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Opinions of Thursday, 29 May 2008

Columnist: Fordjour, Konongo

Order! Order! Order! Petition please - Point of order!

Did you say the Right Honourable Minister Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu genuinely won the 2008 NPP primary at Asante-Akyem North Constituency? Please, I beg to differ. Please do I have His Excellency, The President, in my audience? Thank you, sir. Mr. President, honourable members of our great family, ladies and gentlemen mine is just a simple submission.

The honourable gentleman representing Asante-Akyem North Constituency decided to contest in his backyard and had ample time to report the decision from his bedroom. I do not intend to be too garrulous neither do I want to change the people's decision from remote. However, changing the voting venue at the eleventh hour to suit oneself is cheating and tantamount to theft. Mr. President, Hon. Wiredu's unexplained decision to contest in Agogo other than the usual site in the district assembly is unacceptable. We have always voted for Mr. Wiredu in all his previous three consecutive bids in Konongo and there were no problems. He had our trust, we always loved him. We drank palm-wine from the same calabash, we ate fufu from the same bowl, and we always visited funerals together with Koo Baah, but it looks like the Honourable gentleman has grown wings now. Behaviours shown by some of our family members are extremely disappointing. It started with our chief of staff, Hon. Kwadwo Mpiani, belittling us with "yen-sempoa-nkapre" debut and extending to Hon. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu with his apparent stretch up of his middle finger in "you can't touch me" mood.

Mr. President, Honourable Wiredu even went to the polling site with more than one hundred (100) heavily armed police combatants readily available to shoot and kill at his command and at his pleasure; just to register his diabolic intentions. Besides this, the honourable gentleman sought for ten (10) other ministers in government to join his company. These developments are first of their kind ever in the history of the UP family decision making in Asante-Akyem. Mr. President, a precedent has already been set by the Right Honourable Baah-Wiredu and we need to take note of that. Honourable Wiredu is scared of his own shadow. He has successfully pulled the decision making seat from Konongo to Agogo and his next action most likely would be creating office and issuing instructions from his Agogo base. Mr. Wiredu does not trust anybody in Asante-Akyem anymore especially from Konongo. Whispers from the parliament house and echoed in the stinking, rat-infested boroughs of the Bronx, NY in the USA state that Hon. Wiredu is even planning for a new constituency out of our current one. Or perhaps, redemarcate the whole Asante-Akyem as it occurred in the third republic. It might be a blessing in disguise. Mr. Wiredu's political strategic dimension in using the ballot box to silence his critics are two-fold; one, intimidate by physically exposing voters to gun-toting men and/or macho-men; and two, bribe and coerce voters by aggrandizing himself with powers from the state bureau imbued in his body language; intended to corrupt voters. Mr. Wiredu's strategies, applied to deal with his critics are not new in Ghana. They have been used before by Jerry Rawlings and Kwame Nkrumah. In the mid-1980's the late Chris Hani, the then commander of Umkonto-we-Sizwe, the military wing of South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) in exile fighting apartheid, visited Kojo Tsikata (security officer) of the defunct PNDC to lodge complaint about the presence of Ghanaian teachers in South Africa. Mr. Hani believed that Ghanaian teachers' strong presence in his homeland was affecting his struggle to liberate apartheid South Africa. Why? This is because our teachers were keeping the youth busy in classrooms at the expense of the struggle. The young men and women were getting hard to recruit, all because of the "opportunistic" Ghanaian teachers. Mr. Tsikata's answer to that was simple: "Those Ghanaians you see there are the corrupt Ashantis, who are afraid of blood, just kill any five of them, and the rest will all disappear and you will have the peace you need". Mr. Hani was all set to carry out his mission but on his stop-over in Harare-Zimbabwe, he hinted Comrade Mugabe about his discussions with the Ghanaian government. Comrade Mugabe walked him through some government policies and posed a simple question to Mr. Hani that: "where would you find well-educated citizens to run your country after liberation?" And apparently Mr. Hani did not have answers to that, and perhaps, Ghanaian teachers remained in their profession there. Mr. President, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu's mental euphemistic malapropism in the usage of "Asantefuor suro tuo ne mmbogya" to intimidate his own folks isn't a good move to make, more especially considering the principles that guide our family. The second aspect of using state machinery to coerce voters to fan votes to his side is more reminiscent of the Kwame Nkrumah's inferior political tactics. Mr. President, the decorated Africa's most performed finance minister of our time and MP of mine's behaviour in this regard is undemocratic and definable as a petulant idiosyncratic entity having a medieval notoklotto. Please let me explain in case some in my audience may find it hard to figure out: Petulant idiosyncrasy is like a village bully boy of say 8 years whose father brings him a football as a present from his long journey. This boy goes out to play this football with his peers at the village play grounds. Then experience a hard tackle from another boy with better soccer skills. The owner of the football then grabs his ball and walks home, games closed. Of course the boys must learn to respect owners of footballs not to offend them else they will not enjoy football games in the village. Mr. Wiredu decided to contest in his bedroom to garner home support. This kind of kuluulu, buga-buga and takashi of our modern politics is more related to medieval notoklotto, a kind of power-denial psychosis affecting politicians diagnosed of an extraordinarily disease called psycho-political concupiscence. Honestly, I would have given Mr. Wiredu all the respect accorded an executive of his caliber if he had completed his bid from the neutral grounds at Konongo.

During my travels in the early 1980's, I happen to stay in Egypt and Engineering, subdivisions of Highfields, a suburb of Harare-Zimbabwe, and a stronghold of ZANU-PF. I had enough time to sit in numerous of their meetings to learn about their side of politics. In those days Zimbabwe was exposed to all kinds of aggression: possible secessionism from the south led by Joshua Nkomo, deliberate threat from the white minority led by Ian Smith, and external aggression from the west spearheaded by Margaret Thatcher. Besides these, the newly independent Zimbabwe carried the burden of helping the black folks around to secure their freedoms. That was a daunting task. Some of his ministers were getting out of hand as well. Remember Denis Zvobo in Ministry of Education, Emerson Mnangaguwa in the Ministry of Interior, and Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe Trade Union Congress? Comrade Mugabe listens. He brought Nkomo into his government as a ceremonial president to tame Ndebeles in the south. He withdrew Zvobo and Mnangaguwa from public office and kept them busy in party headquarters. Morgan Tsvangirai was Comrade Mugabe's darling boy in those days taking care of the ZTUC. You see, one thing in politics is that: you don't challenge your boss. Something must have gone wrong and Morgan had a bad omen and probably misbehaved and since Comrade Mugabe is a teacher by profession, he strongly believes in the old adage of: "spare-the-rod-and-spoil-the-child". Pineapple-face Tsvangirai (pronounced as 'Chu' as it is in Twum 'wan-gi-rai', Twuwangirai) got beaten terribly bad with pock-marks blemishing all over his body and Comrade Mugabe's old enemy, Britain, and many other world leaders condemned that behaviour. Mr. President, in one of your recent visits to England, one of that country's media houses wanted to know your reaction with regard to Comrade Mugabe's action on Morgan and you responded as: "EMBARRASSING!" [with exclamation sign, please]. In our case in Asante-Akyem North in which a sitting MP decides to use bribery, bullying, and coercive method to scare and intimidate people to vote for him and to change voting venue at the eleventh hour, where do we drop the exclamation sign this time? DISGRACEFUL! DAMAGING! Or could we copy it out as EMBARRASSING!....as well? The honourable gentleman saw a doomsday at the ballot box at Konongo and decides to dodge the embarrassment much in the same way as the potholes he has been dodging all over in Asante-Akyem North district.

Mr. Wiredu seems to have created his own sacred trajectory that no one-else can tread along; and he will go down in history as the longest serving member of parliament in contemporary Ghanaian politics (sixteen years in the house) yet the worst performing MP in world history. Numerous proposals for development were made yet not a single one was ever accomplished. Initially, it was the inland port at Asante-Akyem Boankra, but we hardly hear of it these days. Could it be poor planning; or lack of funding; or short of ideas at the implementation stage? Then came street and other structural naming such as stadiums that ended without the long-awaited naming like "Nyinatokoro Industrial Boulevard". Then came Konongo quarry and gold mines, which never were anyway (nottin-klu-bee). Konongo and its Asante-Akyem North neighbourhoods have very fine citizens with good hearts. It is the only constituency in the country that can offer its 'hardworking' MP to the nation as best minister for twelve years plus a possible four-year extension and yet still remain silent in anguish with his inexistence of any performance in the district to count on. Pundits believe that Mr. Wiredu is humble, quiet, hardworking and adorable so regardless of his inadequacies such as creating sharp differences in our party at the constituency level, refusing to visit the constituency for over two years, imposition of force rule from remote, and so forth, all is right and to hell with all his critics. But Mr. President, injustice in Konongo 'nkwantia' is also injustice in Boston-USA with ripples hitting injustices in far away Japan.

I do agree with some of the analyses given by Hon. Wiredu's associates. There is no question about the honourable gentleman's work in the ministry of finance and economic planning. I have been following developments in that sector. Presentations given by the minister are of high quality featuring diagrams, models, policy designs and formulations. It shows the brilliance of the research team put to work in that department. He is also strong in the state budgetary planning. It is also true that Ghana has always had the best brains in that department over years. The immediate past minister, Hon. Yaw Safo-Maafo, before Koo Baah, also worked with this same team and produced results. The difference between these two men is that Koo Baah follows instructions, while Wofa Yaw Safo is hard to listen. Hon. Maafo at a point in time would not even follow a simple rule of reading carefully fine prints under a contract before going ahead to append his signature to commit the nation. Poking into history, one finds consistency of the brilliance of Ghana's ministry of finance and economic planning. Remember in the days of the second republic when Hon. J.H. Mensah used to sleep in office for the good of our country? Even Dr. Kwesi Botchway was a man of his own integrity, but just imagine working for a novice who hardly had any aesthetic appreciation of nation building; the result would always be mediocrity. Hon. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu is blessed with economic wizards in his team such as Dr. Akoto-Osei and a huge network of expert advice from Hon. J.H. Mensah, Hon. Kwame Pianim, and many more NPP materials at his disposure to use. Honestly, it is only knaves and gullible that can fail in such a perfectly set environment. Therefore there is nothing extraordinary with the poorly performing MP from Asante-Akyem North emerging as the best performing minister of our time. What really matters is how the MP Minister in question has been able to develop smart strategies to improve his constituency over time. For instance how many motions has the honourable gentleman from Asante-Akyem North tabled in parliament to convince the house to site developments in his own constituency? Or does it mean that if you are a minister, you need not argue in parliament for your constituency in order to appear as the most honest man on the planet? Hon. Wiredu has no clue in the environment he finds himself. He cannot initiate any innovative program on his own, design implementation strategy and to supervise it to success. One family member with that peculiar skill is Hon. Alan Kyerematen when it comes to creativity, implementation and success, and definitely not Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu. It is therefore not puzzling to find him mute as he is so as not to expose his inadequacies. Honestly, if there is praise to offer, that should be directed to exactly where it is due - the president - whose exotic leadership has brought pride to the nation and not the distanced MP from his own constituency. Leadership is the ability to convince your staunch opponent to relinquish his/her own ambitions for your success and to delegate your functions to your own surrogates' to perform. Given me the opportunity in the presidential position, would I have employed Hon. Wiredu in the finance ministry? Yes. Would I recommend Hon. Wiredu to continue his work there after the end of this term? Yes. Would I have considered any other possible alternative to Hon. Wiredu in the finance ministry? No. Why not? This is because sensitive areas require trustworthy and reliable people who will do exactly what you require from them and will tell you exactly what you would want to hear. Such sensitive areas are finance, security and defence, trade and industry, interior, health, energy, and information. You probably would not want to mess up with those and keep them there over a longer period of time. We commend His Excellency, The President for his unique performance in bringing men and women along to perform. Nevertheless, ministerial functions are administrative and incomparable to creative functioning within the constituency. Hon. Wiredu has failed dismally at Asante-Akyem North and instead of conceding defeat, tries abusive strategies to hang on power. Hon. Wiredu's conduct at the just-ended primary in Asante-Akyem North is unacceptable and we demand an apology never to recur in the future. And that is the memo.

And to you, fellow citizens of Asante-Akyem, bitter family issues do exist always and when they do, we always learn from them and make peace. We have drawn the attention of the president and it is our collective expectation that positive results would come out of this. We have also been taught by Koo Baah that future practices of old dirty politics can recur in our future primaries. Therefore, we need to be vigilant in subsequent future voting. Let us unite as a family and once again, help him to win big. If he decides to work with us this time, all the best; however if he chooses to remain the same, then we know the character we have helped to be who he is today and can draw out clues for future voting decisions.

God Bless us all.

Konongo Fordjour, Boston-USA
Email: koafordjour@yahoo.com


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