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Opinions Fri, 6 Apr 2018

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Mahama’s ironic symmetry

Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace

And rest can never dwell, hope never comes

That comes to all, but torture without end.

(John Milton, Paradise Lost).

Gradually the populace is losing confidence in politicians of our times. Ghanaians heaved a sigh of relief when the nation was ushered back into the democratic system of governance in the fourth Republic having gone through needless military take-overs during the second and third Republics. The very reasons the military governments had assigned for taking over the mandates of Ghanaians in those Republican Constitutional eras had been further aggravated to the detriment of the populace. They brutalized us to submission each time we complained that we were hungry.

Hahahaha, my introduction sends me back to my Secondary School days some 40 years ago when I was contesting for the position of Dining Hall Prefect in my great Boamponsem Secondary School. The school authorities for some time had changed the process of allowing the general student population to elect their prefects. The prefects were appointed by the school administration. That particular year, they decided to allow us to elect our own prefects.

On that fateful day, all contestants had been allowed to meet the student population at the Assembly Hall to as it were, present their manifestoes to the student ‘electorate’. When it was my turn, without a written speech, I began ‘I would first of all want to use this opportunity to thank the school authorities for once again unveiling the democratic process of electing prefects in this school. Once prefects are elected by the students themselves, they would obey and respect them. The prefects on the other hand, will listen and appreciate the concerns of the students’. This was in 1978.

My opening speech 40 years ago as a student, is certainly not different from the principles that drive democratic system of governance the world over. Electing a group of people and entrusting our collective will in their hands is a social contract. We give them power and expect them to use the power so legally entrusted upon them, to use this power in the collective interest of the greater society. It must be admitted, however, that any decision a government makes in the general good of the people will certainly affect someone negatively in the short term, at least.

It is very important that the electorate develops confidence in systems that govern them, particularly in democratic systems as ours. However, the ability of the people to generate confidence and trust in those in whose hands the citizens have entrusted their will, depends largely on the conduct and honesty of the leaders. It seems that the citizens are truly losing confidence in politicians because they do not see honesty and principles in the conduct of the political leaders.

In the year 2012, one maverick politician from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) stables, Mr. Kennedy Agyepong was arrested to have made ethnocentric comments that border on ethnic cleansing, to wit, that he had called on Akans to beat up Gas and Ewes for whatever reasons. The NDC under ex-President John Mahama had raised the issue so high in the hope that Kennedy Agyepong would be convicted on charges people like Koku Anyidoho and some of his cohorts in the NDC had fashioned out for the Police.

The issue raised needless political tension in the country both on political grounds and ethnic grounds. As expected, a former President, Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor cautioned that the matter was not such a serious one that deserved the tension it had generated and thought that it was like killing an ant with sledge hammer. Ex-President Mahama showed gross disrespect for the person of ex-President Kufuor by stating openly at a meeting with NDC members and supporters at a meeting at the KNUST that ‘the NDC government will even use a bulldozer to kill the ant whose intention is to foment trouble’.

He went ahead to state ‘The MP’s comment should not be taken lightly. The whole nation must rise up and say what he said was absolutely unacceptable. It is the silence of those who should speak for the truth that makes evil triumph.’ Now let us listen to the same person in 2018 when one of his own, Mr. Koku Anyidoho, the Deputy General Secretary of the NDC was arrested by the CID of the Ghana Police Service for a statement that sought to threaten a civilian coup d’etat to topple the Nana Akufo Addo administration just as the Busia’s administration in which he Nana Akufo Addo’s father was the ceremonial President.

‘As a party that prides itself in the non-discrimination of speech, with self- acclaimed human rights activists as President, the arrest of Koku Anyidoho with armed men in the middle of a press event, is obviously disproportionate. More so, the high-handed police response to innocent citizens waiting at the CID HQ is condemnable’, he added.

I am not worried about ex-President Mahama’s position on the Ghana-US military co-operation agreement which has generated controversies all over. It is his right to do so even if good sense has given way to his earlier decision in 2015 to enter into that agreement without recourse to Parliament. My worry is his definition of ‘disproportionate’ in the case of Koku Anyidoho as against the use of ‘bulldozer to kill an ant if it foments trouble’. I do not know who invented the word ‘disproportionate’, I believe that if it is further defined, the likelihood is that President Mahama will defy and defile the word.

Under the reign of the same Mahama, a citizen of this country lost one of his eyes during a peaceful demonstration organized by the group, ‘Let My Vote Count’ in Accra. The loss of the eye of that citizen through the irresponsible conduct of the Police perhaps was proportionate to the demonstrations organized by the group in the view of ex-President Mahama.

It is the actions, inactions and the hypocrisy of politicians in our part of the world that generate internecine conflicts which do no good to anyone. The freedoms and liberties of Koku Anyidoho who has no recorded achievement known to Ghanaians except political positions offered him by a nobleman who himself sadly was half blind. Koku Anyidoho, with unearned power and wealth thinks the whole nation must bow to him. He exhibits class arrogance and disrespect for people who could have even paid for his education at whatever level.

The crudity and the unadulterated epithets shunned by decent discerning minds which he spews from his mouth, his posture, demeanour and body language cannot be associated with a well-bred person from a decent home.

Indeed, ex-President Mahama was compelled by political circumstances to have expressed an unwilling solidarity towards Koku, a statement which unfortunately has also further sank his own image further. Everybody in the NDC and most political observers know how much Koku distastes him Mahama. It is an open secret that when President Mills was alive, Koku never respected Mahama as the Vice President.

Why would anybody tamper with the little respect he has in the society by going out there to defend Koku Anyidoho? Why should any sensible person with the standing of ex-President Mahama do that but for fear of being ostracized by the party? It is possible that Koku may not have the capacity to carry out the threat, but was the statement necessary?

President Mahama should have simply showed solidarity with his Deputy National Secretary of his party and end it there. But for him to have described the arrest of Koku in the manner he did was a blatant display of hypocrisy of the highest order. This is where the image of politicians in the eyes of the ordinary voter keeps on shrinking. It is common these days to hear otherwise political voters saying ‘all politicians are the same’.

We may not be able to meet the needs of our citizenry who give us the power to govern using all resources nature has bequeathed us. However, being sincere and honest with them will help us move forward no matter how long it takes. If the political class loses the trust of the people, the country is gone.

Columnist: dailyguideafrica.com

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