Happy republic day to you in advance. I wish I could say congratulations to the nominees for the State Awards, but unfortunately I cannot. That is simply because while there are some among them who deserve to be honoured, there are quite a number who, like what happened last year, have together with this year's devalued the significance, reverential status and credibility of the State Awards.
Forgive me, but as I heard the nominees been read out on radio and later when I grabbed the dailies, I was inclined to ask what at all qualifies one to be recognised and decorated with the State Award. Do not get me wrong, the president has all the power and authority to do what did, and I think that he deserves commendation for that. I am sorry however to say that sometimes, these decisions must be well thought through and his advisers may be the ones to blame here.
Last year when a number of people were honoured to commemorate the 50th anniversary of our Independence, it without doubt marked the beginning of the devaluation of the awards scheme. It was for the simple reason that the nominees list which was made up of many hardworking and dedicated people who worked and contributed significantly to the forward march of the country, was diluted by a list of many other non-deserving persons.
I remember many discussions at the time about the contribution and appropriateness of the latter group of nominees especially when compared to other more qualified persons within the industry, profession and 'club' of the nominees. And the large number of awardees led some to say that very soon almost everybody in the country will be honoured.
Just when we had forgotten about that, a list for 2008 is announced and it generates so much controversy because the country's major opposition leader is included. It is good the opposition kept quite on that, because I am not sure what justifiable arguments they could possibly make. But the outbursts and politicisation of that singular nomination shocked many including the moderates in the ruling party. More shocking was the claim by some that the president is out to derail the campaign of his party's candidate by deliberately honouring the country's former Vice President. The former Vice President is leading the major opposition party to the polls.
One interesting argument by some ruling party operatives was that, why honour the former Veep when the person under whom he served has not been awarded. For them, they will be much more comfortable to see the man they love to hate for purely political reasons (and no one can fault them for that, because the reverse is also true) honoured than his former Vice. But is the Award not about contribution rather than seniority?
And it came to pass that the president decided to satisfy the ruling party, because the allegations and unprintable words used against him in the wake of the release of the earlier list, should worry any smart mind.
Now, the ruling party's candidate has been listed and will be decorated on July 03rd. So will many others added probably to satisfy various groups rather than a recognition of their contribution to this country. The opposition party had its leadership in parliament listed (they've all declined the award) together with another opposition presidential candidate. Then there are some former ministers of state and government functionaries including the person who signed the statement announcing the list of award winners. Then there are others whose relevance even within their chosen fields is difficult to determine looking at the talents, expertise, contributions and stature of many others in that field.
The chair of the EC, the King of Asante among other distinguished personalities will be decorated on the same stage as these people... while other more deserving people including some suffering and long serving teachers, farmers, civil servants etc are ignored.
As Ambassador K.B. Asante said, the long list of awardees included people whose only reason for nomination is because they were ministers, and it makes one wonder what the criteria or criterion for nomination was. For all intents and purposes, is being a former minister enough to merit a state award?
The tenure of the present IGP has recorded some rather difficult times for the police service including the cocaine controversies, which even got him appearing before Mrs. Wood's committee. There's been police brutalities, police murders, rise in crime etc forcing the new Interior Minister to issue some orders, or? And he deserves a state honour for all that? Don't get me wrong. The IGP and his men have and are doing their very best, but does he deserve an award for that best?
What about Andrews Awuni? Can you fathom that? Kwabena Agyepong may be excused and explained together with others as a recognition of their contribution to the work of the NPP both in opposition and in government, but Mr. Awuni I am not sure.
Same way I am not sure what informed the nomination of Randy Abbey. He joins others from the journalism profession recognised for their contribution to the country's growth. I was lost for words completely. He's in the same league with Malik Baako and Gina Blay? Where veteran Mrs. Yeboah Afari of the Ghanaian Times was last year?
Of what value is the State Award then? As K. B. Asante said, maybe because we do not know the criteria, I better keep quiet. But let me ask? If indeed, we need that long list and necessarily wanted to recognise people from various professions necessarily, then what about Kofi Coomson, Ebo Quansah, Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh? And when we come to broadcasting, what about Komla Dumor?
Tell you what? I do not think that we need to recognise all these people just because they do what they do, period. It makes it difficult to defend the position held by some and I also tend to agree largely that the award has lost some value. Thank God the awardees are forgotten about after the ceremony and have no initials against their names when written out as we have in the UK and elsewhere.
And I think that the Otumfuo should in fact have been nominated and decorated last year both for himself and on behalf of the Asante kingdom. Don't you think so? But to nominate him now and list against his name the fact that he chairs the committee of eminent persons on Dagbon is a disservice. He should have been recognised as the King of the Asantes and for the many far reaching contributions he has made both to his kingdom and the nation. We all know that the Dagbon matter is far from resolved and the committee's last decision was even contested by one of the parties, which means they are far from resolution. Yet we are going to award persons on the committee?
As for those who are leading their news bulletins by questioning why the former president was not included, now he has and he says NO. What do we say to him? I dare say that the originators probably knew that is what will happen but said let's go ahead. Even if it were me, I would do same. But why was he excluded earlier, same way the NPP Candidate was excluded?
I am possibly sure that his earlier exclusion from the list was exciting news for growing non-entities in the Volta Region like the opposition party's representative for the South Tongu Constituency. Kenneth Dzirasah, who like many other politicians of our country, mushroomed from no where into limelight and to riches, can today out of disrespect to the institution that has made him, afford to blurt out insulting words.
The Chronicle two weeks ago reported him claiming that the former president who is the founder of the party of which he's an MP, has more or less wronged him, and therefore he'll not campaign for the party's parliamentary candidate for South Tongu. He is rumoured to be supporting the activities of the ruling party's candidate for the constituency who also doubles as DCE for the area. He has gone ahead to attempt lobbying the youth of the area to vote against his party's candidate.
This is a man who has no strong footing in the constituency and has only managed a three-term reign because of the party he's representing and not his personal stature. Can that person seriously help anybody win his election? If that were possible, his chosen heir will have won the primaries, or?
The very party structure that ensured that he won the seat on all three occasions after he surreptitiously fled the Ayawaso West area (where he was MP between 1992 and 1996) upon realising that he will lose, will help in pushing Kobla Mensah Woyome to victory.
At the time Dzirasah wanted to shift camp to South Tongu there was a sitting MP for the party, Oscar Ameyedowo, but the party softened things for him. Today, after 16 years and growing his political stature and making some good money in the process, Mr. Dzirasah can after realising that he had done little to win the confidence of the people, and failing to galvanise and be an effective lobbyist for the people, can afford to say all the negative things he's been saying.
One thing he needs to realise also is that, many in the constituency know that he has no real influence in the area and even his party. His new stance if intended to lure the NPP candidate won't wash because the candidate and the people of the constituency generally know very well that personally, he has no influence.
After all, the NPP candidate is also a daughter of the area, but his politics of divisiveness and attempts at tribal politicking must be condemned in other to safeguard the peace and serenity that has always existed in the area.
His claim that the former president who visits and has a home in the constituency has been tormenting him is very unfortunate, because this is a man who as sitting MP, and prior to the primaries to elect a new candidate for the constituency announced in an open letter his preferred candidate, and tried rather dangerously to foment a tribal and ethnic war.
Displaying grave political immaturity following the realisation that Mr. Woyome was miles ahead of his candidate, Mr. Dzirasah in that letter, which he addressed to Mr. Woyome and copied to the former president, the national chairman, presidential candidate among others, accused him of lying to the former president about him and claimed that he is not a true son of the area.
His candidate nonetheless lost and since then, he has tried various moves including deliberate lies during interviews with the press to paint the picture that without Jerry Rawlings, Mr. Woyome would not have won the primaries. Assuming that is the case, isn't it significant enough evidence that he's a growing non-entity in the politics of the NDC and the South Tongu area? Isn't it the case that even people from his own background find the former president a better listener and neighbour than him who hails from there?
This is the same man who was visibly angry and has had a near frozen relationship with some of his colleagues in parliament because of a purely political and principled (in the strategies of that party) position that meant he wasn't going to be the second deputy speaker again.
Can that person be trusted? No. Is Rawlings the course of his downfall, No?
Kobla Woyome and Kate Aglah are two matured peopled and children of the area that the people will choose between. Mr. Dzirasah's influence cannot help either of them and it is about time he stops pretending that should Mrs. Aglah win, then it is his influence that helped her, or that it is the absence of his influence and support that caused Kobla Woyome to lose.
Credit: By Xoese DOGBE
Stanislav Xoese DOGBE is the Managing Editor of the dailyEXPRESS, JIVE & GAMES Newspapers. Formerly of JoyFM where he was Head of Talk Programs, Stanislav is currently a Marketing Communications Consultant. [email protected] – standogbe.blogspot.com