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Opinions of Friday, 17 August 2012

Columnist: Sulemana, Iddisah

Reminder: We are One People

Each time I try to get over the tragedy that engulfed us recently, one question particularly jumps at me, glaringly: what is the silver lining in this cloud? President Mills is forever gone. And no amount of tears, sorrow and grief would bring him back. But I believe we can derive at least one important lesson from this whole tragedy. And it is the fact that we are one people.

President J.A. Kufour has used this trying moment to preach peace and unity. He asked us to celebrate Mills’ life, and let his demise unite us like never before. He said we are one people. Our views might differ, but we are one people. President John Mahama reiterated this, saying we’re one people with a common destiny and purpose, and that this tragedy should continue to unite us.

I think the tragedy has presented us an opportunity to pause for a second, and examine our ways. Must we continue with politics of insults, preaching of violence, personal attacks, among others? Or must we change these undesirable old ways, and seek new approaches when dealing with one another? The tragedy also reminds us of the fact that politics is not about life and death. We should praise anyone who preaches peace and unity while condemning anyone preaching violence and disunity. We should tell to the youth and the grassroot supporters that there would be life after elections. Posterity would not forgive us if we plunge this country into chaos.

I read about NPP bitterly complaining that GTV and President Mahama connived to sideline Nana Akuffo Addo during the funeral celebrations of the late President. Some people attributed this to his (Nana’s) height. I felt so sad to read that, not because I am short myself, but because I thought that was a completely wrong thing to say. And I wish this purported sidelining did not even occur in the first place. I wish Nana had his party’s desired coverage.

And then NPP came out with their strings of insults! You call President Mahama and his veep “spare tyres”? You call the president “caretaker”? How disrespectful and disgusting could this get? You don’t have to respect the persons of John Mahama and Amissah-Arthur. But you must respect the office they hold. Over the weekend, both President Obama and Vice President Biden (on different occasions) criticized Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney and his Vice Paul Ryan. However, both Obama and Biden said that their opponents are very good people. They just disagree on issues, and that the problem is their opponents’ vision for America. Why is this important? NPP can criticize the NDC on its programs and policies, and performance without recourse to insulting, labeling, name-calling President Mahama and his party folks. Same goes for NDC, CPP, PNC, etc. We should learn to attack the issues, not the persons! After all, you are all running for office because you want to serve the country.

When NPP said their campaign message will not change following Mills’ death, it wasn’t clear to me what they meant. But before long, I see clearly now what they meant. It was Nana Akuffo Addo who called President Mills Prof. “Do-little”. Now, President Mahama is a spare tyre. He is a caretaker. So now we know, that the campaign message is about insults. Is it going to be about violence? Ghana deserves better. Many people like your free senior high school promise (even if it’s going to remain a promise). And there are many other things you can talk about. Tell us what you are going to do differently, and better than the current government, and of course, how you are going to do it. As for the measure of competence, leave that to us, the electorate. We have sound judgement. We are discerning.

To the NDC communication team, Jesus admonished us that when someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other for them. Two wrongs never make a right. President Mills never insulted anyone back. He never called anyone names, likewise then Vice President, and presently President Mahama. Let their tolerance and civility guide your responses to attacks!

God bless our Homeland Ghana!!

Iddisah Sulemana