, ?In a Time of Universal Deceit, telling the Truth becomes a Revolutionary act.? Was Jerry?s appearance in Ghana Politics not propelled forward by the Truth that ordinary citizens of the Land identified with? Students, Union leaders, University Dons, Labourers, and Market Women stood in line with the Truth.

Gandhi spoke eternal wisdom when he said, ?Democracy is not a state in which people act like sheep.? Surely Democracy does not mean people must sheepishly bow to their leaders without dissent even where they are palpably wrong and pursuing disastrous agenda. Jeremiah of Ghana fully embraces this. Is that not the rationale for his ! plainness with no pretensions when he says the name of whoever he thinks is capable of manning a position in the NDC? Does this openness not give people opportunity to side with him or oppose him, knowing exactly what he believes in? Is that not the purest form of sincerity, which is sorely lacking in today?s politics of intrigue and scheming? In the course of the NDC administration, the Reform Party was formed out of dissent. They freely managed their political campaign.

After the NDC lost power, an internal reassessment of the party?s goals took place. In the post-2000 election for NDC National Executives at the La Trade Fair, the Electoral Commission supervised a free and open balloting where Dr Obed Asamoah won the Chairmanship, even though the NDC ! Founder supported his opponent Alhaji Mahama Iddissu. For the next 3 years to date, has Dr Obed Asamoah not presided over the NDC as Chairman as a result of the Democratic Elections within the NDC? In the balloting for the Leader and Flag Bearer of the NDC that ensued in 2002, the Electoral Commission again successfully supervised the casting of ballots where delegates fearlessly cast their votes for their preferred candidate, regardless of reported 'skirmishes' beyond the arena of balloting (growing pains in a young party democratic culture). Thus, the NDC is a party that tolerates or allows dissent; its members speak out in order to exercise what is great about the party. Within November 2005, a group of unhappy Nima NDC Women were reported to have vented their spleen on the Founder, who reportedly shed tears, not fired pistols or AK47 submachine guns at them or slapped anyone of them!

Yet, INVIDIOUS PROPAGANDA has made NDC appear like an undemocratic party, where its members ?sheepishly follow? the Founder! Only discerning people understand that the NDC is strong because it can withstand and has withstood criticism, and learn from it. Rather than being fearful of the outcome of the forthcoming Congress, NDC party faithful are looking forward to the strong and healthy debate that will emerge. The NDC and its internal party politics represents a strong, democratic organization in which everyone says what he or she thinks. There is certainly no evidence of sheep-like behavior among the NDC.

Critics of the NDC feel that any differences of opinion among party members point to the imminent demise of the NDC, and its likely failure in the 2008 national elections. These snakes under grass, who pose ! as critics pretend to have the best interests of the NDC at heart, offering advice that until the NDC does away with Rawlings as its founder, it has no chance of coming back to power. Who has forgotten that soon after the NDC lost power in 2001, they even opined that NDC should change its name, but when this call was met with NDC disdain, they have now changed tactics and commenced a new strategy of calling for Rawlings to step aside and not be heard from again. True, Rawlings can be an equal opportunity "Boomster", but his criticisms are truthful, though his statements are deliberately taken out of context with a view to malign him. These critics are wrong. It is interesting that they think that without Rawlings, the NDC will wither away, like a leaf in harmattan or in autumn.

The party respects Rawlings? contributions, and his keen political insight and passio! n for helping alleviate the poverty of the less fortunate, which comprise the majority of Ghanaians. Rawlings is the strength of the NDC. And what is more, the NDC as a party will prevail because its mission is centered on the people, and this dedication to serving the needs of all Ghanaians, not just the wealthy and connected, will ensure that its ideals will live on forever. Truth can never be hidden. Truth stands.

As the greed, scandal and corruption of the NPP administration resonates around the globe, more and more Ghanaians are waking up to the fact that they were sold a faulty bill of goods by the NPP on the electoral campaigns. Zero tolerance of corruption has turned out to be absolutely 100% tolerable. It appears that President Kufuor?s tolerance for corruption is ve! ry high. Now, today, President Kufuor claims that corruption has been with us since the days of Adam and Eve. Either he was deceiving Ghanaians when he promised, ?Zero Tolerance for Corruption? or he has become an incompetent, ineffective leader who cannot follow through on his promises. Which is worse? Ghana either has a President whose word cannot be trusted, who cannot exercise his leadership, or who is simply bad at math, and thinks zero tolerance equals 100% tolerance for corruption. Which is it? Inquiring minds want to know.

Think about it. From the start, how about if Mr Kufuor had simply told the truth thus: ?My fellow Ghanaians, corruption dates fr! om Adam and Eve, so I promise that I will only act to remove corruption when someone reports it to me, and even then, I will do it reluctantly (or even not at all), because I don?t want to undermine my administration?. How do you think Ghanaians would have reacted to a speech like that? Is it only now that the President is letting his true colors come out, to reveal the corrupt and inept leadership underneath? Prior to coming to power, Kufuor promised Ghanaians the moon and stars, because he knew that the winning strategy involved promising more than the other candidate. Yet he knew very well that the corruption was going to continue and the 'Zero Tolerance to Corruption' bit was simply phony. Corruption has reached its zenith and it continues because the NPP has made no serious moves to improve the accountability and integrity of government. It does not represent, as most Ghanaians believed in 2000, anything new or fresh. Kufuor promised to fight 'institutional corruption' in his government. However, as long as Mr. Kufuor does not elaborate on how he is going to go about eradicating corruption in Ghana, you can bet the farm that it will continue.

The NPP administration is corrupt. That?s a fact, and no number of comparisons between previous administrations will change that fact. A dirty shirt is still a dirty shirt, until it is washed. Ghanaians need to ?wash this dirty shirt? by voting out the NPP en masse in 2008. Are Ghanaians seriously better off today than they were under the NDC? Let?s take a look at the facts:

?Zero Tolerance? has turned out to be a cynical campaign promise.

There are many cases of governmental corruption not being investigated.

Card-bearing NPP individuals/businesses are earning millions of Cedis while dodging tax payments to the state.

Gov! ernment officials abuse their position of public trust with impunity.

As the saying goes, there is no smoke without fire, and Ghanaians are intelligent enough to figure out when they are being deceived. Furthermore, in politics, as in many other things, perception is everything, and Ghanaians now perceive the NPP to be a corrupt administration that has actually increased the level of corruption in the country.

The most recent newsletter (June, 2005) of the Ghana Integrity Initiative, the local chapter of Transparency International (an independent, Berlin-based NGO) found most Ghanaians believe that:

Corruption, and the perception of corruption, has increased; The President and officials in his office account for the highest percentage increase in this perception

In 2005, 56% of Ghanaians believe the President and his office staff are involved in some corruption. This compares with 38% of Ghanaians who held a similar impression in a similar survey conducted in 2002, three years earlier.

In 2005, 59% believe corruption is commonplace among MPS, compared to 52% in 2002.

In 2005, 67% believe corruption is commonplace among national government officials, compared to 62% in 2002

In 2005, 54% believe corruption is rife among teachers and school administrators, compared to 49% in 2002.

There is also an increase in the number of Ghanaians who believe there is corruption among the judiciary and law enforcement officers

A significant minority also admits having had to pay a bribe to access state services

15% of respondents said they had to pay a bribe to obtain a license or permit or avoid problems with the police during the previous year.

13% claim they had to pay a bribe to obtain household services (electricity, water, telephone service)

12% said they had to pay a bribe before obtaining medical attention or gain admission for their wards in a school.

This confirms other findings, that there is the need to deal with corruption, and not simply dismiss such studies as ?perceptions?. What is Kufuor doing to combat these concerns of the masses? When a significant majority of a population holds these beliefs, in a democ! racy, the burden of responsibility lies on Kufuor to provide evidence that his administration takes corruption seriously.

Our current President has shown himself to be a leader who cannot check or control corruption among his cabinet ministers or, heads of major government institutions, or even members of his own party. It is beyond this article to claim that Kufuor has developed a taste for corruption, but if he were serious about it, he would seriously investigate the numerous allegations among his ministers and cronies. Or, at the very least, he would arrange for independent investigations; not appoint such morally-compromised officials in the first place.

Amid all this doom and gloom for the NPP, it is not surprising that its supporters are looking for some controversy to develop out of the NDC Congress, to distract attention from the NPP?s political woes. The NPP party base is engulfed by shame, despair, apathy, and disillusionment, at all the scandals, graft and corruption that has so shaken the administration. In this action, they are not alone in joining the millions of other Ghanaians who are seriously looking at other alternatives come 2008. NDC represents the hope of Ghana?s future, and its critics are looking for any controversy that will pull the NDC down.

These desperate tactics of the NPP are amusing. The pointing of fingers at Rawlings and other leading members of the NDC are designed to sow discord in the party. This will not happen because the NPP is showing that it does not understand the true meaning of democracy. They want Rawlings to ?shut up? and go away, because they hope that the NDC will jettison one of its most powerful campaigners. Indeed, the NPP does not understand that the debate among the NDC party is not a sign of weakness, but rather a symbol of its strength and commitment to democratic principles.

It is not comforting to know that President Kufuor is unable to become the leader that he sold/presented himself as. Kufuor seems out of touch, unwilling to accept criticism or admit mistakes. In times of crisis, he seems unwilling to face reality! , and his solution appears to be to discover some international conference for which he must leave the country to attend. Ghana deserves better. Ghana deserves a President who will stay and address problems as they arise, not avoid them by flying far away. This is not the ideal Ghana of our dreams. Come 2008, Ghanaians will show that they trust the NDC to lead them out of this moral wilderness.

The NDC forthcoming Congress will be a resounding success and whoever is chosen to be part of the National Executive Body, would be deserving of his or her elevation because of Loyalty and Commitment to the Party and nothing else. The masses are awake.

The Mojo Odyssey Continues.



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