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Opinions of Friday, 10 December 2010

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

The electoral thief and the GFA’s US$15m

By George Sydney Abugri

Jomo, I am sick without being ill and tired without being fatigued. I am simply sick and tired of being sick and tired about the kind of weird happenings on our continent that make a staunch Pan-Africanist like me so very sick and tired.

Don’t accuse me of complaining too much and too often in these columns, lest I grumble some more. As a matter of fact, I have another complaint: I have the solutions to all of Africa’s and Ghana’s problems with democracy, peace and security but no one ever listens to me!

The more I dispense my great wisdom liberally and free of charge for their ultimate benefit and the good of our countries and the continent, the more vigorously and dangerously my nation’s and the continent’s political leaders and their followers dance around and away from democracy toward chaos.

A small band of unrepentant, greedy, despotic disciples of crazy Uncle Bob in Zim and the gospel of his nonsensical power-sharing swindle is still clinging desperately to political power like the leaches that they are, but then, I thought we were at least beginning to see the very last of this deadly breed of the African political vampire species.

Now, Cote d’Ivoire’s Laurent Gbagbo has demonstrated that we are far from seeing the last of them yet. The scenario has become only too familiar: His Highly Esteemed Excellency, President Rule Forever, is finally voted out of power. He refuses to budge and threatens to make the country give way at the seams and bury everyone the way Samson pulled off the pavilion episode in the OT.

War looms. Critical concern now shifts from the crime of high treason which is punishable by death under the laws of many countries, to understandable concern over the question of how to initiate the peace moves necessary to avoid a bloody war.

The aberration of democracy known as power-sharing is proposed as the most viable solution and the greedy rogue of a power thief is beside himself with glee.

Last week, the Independent Electoral Commission of La Cote D’Ivoire published the results of the run-off elections in our Francophone neighbour’s yard and declared opposition leader Alassane Ouattara the winner by 54.1 percent of the votes.

President Gbagbo staunchly refuses to accept defeat! The questions race forth: Does this man who has been in power for the past ten years know no shame? Has he no conscience? Does he not think about the bloodbath and the killings of innocent people including women and children which his intransigence could lead to?

I used to wonder how greedy African leaders manage to hold their people and the international community to ransom like this, until the imp in my skull said “...elementary Watson, so very elementary. They simply brandish the ethnic card.”

The question of who is an Ivorian and who is not, is what has kept the Ivory Coast divided between northerners and southerners and which culminated in the bloody civil war of 2002. Gbagbo is a southerner and Ouattara a northerner.

For many years now, Gbabgo has manipulated the simmering anti-northern sentiments in La Cote d’Ivoire to keep the country divided, in order to stay in power.

That is why he has never been in a mighty hurry to see that northerners get citizenship papers so that they can vote. Some say many residents of northern Ivory Coast have no citizenship identity documents and there fore cannot vote.

You know what ethnic proximity to political power means in Africa. It means residents of the north have limited access to employment, government and social services. The discontent will probably continue, until the northerners are granted equal citizenship status, don’t you think?

ECOWAS’s recognition of Ouatarra’ presidency is appropriate but I am all for a UN-backed Anti-Coup Task Force with appropriate fire power. A greedy chap whose term of office has come to an end, refuses to budge and begins to monkey around with the people’s choice. The Force promptly moves in and takes him out! Finito!

Those who refuse to think because it hurts are entitled to their disposition other wise there are serious lessons here for us too and especially if you consider what happened or nearly happened here in after the election run-off in 2008:

The opposition went to court to stop the Electoral Commission from the declaring the 2008 election results, remember?

What makes it even scarier in retrospect, is that a tape recording has since been played over and over again on some radio stations, in which someone was heard expressing optimism that the court would indeed stop the declaration of the results since the judge billed to hear the case was opposition-friendly or something to the effect.

That is the end of this letter but on second thought, hang on a second: Thanks to our ingenious conception of partisan politics, you could easily get away with a crime no matter how heinous, simply by committing the crime and then running down the road screaming “help, help, NDC/NPP goons are trying to kill me!” In no time party supporters will rush to you aid rescue you from your community vigilantes!

It sometimes makes it difficult to tell who is a victim of politically-motivated persecution and who is a smart fellow trying so cleverly to escape justice and sanction.

Our Economics and Organized Crimes Office which was apparently investigating the expenditure of US $ 15 million received by the Ghana Football Association from corporate sponsors of the national football league, recently requested the GFA to provide the EOCO with all the relevant documents.

The GFA it appears, was unwilling or unable to meet the deadline given by the EOCO for the submission of the documents, whereupon, the EOCO obtained a court warrant, stormed the offices of the GFA and seized some computers and documents this week.

A great distress cry went up all around: “Help, FIFA, there is political interference with football administration in Ghana. I wonder what business FIFA has ordering governments about whenever they demand accountability from football administrators.

It grieves me much to see a man wrongly accused of financial impropriety or persecuted for his political beliefs but it grieves me just as much when people argue against the right of every government as the central and supreme authority of state, to investigate any institution private or public, whenever they have reason for doing so.

Come to think of it, the world’s football governing body, FIFA, has itself not been above accusations of corruption and the Swiss authorities have not allowed FIFA headquarters to operate like the late African jazz musician Anipkola Kuti’s Kalakuta Republic.

In 2005, Swiss security operatives stormed FIFA headquarters and seized documents during investigations into allegations that more than £70 million in kickbacks. had been spirited away , using money laundering routes provided by FIFA.

Email; georgeabu@hotmail.com Website: www.sydneyabugri.com