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Opinions of Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Columnist: Vanderpuye, Nii Noi

The Morning After #Dumsormuststop Vigil

Commenting on the current national discourse – euphemistically labeled dumsor – requires courage and political correctness.
Any attempt to sound like assuring the nation of attempts being made by President Mahama and his administration to solve the problem would be considered as a sacrilege, which attracts very insulting and unprintable words.
Indeed, some commentators accuse government officials and NDC communication team members of spending two or so weeks tweeting, blogging and running from one radio station to another in a vain attempt at stopping protests against the energy crisis.
After a long struggle to fend off perceived detractors who were accused of plotting to scuttle its vigil, the over-hyped event organized by some screen actors and musicians came off “successfully” on Saturday without any incident. Thank God!
Since then, the pro-NPP media have been competing against each for superlatives to describe the event.
One such media house said “THOUSANDS of Ghanaians SEETHING with anger and frustration over a three-year power crisis have ended a historic celebrity vigil here at Tetteh Quarshie in Accra, Saturday evening”.
The report went on further to draw parallels with the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa when the online portal reported “In a scene almost synonymous to the Soweto freedom walk by Nelson Mandela, fighting the shackles of Apartheid in South Africa, Ghanaian actress Yvonne Nelson and a number of actors, musicians led a multitude of depressed Ghanaians strangulated by a paralysed power sector in a less than a kilometre protest walk”.
The report went on to indicate how “The stars deserted the screens; abandoned the studios, forsook the microphones and descended on Accra's streets, Saturday, because they, like many Ghanaians, had felt the heat of a power crisis which appears to see no end despite a sweat-dropping effort by government. But Van Vicker, a famous actor and one of the leaders of the vigil, was in no mood to accept just the efforts by government. He wanted results. He wanted electricity. Many wanted same”.
The insults hurled at the organizers of the march were indefensible; and the perpetrators were justifiably condemned.
Of course, everybody is suffering from the energy crisis, right from the president to the common man. So we don't see why anybody should stop anyone from protesting. Indeed, demonstrations are constitutional rights guaranteed to all persons and the decision by the organizers to go on a vigil was legitimate.
Unfortunately, the blatant insults against dissenting voices against the demonstrations were totally ignored by the society.
The caustic remarks and insults that were flying about in all directions ahead of the protest march on Saturday exposed us as very intolerant of opposing views.
Organisers of the march were calling the president a liar and likened him to a failed school boy.
And just go and read the conversation threads under any old facebook comments and you will see people call dissenting celebrities names and cursing their mothers, all in a bid to make a point.
The worst victims of these attacks were John Domelo (whose suggestions that the president should be given time to solve the problem because “Rome was not built in a day sparked the Yvonne Nelson campaign) and comedian David Oscar who argued that, yes, dumsor must stop, but the constant whining and whimpering would not act as a magic wand.
Yet, those who condemned NDC communicators for attacking the organizers of the vigil saw nothing wrong with the insults on the president and the dissenting celebrities.
We on the Ghanaian Lens believe we can all make our points without insults. If you have a view, by all means express it, but if you're right, does that make those who have other views stupid?
The event on Saturday has been described by the pro-NPP media as one of the biggest crowds recorded in recent times for any form of demonstration.
The crowd, according to media reports, “was mostly made up of the youth with a fair representation of middle class business men, acclaimed lawyers, Members of Parliament all in attendance, groaning about the eternal darkness they could no longer bear”.
The demonstrators were reported to have been chanting in groups and brandishing placards, some of which blamed the president for the darkness Ghanaians have been plunged into.
Others carried coffins, fridges on their heads for the entire journey displaying how much of a disaster the dumsor has been to them and their families.
So, what is new? We saw a similar carrying of air-conditioners, deep freezers and television sets during the NPP demonstration on February 18 this year when Mr. Akufo-Addo led his party to hit the streets of Accra in the so-called 'Won Gbo' (meaning – “We are dying” - in the Ga) demonstration to register their displeasure over the recurring power crisis.
President Mahama readily acknowledged the concerns of Ghanaians, which was expressed through the NPP demonstration, saying it was a source of encouragement to him and his administration to find a lasting solution to the power crisis.
Clearly, there is no basis for unending demonstrations against Government. We wish to restate that President Mahama is swallowing the bitter pill to find a permanent – rather than a temporary – solution to the decades-old problem, which has plagued all Governments that came after Ghana’s first President Dr Kwame Nkrumah after his overthrow in 1966.
It is, therefore, frustrating that some people would not be patient with the Mahama-administration as the President strives to find a lasting solution to the recurring problem.
Radio presenter, Gilbert Aggrey also known as Abeiku Santana, last week questioned the rationale behind dumsor vigil, terming it as unnecessary.
According to him, the action of the celebrities will not achieve any results as has been demonstrated by previous demonstrations on the same issue.
It is not dumsor vigil that will achieve anything because won gbo couldn’t change anything; neither did wahala demo added any megawatts of energy to the national grid.