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Opinions of Monday, 25 May 2009

Columnist: Kyei-Mensah-Osei, Kofi

The Presidential Circus

I have a young family and I must confess, putting bread on the table on daily basis as well as charting a bright and comfortable future for them is a daunting task; most especially, in the current economic meltdown. I believe this is not unique to me. I believe also that many a responsible parents would attest to this fact. Making ends meet is becoming more difficult and unpredictable with each passing day. It’s no kids play being a parent. If providing for ones family is this difficult, then being a president of a nation would be doubly tedious with its concomitant pressure and stress. I do not envy professor Mills one bit! It goes to show therefore that the presidency is not a platform for comedy. It’s serious business boy!!

“Adze wo fi a oye”

It’s for the above reasons that I felt uncomfortable when the then candidate Mills and his campaign team enjoined people to vote “Fantse-Fantse” because “Adze wo ofi a oye” leading up to the elections. Equally surprising was the call on Ghanaians to vote for “change” (Yeresesa mu) without telling the people why change was necessary. “Change”, like “Fantse-Fantse” and “Adze wo ofi a oye” isn’t a policy. It is an empty rhetoric that could be bandied about by any individual or group of persons who lack vision or foresight. In politics though, whenever a leader or a political party show lack of vision, it is the nation that suffers. In most cases, you see those leaders resorting to cheap populist antics to mask their inadequacies and inefficiencies. So when the president said “Yeresesa mu na ya ko yanim”, methinks he meant “Yeresesa mu na ya dzi agor” (Let’s change and play). If this weren’t the case, how come the learned tax law professor kept fumbling at his inauguration when he had the script in his hand? Even more hilarious was when the learned professor turned the seven-lettered word “economy” upside-down to “ecomini” (or was it econimi?) when he addressed parliament. How did the learned tax law professor contrive to come up with the above gaffes? And what do we make of the president’s “Ofuntuo” (instead of Otumfuo) gaffe whilst addressing the gathering at the 10th anniversary celebration of The Otumfuo’s ascension to the golden stool? Perhaps the president wants to give Ghanaians enough to laugh about so that we could forget about the current economic hardships. A friend said to me that selling the president’s “our ecomini, our econimi…” gaffe as telephone ringtone is a lucrative business. The president even creates jobs with his gaffes! How amazing!!

“Leading by example”

With the above gaffes in mind, I was least surprised when the president offered himself to be body searched at the KIA prior to his departure to the United Kingdom. I don’t know if his luggage was searched. Did the president go through the scanner? Neither do I know if the entourage of 30 (sorry 40 or was it 26?) were searched. If the entire entourage of 26 (Ayariga’s conservative figure) were searched (I mean proper “search” and not the presidential circus that was on show at the KIA) and their luggage, it would have created unnecessary human traffic at the airport enabling pickpockets and other unscrupulous characters make to way with peoples’ belongings. The accompanying security detail, would also have added to the unnecessary chaos and pandemonium at the airport. This is perhaps the best comedy yet to have been enacted outside the walls of The National Theatre. The above notwithstanding, so much has been made of it by NDC sycophants that the president by this act has demonstrated “leadership by example” in his fight against drug trafficking whilst some dimwits and political nincompoops are praising it to the high heavens as probably the best thing yet to have happened to mother Ghana since independence. Would Ayariga or Koku Anyidoho please explain to Ghanaians why the president wasn’t searched on his trip to Nigeria? Was John Mahama searched on his trips The Gambia, Libya, Burkina Faso and South Africa? Was either of the 2 gentlemen searched on their return trips? I hope the president is not implying that he has to be searched only on trips to the West or the Americas because that is where hard drugs are used? I have said it before that this playing-to-the-gallery type of antics isn’t a policy and I will like to see how the president carries this through over the four years of his presidency. This would not create jobs for people neither would it ameliorate the suffering of the youth. The president has created avenue for people to ridicule him. Elsewhere in the world, the drug menace is fought with high-tech equipment, competent personnel backed by effective legislation. These are what we are lacking in Ghana when it comes to fighting the canker of drugs in our society and not this so-called leadership by example comedy. If fighting the might and wiles of the drug barons are this simple as the good professor would wants us to believe, would America and the rest of the developed world be spending millions (if not billions) of dollars to develop machines and equipments, train personnel and dogs among others?. A lot of things are going wrong in our country that needs urgent attention and not playing to the gallery. It is about time the good professor gets down to the serious business of dealing with the plethora of problems engulfing our country. How would the president lead by example to show the people how to live without money in their pockets? How about the president leading by example to demonstrate to the unemployed how to survive without jobs? Better still, would the president forego his security for just one night to demonstrate to our people how to live through the scourge of armed robbery? You see my dear reader, “leading by example” is one thing and playing to the gallery is another. The 2 are not the same. Did I hear Koku Anyidoho say the president’s gesture was praised in the UK? Stop this silly spin Koku!! Praised by who Koku!?! Gloss over it as much as you could Koku, the jury is out on this.

The Presidential Circus

Former president Kuffuor was called various names; among them were Emperor Bokassa, 50 Cents etc when he blinged himself up with a national award. I must admit I was not in support of that decision by the former president. To the man’s credit though, he carried the Bokassa and 50 Cent cross with dignity. If Kuffuor’s gaffe got him those unenviable comparisons and accolades, then which of the 2 ace comedians of Ghana shall president Mills rival with the above comedy of errors in the short period of 5 months? “Nkomode” or “Waterproof”? Folks, the presidential circus is in town. Catch a glimpse of it before it departs. Let’s laugh away our sorrows whilst it lasts. On a more serious note, there are a myriad of problems facing our beloved Ghana which calls for a bold and decisive leadership. The president should spare us this play ground gimmickry and “hit the ground running”. On the other hand if this is what you meant by “hit the ground running” at your inauguration, then I am afraid you are not even walking prof! In fact you are crawling!!!

Kofi Kyei-Mensah-Osei