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Opinions of Saturday, 15 October 2016

Columnist: Richard Botwe

The Kalyppo influence on the vote

I do not remember ever tasting Kalyppo before yesterday. All I knew about the product previously, was children’s testimonies on radio and television. ‘Kalyppo Eye De’ (Kalyppo is sweet). Just before composing this piece, I sipped a nutri-pack of the product. My action was induced by the recent controversy involving the local product.

It is sweet. It is natural. I was intrigued to know that it is produced here in Accra, precisely at the Spintex Road. Why would a product, made here on our doorsteps, suddenly become such a powerful instrument of politicking, with barely two months to the December 7, presidential and legislative elections?

Like most things monumental, the beginning was completely unscripted. Kalyppo owes its prominence to the decision by the leadership of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to hold the leader of the largest opposition party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to ridicule, for sipping the drink that is a favourite of children all over the country.

The mere fact that Nana Addo’s name was attached to the drink suddenly lifted the image of Kalyppo, which had previously done the rounds quietly, into the most sought after local produce, since this nation became a manufacturing base several years ago.

Now Kalyppo is a house-hold product. The New Patriotic Party (NPP) appears to have endorsed the product, making Kalyppo the most sought after local produce in history. I bet the manufacturer is smiling all the way to the bank. I am told that since the NPP Manifesto launch, the marketing department of the producers has been virtually idle.

Reports indicate that at Cape Coast and many other places in this country, they have run short of the product. It tells everything about how Nana Akufo-Addo and his NPP are getting their acts together. It tells everything about the desperation setting in the camp of their main rivals.

The most ridiculous news of yesterday was captured by state-run Ghanaian Times, which devoted nearly a page to a story that a military officer had been interrogated by his superiors for sipping Kalyppo and putting the picture of his act on social media.

When I called Colonel Eric Aggrey-Quarshie, Director of Public Relations of the Ghana Armed Forces, yesterday, he blew hot and cold. He said the officer involved was going about his normal duties without any reprimand. At the same time, he intimated that it was against the policy of the force for personnel to advertise on social media.

I am told that even at the barracks, Kalyppo is beginning to outstrip other products in the demand-supply chain, which should give this administration something to chew on.

The Kalypo craze is being weighed against the fortunes of sugar from the Komenda Sugar Factory. Ever since the Head of State put his reputation at stake and opened the Komenda Sugar Factory, against conventional wisdom, not many Ghanaians have sighted sugar from that factory anywhere.

On the day President John Dramani Mahama commissioned the factory, amidst rooftop advertisements of ‘Transforming Lives and ‘Changing Ghana,’ the product has only been conspicuous by its absence on the market.

I do not believe anybody would be wrong to ask the Head of State: “Na Asikyire No Wo Hen?” We are told that the factory would create 7,000 jobs and stop this nation from using US$200 million of scarce resources of state to order sugar from abroad. We all bought into the idea.

With the sugar failing to hit the market, nearly one year after the factory was commissioned, is it not appropriate to label the venture a white elephant, and demand if the authority at Government House has not caused financial loss to the state, to the tune of US$35 million?

Whatever it is, one thing is clear, the NDC is goofing big time and handing the propaganda coup to their opponents. Nana Akufo-Addo has been attacked, insulted, and pummeled for no reason, other than that he is the main man threatening President Mahama’s continued presence at Government House. Some of the reasons for the personal attacks are ridiculous, as it looks like Ghanaians have made up their minds.

Having made this observation, it is pertinent to ask the ruling NDC, whether or not they have any message beyond attacking Nana Akufo-Addo and his running mate.

The other day, when I heard President Mahama asking Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia to enlighten him on how much the de-monetisation exercise in 2007 cost this nation, I asked myself: “Hang on old boy: Is President Mahama telling Ghanaian’s that as Head of State of this Republic, he does not know how much it cost this country to change our monetary system from several thousands to single digit figures?”

Are we being told that for all the number of years that Vice-President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur was Governor of the Bank of Ghana, he did not bother to find out how that major exercise cost the state? If that is the situation, then why do we bother ourselves entrusting the destiny of this nation, once more, into the hands of people who do not even care to know about the cost component of doing things in this country.

I was not surprised when Dr. Bawumia rubbed salt into President Mahama’s wounds in answer to that question. I thought it was reckless and politically naïve to put that question to the man who was Deputy Governor, when the Governor at the time, Dr. Paul Acquah, is still alive.

The Akans would tell you. “Wo Fefee Funi Ani Ase, Wuhu Nsamaa.” – If you subject the eyes of a dead person to scrutiny, you are greeted by maggots.

It is becoming clearer by the day that anytime the NDC try to answer back at Dr. Bawumia’s probing, the leadership of the party and its government goof big time.

In any case, has the President been able to account for how much, on which the Green Book supposedly catalogued, his achievements cost?

While we are at it, will the President please tell Ghanaians how he accounted to the people of Ghana on his so-called ‘Accounting to the People’, without telling anybody how much a single project, he and his administration have undertaken, cost? The chicken, I dare state, have come home to roost.

In the interim, last Monday’s exercise by the Electoral Commissioner, which has pruned down the number of presidential contenders from 20 to a maximum of four, might have separated the chaff from the wheat. Even among the four men standing on the ballot paper, the men are beginning to separate themselves from the boys.

If the President’s men and women would tell him the truth, the wheel is coming off his bid to remain at Government House. I do not know how the party in power makes of their own analysis towards the vote.

Yesterday, it emerged that the NDC has revised its notes in the Ashanti Region. They now say, the party founded by Jerry Rawlings, but without him on the campaign trail this time round, intends to win as many as 1.5 million votes from the most populous region on December 7, instead of the one million they had targeted.

Unless they have other methods, beyond people queuing to vote in mind, it would be a miracle for them to gather more than half a million votes in the Ashanti Region, from the way things are panning out.

Having done a number of exercises on the Obuasi mines and its galamsey menace, I am tempted to hold the view that the collapse of AngloGold Ashanti operations in Obuasi, and the rise of the galamsey menace, has its genesis in the vote in Obuasi especially, and Ashanti Region generally. Even then, it would take a miracle for the party to maintain what it gained in the year 2012.

Having made this assessment, I get the feeling that only the NDC in government, and perhaps the police administration in Ghana, know the genesis of the policy not to check drivers on the road in the run-up to the vote. I am tempted to believe that the failure to check drivers could be an interesting exercise, with stuffed ballot papers finding their way into the various boxes on the day in question.

Remember the effect of the failure to employ teachers in the exercise announced long before the voting day had on the vote with the twenty-seven-zero recounted by Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan in the witness box? We all have to be vigilant before, during, and after the vote. I rest my case!

*Asebu Amenfi missed his date with readers today, because the old man is under the weather. The bald old man with one foot in the grave apologises most sincerely, and assures readers that he would be back next week, having already sipped Kalyppo.

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