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Opinions of Sunday, 12 September 2010

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Nana and Wood fly a time machine

By George Sydney Abugri

The mayor of Accra has vowed to take into immediate custody, every single one of the unruly multitude of cattle, pigs, goats, sheep and other stray ruminants roaming his beloved millennium city, obstructing the flow of motor traffic and littering the streets with foul dung, but that is not really the news, Jomo.

Here is the news with a necessary historical lining: No leader with even the most appalling sense of self-preservation will assign a suspected foe {or non-friend if you like}, to watch his {leader’s} back. Such a guardsman might just contrive to let his guard down and render the leader a sitting duck in times of mortal danger, don’t you think?

Yet from Busia to Mills, our constitution has left successive leaders of this controversial republic with no choice but to inherit heads of sensitive and strategic national institutions appointed by rival predecessors.

I have watched with some amusement, successive Ghanaian leaders try to come to terms with or confront the dilemma.

For obvious reasons, every successive administration wants trusted party supporters and sympathizers to head such sensitive institutions as the police service, the army, public boards, public service institutions, the state owned banks, corporate organizations and oh yeah, why not, the state-owned media.

It is all so understandable isn’t it, Jomo: No political administration could ever feel comfortable entrusting sensitive authority to someone whose loyalty to the establishment is suspect at best.

The problem is that everyone pretends nothing like that exists or they give the phenomenon a different name: The impression is always given by opposition-affiliated media, that a new administration is rampaging through the corporate world and the public service, gleefully sacking heads of organizations in a ritualistic purging of pubic institutions of opposition elements.

Yet both the government-friendly and opposition-affiliated media know that this game will not be ending any time soon and that the same scenario will be repeated whenever there is a change in government.

In the past couple of weeks, Her Lordship the Chief Justice has moved up to top position on the list of public officials NDC activists want to resign or be fired. They have a rumbling catalogue of damning accusations against Georgina Theodore Wood, with the key phrase in their unofficial inquisition being “unbecoming political bias.”

The NDC has a major grudge against Her Lordship: The NDC has kept insisting that the ruling part at the time, fully conscious of its electoral defeat, had sought the connivance of the judiciary under the supervision of Her Lordship, to prevent the Electoral Commissioner from declaring the NDC‘s victory and that but for the courage of Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the mighty republic may have gone up in flames.

Where is Miss Truth? We are still searching for her, Jomo: The danger has long passed and now we can afford the very expensive luxury of forgetting the high voltage tension after the 2008 election runoff. The best way to avoid a recurrence is to establish, accept and deal with the truth while there is still ample time, yah?

This is not to deny the tit-for-tat thing in Ghana’s politics. This post-election tit-for-tat thing has no sooner begun than it will ever end:

From the perspective of party hardliners and activists the previous political administration persecuted and maltreated high profile opposition elements in such and such an appalling fashion. Now that the darned shoe is on the other foot, there must be no mercy or any stupid references to public officers’ rights under the constitution.

Tat-for-tit. It hit the emerging 2012 campaign trail this week with a “tat” to remind us of the last “tit” and give as an idea of what the campaign might look like when the NDC has gone to its primaries and elected a presidential candidate.

NPP presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo has taken to the campaign trail with great gusto and in a cloud of resurging ambition. Ahead of the NDC’s primaries, Akufo-Addo has the incumbent for an electoral jogging mate all to himself!

The two met at a cultural festival at Cape Coast last week and there it was illustrated yet again that what goes round just keeps coming around again and again, tit-tat-tit-tat-tit-tat…

The scene unfolded with such uncanny sameness you could have sworn Ghana was flying round and round in G.H. Wells’s Time Machine:

During the Election 2008 campaign, if you recall, then presidential candidate Professor Mills and then President Kufuor met at a cultural festival at the very same location-Cape Coast. It is time for exchanging the usual customary pleasantries. With a bodyguard called Angola in close tow, candidate Mills walks over to greet president Kufuor

President Kufuor’s security guards stop Mills’ body guard dead in his tracks and prevent him from reaching the dais with Mills. Humiliated and angered, Professor Mills’s body guard bides his time, which in this instance, was easily measured in ticking seconds tit-tat-tit-tat: Soon, it is Kufuor’s turn to walk over and greet Mills and some chiefs.

Tat-for-tit. Mills’s body guard in a retributive act of reprisal, tries preventing Kufuor’s security men from reaching the dais where Mills is seated. To cut a not so funny story short, Kufuor’s guards severely assault Mills’s body guard and he falls into a coma and is ferried off to medics.

{Now, take very careful note not that I am not in the embers stoking business but merely taking stock of our bearings. We really need to, if the Mosaic Law in Ghana’s electoral policy is to be reviewed.}

I recall how the national security establishment shrugged off the incident, saying the security of the president would not be compromised to accommodate the private security arrangements of presidential candidates.

The NDC issued a public statement saying the party was very angry over the affair and vowed to fight back next time around.

Thank God, fighting back did not mean cracking skulls and snapping limbs but his encounter with NDC protocol officers at the Cape Coast festival last week must have riled Akufo-Addo nonetheless.

The very same scenario was re-enacted with the shoe on the other foot this time: Nana it was alleged, broke protocol by trying to move over to the dais to greet the chiefs when he had not been invited to do so and was prevented from doing so.

End of the payback story? Not without a tat-for-tit footnote: Akufo-Addo was in the Volta Region last week and was allegedly denied access to GBC’s regional radio service to give a campaign message and wish pro-NPP and floating voters well.

If what was reported is the truth, he was told that while visiting the region as a presidential candidate in 2008, Mills was denied access to the same public radio.

Unless someone pills the right levers, I guess this is how it will continue as long as the Time Machine keeps flying round and round and around!