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Opinions Mon, 6 Jun 2005

The Presidency Under Siege

Friends, there is a dangerous turn of events in the politicking of our dear nation that needs to be addressed. True, this dangerous turn has been insidious from the onset but of late has assumed such astonishing speed and momentum that someone needs to stop and say??Stop it! Just stop it!? or ?Wait a minute?What is this??

Ours is a country of civilized people. We are a proud people with rich traditions. Our nation was borne out of the toil of very patriotic people - men and women - who were willing to lay down their very lives for the country and people they love. Post-independence, we became a bastion of hope for the benighted. Droves of independence-fighting fellow Africans trooped to our nation?s capital to learn from our feet and be inspired. To the second-class citizens in the shores of America?the words ?the Blackman is capable of managing his own affairs!? emancipated the minds of millions of Negroes from mental enslavement - men, who hitherto, had been indoctrinated that they were less endowed with natural gifts compared to their ?masters?. Yes, we did take a huge bump in the road in our nationhood, when national saboteurs took arms and held our country hostage for decades under authoritarian rule. These thugs thought they had our interests at heart so they were justified to force themselves on us. But ?No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent.?- Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the USA. Nevertheless, like the Star of Africa which Divine providence has destined us to be, we rose from the ashes and showed Africa the path to democracy. For over four years now, our country has experienced an unbridled freedom that has never been known to our people. The airwaves has been freer than ever, the print media is free to make wild allegations without fear or favor, and people are able to express themselves without hindrance in demonstration or whatsoever, provided they fulfill all the requirements of the law. Such is the unlimited freedom that we have?that we?ve now become the yardstick by which many an African country measures their own freedoms.

Sadly, today, the country is experiencing a sort of politics that is alien to us?politics that is disrespectful, divisive, ethnocentric, tribalistic, full of hearsays without facts, and full of libelous statements. Sensationalism has become the order of the day. People are forgetting the fine art of thinking and subjecting public pronouncements to the litmus test of common sense. We?ve become a nation driven by emotions. Needless to say that to a large extent these sensational stories are driven by a media who, whilst basking in the new unlimited freedom it now has, ignores the responsibilities that goes with the exercise of those same freedoms. What happened to the media crosschecking allegations before it publishes it? If I allege today that I had a sexual affair with Madam Asomasi, should it be brought to the public domain without a simple investigation to ascertain the veracity of my allegation, knowing that such an allegation could potentially ruin the reputation of Madam Asomasi for her entire life period? Don?t the media have the responsibility of feeding the people with facts? The danger of the media not doing their homework well is that they become a tool for people with ulterior motives to wage their own personal vendettas against some innocent people. Even now, several people have become victims to the tyranny of the media. People have had their reputations unjustifiably dented without one fact, just because some person made a wild-goose allegation against them. ?I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crises. The great point is to bring them the real facts.? ? Abraham Lincoln.

Take a typical Ghanaian newspaper. You begin to wonder if such papers have editorial boards as you read their articles and commentaries. The stories are childish, the work is unprofessional, the English is full of amateurish grammatical errors, the authors are lazy ? doing no research or crosschecking of facts, yet these papers pride themselves as national newsprints. Some have the clear agenda to persecute the truth, and miseducate Ghanaians ? to spread the politics of lies and hatred with the sole goal of winning political power. They blind themselves to the fact that their politics of divide and rule will serve no one. It won?t serve them should they attain power; neither will it serve any other person. Yet driven by their desire for power, they?ll stop at nothing to achieve it, be it clean or dirty politics. Hear them: ?Ever since the NPP assumed the reins of government, there has been no hiding the fact that one of the top items on their agenda, has been what many observers have termed "The Ashanti-nisation" of Ghana. It would seem that the Asantehene has virtually now assumed the role of the Monarch of Ghana while President Kufuor acts as the leader of Government Business. World Bank loans/grants are contracted for him and his subjects while virtually every visiting dignitary must as a matter of "protocol" go and greet him after first visiting the castle to greet the president.? Ethnic Agenda Continues as Asantehene Storms Atlanta (the Lens). Such a statement can only come from a group of people with diabolical mind-sets. Even as a Fante, I know that the current Asantehene, who was enstooled when the minority NDC was in power, is very pro-development. He, out of his own accord, made several errands to Europe and the US campaigning for investors to come to Ghana and not only the Ashanti region. His approach to development has caused a number of other traditional rulers to follow suite. Would anyone want to suggest that just because his fellow tribesman had become the President of our country this King will now stop his pro-development agenda? What is wrong if a whole King decides to use his name to attract investors to his country - to provide jobs for our own brothers and sisters? If any traditional ruler can use his or her name to negotiate for assistance from the World bank or from any such financial institution to develop his/her locality, for which he or she will be accountable to that institution, I say, more of such negotiations! In western democracies it?s all about lobbying?if you can?t lobby for your own interests just give others a break. And let?s face the facts here. Anyone who has traveled outside Africa knows that there are two African kingdoms that are world-renown to foreigners above all others?the Ashanti and the Zulu Kingdoms. These two kingdoms are household names in Europe and the Americas. We shouldn?t therefore, be surprised when dignitaries who come to our country desire to meet with the Asantehene. This is nothing new. So let?s accept it and move on.

It?s sad that those who clearly try to whip up tribal sentiments in our society turn around to accuse others of tribalism. Hear this same Lens newspaper in their article, Of Ethnocentricism and Religious Politics: ?The politics of ethnocentrism and of religion are two known enemies to any democracy. Ethnic politics is dangerous and the tragic experiences of Rwanda and Burundi are cases that readily come to mind?Unfortunately, the NPP since 1992 has engaged in this dangerous kind of politicking.? So now who do they think they are fooling? They say one thing, then turn around and accuse others of the same thing the just said. Hear the Palaver after their party had lost the 2004 presidential election: ?Ghana is now a divided country, and it?s official, divided along ethnic, regional, religious, cultural economic and linguistic lines. This is the result of four years of John Agyekum Kufuor?s administration, run basically along ethnic Ashanti/Akan, ethnic/regional, Christian, Ashanti loyalty and Ashanti lines.? ? Cry the Divided Country (The Palaver). After 4 years of playing the ethnic card, pitching one tribe against the other, when they failed to achieve their evil ends, they turned around and blamed others of tribalism, this time even trying to pitch religions against each other.

Nation-wreckers are the people who are making the most noise these days. People who in any advanced country would be doing jail sentence, are parading themselves as saints. To the discerning mind, the agenda of these people are very clear?their methods, old?their ends, dreadful?their motivation, hatred, jealousy, insatiable appetite for unbridled power and lucre. It?s all d?j? vu?..we?ve seen it all before! They did the same to Dr. Hila Limann?s government. Undermine it with vile propaganda and then overthrow it. They forget, however, that times have changed. ?You may deceive all the people part of the time, and part of the people all the time, but not all the people all the time? ? Abraham Lincoln. Our darkest history should not be allowed to repeat itself. Their own leader?s cousin, Michael Agbotui Soussoudis described them as ?crooks?: ?Mr. Michael Agbotui Soussoudis, co-founder of the Egle Party, has said President Rawlings is surrounded by over two thousand crooks and people of questionable character who feed him with nothing but lies?isn't it amazing that the very people who used accountability to measure the success of others in the past denied me a certificate to form a political party because of the word accountability?" ? Soussoudis Again! Takes on the NDC and Lashes at ?Crooks? , The Ghanaian Chronicle.

In an interview with the Daily Trust of Nigeria during a visit there, Rawlings stated ?The government of Ghana is not performing and the move to arraign me before any court is a distraction as survival tactics. All these allegations, therefore, are false? We all know there hasn?t been any move to arraign him in court since the Kufuor Administration came to power five years ago. So obviously what he said was a pack of lies designed to tarnish the image of the President. Just before the 2004 elections he wrote to President Obasanjo of Nigeria, making absurd allegations about our President to the Nigerian. As if the Nigerian is our prefect. Hear Rawlings: ?It has come to light that approximately 700,000 names of eligible voters principally in the Volta and Northern Regions of Ghana have been removed either deliberately or in error. On the other hand, persons whose identity and eligibility to vote have not been certified, are being allowed to register even though the statutory period for voter registration ended some two months ago ? Ironically, no one in Ghana knew what this man was talking about. Seven hundred thousand names removed? Leaving how many people in the voter?s register in the Volta Region, 20,000? Astonishingly, like the Lens newspaper, this same man turned around and accused others ?They have always been telling lies, a situation which has been compelling me to also come out to tell the truth? ? The Chronicle. Indeed, the former President has a weird concept of Truth. For sure, his definition of truth is not mainstream. He lives in his own autistic world?anyone who doesn?t see things his way is an enemy.

?Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.? ? Abe Lincoln. The character of the NDC and its founder is known to everyone who dares to be objective, including the NDC itself. When it suits them they?ll make any allegation whether true or false. It?s only when they have an internal division that you see the true opinions the NDC members themselves have of their leader. During their presidential primary when Rawlings was forcing Mills to the presidential candidature slot over Dr. Botchwey, Sly Akakpovie, the Ashanti regional secretary of the party described his leader?s methods as ?shocking and disgraceful?. His mouth reeks of foul odor. And anytime he opens his mouth, he invites Ghanaians to take a look at his real soul and see his true character. Good old Abe said ?Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.?

Sadly, as a nation we?ve taken our eyes off the ball and focused on trivial issues. We?ve stopped talking about Education, Healthcare, Agriculture, Industry, the Economy, Infrastructural development, Human Resource development. Instead we are so engrossed in making wild allegations. Those who think that by coming up with the wildest allegation which cannot even be substantiated they?ll win themselves political power are living in a fool?s paradise. They are burying their head in the sand, like the proverbial ostrich. They fail to see that if you demonize the office of the presidency for the sake of mischief the good people of this country will see through it. They have a history of taking the people of this country for granted, thinking that we are a bunch of fools, and they have to right to dictate to us, hence their difficulty in understanding why since 1992, they have lost base in the geopolitics of this country. Ghanaians will teach them again a lesson they will never forget in 2008. If they want to do politics let them do it by the rules of the game. You can?t just criticize without offering any alternatives - telling people that they should wait till you come to power then we?ll know your programs. For 20 years were you in power, and you couldn?t achieve much, yet you expect Kufuor with a fifth of the time you were in power (i.e. 4 years) to turn this country around? It?s always easier to destroy than to build. Ghanaians should be left alone by these thugs to painstakingly build their country one brick at a time! Remember HIPC? What didn?t they say about it? ?Kufuor is disgracing our country, he?s selling us out, etc, etc.? When we started having our debts slashed and the government started reinvesting the saving in the people, their MPs started crying for more and more of the HIPC savings. Short-sighted bunch indeed! When the National Health Service was being inaugurated they worked assiduously to move Labor unions to stand up against their own interests. They saw the success of a primary healthcare policy not as in the interest of the ?ordinary Ghanaian? as we like to say, but as a political victory that would aid the Kufuor administration. How sad! ?If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.? ? Abraham Lincoln. So far the NDC has failed in that aspect woefully.

The NDC started this year with ?petroleum wars? when the administration initiated steps to deregulate the petroleum sector with the increase in petroleum prices. Yet back in 2000, this is what their own founder said, ?PRESIDENT Jerry John Rawlings has warned that unless the nation faces the reality and adjusts the prices of petroleum products it could face grim periods. He said there are problems in the horizon and Ghanaians should be prepared to pay the right prices for petrol if the country is to avoid shortages and disruptions in economic activities. "Government cannot subsidise fuel if it is to carry out development programmes", President Rawlings told a durbar of ACDR activists in Kumasi at the weekend to mark ACDR Day. President Rawlings said the options opened to the nation are limited and warned that the prospects could be gloomy. He noted that even countries like Nigeria that export oil have been hit by the crisis and dismissed opposition contention that the government is incapable of managing the economy.?- Lets Adjust Fuel Prices to Face Realities ? JJ (Daily Graphic). Yet this same Rawlings with his NDC leads an irresponsible group, the CJA, to make noise when that same policy is carried out. His hypocrisy is indeed legendary! In 2000, he knew that by subsidizing petroleum we were mortgaging our future, yet he lacked the courage to tackle the bull by the horn. Fast-forward to 2005, when a more courageous person takes that decision, he wants to undermine it. Kufuor will go, but Ghana will live on! We must therefore do the right things for Ghana. No President who is just after cheap popularity will increase the price of petroleum products as Kufuor did. It?s obvious that it?s to free subsidy resources for social ventures that he implemented that policy. He has our future at heart than his predecessor who knew the right thing yet did not do it when he had the chance. ?The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.? And ?you cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.? ? Abe Lincoln.

So when the NDC propagandist machine realized that Ghanaians are not buying their petroleum politricks and their Wahala Concert Party, they resorted to attacking the President through a business transaction the President?s son, Chief Addo-Kufuor, had made. The President?s son, a 41 year-old business man, secures funding from a private bank to buy a hotel and the NDC propagandists tell us it?s unethical. Now let?s break things down to common sense. At 41 years is Chief an adult or not? Can a man or woman at 41 years old not enter into a business transaction in Ghana? Is that what we are saying? Can he not negotiate with a private bank to finance a purchase for which he will pay back with interests? In a country whose life expectancy is pegged at 56 years, I doubt if a 41 year old man with his own family responsibilities is considered a minor or a kid. Let?s get serious here, people! If it?s not wrong for a 41 year old man to form a consortium, finance a hotel purchase or any business transaction, then one can draw the conclusion that the only reason why the NDC is making noise is that Chief?s father is the President. Now I would have been the first to call for an investigation if there was ample reason to believe that the funding of that hotel came from state coffers. As of now, not even one soul is making that point?the point which would have mattered most. We?ve all accepted that he financed the hotel through private funds. So what?s illegal about that then? Can?t a president?s son or daughter own property in his own motherland? Are we saying that Chief Kufuor should have instead invested in Afghanistan or what? What?s wrong with us, folks? Since when did private business transactions that did not affect the state adversely becomes a subject of public scrutiny or curiosity? People are not even talking about the jobs that will come out of this entrepreneur?s investment; instead we are talking about nonsensical things.

It?s interesting that the whole saga is been spurned on by the same bunch of people with anti-business agendas who 20 years ago confiscated the assets of full-blooded Ghanaians like Siaw, Dr. Addison, among others for no reason and run down other entrepreneurs like the Appiah-Menkas. These same people, now in opposition, are showing their true colors. They haven?t changed one bit! The Ato Ahwoi?s after persecuting Ghanaian investors and running them down, took bank-guaranteed government loans and opened their own businesses whilst still in office. Do you remember CashPro? Wasn?t Ahwoi still a minister when he started that company? Was it a conflict-of-interest? Who cried foul that he couldn?t own a company? Now we are talking about a man who is not even in office. He?s not even a politician. Let?s get serious folks. Chief Kufuor has every right to own any property in Ghana legitimately. If the NDC wants to investigate how a private businessman got to form a consortium and have private banks finance his purchase, they can go ahead?BUT NOT with my tax-cedis! Let them finance their own stupid investigation. Or they can use our tax-money but be liable for causing financial loss to the state if they don?t come out with any malfeasance that affects the state. They can choose to clown themselves, but the rest of the nation should get back to the people?s business! President Kufuor has continued to show his class even under such dirty politicking. History will always remember his demeanor and professionalism. He should continue with the fundamentals of the economy that he?s been working on, and let the NDC shout their lungs out. I?m not surprised at all. Their jealousy led them to demolish another Ghanaian?s fully-completed 5 million dollars hotel in one day even during a period when we thought we were under the rule of law! And they did it without any court order. A hotel that could have provided jobs to people and helped them put food on their family?s table was smashed down in a day. Now they want to run down this other private venture with the potential to feed numerous families. By their fruits you shall know them, so the scripture says!

For over 4 years now the NDC have tried to hit President Kufuor with various wild allegations of impropriety hoping that a few will stick and cause damage to the public?s perception of him. Now we have known this man for 4 years now. We know his tolerance is impressive. We know he is respectful. We know he never raises his voice and always maintains his cool. We know he is willing to take hard decisions which he believes will help his country in the long-run no matter the political cost of that decision. We know he?s governed the last four years within the confines of the laws of this country. ?Let me not be understood as saying that there are no bad laws, nor that grievances may not arise for the redress of which no legal provisions have been made. I mean to say no such thing. But I do mean to say that although bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible, still, while they continue in force, for the sake of example they should be religiously observed.? ? Abe Lincoln. This our President has faithfully done in the last 4 years! We know his demeanor is not controversial and he prefers dialogue instead of confrontation or chaos. We also know the leader of the minority. We?ve known him for 20 good years in government and 4 years in opposition. We know him to be intolerant of criticisms. We know of his many insults against various people at various times ? both physical and verbal. We know he talks by shouting at people. We know he?s lost his cool in public on many occasions. We know he shuns decisions that will cost him politically even when it will be in the country?s interest. We know he has always been an advocate for lawlessness, and chaos. We know confrontation is his style. The differences between these two leaders are as clear as day and night. Ghanaians have chosen the light. Post tenebres lux?after the darkness we have light.

The NDC continue to make political blunders. Instead of coming out with alternatives programs to service the needs of Ghanaians, they focus on cheap, dirty politics to score points. They are trying to siege the presidency by such propaganda. But history tells us that truth will always triumph over falsehood, good over evil. Kufuor will serve out his mandate. It was Ghanaians who gave him the mandate to administer the affairs of our country and not a political party ? whether NPP or NDC. We sometimes behave as if Ghana is owned by just the NDC and NPP. Those apolitical ones are also Ghanaians, and should have a stake in the country. And a lot of them detest such nonsense that the NDC spew out each passing day. We need a viable opposition not the kind of NDC-politics. The Presidency of Ghana is the embodiment of the Ghanaian people. You can choose to hate the person of the president as much as you like, but don?t try to run down his policies (especially when you provide no alternative), neither should you try to ruin the reputation and prestige of our highest office. We will never forgive you.



Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Kwamena, Ato