The evil monster hiding behind Attivor's rant is not tribalism

Tue, 10 May 2016 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

Since Dzifa Attivor’s misguided verbal incontinence captured the attention of the nation, I have read a lot of op-eds from the usual suspects, rightfully, condemning her. While they kept jumping from one place to the other with righteous indignation like stallions on heat, they failed to tackle the real bogeyman pulling the strings. All that they did was proffering whitewash reasons and solutions. There is no doubt that the bus rebranding, which has become a de facto skeleton in her closet, scares her anytime she opens it. And she wishes the clock could be turned back to conjure it out of existence. However, since time travel is only a fantasy, she might have to wait for some genius in the distant future to grant her that privilege. That is, if her adversaries will give it to her on a silver platter.

It is a rare event for a minister of state to resign in Ghana. I can literally count on my fingers the number of times it has happened since the inception of the Fourth Republic. I will find it very weird for anybody not to comprehend why she went on that tangent, or such extreme to muscle votes for her party to stay in power. Obviously, for Mrs Attivor to resign over the bus scandal, it means there is a lot of juicy stuff for even an amateur prosecutor to hit the bullseye. They say a drowning man will grasp at anything, and this woman clearly doesn’t want to go down alone, but prepared to take down a whole nation along with her.

In my whole adult life, I have never seen such admission of guilt. Her rant on the campaign trail is an unequivocal tacit admission of swindling the people her heart, supposedly, bleeds for. If Mahama is really serious in fighting corruption, her people should be visiting her in jail rather than stoking up ethnic tension in the run up to the November elections.

It will be ludicrous for anybody to think that Mrs Attivor is not smart. We might find her actions objectionable, but she is acting in her own interest, or much for a better word self-preservation. We seem to lose our head when our politicians and opinion leaders go off the rail over tribal and religious comments, but we do not ask why they keep happening and what can be done to nip it in the bud. The fears of most Ghanaians that ethnic tension will one day blow up is real. And we will have ourselves to blame if we don’t do anything when it is within our means.

I will argue that socialism is the cause of this self-destructive behaviour; a canker which will probably light the fuse that will cause trouble in the country. We want to put this straight jacket of socialism on a country as diverse in opinion, ethnicity and religiosity as night and day. I will advise those who stubbornly hold tight to this idea to re-read Plato’s Republic, and evaluate if this concept really fits a country like Ghana.

The trumpeting of the Nordic countries as a model to follow is as false as they keep lying shamelessly about everything they put out there in the public domain. If they sincerely believe what they say, then they are as ignorant as a toddler. Not too long ago Bernie Sanders, during one of the U.S. presidential primary debates touted the Denmark model of socialism as what he wants for Americans, which solicited a quick disclaimer from the Danish Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who happened to be in America at the time, that the Danish model is not socialism. The Nordic model is a redistribution of income or the transfer of income from the rich to the poor. It is different from the government running a transport business, which enables a person like Dzifa to help herself with the taxpayer’s money. In the Nordic countries, most of their population are homogeneous, and for that matter, very easy to promote meritocracy. But in our country, you put a cabinet together and people expect you to be proactive to the ethnic and religious composition of the country and not selecting the best people qualified for the job. How does a country progress on the back of such a stupid ideology? And the reason for such demand is that when you have a representative of your religion or tribe he will push for legislation and fight for a greater share of the national cake whether deserving or not.

If the government is not involved in the transport business it will be inconceivable for this massaging of invoice to happen. The whole saga wouldn’t have entered the equation. It is very difficult to avoid the temptation when you have access to huge budget, which you can order around at will. If you are a minister who is allocated huge budget for procurement you become like a bachelor headmaster of a girls’ school or a mariner who is shipwrecked on the high seas with water everywhere, but none to drink. Obviously, that is why we don’t encourage bachelors to head a girl’s school; that important job is mainly held by respectable middle aged women.

There are certain governmental responsibilities that cannot be allocated to the private sector and, without a shred of a doubt, I concede to that. On the other hand, what needs to be done is to limit the number of government remit that can be potentially abused by ministers, and we will be in the right direction. The government doesn’t have to be involved in establishing factories like the tomato factory in the North, or the Komenda sugar factory. These are all potential avenues for abuse. It is not the government occupation to create jobs. The responsibility of the government is to provide the conducive environment for the private sector to provide the jobs. It is when the government establishes a business and the leadership happens to go to one particular ethnic group that the opportunity arises for those without scruples to help their tribesmen when they are even not deserving. The chain of events that leads to ethnic strife lies in the strata of socialism, and if we want to avoid it socialism must be jettisoned from a society as diverse as ours.

I am very much aware that the ignorant ones among them will argue that the private sector is not doing its job of providing employment. One of them actually post relentless garbage about the inability of the private sector taking up the responsibility since nobody is stopping them. The question is how do they expect the private sector to invest huge sums of borrowed capital when inflation is destroying 10% of their investment every year before they even produce a single product? In fact, last year it was 16.9% and the year before that it was 15.5% courtesy of the government. How do they expect the private sector to plan and build, let’s say, a water treatment plant under such devastating inflationary pressure? The private sector will do its job when the government provides favourable macroeconomic environment. When this happen, we will not have the government meddling in the production of electricity, water etc. that offer government ministers the opportunity to steal taxpayers’ money with impunity. Clearly, there will be no need to whip up tribal sentiments to get off the hook.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr



Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina