A Philosophical Approach To The Agyapong Saga

Fri, 25 May 2012 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

The righteous anger over the Member of Parliament for Assin North Kennedy Ohene Agyapong’s debacle doesn’t seem to go away. It’s a bombshell that rocked our political landscape a couple of weeks ago with repercussions that is going to breathe on our necks, for how long – only God knows. Most of the NDC bigwigs are still drooling and slapping their thighs in uncontrollable laughter basking in the notion that they’ve got NPP on the retreat. And I am pretty certain they are going to milk it to the maximum advantage till Election Day. I never thought there will be a fresh news cycle that can decisively dislodge the Wayomegate from the headlines for some time to come. They couldn’t believe their luck – then bingo, the mother of all indiscretion. Currently it has spawned a bevy of writers let loose on the word processor who are calling for his blood, and others defending him to the hill. Lost in all this nonsense is our fragile and sometimes weary democracy, which is at the receiving end. It has been placed on a rack and being pulled by the limbs with a vice to its head.

Building a nation with competing desires and aspirations is not a business for ordinary souls. It is a very difficult road, and when it comes to democracy it has extra demons to deal with. Dictatorships have it very easy, because all they have to do is break some few legs, and pick up people in the middle of the night, and the rest of the population fall in line. But we have opted for the most difficult – democracy, because of freedom and liberty. Unfortunately, it has a lot of unpleasant fellow travellers like Agyapong. People say all sorts of horrible things in private that I feel queasy repeating in respectable company. Sadly for Agyapong he woke up at the wrong side of the bed, filled with unimaginable bravado, and started kicking a toddler who is just taking his first steps. I am not used to kicking people when they are down; neither am I going to cry over spilled milk. However, this is what I would like to asked him should I meet him in person whether his senses had fled or he was possessed when he began to haemorrhage verbally like a drunk.

I am a constitutional optimist, and I believe there is a mileage to be gleaned from every human action whether it is even a gaffe. The killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria immediately triggered the First World War and the German’s invasion of Poland lighted the fuse for the second. But there were other simmering factors that worked hand in gloves to engender those two world changing catastrophes. The main alibi for Agyapong is the registration malpractices and intimidation at the now infamous Odododiodoo. I submit that what triggered him to spill his guts has got nothing to do with that, but something more sinister and uglier. And this is not a conspiracy theory, but a careful analysis of an utterance that has the potential of wrecking a nation.

Though democratic politics should be about contest of ideas, ours is purely about bringing home the bread and the butter. But the ideas that go into the baking of the bread and the churning of the butter have been relegated into the backroom, and we are slugging it out like primates in this our winner takes all style democracy. The main political parties i.e. NDC and NPP are simply CDPs – Contract Distribution Parties. It’s rather sad and unfortunate; when your candidate does not win you are going to be hungry for a very long time. That is why people fight tooth and nail to make sure that their candidate wins. With the exception of President Rawlings who was the sole founder of his party, and as a result of his charisma stood for the leadership of his party uncontested, the rest had to pay hard cash, and offer ridiculous promises for the privilege, right from 1992 to the present. What happens at the various congresses is anything, but election. They literally buy a substantial number of the delegates that will secure them the nomination. The question is where do they get the funds to embark on such political chicanery. Even a toddler will tell you there is no such thing as free lunch. The money they get from their business friends for these backroom dealings will have to be paid back in kind. These political financiers are not gamblers they bet on sure things. As a result of their indebtedness the need to win becomes psychotic. Waiting in the wings are their faceless benefactors who push them to the extreme to sacrifice the interest of the nation for their selfish aggrandisement. This is the essence of the ‘all die be die’ mantra, the Agyapong blunder and many of the posturing that is coming from the politicians of both main parties. It has got nothing to do with them wanting the best for Ghanaians; it’s all about their larger than life egos. That is how your national contracts, especially roads, are awarded my dear friends not through tender for the best contractor to win.

I know you will opine that if President Rawlings was not indebted to anyone then he will be as white as snow in the award of contracts. Not so fast, in his case due to the extreme hatred for his political opponents he made sure that national contracts did not go to people who finance his opponents. He was so vindictive to the extent that he even openly campaigned against a businessman like Appiah-Minkah just because he belongs to the opposition forgetting the fact that he employs Ghanaians in his business that he had sworn by the constitution to protect their interest. And only providence knows how many he sabotaged under the radar. So obviously contracts under his stewardship ended up in the hands of incompetent contractors and people who don’t deserve it. Ask yourself the question how can Nana Kwame Ampadu a musician, all of a sudden, without any track record behind him becomes a contractor overnight? You can also extrapolate, if you so choose, and factor in the 10% syndrome.

The foregone is very bad but what really worries me is the way some writers I consider very thoughtful are trivialising the whole issue. A lot of Ghanaians are behaving like the proverbial ostrich. We are burying our heads in the sand with hollow and flimsy notions that Ghanaians are peaceful, we do not like violence, we hate blood and all that rubbish. The distance between civility and barbarism is slimmer than we all give credit to. Civilisation is sometimes referred to as a thin crust over a volcano and you pick that crust at your peril. I don’t think we are picking it out, and neither are we doing a good job protecting it.

Whoever thought that one of the most civilised people in Europe, a civilisation that produced Mozart, Martin Luther, Beethoven, Goethe, Immanuel Kant, Leibniz, Hegel et al will degenerate to into medieval barbarism. One of their finest poets, Heinrich Heine, wrote: ‘Them that begin by burning books, end by burning men.’ The Germans never paid heed to his admonition and it culminated in the holocaust – a mechanised annihilation of a whole people. There are always tell tale signs when a people are on their way to self-destruction. When the Nazi’s came to power they burnt books they did not like. As much as I may dislike the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital I do not have any right to deny other people the privilege. It is the act of barbarism and intolerance reminiscent of the barbarian hordes that used to burn libraries in the ancient world.

Some people are harbouring some foolish beliefs that Ghanaians are very different and will never resort to violence; it’s even racism to contemplate such an idea. Are we better than the Sierra Leoneans, Nigerians and Rwandans etc? Let us stop this patronising twaddle into believing that it cannot happen here and start burning the midnight candle to stop it from happening. Up till now nobody knows who fired the first shot at Lexington, which triggered the American war of independence. Hypothetically, if anything should happen it’s not going to start on a battle field. It might be a mugger who rubs an ordinary lady and some idiot reporter wires up to a radio station using uncouth epithet and inflammatory language that might cause the blood of people to boil in their arteries. It might be localised, but can you imagine the cynicism and the suspicion that will engulf the nation?

There are people with blind belief that, because of intermarriage people won’t go to that extreme. I will remind them of Rwanda. During their conflict a whole Roman Catholic priest, Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka referred to his own Tutsi mother as cockroach according to the hero of Hotel Rwanda Paul Rusesabagina. There are a lot of psychotics with predisposition like Agyapong who wouldn’t hesitate even to butcher their own when they do not sing their tune.

And lastly there are those with the opinion that the law enforcement personnel will not allow such things to happen in the country. Let me tell them that the law enforcement people are human beings with their own prejudice. There is a limit to human endurance and people do snap. And don’t count on them when there is chaos. They deliver only when society is functioning as it should. Please spare me this delusion.

And this is my piece of advice to those childish politicians who are refusing to grow and stack in perpetual adolescence. Politics is a battle of ideas, and even monozygotic twins do have different ideas and beliefs, but they don’t live as mortal enemies. It’s time for them to stop this partisan politics, which has become fatalistic to the detriment of the whole nation. As much as I may dislike Agyapong’s statement he cannot retract so what do we do about it, because it is part of our consciousness? It needs to be analysed with deep questions, besides the paramount intention of a lasting solution.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr.



Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina