Opinions Sat, 16 May 2015
By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK May 13, 2015Since the Actress, Lydia Forson referred to President Mahama as “that school kid who is always last” in a letter over the longevity and the lasting impact of dumsor in Ghana followed by the call for dumsor vigil by Yvonne Nelson and Sarkodie, hell has broken loose within government and the ruling NDC (see, “Mahama is that school kid who is always last – Lydia Forson”, Ghanaweb, May 1, 2015). In fact, the brouhaha over Ms Forson’s letter and the call for dumsor vigil by Mahama appointees and NDC officials and members is such that, it can best be described as “who let the dogs out?” This article is an analysis of what was said and the responses by Mahama appointees and NDC members.
I have avoided the circus until the Minister for Power, Dr Kwabena Donkor jumped into the pantomime yesterday to denigrate Ghanaian Actresses, Artists, Actors, Musicians and Entertainers for expressing their views on matters of critical national importance (see, “Power Minister lambasts DumsorMustStop celebrities”, Ghanaweb, May 12, 2015).
In all these mudslinging, name calling, etc particularly at Lydia Forson and Yvonne Nelson, what is sad is the absence of any objective critique of the contents of Lydia Forson’s letter. Is it not true that the president had promised on at least, on three occasions that dumor will either end or be a thing of the past but that never materialised? Is it not fact that even after President Mahama promised not to promise the end of dumsor, he did not keep his word? Is it not a truism that President Mahama also said dumsor is temporary when the reality for many Ghanaians is that they have lived with dumsor since 2012?
So, those who are insulting Lydia Forson for saying that the president is not being honest and not telling Ghanaians the truth about dumsor, what is her cardinal sin? Was it because she called the president dishonest? What do those who are pointing accusing fingers at Lydia Forson call someone who consistently promises but not honour his or her word? Instead of Mahama appointees and NDC abusing and attacking Lydia Forson, they should ask themselves, why didn’t the president’s promises on ending dumsor become a reality?
I have always suspected that either the president is being lied to by the technocrats or he is not asking the right questions. Last Saturday, my suspicion was confirmed by what was attributed to Mr Franklin Cudjoe. The IMANI boss stated that he heard the Chief Director of the Energy Ministry suggesting that the “technical people should stop speaking and that they are deceiving the politicians with all kinds of timelines that are not realistic (see “Stop embarrassing yourself – IMANI to Power Minister”, Ghanaweb, May 9, 2015). Those abusing Lydia Forson should be angry at the technocrats who are lying to the president as well as demand from the president why he has failed to hold the technocrats accountable and sack those lying to him on dumsor?
It is very unfortunate and disappointing for these government and NDC officials to tag Lydia Forson and Yvonne Nelson as NPP sympathisers over dumsor. I say so for a number of reasons. First, having read Lydia Forson’s letter to the president and the previous one to Duncan Williams, any serious and intellectual being should come to the conclusion that despite the sarcasm, she is passionate about equality, equity and fairness for all. People with such personality traits or qualities are most likely to be liberals rather than right wing ideologically. It is therefore bizarre to accuse her of doing the bidding for the opposition NPP (though, I personally do not see the NPP as a right wing party).
The above is further supported by people in the movie industry in general. Because they often portray inequalities and societal ills through movies and at the same time use movies to influence changes in society for the better, they often tend to sympathise with liberal thinking more than right wing ideology. This is particularly true in the US where Hollywood actors often tend to support the Democrats, though Hollywood also produced Ronald Reagan.
For the above reasons and others, NDC by tagging these stars as doing the bidding of the opposition NPP are actually throwing away potential allies. This is tantamount to committing political suicide because these celebrities have a large following and some of them are voters. Moreover, the subject matter that they are raising concerns over is an issue that is dear to the heart of every Ghanaian as well as foreigners who live in and visit Ghana. So why can’t they as Ghanaian citizens express their views and frustrations over President Mahama and his government’s failure to end dumsor despite the numerous promises?
According to the Power Minister, Dr Kwabena Donkor, the personalities involved in organizing the demonstration "don’t have what it takes to make Ghana’s cedi stable" and would want them to focus more on the crippling industry and make it a major foreign earner for the nation. “As at now, the artistic industry isn’t at an enviable level...I don’t see why they are trying to turn an artistic group into a political action group” (see “Power Minister lambasts #DumsorMustStop celebrities”, Ghanaweb, May 12, 2015).
The minister is absolutely wrong on his assessment. Ghanaian movies in English are sold in most western countries where there are major concentration of Ghanaians and other English speaking African nationals. That can earn foreign exchange and contribute to stabilizing the cedi. But sadly, without regular supply of electricity to the movie industry, it cannot be a major foreign exchange earner.
Another pathetic aspect of the goons who are abusing the celebrities for exercising their constitutional and democratic rights is that they erroneously believe that they should always defend the president when he comes under attack from any quarters. Their only justification is that “you do not slap a mother in public and expect her children not to defend her”. I do not buy such silly and hollow excuse for the miscreant behaviour of the so-called Mahama children. Their analogy is both out of place and misguided because no one ever elects his or her mother. No child has the privilege of electing his/her mother or parents. The bond between a mother and her children can never be equated to the relationship between an elected president, his appointees and party supporters. That is simply dump by those who make such comparison in order to justify their uncouth behaviour.
It is clear from the abuses and attacks on the celebrities that NDC, especially, government appointees have become power drank, arrogant and intolerant. Their behaviour is also symptomatic of incompetence and people who are bereft of ideas and solutions on the problems facing them and the nation. The only ammunition left for them is to go on the offensive and attack and in doing so damage whoever in their deluded mind, they consider as obstacles in their way to hold onto political power and positions. These are also signs of the dying days of a failing government and I have no doubt that Mahama’s presidency will come down crashing on December 7, 2016 if dumsor is not ended earlier than later.
Why should these goons ask Lydia Forson and others for solutions to dumor when they have not been elected to solve the nation’s development problems? You promised the electorate to end dumsor, so get on and do it. You should also remember that citizens have the right to hold politicians accountable when they fail to honour their promises as in the case of President Mahama.
In fact, these appointees who perhaps believe that they are defending Mahama are in fact causing Maham and his government disaffection as well as damaging his political future by turning away potential allies, voters and followers. Last but not the least, the responses by Dr Kwabena Donkor and others are disrespectful to the president who has called for a ceasefire on this matter.
The fact is, Lydia Forson was very magnanimous with her description of President Mahama’s failures to end dumsor. I will go further and describe him as the school kid who came last in his class at the end of the academic year and when his grandmother complained that he had disgraced the family for coming bottom of his class, he accused the grand mum of being ungrateful to him because he did better than others in his class. Indeed, according to him, had he not done well like the others, his name would not have even appeared on the result list. The names of those who performed worst than him in the class did not appear on the list and that was why their names were not mentioned at the end of year special assembly where parents and guardians were invited to. Poor grandma who never went to school believed his concocted story and congratulated him. That is exactly what Mahama’s appointees and NDC members are doing. Some have even compared Ghana’s dumsor to Nigeria and justified the president saying that dumsor is temporary.
In conclusion if NDC believes that the solution to dumsor is by attacking anyone who criticises President Mahama and his government on how their failure to end dumsor, then they better think again because the insults, abuses and naming calling on Ghanaians by ministers, MPs, other appointees, party leaders, communications team, serial callers, etc is making the government unpopular and the party unattractive to the electorate. You can choose to have your day today by abusing, insulting and apologising but also bear in mind that the electorate will have their say come December 7, 2016. Ghana is not Kim Il-sung land (North Korea) where the leader is worshiped like a demigod. Enough is enough.
Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK
Columnist: Ata, Kofi