A Missed Opportunity!!

Sun, 5 Apr 2009 Source: Opare-Asamoa, Yaw

President Atta Mills may well live to regret these early months of his presidency. If he is half as decent a man as I think he is, he would surely rue the opportunities he had but did not make use of. When it mattered most, when he was expected to rise above petty politics and do the right thing- to call it as it is- he preferred to remain silent and detached from all that was going on, and instead allow people in his government bring his presidency to disrepute.

How could he not say a word about the Ga-Dangme issue? How could he not call to order all those involved in those ‘illegal’ car seizures?

Is this the ‘Asomdweehene’ that he told us he is? Is he concerned at all that these events are further polarizing the country?

Yes, it may seem populist now to allow such acts to go on but I bet you, when it’s all over and he is taking stock of his legacy, this period may come back to haunt him. My people say ‘abaa a wodebo Takyi no, wo de bebo Baah’ I believe he knows that by remaining silent, he is tacitly giving approval for such behaviour and pronouncements. Is it by design that a section of the population want to vilify the ex-Kufuor so much?? Is there a purpose to it?? He is setting himself up for similar treatment after his term and that is a fact!!! The ‘seeds’ have been sown but sadly they are the wrong kind of seeds.

I wrote a piece titled “What was that all about, Mr. P-r-e-s-i-d-e-n-t?” and towards the end of the article I raised the issue of the Ga-Dangme Youth. Less than a month after that, I read a news report about a group from the Western region sounding a note of caution to the rest of the nation about their intent at also ‘protecting’ what they think belongs to them. I am no prophet, and I had no idea of this group when I cited the Western region in the said article. My exact words were “…Are they saying that the youth of Western region can lay claim to any government property just by the sheer fact such property is in the Western region?” But we can be sure that groups from other regions would either make similar pronouncements or they may decide to strategize and keep their comments to themselves. The group from the western region was reacting to the actions of the Ga-Dangme Youth. Action always begat reaction, but what was the cause?? I humbly submit that the cause was the inability (or refusal?) of the Atta Mills government to take control of the ex-gratia issue and set things straight. Let me explain what I mean: When the ex-gratia issue came to light, President Atta Mills had a perfect opportunity to carve a unique niche for himself. Way before the Ga-Dangme Youth’s agitation (when the proposed Kufuor Office became ‘fodder’ for the Ga-Dangme youth and all those who were hiding behind them), the president could have addressed the entire nation this way:

He could have told us that his respect for the rule of law would not allow him to scrap completely the benefits (since they were recommended by a committee approved by both the executive and the parliament), but then the present economic situation cannot support and sustain implementation of such retirement package in its current form. Therefore, as he asks Parliament to review the package, his government would go ahead and confirm an office space and 2 or 3 vehicles for the ex-president. A complete review would be done when parliament presents its final report. How much different would the ‘atmosphere in the country’ have been if the president had done just this? He missed the opportunity!!

I have lived in Kumasi for so many years. I have property in Kumasi. Nobody has ever told me that I couldn’t own or acquire property because I was no indigene of the Asante region, and I don’t ever want to hear that from anybody. Now that Ga-Dangme has set the precedent, how do we stop something like that from happening? I thought Ghana rejected federalism many years ago! And even under federalism, there is free movement of people and ‘free’ opportunity for all, anywhere.

It is never too late or better late than never, so I will suggest to the president to take up the challenge and address the issue. He is the one-and-only president, right???

Yaw Opare-Asamoa


Written and submitted on April 1, 2009

Columnist: Opare-Asamoa, Yaw