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Opinions of Monday, 16 April 2012

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Red-eyed men, bozos and a loud echo.

By George Sydney Abugri

Given the results of the 2008 election and keenness of this year’s electoral contest, the likely result of Election 2012 is down to a pesewa coin toss, and in spite of the only certainty in life being uncertainty itself, one thing is dead certain, Jomo: One of the two leading parties will lose the election.

It is something the ruling National Democratic Congress and New Patriotic Party each better get used to in a mighty hurry, if we are to minimize the chances of any contrived grievance with the potential to lead to violence. That could sound like preaching to a slab of granite:

To let go off the very awesome power and authority of state with its multiple trappings for political rulers and their yes men, is easier said than done and to accept defeat after tasting of power, losing it and seeing it within fairly easy reach but losing it again, is much easier said than done, Jomo.

The biometric registration of voters is in progress and judging by the level of commotion at registration centers across the republic, psychologically conditioning the NDC and the NPP to each accept defeat gracefully and without the chaotic echoes of Election 2008, could be a tough proposition.

As for me, Jomo, I initially resolved to stage a one-man boycott of the biometric registration of voters in protest against a trillion and one grievances I have against the republic and its leaders past and present.

Patriotism got the better of me though and I found myself at a registration center shortly after 5.30 am the other day. The demographics of the republic have altered dramatically and the average age of the people in the queue was about 24 years.

So there I was, Jomo, a lone dinosaur in a sea of young people. It never occurred to anyone to get grandpa out of the queue and register him and I stayed in the darned stagnant queue forever or rather until long after 10 am when I was rewarded with a brand new voters ID card. {The new voter’s card really feels as light and flimsy as ID cards ever come, Jomo.}

It was an uncomfortably warm morning on the day I went to register and the atmosphere as prospective voters in the queue waited for registration staff to arrive was all grey and drab and dreary. That was until a walking symbol of national disillusionment with economic hardship, unfulfilled expectations, unemployment, low wages and a generally low quality of life, staggered on two human legs into the center around with three dogs on his heel.

It was one of the weirdest sights I have set eyes upon, Jomo. Drunk at Staggering around with the dogs sniffing about him, the drunk, a man in his mid 20s, addressed the prospective voters in the queue with a heavy Koo-Fori slur, declaring as he brandished a hand about: “Mu Ghanafou ye kwasia fuo.”

The long line of bored and weary faces lit up and the registration center suddenly exploded in laughter.

Round about the same time, Convention People’s Party First Vice-Chairperson Susan Adu-Amankwa materializes out of nowhere and tries to make political converts of the many young prospective voters in the queue.

She says the best way to ensure good governance is for voters to take a critical look at some of the factors impeding good and accountable governance and do something about it. Voters can ensure progress and good governance she says, by changing governments as frequently as possible based on performance.

She tells her informal audience that yet another way of getting round the problem of corrupt and power-drunk political leaders is to ensure that the corrupt do not go unpunished while at the same time protecting the few who are selfless and straight.

“Hey, madam, ko be bebi enti na!” bellows the drunk who had been mumbling to himself all this while. Another round of laughter rocks the queue…

Anyhow, I am outlining for your benefit, my initiatives for a peaceful election: Except where the incumbent has disappointed the electorate with systematic incompetence, corruption and misrule or overstays its welcome in the seat of political authority, winning an election is often an uphill expedition for the opposition.

The incumbent won’t make a loud jazz tune of it but hey, the advantages of incumbency are clear enough: Discreet access to campaign resources, the loyalty of the top hierarchy of the wider security apparatus, the state-owned media and often discreet beneficiaries of government largesse like traditional rulers and community heads.

The fact often makes the opposition suspicious about the incumbent’s every move. The trick around the problem is for the incumbent to be transparent in matters of public interest related to the elections.

NPP activists have for example, alleged what they claim was a clandestine meeting President Mills held with Regional Commanders of Police at Peduase Lodge. It is claimed the meeting was attended by National Security Adviser, General Nunoo Mensah, the Army Commander, General R.S.Blay, Minister of Defence, General Henry Joseph Smith and former National Security chief Kofi Totobi Quakyi.

The NDC’s General Secretary, Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketia and Presidential aides Messrs. J. Mr. Bebako-Mensah and Paul Victor Obeng were reportedly present.

It was probably a harmless gathering of people working toward a peaceful election. If that is so, it is unfortunate that the meeting was not publicized to give it a semblance of public transparency and deny the opposition the opportunity to impute clandestine motives to the gathering of cops and power seekers.

Inspector General of Police Paul Quaye also got into a spot of bother over his statement to the effect that the police would remain neutral.

He was apparently referring to political neutrality but this was “misconscrewed”{deliberately “misunderstood”} to mean a reference to neutrality in the sense of standing aside and not enforcing the law where one of the two major rival parties was the instigator and aggressor in cases of violence.

Lesson? Between now and December, all whose words matter in this complicated scheme of things should be as clear and precise as possible in communicating election-related information and messages.

Two: All inclined to ignore the dictates of conscience and deliberately distort the import of information for political gain may consider the dangers in whipping up agitated sectarian sentiments, yah?

Jomo, remember the sick monkey in a mask who sent a flooding stream of 78 messages at once from short code 1733 to my mobile phone so that when I switched on the little machine it let out a cross-sound between an ancient grinding mill and a smoke alarm?

This week, the unrepentant idiot was back with a vengeance flooding my phone with insulting messages again from short code 1733. How can the state allow this to happen to its citizens? The National Communication Authority which assigns short code numbers certainly owes me an explanation.

As for the mischievous son-of-a-watamcalit subscribed to 1733, he deserves to be buggered, quartered, abraded, battered, scorched, scuffed, bunged up, castrated, chafed, dismembered, emasculated, flayed, taken apart limb by limb and his cotton wool-stuffed head impaled on an electric pole at the Kwame Nkrumah Cirlce.

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