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Opinions of Thursday, 22 September 2016

Columnist: Africanus Owusu-Ansah

Of manifesto launch and funeral freebies

By Africanus Owusu-Ansah

Equo ne credite, Teucri! Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. (Do not trust the horse, Trojans!) Whatever it is, I fear the Danaans (Greeks) even when bearing gifts).

Laocoon of Troy

Sunyani was agog (en gogue: highly excited) with NDC members, supporters, well–wishers falling one over another to launch their manifesto. At such a function which was full of joyfulness, good humour and mirth there was no time to reflect on the negative side of the actors and their actions.

There were many assurances: from single – digit inflation, to the employment of the unemployed, to the creation of five more regions to make Ghana a fifteen – region country from the present ten. Which of the present – day regions would be affected should the NDC win the 2016 elections? Which regions will be the lucky or unlucky ones? Akufo-Addo had promised to create ‘West – North’ or geographically ‘North-Western’ Region out of the present Western Region one?

The President said they would “…investigate corruption wherever we find it”. There would be an expansion of the Social Protection programmes that would embrace deprived areas like the Zongos and artisanal fishing communities. The President expressed the wish for Dr Henry Seini Danaa to win his seat to become the first visually impaired Member of Parliament, having been made a Minister of State in his government.

Besides the issues brought to the fore, President Mahama had time to showcase his wife, First Lady Lordina Mahama. Of course, she is ‘obolo’, but I think I heard a Ghanaian musician say: “Ebi pe no lingi – lingi” (some people like it slim). Says the President: “My wife had been my companion, love and comforter for the past 24 years and I promise to continue to treasure and properly look after her until the day I die”. As proof of his love for his wife, he boogied with her, displaying intricate syncopations with his limbs and torso.

But were my eyes deceiving me when I saw a coffin said by the macho –men carrying it, to contain the dead body of Nana Akufo Addo, NPP Presidential candidate to be buried: a symbolism of the death and burial of Nana Akufo Addo. Of course, the pictures of Nana Akufo Addo were very sharp, but was the whole episode not a disgrace to the intelligence of Ghanaians?

President Mahama who had spent more than 4–plus years on the Presidential seat (sworn into office on 24th July, 2012 after the death of John Evans Atta Mills) said he had now finished the foundation of the ‘house’ and the NDC manifesto was “an authentic blueprint by the NDC to move Ghana in affluence”. Instead of the “Better Ghana Agenda”, he now had “Changing Lives; Transforming People”.

While President Mahama was enjoying the breeze of the Sunyani fresh air, his brother, Ibrahim Mahama, was meandering through Bibiani to neighbouring towns which included Tano Odumase, doling out freebies to villagers. At the funeral of George Nsiah, Ibrahim electrified the grounds with his presence; The presentation of GH¢ 5000 as his funeral donation, the offer of GH¢1,000 to the music–makers and the sprinkling of GH¢20 notes to the dancers could not have “pinched” him, for his Aide – de- camp was carrying a pillow – load of cash in his armpit.

There were wild stories that it was not only at Tano Odumase that Ibrahim demonstrated his magnanimity: villages around which were holding funerals were the proud recipients of this largesse.

Of course, the family of George did the unimaginable when they scuttled the Sunday Thanksgiving Service by shooing all of us from the church. Why? – The bank from where the children had taken the funeral loan had taken the donation box – without the family’s consent. ”Come and see speed” with which the congregants fled the church premises as the ‘slim – macho men’ chased them away! Certainly, no comment, but I grieve for missing my Sunday mass.

You see, once we are in an election year, politicians and pseudo – politicians are likely to be extra – generous. Some will be all too willing to provide what psychologists call ‘extrinsic motivation’– this is behaviour that is driven by external rewards such as money, fame, grades and praise”. It is motivation that arises from outside the individual (compared with ‘intrinsic motivation’ which originates inside of the individual).

There is this interesting case of Zimbabwe’s Minister for Women Affairs, Nyasha Chikwiya, who, in a rally at Gokwe – Nembudziya, told the young ones there: “I want all youth to leave. What I want to say now is an issue for the elders”.

When all the youth had left, she started distributing Viagra after instructing the crowd on how to use the pills. The men were stampeding to get some of these libido – enhancing drugs which, by law, could only be obtained by prescription by a doctor.

Ironically, the Minister had warned men to desist from abusing women and girls: “We will not hesitate to deal with those who find pleasure in abusing young girls. That should change and I am not going to tolerate it … all those who abuse women deserve to be in jail.”

In the Philippines, Leni Robredo advised the voters: “Keep the gifts but follow your heart”. She was campaigning against her moneyed rival and won a landslide victory, after her husband Interior Secretary, Jesse Robredo’s death.

The NDC in an answer to vote – buying refutes the allegation and Kwakye Ofosu says the gifts and paraphernalia they give people on their campaign are for marketing and publicity purposes only. They should be called “publicity efforts” and not what the NPP “try to make it look like”.

Kwakye Ofosu adds: “So you see that there would be branded head pans or branded sewing machines that we would give to selected groups, it’s a way of achieving further publicity… I would like to believe that people give their votes either way on more substantive reasoning, like their welfare, how they perceive other parties to have performed against another”.

However, an NDC communicator did not help matters when he argued that the pans distributed to the people at Cape Coast were not branded on arrival. It was the people who received them who branded them themselves! Do we need to believe everything that has been said? Do we have to be gullible? Remember the saying: “Beware the Greeks bearing gifts”.

The story: Troy had been under siege for ten years from the Grecian armies, after the Trojan prince had eloped with the wife of Menelaus, the Spartan king. The decade – long war had seen the deaths of thousands of soldiers; however, the stone walls of Troy made it impenetrable.

Odysseus, the Grecian warrior king hatched a plan to put soldiers in a wooden horse and left at the gates of Troy. The Trojans believing the war was over, and that the horse was a gift to them, wheeled it into Troy. In the night, the Greek soldiers came out of the belly of the horse, opened the gates of Troy ran over and destroyed the city. The Trojans had ignored the warning of the priest, Laocoon: “Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes” translated as: “I fear the Greeks, even those bearing gifts”.

Writer's e-mail: africanusoa@gmail.com