Arrogance, like pride, comes before a fall. In the case of politicians, it is often a fall from political power and all its trappings. Usually when politicians feel they are entrenched in their positions they quietly hum to themselves the well-known chant made popular at Ghanaian sporting events: “any challenger, no challenger”. It is sad to say but arrogance, like rigor mortis in a day-old corpse, is beginning to set in after the recent election victory of the NPP government. Otherwise, why on earth, would a Minister of State stoop so low as to make such infantile and mind-boggling comments as Mr Felix Owusu Agyepong, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, was reported to have made against Professor Kwaku Asare (“Minister Blasts CHRAJ and Prof 'Kwaku Azar' Asare”, Joy Online, 16 December 2004)?
The Minister is alleged to have commented on a CHRAJ report on a complaint brought before it by Professor Asare about the granting of loans to members of Parliament. In his comments, Mr Agyepong is reported to have said that Parliament considers the report to be “based on somebody who had not contributed anything to the economy of the country”. The Minister is also reported to have continued that Professor Asare (aka Kwaku Azar) “…is someone who sits in the comfort of his home in America whose education was possibly sponsored by the state and contributes nothing to the economy. Comments from such people should be treated with the contempt that it deserves”.
Let's get a few things straight Mr Agyepong. I am not writing on anyone's promptings. What's got me going is the fact that whiles you may have had Prof Asare in your sights, your shots have unwittingly hit most of us in the Diaspora who made the choice to come abroad to pursue our personal well-being. With that at the back of your mind, let me address the two points you made against Kwaku Azar.
Claim: That Azar has not contributed anything to the economy of the country. How did you determine the extent of Azar's contribution to the economy of Ghana? Sure he is not in Parliament but, Mr Agyepong, you don't have to be a law maker to have contributed to Ghana's economy. Most of us in the Diaspora have not built economic empires in Ghana. We don't own transport fleets nor housing estates. If you would check with the Bank of Ghana (or your fellow Minister Osafo Maafo), however, I'm sure you would find that an increasing proportion of the nation's foreign exchange earnings comes from the pockets of those of us in the Diaspora, including Azar, through the remittances we send to our folks back home. That alone is enough evidence of the role we play. Because of our remittances and the sweat and toil of our hard-working relatives back home, there's enough foreign exchange to import the goods and services needed in the economy. Because of our remittances and the sweat and toil of our hard-working relatives back home you get to earn a few dollars when you travel out of the country (through per diem payments). Unless you have a very different understanding of what 'economy' means or what it takes to contribute to it, you should withdraw your thoughtless statement.
Second, what has the validity of CHRAJ's report got to do with where the plaintiff resides? Democracy is about giving everyone a voice in the community irrespective of their status or well-being. Yes, Azar resides in America and possible in relative comfort. So what? Yes, he may have benefited from state sponsorship (he has denied it in a response to you and has challenged you to check with the relevant authorities). So what? Does his case have merit? That is the question and from all accounts CHRAJ seems to think so. The government is better served by responding to it on its merits, and with politeness, not the crudity that is usually the forte of primary school kids who resort to insults when they realise they lack ammunition to respond intelligently.
The Minister's comments give a frightening indication of how he (and possibly the NPP government) intends to respond to criticism in the next term. What he and other Ministers, and party functionaries, should understand is that they are servants of the people. We are the ones with the thumbs to hire and fire. It would do Mr Agyepong and the NPP government a world of good if they receive criticism in good faith no matter where it comes from and answer with the maturity that was displayed by ordinary folks during the recent elections.
For the Minister's information, Professor Asare has been one of the staunchest supporters of the NPP on Ghanaweb. Any action he takes or criticism from him is intended to enhance good governance and not to tear the government down. From where I stand, the Minister has shot himself and the NPP government in the foot and his only recourse is to publicly apologise to CHRAJ and Professor Kwaku Asare for the brutish and childish remarks. Short of that the President should show leadership and strip the Minister of his position. If this is how a Minister treats a pro-NPP personality, imagine what hell would be let loose on sympathisers of the opposition. God help us! Alfred Opoku Family Canberra, Australia Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.