Feature Article of Friday, 2 November 2012

Columnist: Oduro, E. K.

A Night Of a Thousand Laughs

Elections are once again here with us and juxtaposing it with the Christmas holidays, Ghanaians are excited, nervous and feeling giddy. We witnessed another great strand in our democracy a couple of nights ago when a sitting president face mano-a-mano with his coequal nominees. All these men are seeking the highest office of the land and it serves us right to put them on the spot in answering the necessary questions of the people. Kudos to the IEA. I loosely used the word Co-equals but any one who saw this debate knows one of the candidates was nothing but a comedian.
I cant deny Mr. Ayariga gave me a lot of laughs but our nation faces much dire and serious issues. Watching this debate, I asked myself if Mr. Ayariga was campaigning for classroom cupboard monitor or auditioning for a spot in Agya Koos upcoming movie. This man sounded moronic and could barely make a complete meaningful sentence. I don’t doubt his good intents for the nation but if this man represent what the Ghanaian youth has to offer the nation, then we are doomed as a country. Mr. Ayariga made his case in a too simplistic way without any nuance and facts. His whole presence was a big joke and gibberish. To hear this man claim to have graduated from a U.S. school gave me a stomach ache. I will bet my last dime this man can not fully recite the words of the national pledge. The guy had a hard time enunciating the words of the national anthem before the debate began. He is a complete buffoon and i am disappointed with the IEA on that front. Our time was wasted. Akosombo dump? It is a dump all right but I’m sure he meant dam. For this gentleman to walk in the shoes of Dr. Edward Mahama representing the PNC, tells a lot of how slowly paced we are advancing. I must confess Mr. Ayariga had a decent command on the issue of taxation but again failed to put his thoughts together in a sensible manner. By the way the debate was too long and the moderators did a bad job cutting of candidates in mid sentence.
Now back to the real debators who had something smart to say. The issues at stake are big. Before watching this debate, I had a preconceived notion that the NPP had the election in the bag. My opinion did a 180 degree flip after watching the tenacity, passion and authenticity of the other candidates especially DR. Michael Abu Sakara Foster. What a man. He was clearly the winner of the night. Honestly he came across as too smart and lacked street appeal to the very common guy on the streets of Accra and Kumasi. He failed to espouse on the small minded issues which has popular appeal. He looks like the kind of leader who will micro manage and be result oriented. Just what the doctor prescribed to ailing Ghana. If I had the ability to vote, he would have been my guy. He was the most articulate, void of pertulence, passionate and just remarkable. But I don’t live on a fairy tale island where Dr. Sakara becomes the next Ghanaian president. He has no chance to win the election. We Ghanaians vote based on our allegiance to political parties instead of quality individuals whose position aligns with our personal interests. I pray this man’s talent is put to good use in the next administration.
This brings us to the next two candidates who have a much better chance of living in the castle. Interesting and vibrant in demeanor but indolent in mind, Nana Akuffo Addo is seeking the presidency selling Ghanaians a whole lot of free nothings. Ghanafo, the man is promising Utopia. Free this, Free that. Nana Addo promises free SHS education, free temporary housing for Kaya yeis. Whats next? Offer us free brains? Ghanaians are very proud people. I know of so many Ghanaians in America who are too proud to claim government assitance in times of bad health and unemployment. Don’t offer us freebies. Provide job opportunities and parents will proudly pay for their kids tuition. There is nothing that will give a parent joy than that sense of responsibility. The notion of government providing freebies might appeal to a good portion of Ghanaians. You wanna see what free education looks like? Visit any syto school. The government has failed over the years to provide a small minority of kids with meaningful free basic education. Why does anyone have an illusion that the government can provide free secondary education. This is complete delusion. I whole heartedly agree with Dr. Otabil. To paraphrase him, “the government will own your kids and teach them when, what and how to think”. Who is gonna foot these bills? Are we gonna tax people to death to pay for these freebies or we gonna end up doing what we do best which is borrowing from the chinese. With our prolific manner of borrowing, I wont be surprised Ghanaians are gonna start speaking mandarian chinese in a decade. They almost own us. The Danquah-Busia ideology was about private entrepreneurship and individual effort. Nana Addo is nothing but a big government guy. On a recent event in the U.S., Nana was asked what efforts he will take to help out Ghanaians in the diaspora to vote and stuff. Nana offered a red meat answer promising to form a new department or ministry of sort to deal with diaspora issues. That is nothing but another unnecessary position to be headed by a friend and absolute waste of the peoples money. If the foreign affairs ministry cannot offer these services to the few million Ghanaians around the world, we might as well sell Ghana to the highest bidder. (like we already haven’t).
At the debate, Nana Addo’s bilious tone and bellicose approach on issues and towards the president indicates he might probably not be qualified yet for the office. God bless Nana Akuffo Addo and his family for their contribution in bringing Ghana this far. His oceanic ego and condescending attitude towards the president was uncalled for. Bursting into laughter when the president was talking was just rude. Much of the NPP’s reservoir of condescension is focused on the poor and ignorant. Duplicity and deception is nothing strange to politicians but in the game of trickery, Nana Addo is extremely dexterous.
President Mahama should be applauded for being bold and humble enough to face his fiercest critics. In western democracies, presidential debates are taken for granted; a norm. From Lincoln- Douglas to Obama-,McCain, it has become expected. However, in our part of the world it is a big deal. It is history being made right in front of our eyes and im proud to call myself a Ghanaian. But I digress. The president was the most presidential and the most adult in the room. His calm demeanor alongside his serious approach towards every issue should make every doubting Ghanaian give this man another look. Granted every leader has flaws and this president is far from perfect. But we should admire a leader who wont promise us castles and face the big issues. With all his shortfalls i believe the president is that guy. Unlike Nana Addo who was basically throwing red meat to coalesce his base, the president was more pragmatic and defended his presidency with poise. I was however disappointed when the president fumbled with the question of unemployment. He referred to the global job crises as a reason for lack of jobs in Ghana. He even referred to the U.S. elections where bad economy and unemployment is front and center. Mr. President Ghana is an autonomous nation and we’ve had this problem since we could read the time. Please work hard to attract jobs and pragmatic policies to keep these jobs. Quit the excuses. Find ways to harness and encourage the Ghanaian talent into jobs. Another disappointment with the current administration is the president’s personnel appointments. Granted the Ghanaian youth is hungry to partake in the process of governance. However listening to the numerous campaign and party spokes people yell and insult each other, I am afraid the politics of the stomach and pocket might be perpetual. These Legon graduates who I do respect hustle their ways into the leader’s inner circles and before we wake up these young folks are deputy ministers and parliamentarians. What we need is the Ghanaian youth with a radical mind set willing to steer the course of Ghana politics in a different direction. The politics of nepotism and dining big needs to end.
Growing a nation with diverse views and beliefs as Ghana can be a painful and a sacrificial exercise. Ghana has no middle class. It is the super haves and the super have nots. Every one needs to have their skin in the game. We need a leader who is not scared to tell us the truth. The truth that we are broke. The truth that each one of us need to break a sweat. I recently heard of some Ghanaians going to the Akosombo dam to pray for an uninterrupted power supply. No wonder we are being sold free nothings. After you all get your free everything, I also have something interesting to sell you. I will be running for the presidency of the United States in four years. Lets all laugh to that. Thank you. Prayers to all affected by Sandy.

E.K. Oduro (ekoduro1@hotmail.com). New York