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Opinions Sat, 5 Feb 2011

Kwamekrom and Nasser’s parable

By George Sydney Abugri

There must be something wrong with me Jomo. It is not that I walk on my skull, mad men laugh at me, children take off in frightened flight at the sight of your buddy or anything like that. Nah!

It is something much worse: I seem to grumble too much about things everyone appears to find very normal. If I am the odd man out, it can only mean that I am the abnormal one, don’t you think?

What is normal about this: I was in a motor car with a friend on fairly busy road this week, see? Now ahead of us were two other motor cars and behind the second car was a motor rider.

Very abruptly and without any signal or warning whatsoever, the lead car braked and turned off the main road into a side street. The driver of the car behind braked to avoid crashing into the lead car when it suddenly stopped to make the turning and the car veered dangerously into the middle of the road, burning tire rubber on the asphalt.

The motor rider who was right in front of our motorcar in turn braked to avoid running into the second car. The motor bike spun wildly round, its engine snarling and the rider was thrown off. My friend managed the magic of not running over him.

The second car then sped off. Both drivers must have seen what happened but did not stop to help the motorist. For a few seconds, the driver lay in an impossible position, one arm twisted at an alarming angle. My friend stopped to help him up, but he staggered up dazed and bruised, saved from death or head injuries no doubt, by his helmet.

If the road accident fatalities defy reduction, it is not for want of trying by the traffic cops, for on that same day, more than 500 reckless motorists in the capital for various road traffic offences. It is rather that the numbers of traffic cops on the roads are inadequate and discipline among road users spiraling hopelessly out of control by the day.

The number large numbers of offending drivers is ample proof that the abnormal is now indeed the normal.

Most people appear to see nothing wrong with another perplexing issue but hey, I do. This one is related to the work of the Auditor General: We pay this gentleman who has the requisite skills to take regular peeks into the accounting books of public institutions and to report to us, how the institutions are managing and expending our cash.

In 2008, the Auditor General told us that GH¢460,786,338 of public cash had been stolen. He did not actually use the word “stolen.” He came up with other misleading variants of plain old stealing to describe the financial crimes: Embezzled, misapplied, diverted, misappropriated etc.

The authorities did one thing in response to the revelation: Nothing! Emboldened, those stealing our money hiked up their harvest, helping their very good selves to GH¢2.538 billion in 2009!

If you think that is a lot of money, then here is the real news. Successive bi-annual reports of the Auditor General have repeatedly revealed the same level of plunder and squander of public money for the past 30 years and more! The authorities have done one thing about the stolen cash: NOTHING!

Very closely tied to the nagging problem of official corruption in most developing countries like ours are two questions which may at first appear irrelevant but which on deeper refection, may indeed hold the key to a solution of Africa’s problems of limited progress and instability:

Question One: What is the precise motive for the pursuit of political power in Africa by people who want to be president or serve in high public office?

Question Two: Why is it that those who seek political power are usually so very desperate to get it, that again and again, the process of choosing leaders has been so fraught with bitterness; hatred and voice with some countries actually going to civil war after elections?

I don’t know about you, but I find the great desperation with which people pursue political authority very highly suspicious. We need to answer this question because the only justifiable reason for anyone to seek political power and authority is that he/she has a natural love and passion for people and the development of people.

Unless this question is answered satisfactorily, voters will continue to queue up under a scorching sun to sign off our collective destiny as a nation to people whose sole motive is to enjoy with friends , families and political cronies the trappings of high and illicit wealth and all that come with both.

Radical changes in the psyche of the people African countries appear to be in the offing and if the protests in Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt are not enough to make politicians in the other sub-regions of Africa develop insomnia for the next few months, then there must be something dead wrong with them. The political history of Egypt in particular has been most interesting if you ask me: Gamal Abdel Nasser stages a famous military coup in 1952 and overthrows the monarchy that ruled the country. Being a soldier, Nasser creates a government which depends on military power to keep Egypt stable. Then Nasser, who I believe, was a good friend of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, kicks the rusty old bucket and Anwar Sadat replaces him but Sadat subsequently manages to get assassinated. Now, enter Hosni Mubarak. So you see, from Nasser to Mubarak the power base in Egypt has been military. Now an intelligence source in Cairo claims that Mubarak who has been in power for …years, has been ill and speculations were that he was preparing to let his son his son Gamel succeed him. This is the very last thing the military wants and since Mubarak would not let them dictate a succession plan for the country they orchestrated his removal and now the revolt is raging. Do you reckon it a case of the people having becoming fed up with a government with military power base or an orchestration by the military to keep things the same? Never mind. One thing is certain: Corruption is not the key cause of the revolt as Egypt is one of the least corrupt countries in Africa: All the same, the lessons remain the same for politicians throughout the continent for two reasons: One: The satge appears to have been set for the employment of the popular mass revolt to drive form office, governments which become corrupt, inept, take the people for granted or simply fail to execute their mandate creditably. Two: If a popular mass revolt starts in any part of the region it can easily spread. Some say some African better start reading all weather signs with diligence: The fiery colonel in the desert, the bloke alleged to have bumped out Thomas, Old Bob and wetincal the guy in the CAR..? Who else? Our own next election is near and propaganda is approaching a peak in the media. Though discussants on radio and television programmes enjoy some anonymity, their personalities come through easily enough in their attitude toward us the audience and other panelists on discussion programmes:

In their bid to help win political power for their principals, some discussants are civil and take time to argue their points politely and with respect for their audience and other discussants. With others, you can quite literally reach out and touch the self-conceit and all-knowing arrogance oozing out like shea oil.

If popular mass protest do indeed emerge as an alternative weapon for chasing out bad rulers in Africa, those who prop them up with propaganda may well get ready to be swept away with their masters, along with all the fluff and spin.

Email: georgeabu@hotmail.com Website: www.sydneyabugri.com
Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney