17.12.2003 Feature Article

Political Gymnastics

Political Gymnastics
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So he has finally crossed carpet? And why are Ghanaians not surprised by this move? I can bet my very last cent that the likes of Kwamena Ahwoi, Tsatsu Tsikata (notwithstanding the legal ‘turbulence’ he must navigate) and Fred Ohene Kena must be laughing their hearts out presently. For them, the man was a phony little fake who preyed on the gullibility of the uninitiated to propel himself into the ranks of those that must be listened to. In terms of substance, he was considered a non-starter.

So who at all is “our man” and what is he about? Members of the opposition NDC would be quick to ascribe to him a move to monopolize Ghana’s energy business when he thought by dint of his nationality and alleged connections, he would be handed the whole industry on a silver platter. Those were the days when “Rawlings is my brother” flowed from his lips, perhaps faster than his cigars found their way towards the same orifice. They were interesting times indeed for here was a “been to” returning to his homeland in “style” and expecting more or less red carpet treatment from those who upon hindsight seemed to have known better.

The credentials he presented were mind blowing. Chief Executive of San Francisco Oil, Promoter of the People’s rights, Philanthropist, the man with the magic wand. What was conspicuously absent was his relegation of “the man with the golden gun”. Interestingly, the Ghana Armed Forces for reasons I was never able to deduce refused to do business with him, never mind that he presented a few items to some selected few within the top echelons of that institution. He took on Tsatsu with a take. He forced S.A Boateng at GNPC’s PR Department to work overtime. He ridiculed the entire workforce of the place and flung a can full of red ants into the pants of Ohene Kena. For him, they did not know the intricacies of the oil and energy business. He was the man. Did they not know that he had built power plants from South East Asia to heaven? Did they not know that his boss David Glass was prepared to stake everything they had made over the years in Ghana?

Ghanaians like tough talkers. There is no question about that. But when it comes to performers, everybody leaves that to the other person. Due diligence was conducted subtly by those whose duty it was to ensure that Ghana was not going to be milked dry once again. The reports were staggering. All he seemed to have to his name was some $36 million which he could never touch for they were effectively the property of his two children who would access this money upon attaining the legal age of maturity in the states. His life savings had been effectively squandered in one audacious move to reap from the stock markets. That was the day he almost put his head in a microwave to ‘sanitize it’ by his own account for making such a fool of himself. Thereafter, I presume he acquired his famous ‘air-conditioned hat’, ostensibly to cool off from the torment he was experiencing. And why not? The man was no George Soros. He was and is still small fry trying to play in the! big league of speculators. It has always been the basis upon which his fingers get burned badly.

Politics is a very interesting phenomenon. It avails all manner of people with an opportunity to flaunt their peccadilloes on the unsuspecting public. Once upon a time, even Gilchrist Olympio had the audacity to say he would stand for the presidency of Ghana if he so determined, never mind that he had no constituency in the state. Maybe the workers of the Abosso Glass Factory whom he had not paid for God knows how long would have voted from him. When the ruling NPP government withdrew the Diplomatic Passport he did not deserve in the first place, he screams “foul”. This digression is to shed light on what is taking place in Ghana today: failed businessmen-accusations-politics-carpet crossing-more accusations and eventually the self-destruct button is activated.


One thing made some of us admire the NPP right from the start. It was simply due to its impeccable credentials. Take it or leave it, those of us who were associated with the party in one way or the other saw quite early that no single individual towered above the party’s principles. Long after Africa was still caught up in promoting personality cults, the NPP in its capacity as the bearer of liberal-democratic principles espoused by Danquah and Busia hinged its organizing principles on infusing a sense of loyalty based on those very same principles. Yours truly is convinced that this is the strength of the NPP and until and unless it is broken, the party would ride higher and higher in the politics of Ghana. It is also the reason why the resignation of a Wereko-Brobby, the defection of an Inussah or the death of a B.K Adama does not destroy the party. The principles of Danquah and Busia are imbibed in the hearts and minds of the party’s adherents. They do ! not rest with standard bearers or personalities and this is the primary reason why the party did not disintegrate from its UP days upon the demise of both Danquah and Busia. It is thus not so difficult to see the difference between the NPP and other parties in which “some people” were in prison with the ‘leader’, others ‘suffered for 20 years in exile’ and so forth.

Even if H.E President Kufuor decided not to contest the upcoming elections or (God forbid) something untoward happens to him, the NPP would not suffer one bit. Its foundations are indeed strong. For those still in doubt, what else explains the phenomenon of a party that stayed in opposition for almost thirty years and still emerges as strong as ever especially within the context of African politics? It was not by dint of the personalities who in anycase were relatively deprived of business opportunities that would in turn enable them contribute meaningfully to the maintenance of party structures, or the fact that they had to flee the territory of their motherland for reasons best known to the security capos of the time. It was precisely because of the principles underpinning the party’s strength. NO SINGLE INDIVIDUAL IS GREATER THAN THE PARTY. It is not a cliché. It is indeed the practical reality.

This is why not even the General Secretary but rather a constituency officer can issue a statement making mockery of the defection and openly stating “good riddance”. No defector from the party has been able to take any chunk of its people with him/her to another party. If the man does not know this simple truth, he must have been so very misled. One was hoping against hope that our man would have learnt this important fact during his restless stint with the party. But that is beside the point. I wonder what the late Dr. Limann would have said of this move. Afterall he was a political scientist par excellence and would easily have seen through the implications of another Trojan horse joining what he and others so painstakingly established as part of their contribution towards making Ghana a pluralistic society. It would be interesting to see what transpires at any PNC congress to elect a flag bearer. But that is my good friend Dr. Mahama’s headache, not ou! rs.

We are waiting with bated breath to requote Totobi Quakyi regarding the issue of personalities in Ghana’s politics when asked by yours truly about an impending reshuffle and the expectation that one particular personality must necessarily take up a certain portfolio. His response then was as appropriate as it is today: “on whose forehead is it inscribed ‘I am the one to solve the problem of the sector’”? If our man can solve Ghana’s problems like the one he has been promising since he first cruised into town, we wish him Godspeed. As to the essence of political gymnastics itself, yours truly can only exclaim: “who the cap fits………….” Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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