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Opinions of Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Columnist: Baafi, Alex Bossman

The “Dzi Wo Fie Asem” Policy Was Borne Out of Fear

By Alex Bossman Baafi

The influx of many refugees from Cote D’Ivoire into the country and the neigbouring countries including Liberia that is just recuperating from wanton destruction of civil war, continue to stare all of us in the face making nonsense of the “Dzi Wo Fie Asem”, that is, “Mind your Own Business” Policy of the government.

Since 2002, the people in Cote d’lvoire have known no peace and tranquility, an atmosphere necessary for economic growth and development, due to civil war. France the former colonial master, AU, ECOWAS and UN managed the crisis under the leadership of President Laurent Gbagbo since then. As part of the strategy to ensure that peace returned to the world’s number one Cocoa producing West African nation, these important world players designed and made sure that there was a free, fair and transparent democratic elections to unify the country and bring socio-economic and political life to normalcy in our sister country.

The elections entered into a run off stage culminating into the incumbent president having to come face to face with his rival and former IMF Economist, Mr. Alhassane Quattara on November 28, 2010. On that fateful day, the international community carefully and critically supervised the elections and Mr. Quattara who hails from the northern part of the country was initially declared winner by the mandated electoral commission with 52% of the votes. Calculatedly and out of mischief, the constitutional council in the country intervened and annulled the votes of many areas of the north controlled by the rebels citing fraud and subsequently declaring the incumbent president winner with 51% of the votes. What made the situation worrying was that both Gbagbo and Quattara claimed to have won the elections and had themselves declared president with the incumbent retaining control of official Armed Forces and the Presidential buildings in the capital Abidjan. Despite the actions of Gbagbo, Quattara has been recognized by the international community as the democratically elected president enjoying the loyalty of the vast northern part of the country. Gbagbo has turned down all timely advice by the international community to step down and concede victory to Quattara.

The proposed solution to end the stalemate by the ECOWAS, which was to pursue all diplomatic means with the use of military force as the last resort, was adopted only for our government to turn round to betray ECOWAS with the infamous “Dzi Wo Fie Asem” to wit, ‘Mind Your Own Business’ Policy. A policy that had weakened the ECOWAS front, allowed Laurent Gbagbo to buy time to illegitimately clinch to power irrespective of wise counsels from US, France, UN and of course the ECOWAS. Now the recalcitrance of Gbagbo has thrown Cote D’Ivoire into civil war and its concomitant humanitarian crisis is what we are witnessing today. There are now more than 9,000 and over 3,000 Ivorian refuges in Liberia and Ghana respectively according the UNHCR and the country’s authorities in charge of the situation. Report has it that we are expecting a minimum of 25,000 refugees in the country.

Apart from Dzi Wo Fie Asem, there is also an Akan Adage which says “Wo Suro Atekye Mpaboa a, Wo Fra Nentoma”. Literally translated as “If You Are Afraid of Mud Shoes, You Wear Mud Cloth in the Process”. We decided to run away from committing resources because the crisis was outside our western border, now the refugees are here with us in the country. Can we look the other way for them to starve to death? No, we are obliged to shelter, cloth and feed them. There are many national security issues to manage as well with their presence in the country.

It is true that wonders will continue to be part of us. I read with keen interest the news captioned, “Government to Change Policy on Cote D’Ivoire”, general news of Saturday, 26 March 2011 on Ghanaweb.com. In the news the Deputy Information Minister, Baba Jamaal was reported as saying that the government had changed her position and is now willing to contribute troops if the time comes to use military force to oust Gbagbo from power. It is amazing. Isn’t it? He further opined in his argument among other things that in politics, one day is a long time, one week is a very long time and month can be a year. Probably implying that now the situation had changed and therefore warrant a change in the Dzi Wo Fie Asem mentality. In my opinion, it is tantamount to doing too little too late because the crisis had gathered momentum and is fast heading towards disaster.

The embarrassing situation of the government and the country today was due to indecision on the part of the NDC administration. Indecision means irresolution, wavering, hesitancy or uncertainty. It is one of the “Ghosts” that hounds leaders to failure. We must know that every failure bring with it the seed of its equivalent success therefore leaders have to be optimistic and be always against the odds. Leaders have to be decisive in their decision process. Indecision comes from the seed of doubt. When indecision and doubt blend, they give birth to fear. Fear of failure, fear of criticism and fear of losing political power in this case. The blending process of indecision and doubt giving birth to fear is slow but dangerous. Fear is another “Ghost” which is nothing but a state of the mind but it is sufficient to destroy every chance of meaningful achievements in leadership.

Fear of criticism blindfolded the government to see reason that one head cannot go to the council, in other words, two heads are better than one. Therefore when the flag bearer of the leading opposition party in the country advised that the government should have a second look at the Dzi Wo Fie Asem policy, he was severely criticized and demonized a warmonger without much circumspection by certain opinion leaders in government. What this government should know is that fear paralyses the faculty of reasoning and destroys the power of imagination. It undermines enthusiasm, discourages initiatives and encourages procrastination that has led to the humanitarian and refugee crisis today. Fear turns will power to nothingness and invites failure in every conceivable form as we have seen in many areas including waste management, energy water, roads, health and educational sectors among others in the country.

Yes I agree with the honorable minister that in politics one day is a long time, one week is a very long time and a month can be a year but I want to add that, time is one of the priceless commodities which is unemotional, uncontrolled, unencumbered and waits for no man. As procrastination is the thief of time, government should be bold to take decisive thought through decisions devoid of fear of failure and losing election through the ballot box in order to move the nation forward. Fear of losing personal friendship with Gbagbo made us to resort to the “Dzi Wo Fie Asem” policy which comes with very expensive price tag in both local and international politics. With such policy, we can run but we cannot hide because it does not guarantee peace and development anywhere.

Email: abkbossman@ yahoo.co.uk