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Opinions of Thursday, 22 November 2007

Columnist: Obenewaa, Nana Amma

The President's Accident: Obenewaa Scoffs at ...

... the Spinning and Yarning For a Nation’s Sympathy

First of all, let me thank “Asase Yaa” and “nananom nsamanfuo” for saving President Kufuor from his “near-encounter” with death which was reported at length by the nation’s media. I am still in the process of configuring the facts surrounding the president’s accident, and the unwarrantable telescoping of the event by the nation’s partisan media. How can someone who just had a brush with death meet with President Faure Eyadema of Togo, few days after the fact? Couldn’t the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama have deputized for the president while he recuperates at home?

Can someone tell me the constitutional functions of the vice president? Doesn’t the nation’s constitution stipulate that, if and when, the president is not disposed to carrying out the business of the state, the vice president must take over his functions? Why can’t the president make his vice president feel presidential just for a week? Is the president purposely stonewalling the vice president from getting international exposure, and the nod of the party’s delegates at their forthcoming convention? Ghanaian politics is a work of art, and it is only those within the exclusive club for the “Old Boys” who understand the workable dynamics of a party that is seemingly democratic, yet breaches the basic precepts on in-house democratic procedures.

I am puzzled by the incompetence of the president’s press secretary’s response to the public’s questions on the state of the president. How on earth could a well-informed press secretary, a spokesperson for the president, state in public that, world leaders, and supporters had called on the president to “compliment” him for a “near-death” accident? What is “complimentary” about an accident? Where in the world do international political figures call on a traumatized president to “compliment” him for sustaining imperceptible bodily lacerations? It is smart not to say anything when there is nothing to say, than saying something, when that something amounts to nothing, and only highlights the steep ignorance of a press secretary.

I thought the president thanked “Awurade” for keeping him in one piece, which begs the question, under what criteria was the president’s press secretary selected? Or, did the president just opt for a press secretary just because Mr. Awuni was a student leader and might have made some hoarse noises on campus? In my judgement, Mr. Awuni lacks the articulation of a coherent thought, and the essential communication variables to defending, and polishing, the image of the presidency. Mr. Awuni, please let’s save, the “awurade adom” for another day, and for the church. The nation needs answers, and not partisan truisms. After all, President Kufuor is our leaders, and the nation has every right to the told the truth, and not the concerto of things that did not really happen. The likes of Mr. Awuni and Mr. Kwamena Bartels make me adore the suave expressions of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s press secretary.
Our nation’s ground-breaking laziness in addressing basic problems was manifested on the day of the president’s accident. Why should it take the mishap of a sitting president to raise social awareness on the dangers of reckless driving? What value do we attach to the lives of many Ghanaians who, without any fault of their own, died in accidents that were preventable? Do(es) the Ghanaian Police ever conduct a breathalyzer test on the nation’s drivers to determine the level of impairment while at the steering wheel? If the preceding is not a tradition, why should be president be treated any different? Are we not, as a nation, creating a political tin-god among the nation’s many straw-made carvings?
The societal equality we aspire to as a nation will remain an illusion if we continue to invest in a mindset that devalues the lives of the majority, yet places premium on one individual’s life. After all, Oman-Panyin Kufuor became the president on the nation’s spirit of generosity, and not the votes of his close friends. Humans are the source of power, and we must value the life of every Ghanaian same as we value the president’s. To do otherwise will hamper the democratic values of our nation’s constitution, and the nation’s determination to nurture constitutional egalitarianism within the multivariate spaces of human interaction.
The president’s accident is no primetime news, and it should not be. The primetime news should be the sexual exploitation of a Ghanaian youth by an European pedophile who was ordered by a Ghanaian court to pay approximately US$600, and be deported. Who speaks for the victim whose harrowing experience is vitiated by our judiciary? Who speaks for a victim who could potentially contract the HIV/AIDS virus and become society’s liability? Who speaks for an HIV/AIDS victim who could, whether knowingly, or unknowing, infect his unsuspecting sexual partners to add to the nation’s growing number of patients living with HIV/AIDS?
Don’t the Abena-Dufies, the Adzo-Nyamasekpos, and the Amina-Salamatus whose untimely death came as result of the nation’s many "unmarked roads need a mouthpiece? Who speaks for the many bereaved families who have lost their loved ones to the inadequacies of the Ministry of Transport, and Public Works Department to demarcate the many “Potroase” roads? Who speaks for the unknown victims whose death was caused by the issuance of (a) driver’s license to untrained drivers by the nation’s Licensing Authority? Who speaks for the poor orphans who have lost their caretakers to accidents because a Motor Traffic Officer took bribe and let an impaired driver escape the dragnet of the law? Who bears responsibility for our nation’s police officers some of whom are less knowledgeable of the Highway and Traffic Act, and would jump into a car cited for traffic violation, and driven to the “chop-bar” for an afternoon treat by the violating drivers of our nation’s road laws?
A nation that allows the incapacitation of a sitting president to nudge it into action, despite frightening statistics about the horrifying state of our nation’s roads, and the horrific dangers of impaired driving, needs some serious counselling. Rather than dealing with the problem, we are going to see the spurious attribution of the nation’s road accidents, particularly the president’s, to strange conspiracy theories. Should we be surprised to hearing the nation’s Reverend-Doctors go to the Osu Castle to confer with President Kufour, and to explain his accident as one of God’s many wonderments for Ghana? We should not be astounded to hear the state partisan media blame the president’s accident on Chairman Rawlings, and his wife, Nana Konadu? Misery, indeed, seeks company, and losers always find scapegoats to rationalize their frail thoughts to deconstructing, and delineating, the imaginary from reality. Is the president’s accident going to be another “metia obronsam so” platinum song at the party’s campaigns?
The above are not implausible, given the context, and our proclivity to attribute the mundane to noumenality, and exploit our artificial miseries for political capital. In my judgment, an accident is an accident. The president’s experience is exactly what the rest of the nation go through daily, and must not be given any special attention. The lack of expressed resolve on the part of the public to attach importance to relevant national issues, no matter how inconsequential, explains why our politicians take the governed for granted, and treat them as disposable bodies. To separate the nation’s many accidents, and fatalities, from the president’s, and treat the president’s case as exceptional, knowing that he came out of the accident unscathed highlights the unfairness that belies our psyche.
Freedom is about defending the collective rights of all, and not some. Human sovereignty is the ability of individual actors to exercise their inalienable civil liberties, and to challenge the growing apathy within societal institutions. Until we see a position of trust as a mandate conferred by the people, and hold our political leaders to account, the deaths of the many Abena-Dufies, the Adzo-Nyamasekpos, and the Amina-Salamatus will go under the radar, and leave basic problems to metastasize into hideous ones. Mr. President, this is the time for you to exercise your leadership by toughening the laws on our roads.

The inactions of today will become the burdens of tomorrow. How many more must die on our roads before we take the appropriate action to resolve the simplest of issues? The president must take a rest, drink “abemuduro-nkwan” and “okumadada” for “apomudini," hausa koko” for “asurobin tipayie.” Finally, please stay away from the “Kwadjo-Mpiani-Bitters.” I wish you well, Mr. President, and may we always see you in one piece, and not in pieces. Good and cheers.

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