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Opinions of Tuesday, 30 August 2005

Columnist: Appiah-Danquah, Kufuor

The Curse Of A Building And The Witch From Syria

I left UK for Ghana a day after my article the ?Saga of Saoud Building? appeared on the web. I have just opened my mailbox and I am bemused by the responses. My article had generated more than 50 responses 48 of them insulting and accusing me of defending the indefensible. Of the 48 responses nearly 20 professed to be die- hard NPP supporters who were expressing their contempt for my stance. Only 2 of the responses were in favour of my stand.

Public Opinion

Friends, I am no fool, I do understand public opinion and the wider sentiments of the Ghanaian public. What started in drips and drops, titillating but uninteresting has engulfed our country and is becoming one of the most divisive and dangerous issues facing our country. I will not beat about the bush neither will I bury my head in the sand on this issue. Everyone in Ghana has a view on the issue ?but the consensus view, which I gathered from friends, sympathizers, NPP supporters, and good sensible thinking Ghanaians was simple and painful- ?Get rid of this cancerous building?.

Legacy

Exactly 1,475 days from today President John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor will revert to plain Kofi Agyekum Kufuor. To his children he will still be dad, to family members he will be Uncle Kofi/JA and to newly acquired friends and admirers he will be Old man or Mr. ex President. Historians and the next generation of Ghanaians will write about his tenure in office, discuss his achievements and contribution, compare him to other leaders and make their own personal assessment. He will either be remembered as a true democrat, upholder of truth and justice, defender of the judiciary, a believer in press freedom, advocate of the poor and promoter of the golden age of business. Alternatively, history and our country could judge him by just one issue ?Saoud Building? which seems to be taking over the body politick of our country.

The legacy that his family, true friends and the majority of Ghanaians want for him is a true democrat one who made our country a beacon of hope and truly entrenched the values of a free society in our country.

Saoud Building

I have just returned from Ghana and any visitor arriving from Mars to Ghana may think our country has no economic/social/political problems and that we spend all our time on a ?madwoman? from Syria/Iran debating and wasting precious air time on a building which frankly I find ugly, unattractive and downright carbuncle.

I did travel widely in Ghana, met a cross ?section of people, attended rallies at Bukom, spend a day at Nima, met with opinion and business leaders, women?s group, young people and Chiefs and had the privilege to be interviewed for a whole 20 minutes by Space FM (Sunyani).

I made it a point that I will not discuss any issue dealing with that madwoman ?Giselle? or Saoud?s ex building next to the house of the President.

Substantive issues

During my 20-minute interview with Space FM not once ever did I touch on the Saoud Building. Not because I was scared or I was trying to dodge the issue just that there were more important issues to discuss than an unfinished building. . We discussed important issues dealing with growth and democracy, rural urban dichotomy, developing the economy, job creation for our young people and the unemployed, finding solutions to our health problems, creating a fairer education system, building our crumbling infrastructure strengthening the rule of law and coming to grips with our endemic and systemic poverty issues.

I wish this was the same for our country- I am afraid our country seem to have gone mad with one building- the ?curse of a building and that witch from Syria ?.

Getting in on the Act

TV cameras swooping on the building wasting precious police time, Kwasi Pratt and co seeking to provoke the President and his security forces by making a fool of themselves; Kofi Wayo holding his huge cigar getting on the act, Gold FM; Joy FM; Alhaji Bature ?led groups; truth groups; lies groups; MP?s, kenke/banku tro-tro drivers all having a say on the matter. To make it worse the 2 spokespersons for our current President and ex- President behaved utterly despicable on the airwaves- hurling insults at each other with Victor Smith sprouting out unfounded allegations and baseless accusations. I was disappointed that Kwabena Adjepong fell for the bait and got himself intertwined with the verbal garbage that was been spewed by Victor Smith all in the name of that building

Common enemy - Poverty

Let us be clear and unequivocal about one thing ? our poverty ?stricken aunties, mother?s cousins, brothers deserve better. The priorities of this Government and for that matter any succeeding government must be a fight to the death with the grinding, dehumanizing poverty that faces most of our city and rural dwellers. I dare readers to visit Kwame Nkrumah Circle or Kaneshie market after 12pm and they will be shocked and moved. I actually saw a mother sleeping on the floor in front of a shop at Kaneshie Market (1pm 11th August 2005 with her twin babies (4 months old) nothing prepares the human brains for such a sight- it breaks your human spirit and make you angry

By the Grace of God and a generous benefactor friend this woman has been found a one bedroom It drives you crazy to note that the debate on radio/television is not about provision of good affordable housing, clean drinking water, jobs for the unemployed and young people, but dummy news about that stupid mad bitch Giselle and the building.

Instead of policy makers, Ministers and other officials coming on air to defend their policies we are bombarded with the arrival of a Syrian witch, an unfinished building which looks more like Alcatraz than a modern hotel and cheap popularity seekers spewing out lies and garbage on the radio.

Positive developments

Friend?s good things are happening in our country, there are important developments in our health, education and employment sector. For example, the Ghanaian man of the decade Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng has transformed Korle Bu, the National Heath Service has been implemented, free education for all is on its way, there is a thriving private sector and our media is the toast of the free world. Our country under President Kufuor has made significant improvements and achieved a lot, which is in danger of being hidden under this ?Gisselmania nonsense? We must debate substantive issues and drop this name-calling and mud throwing.

Honorable Compromise

I suggest that to resolve the issue of security, the house is next to the President?s and the security chiefs have informed me that no way can they protect the President if the hotel fell into ?hostile? hands the Government of Ghana must buy the property and use it for visiting dignitaries and official purposes. ? That will resolve the issue of security.

I have argued on these pages that Chief and Nana Ama have every right to earn a living and engage in legitimate business activity. At the same time Chief has every right to dispose of the building if he so wishes but not to any hostile or unfriendly investor

President Kufuor has a job to do and a legacy to bequeath to the people of Ghana this building and the antics of a madwoman and witch from Syria/Iran is getting us of the track-

For Heaven?s sake let us get rid of this albatross on our neck ? the cancer infecting our body politick Let us get back on to the substantive issue of ?the Fight against Poverty?.

God Bless Ghana



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