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Opinions of Friday, 1 July 2011

Columnist: Danso, Kwaku A.

Okom Principles in Ghanaian Politics

Okom Principles in Ghanaian Politics –
RE: Dr. Asemfoforo to campaign for NPP

By Kwaku A. Danso

Mr. Osei Yaw Nketia, aka “Dr” Asemfoforo

Time will not permit me but let me make a comment that okom, the Akan word for hunger, is a very strong motivator for action. The okom principle, aka nokofio in Ga, drives many of our public actions especially among young men of such age. For the older men it is greed and selfishness.

In a report on Myjoyonline of June 29, 2011, we read:
Angry Foot Soldiers of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) have threatened to campaign against the party and even mount NPP rally platform because they have been used and dumped and therefore feel insulted. Some of the foot soldiers led by Mr. Osei Yaw Nketia, otherwise known as Dr. Asemfoforo, a critic of the then ruling NPP government who mobilized massive support for the NDC during the 2008 elections, says the NDC party has been ungrateful.

It is said that a picture says more than a thousand words. Looking at this man’s face in the report, it is obvious to me that the man is hungry in addition to being angry. A relative who is a Judge in Botswana told me that in African there are two kinds of corruption – one due to greed and one due to need. In the olden days people like this young man would be either gainfully employed working at the father’s cocoa or corn or other farms, or if they did well in school, would be wearing a white shirt and working at one of the Banks, and perhaps driving a small Toyota car at the least.

Today most of such opportunities are lost. They are lost due to the inability of the educated Ghanaian in public office and their leaders to find the competitive global formula for our nation’s survival and job creation.

These days, those who are smart at Universities and who are not hired at the Bank have but two choices:
1. Form an NGO.
2. Join and become activist for and in one of the major political parties.

With an NGO, these smart young men seek some financing to push a cause, as some have done successfully. Whether they believe in the cause or not is immaterial. The power of okom, hunger, drives people to do many things and so far as they are not robbing Banks, they are fine.

Folks, we cannot simply condemn such people who choose politics as a way to make ends meet. These young men who do not want to carry goods on their heads at traffic lights and hawk PK Chewing gum have to use their brains to survive. A friend Jacob Osei Yeboah, who is seeking the Presidency of Ghana as in independent candidate, is already learning the motivation behind many who appear as supporters for the sake of nokofio or to quench their hunger.

Ethics has a way of being compromised under the pressure of okom. However one does not have to be dishonest when one is hungry. There is no study I know to suggest that poor people are less ethical than the rich. Some rich people are still stealing when elected or appointed to public service due to greed. Not everybody has the guts of Bonnie and Clyde to get a fast-running Jeep or Toyota and guns to go rob Banks. As such with a reported 48.9% of the college educated unemployed in Ghana, the options in Ghana seem to be as stated above, or find ways to go overseas.

Talking about going overseas, the US Green Card Visa has helped many to seek jobs and opportunities in America. This month a young man who came here about twelve years ago at age fifteen with his parents graduated from the University of Chicago Medical center as MD with MPH to add, and one can only be very proud of such young men. The President of Ghana, President Mills, has suggested for the graduates of Ghanaians Universities to stay home and help their country and not go outside and become “unskilled workers” like some of us overseas. Whiles some of us felt offended, one can understand a President seeking to keep the pride of his nation. At the same time I can understand the motivation of a man like this so-called “Dr”. Asemofoforo in working for the NPP, being disappointed, and then launching a campaign for the NDC to win, only to be disappointed also as a foot soldier with no job!

Ghanaian society is not the same as it was in the 1960s when every University graduate teacher at our school, Prempeh College, used to own and drive a car, including some of those who did not even have their degrees yet. It was easy to obtain loans for small businesses. As much as crooks will be crooks, average middle class income earners could survive on their income without having to steal from public funds out of need.

Human beings are motivated to use their brains to survive and with options so limited and Banks giving loans only for short term trading to import cheap Chinese goods for high profit returns, and not enough to support businesses and entrepreneurs, the options for young men like Osei Yaw Nketia are limited. As a foot soldier my thought is that he should be paid by the politicians he is campaigning for, in a contractual agreement and not used and dumped as he claims. It is a legitimate social contract. Times are changing!!

Dr. Kwaku A. Danso, email:
President –Ghana Leadership Union, Inc /Moderator GLU Forum.
East Legon, Accra, Ghana & Livermore, California, USA