There Is No Gratitude In Politics - Mr Agyapong

Wed, 20 Jun 2012 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

From the outset, I would like my readers to know that I am not an Agyapong apologist, but a concerned person who tries to see the positive side of every situation. However, if my choice of words appears to lead you to that observation then let me redirect that my effort is for the interest of the nation. Now, ever since Ken Agyapong exposed himself with his clarion call of arms against his fellow countrymen, I have been looking around a little bit to understand what makes the man tick. And I have come to the conclusion that he is impatient for his country. A questionable virtuous sentiment I used to share years back, which I saved myself the pain and frustration by expunging it from my heart, because it does nothing, but bouts of endless heartaches. Nevertheless, that impatience is now biting at his heels and has become his nemesis.

When you happen to sojourn outside Ghana for a while, for example, in Europe or America, and you contrast the way things are done in Ghana, it makes you so angry you turn to use language that when asked to be repeated will have to be done with a subpoena. In 2007 Agyapong had an interview with David Ampofo, which I saw quite recently as a result of snooping around. He spoke at length on many subjects, but what really came out clearly, and got me thinking was the fact that he felt the country was not moving at a pace that he can identify with. And I am sorry to say that you will need to live outside Ghana for you to appreciate what he was talking about. I personally never understood the song by A.B. Crentsil, Toronto by night – Ma Mendwen Meho, until I travelled. Though, I did enjoy the melody and the rhythm the lyrics never struck a philosophical chord with me until I experienced the drudgery of making a living in London.

The concept of Americanism is based on individualism, and that is a conservative notion that built America to be the most powerful and wealthiest nation in human history. Even a card carrying Democrat like John F Kennedy, who believes in big government, was able to come out of his traditional comfort zone to make that timeless statement: ‘think not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country’. It is individuals who build nations; government is only a facilitator. And when the idea of individualism is stifled by government then regression, relative to contemporary nations, becomes the order of the day. In Ghana the mentality of mediocrity is mind boggling. The mantra is: when I get my one house and one car I will be okay. One house and one car is the start, but that shouldn’t be the ultimate, and that is what most Ghanaians settle for, and it goes to the heart of government.

The army of government bureaucrats that our educational system churn out every year can only content themselves with one house and one car, because that is the best their salary can offer them. But cynically, they turn to sabotage, and become a stumbling block in the path of those who are endowed with the natural capabilities to break free, and perhaps, help others to mount on wings. This contemptuous attitude forms the foundation of our national life, which has mutated into diverse manifestation. All successful people are up to no good, all government officials are corrupt, though there is an iota of truth in that, political opponents are lump together into that mortal enemy syndrome, and for that matter nothing good can be offered by an opponent. And this has poisoned our body politics to the detriment of the national economy since independence.

On this basis Agyapong cannot seems to bring himself to see his opponents in power for the next four years. Because his opponents can only be seen in the lens of my descriptions above – he is angry about it. When Winston Churchill satirically said: ‘democracy is the worse form of government except all the other’ he did not have any particular meaning in mind – and I am being very presumptuous here. Be that as it may, it can also mean that the electorate can also make wrong choices. There are a whole lot of factors that goes into deciding who to vote for when in the polling booth. I personally believe, in our current circumstances, it should be purely based on economics. On the other hand, some make their decision based on weird reasons infused with anger. One of the idiotic reasons for the electorates voting against NPP in 2008 was because Nana Akufo-Addo is arrogant. What has arrogance got to do with managing a country’s economy? And it doesn’t happen only in Ghana, but also in Britain the mother of modern democracy. John Major lost the 1997 general election as a result of such flimsy reasons. He had managed to bring interest rate down after the turbulent ERM fiasco and the economy was doing very well but they lost the election as a result of the indiscretion of his ministers and MPs in their private life. As much as I may disagree with such benchmark as the basis for electoral choices that is the prerogative of the voter. And I can get angry as much as I want, but that is their birthright, and there is nothing I can do about it.

However, Agyapong thinks he should be able to do something about it, because he is impatient. He wants to be able to build a replica of the Petronas Tower or the Empire State building. But this is a democracy the electorates have the right to vote themselves into destruction like it did happen in Germany. The only consolation is that human beings turn to learn life experience through the hard way. His impatience has made him mad. And in politics you can be angry, but you cannot be mad. Because immediately you lose your mind you have lost the ability to make sound judgement. In the Greek world of two millennia and four centuries ago the gods dominated their lives, and they even had a god for coughing. Don’t take me serious I am trying to be funny. However, according to a statement attributed to Euripides: ‘those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad’. There are no gods anywhere to destroy you; it is the time bomb of pride, ambition, avarice, megalomania, condescension that sits like little demons in the depths of our hearts waiting for a finger on the trigger. We are all ambitious to some degree, but there are those who don’t care the number of human corpses they trample on to get to the top. And this is what separates people with humanity in their hearts, and people who don’t care a hoot who they hurt.

I don’t think Agyapong lacks humanity in his heart, but he is so mad that he has become a liability to his party. He is a businessman who provides a lot of employment for Ghanaians of all persuasions. Though, any smart guy can argue that it is for his own interest, on the other hand, a citizen who uses his own personal fortune to build school blocks and offer scholarship to his unfortunate countrymen to university level cannot be that bad. He seems to have the interest of the nation at heart so what possibly went wrong. The undeniable fact is we live in an interconnected world. Our deeds can trigger certain actions with a domino effect that can open some canister of worms that we are not prepared to deal with. Ghana is stuck in a neutral gear; that might be unacceptable. Yet, we are talking about a country. There are people who think big like he does, and there are people who are also smart. There are people who are slow as well as lazy, and will not lift a finger to help themselves. Immediately you want to push these people beyond what they can take you become a fascist.

I can understand why he is angry, but his choice of words is what has destroyed a genuine anger into the pits of hell. If what Agyapong spewed was said by some street corner demagogue I think it would have passed without causing any ruffle feathers. The unfortunate sporadic ethnic clashes that occurred, like the one in the Central Region, is being attributed to his comments by a politician like Ama Benyiwa Doe who doesn’t seem to know her left from right. But it’s all politics. When you are in it every word you utter will be weighed, dissected, examined, digested and in the final analysis people will take what they want to take from it.

Finally, as I listened to his interview with David Ampofo my heart went up to him. But in a recent one, which he opened his heart to Adom FM, he took a swipe at his party for abandoning him over his gaffe. He even went to the extent of naming certain party functionaries whose behaviour was unforgivable. And in his bitterness questioned whether his party is worth dying for. And this is where I parted company with him, because the first lesson he should have learnt when he entered that unforgiving bunch of selfish Ghanaian clique is that there is no gratitude in politics. They are like the proverbial blanket – just a necessary evil. And his colleagues are not going to fall on their swords for him; it is very sad that he had to learn it the hard way. I think he should even be lucky that they did not out rightly call for his prosecution, but rather formally distance themselves from that corrosive tirade, and perhaps, should be grateful that they did not drag his corpse in the open.

Going on a radio station, and browbeating his party members to fall in line is not going to achieve anything. Ghanaians are very forgiving; he can do some penance across the country to suck out the poison. The toddler he kicked mercilessly is still in a coma; it is not yet a cadaver. He can still whisper into the ears, perchance, it will be revived.

Our democracy is still fragile. The various tribes co-exist on a knife edge. The fact is the division that was created before independence is yet to heal. Some of the scars are still fresh, because they were picked just before the advent of the fourth republic and some selfish politicians have been exploiting it for their selfish interest. It will take more than a generation or two, and that is even a conservative estimate, for the people called Ghanaians to be fused together as one people. The time when a person with a powerful name like Komla Gbedemah cannot speak Ewe or Nii Quaye cannot speak Ga and Kwamena Koomson cannot speak Fanti is when we will be out of the woods. For now I think Mr Kennedy Ohene Agyapong should expand his business as much as he can and create an enduring competitive legacy for the future generation to pick up the mantle.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr. London baidoo_philip@yahoo.co.uk

Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina