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Opinions Fri, 22 Apr 2005

Ghana: Setting An Agenda For Development (I)

"I want to live for my country not to die for it" - (Poncho ace Ghanaian comedian and broadcaster)

Introduction

Recent articles published on the web and in various newspapers have placed much burden on me to share my thoughts on what I consider would help set the country on a developing course. Arguably talk can be cheap but you cannot exchange it for the violence some people not only preach but practice. I would like to use this forum to call on all real patriots, selfless and development minded citizens of our dear country to rise up and be counted. I sometimes shudder when I hear some people who have been, and are still in positions of responsibility preaching violence and mayhem because they disagree with their political opponents or feel insulted by their utterances. Worst of all is when people, respectable ones, join the bandwagon to inflame the situation. Sad to also note that supporters to certain causes which have all been politicised also join the bandwagon spewing venom and poisoning the social atmosphere.

I have had the privilege of living in various parts of the country and also living outside the country for a few years. I find the polarisation of the country on ethnic and sometimes religious lines very sad and frightening. If these issues are not addressed I believe there can never be any form of development.

Nepotism, Tribalism and Cronyism

Most articles and reports I have read touch on these problems in one way or the other. The beauty of democracy stems from our ability to disagree but co-exist without any fear of victimisation or intimidation. May I state at this point that one does not need to hold a political office before he can be considered a patriot. I believe patriotism stems from willingness to put in your individual bit for the betterment of the society. Therefore, the street sweeper, farmer, kayayo, doctor, teacher, driver, soldier, police, driver and professionals are equally important for the development of the country.

Nepotism or favouritism has been considered by many as the cause of the political tension brewing in the Ghana. Significantly, one person who has led the ?crusade? against this is the former president Jerry John Rawlings. President Rawlings has consistently accused the present government led by President Kufuor on many occasions with a recent one in South Africa. I am no apologist of the NPP government but I find it strange when we consistently hear allegations that are never substantiated. I disagree with President Kufuor on many issues, significantly on the number of ministers he recently appointed.

However, President Rawlings has consistently banged about many unsubstantiated and sometimes wild allegations which he cannot or refuses to prove. It may be laughable to some of us when he make his ?boom? speeches and insults President Kufuor. Sad to say we should not take these lightly. We live in a country with a high percentage of illiteracy. Some gullible people may easily believe such utterances are true. Indeed, there are people in Ghana who can swear to the veracity of a story for the simple reason of having read it in a newspaper or heard it in a broadcast. If President Rawlings is the true patriot and a man of integrity he claims to be he should provide the facts about his accusations against President Kufuor and the government. If he distrusts the judiciary, a majority of its members he appointed during his leadership of the country, then there are international avenues for addressing this. For instance, the allegation about President Kufuor?s involvement in the murder of the women and the Ya Na amounts to crimes against humanity. The international court of justice would provide him an unbiased platform for addressing the injustices. President Rawlings must come out with the evidence and prove his real integrity. There is a school of thought that once an issue is harped upon consistently they become blurred and taken as the truth over time. I have a strong belief that President Rawlings believes that if he keeps on harping on one thing it will be believed.

Culture of Fear, Violence and Intimidation

Whoever has been around in the country can trace the level of fear, violence and intimidation that became a part of the Ghanaian psyche post-June 4 era. I do recollect in 1996 during the election my professor at the University of Cape Coast stocked up on food for fear of violence erupting should President Rawlings fail to secure a second term. In 2000 I remember Afia Konadu on Peace FM monitoring the activities of political bullies moving from various polling stations to others and calling on the police to arrest them. These are facts. I do not want to dwell too much on what happened during and after the June 4 and 31 December coups.

I would also like to mention that these events have not left us. The reported violence in some parts of the country during the 2004 elections should not be glossed over. The death of Alhaji Mobila and the burning of ballot boxes are very sad reflection on our political landscape. The government must not leave any stone unturned in apprehending all the people involved and bring them to book. They have no place in the new Ghana we must build. President Kufuor will never be forgiven if he fails to do this. Another accusation which President Rawlings makes against President Kufuor is the murder of Ya Na and many others. I have had opportunity to discuss this with some true sons of Dagbon. The conclusion I reached is that the whole issue has been unduly politicised sadly by the educated and political elites. It is a shameful for leaders to manipulate the misery and tragedy of their people for personal gratification. Once again I call on President Rawlings to substantiate his allegations against the President or keep quite. To President Kufuor the buck stops with you. The incident occurred under his watch and Ghanaians expect you to bring the perpetrators to book. The necessary political will must be demonstrated to ensure acceptable resolution of the tragedy. On the murder of the women I believe the police scored full marks and the government provided the necessary leadership to ensure the scourge was brought to an end.

The Media: Polarisation and Rumour Mongering

The fourth republican constitution of Ghana recognises the role of the media and over the last few years draconian laws have been expunged to grant the total freedom the constitution granted. However the media in Ghana sometimes leaves a sour taste in the mouth. For a start the media is so polarised with practitioners taking entrenched positions. Again, rumour mongering, unchecked facts, substandard analysis and unsubstantiated allegations are peddled as the truth.

Whoever wants to practice this noble art must discern between the facts and opinions. It is sad that blatant lies can be spewed, twisted and presented as the truth. Interestingly, people are gradually discerning the wheat from the chaff. The danger however lies in the effect of the lies and half-truths on others. I will be returning to the media as subject in subsequent articles. While congratulating the media for being bold and putting the government on its toes more professionalism in terms of quality writing and analysis is required.

Ghana is bigger than any individual. It is the only place we can call home and nobody, be he Rawlings, Kufuor, or their supporters dare not destroy it for us.

Kofi Nyame
Thornton Heath
Surrey England


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage. P.S: Just when I was completing the article I read from the Daily Graphic website that murder charges have been preferred against three soldiers in connection with the murder of Alhaji Mobila by the Tamale police.
Columnist: Nyame, Kofi