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Opinions of Thursday, 29 March 2012

Columnist: Kpebu, Seidu

The Return of Politics... the year humility becomes a commodity

By: Seidu Kpebu

The Greeks most probably are amazed how their term ‘polis’ has metamorphous into ‘politics’ which is now synonymous with spin or pseudo messages from smartly dressed gentlemen and women.

These men are smart, eloquent, crafty and above all very skilful in hitting their philosophies on our intelligence. Unfortunately, many of our countrymen have not yet developed a political third eye to read meanings into these philosophies.

The politicians need a country-run 4x4-wheel hydraulic drive, Pajeros for the countryside and BMW X5 or Mercedes-Jaguar for the city. The argument they advance is that the roads in the countryside (hinterland or villages) or their constituencies are not motorable and they need to visit their constituents.

But the question we (both media and the electorate) have always failed to ask is who is responsible for making the roads first class and supersonic highways.

I have always tried to maintain a political correctness (PC, not Appiah Ofori) and not write about it. As a result, my attitude towards politics sometimes is sacrilegious and disdainful. The year 2012 is undoubtedly a very busy year for politics. Yes, politics has evolved to a stage where Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda decides who becomes the president and Prime Minister of a country.

President Obama must drop his arrogant gown and for political expediency invite Al-Qaeda members to a peace dinner, plead with them to help him campaign and after November elections, if he wins, he should make Alqaeda leader the Vice President of America responsible for foreign policy.

The political scene would soon become a ring where politicians strive to do the TKO. Whoever knows the upper cut, jabs and overhead shots definitely has the ability to gain a first round Technical Knockout (TKO). The political ring in Ghana is gradually warming up. It is not surprising that some politicians have learnt to smile on camera and do junk humour.

This is the time that the spinning in politics starts. Think about the promises, the once in a century gifts, promises which start prior to elections and mysteriously stop immediately the final results are announced by the village information officer and ‘trust me, trust me, trust me’ messages.

Are politicians the most dishonest people the world has ever had? For instance, in 2000, Ghanaians were promised railway line linking southern Ghana with the north. The people were convinced and voted massively.

I have grown to believe that there can be honesty in politics and the institution will still grow and polity improved. When it comes to politics, it is rare to hear western media or politicians give credit to an African politician.

However, Dr Kwame Nkrumah has been mentioned severally as an icon of African politics who led exemplary live. As a human being he had his nemesis, but that compares not to some modern self-opinionated politicians.

Another year of promises is here with us. The village folks would not buy sugar, salt, half piece of ‘Dumas’ wax print, roofing sheets and high level visits. I expect deceptive promises to start soonest. For all intents and concerns, politicians must for once treat the electorate as human beings with conscience and as stakeholders (shareholders?).

The greatest insult is when they start comparing the developed countries to ours and when they want to implement their lethal prescriptions from their pay- masters abroad. But when it comes to living the examples of these same paymasters, they back–track. Politicians in UK hardly live opulent lives. They are not removed from the people. They board public transport; taxis and walk about in the parks just like any other person.

Until our parliamentarians and ministers stop voting for expensive cars and latest architecture buildings for themselves, I will continue to use 12 hours to get to my village instead of 4 to 6 hours. Though I can see positive signs in the sky.

To solve this problem therefore, MPs should acquire transport from their salaries. If their salaries can’t afford that, they should undertake part-time jobs to supplement it. Some MPs in developed countries are into part-time work. The luxurious lives they live (if any) are scrutinised by the public, media, and taxpayers alliances.

In the eye of all these, the media owns the citizens a respectable apology in Ghana. The media has allowed politicians to spin and spun, wine and dine whilst poverty drives people to scramble for slops from them. They wallow with the concept that “starve them and by election time they will be dying of hunger and when you provide them food, you are a messiah” so the politicians seem to say.

Therefore, my mother will not get a cup of ‘gari’ until election year and because of her thump the aspiring MP or President, who doesn’t get out of his air-conditioned fully computerised four wheel drive, will personally send the cup of ‘gari’ to her. Well, at least she is recognised and remembered once in every four years. It is better we know them inside-out, not outside-in.

So long as there is enough ink in my pen, I shall ask politicians to justify their promises and prove to you and me that they must be trusted. Oh yes, ‘trust’ is lost in Ghanaian politics. Even strip dancers are much more trusted to go double mile to expose God’s handy work they possess than did politicians. Official polls always show that the flatterers are less ‘trusted’ than before.

It is a good omen that trust has become an expensive commodity on the political shopping mall. Thus, they will not be economical with the truth, prance and prattle in the presence of people who gave them that status. The Ghanaian media must inform the public not to trust politicians and when that happens, they will not growl for expensive cars and mansions or make audacious promises they very well know they cannot fulfill.

I will be mischievously elated to sit next to an MP in a ‘trotro’ or Benz bus to my hometown. I know, as I am aware that 2012 being election year, ‘humility’ will be the much sought for commodity at Makola market. VAT on it must therefore be reviewed to 30%, since it is only the lawmakers who will be purchasing it this year.

Politicians in Ghana should not indulge in politics of personalities but of policies. If my grandfather once stole a ‘guinea fowl’ (God forbid) it has nothing to do with my political career.

What is important are the policies I am putting forward for the attention and approval of the electorate. As a result, I am using this medium to plead with the people of the north especially my area, that political opponents are playmates.

And since we all have the same goal but with different methods, it should not call us to arms. Take for example Nii Aryee Bonte and Nii Okaija Adamafio, Kojo Yankah and Kwesi Yankah and a lot of such pairs, they have not sworn not to speak to each other. I was a regular reader of Kwesi Yankah’s ‘Woes of a Kwatriot’ published by The Mirror, one of the humorous stories he ever wrote was about Kojo Yankah when he was Minister for Information. He indeed caricatured his brother but there is no bad breath between them.

This year has seen the return of ‘politricks’ to Ghana, Russia and America to mention but a few. They will tell you the voter that you are the apple of their eyes and it is for your sake he is shouting his voice hoarse. It is the exact opposite.

Source: Seidu Kpebu Email:

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