Opinions Thu, 19 Nov 2015
By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK November 17, 2015According to Mr Ayikoi Otoo, a former Attorney General under the Kufuor government, the theory of “Gbeshi” is when a politician is possessed by a higher spirit to say anything at political rally, charged on by fanatical party members that s/he would normally not say. The learned Attorney made this assertion in defence of and mitigating for his client, Mr Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, the then General Secretary of the main opposition party (NPP) when he was hauled before the Supreme Court Justices for contempt of court during the 2012 presidential petition hearing. If Mr Ayikoi Otoo’s Gbeshie theory is anything to go by, then, I believe His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama was possessed by Gbeshi spirit at the NDC rally in Accra last Monday.
I listened to parts of the President’s rally speech on Joy FM Morning Show and got a bit confused on his reference to political violence. He claimed that the revolutionary origins of NDC gave the party a better understanding of violence. I was a bit confused because his analogy did not make sense to me. Was the President suggesting that NDC’s revolutionary origin also associated the party with violence and therefore members are in a better position to understand violence and avoid it?
What really shocked me and which is the subject of this article is the language President Mahama chose to describe the main opposition party (NPP). Referring to the recent internal conflict within the NPP, particularly the acid attack on the Upper East Regional Chairman (Adams Mahama) leading to his untimely death and the recent stabbing to death of an NPP activists, Abubakar Saddiq in Kumasi, the President said and I quote, “if you see what your enemy will do to themselves, then you can guess what they will do to you when they get you”. Of course, these murderous acts committed by deluded party activists or members are dangerous political development that no one would wish on his or her enemy and must be condemned in no uncertain terms. But, is the President right to call NPP enemies of NDC and vice versa?
Well, if President Mahama was sad to listen to an audio of insults on Ex-President Kufour from within the NPP, I was appalled to hear him call NPP enemies of NDC. NPP and NDC and for that matter any political party or group cannot be enemies. They are political opponents and not enemies. This is because all political parties want the same things for Ghana and Ghanaians. They want to develop Ghana for Ghanaians except that they differ on the approach to take in reaching that same destination.
Indeed, not only do they have a common goal of bringing development to the people through different approaches but they also have a common enemy. The enemy of underdevelopment, poverty, hunger, want, disease, lack of good drinking water, unemployment, high inflation, low wages, weak currency, poor education and health facilities; lack of good infrastructure, dumsor, corruption, producers of primary commodities and consumers of finished products, control of natural resources by foreign multi-nationals, etc, etc.
These are the real enemies confronting Ghanaian politicians and Ghanaians as a whole and these are the reasons why NDC and NPP politicians promise every four years to find solutions to and secure the votes of the electorate to win political office. These are Ghana’s ISIS that both NDC and NPP politicians should be fighting against because they are a threat to the security and peace of Ghana. Though NDC and NPP differ in how to reach the destination of a developed country, they cannot and should never be enemies but opponents or competitors.
Mr President, if you want 2016 elections to be peaceful, please do not use such inflammatory language, do not describe your political opponents as enemies. Please do not repeat the Gbsehi moment again. Perhaps, all politicians will need deliverance or exorcism from the influence of Gbeshi in the next twelve months.
Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK
Columnist: Ata, Kofi