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Opinions of Friday, 10 October 2014

Columnist: Anaba, Bernard

The creative illusions of our time

Creativity is a commodity in short supply. But in its abundance, we expect progress and improvement in our lives. In recent times however, a new form of creativity, usually from the powerful in society brought about by their effort to evade an ever prying media, is becoming a problem.

The last time public officials tried to be creative, merely with words at the global stage, it was disastrous and the world may still be suffering for it. At the time, the Western world led by George Walker Bush, Tony Blair (Former UK prime Minister), Alistair Campbell (Former political aide to Tony Blair), Colin Powel (the war veteran and 65th Secretary of State, United States) and many others used their political clout to ‘massage’ the case for war in IRAQ. Grievously, the fallouts from what has become known in the UK as the “dodgy” Dossier resulted in the suicide of Dr. David Kelly, the accomplished UN weapons inspector.

According to the ensued enquiry, in the run-up to the war, intelligent officials were prevailed upon to make ‘juicy’ the narrative for war irrespective of what the facts were. And the truth is that, the ramifications of that dodgy decision underline the current situation in the Middle East Region, whether by way its causality or the decisions surrounding Syria and the monstrous Islamic State (IS) today. Today many are those whose credibility’s are tainted and the world’s destiny changed perhaps for the worst.

It is not only at the Global stage that this kind of dodgy exaggerations, overstatement or if you like in the Ghanaian context, ‘co-effitienting’ has become a canker for society.

When the GFA took its turn during the hearing at the Presidential Commission of enquiry, the definition of what constitutes an “appearance fee” and who qualifies for it was revealing. The pleasant or rather unpleasant coincidence of the number ‘7’ being the number of the original number of management committee members and later the co-efficient ‘7’ had a lot of meat for us in Ghana to chew.

Well, according to Mr. Gyimah (the GFA general secretary), an “appearance fee” is meant for “people who appear for an activity”, quite simple and straight forward, if you ask me. But we later got to know from the GFA president, Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi that the “appearance fee” for management is actually a “management honorarium”.

So the number 7 is only a coincidental figure and contradicts what Mr. Gyimah’s earlier definition may have alluded to during the hearing. At this point, it appears to me the true meaning of these jargons whether technical or not, is dependent not on a conventional definition but, on whose head they are stored in. I believe we will be in for a thesis if we ever decided to understand the basis of the ‘quotient rule’. The GFA’s account of what they want us to believe unfortunately is not an isolation of what seem to be a repertoire of modern day phenomenon, the play of words to no real additional value.

When the term “home grown policies” graced the Ghanaian economic terrain recently, it was all enveloped in a case of hope and relief. But does the average Ghanaian ever question what “home grown policies” really entail? The reality is, the term “home grown policies” add nothing new other than to restate the obvious albeit, disguised. 

If “home grown policies” mean something other than the well known conventional economic strategies geared towards fiscal stabilisation, consolidation, discipline, prudence and what have you, I apologise for being this wrong. And the truth is, with the IMF and “Senchi”, the intention to continue an ongoing squeeze of the people is what is probably being ameliorated in this play of words.

This is not to undermine the policy intent but to make the case that value to society does not come by just name inventions, lest they become meaningless. When statements like this spring up on political platforms, they can fairly be deemed creative as much as they may earn a place in the political lexicon to boot. But when they are invented so as to create the impression of something different other than what is conventional knowledge, the trajectory of meaningless justification becomes an aberration to the society we want to create.

The creeping phenomenon of the powerful in society seeking an endorsement of what I call the “creative illusion” to the detriment of truths is a concern. It is becoming an insidious advantage taking of an ignorant public, usually by governments and the powerful to get around unpopular decisions. It is therefore a concern that needs the media to do more in unravelling.   For the ‘legal fraternity’, this may be the playbook that oils their arsenals, but for the media and many who strive for social and economic justice in our society, it is needless and do not advance the accountability and the truthfulness we strive to improve in public life. Throwing dust in the minds or eyes of the people have its long-term consequence that is detrimental to the trustful society we aspire to create and propagate, home or abroad.

by Bernard Anaba (Economic and Social Justice Campaign, ISODEC)