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13.03.2009 Feature Article

We Shall Overcome………But When?

I am in a great deal of pain. It is not the pain one feels when one is hurt or injured. It is not a physical pain, but it is pain anyway. The pain is felt in my marrows. I wish someone would share this pain with me. It is a pain I have carried in my system for quite a long-time. It is a pain one feels when one encounters danger but is helpless to do anything about it. It is the pain of fear itself.

I have had this nagging pain of fear for two reasons. It is the pain of fear for my party, the New Patriotic Party and my country. I don't know which direction the party and the country are heading to. But no matter what happens, we are going and Heaven knows where we are going. But surely we are all agreed on one thing. We are moving forward.

On Wednesday, 11th March, 2009, I had a surprise visit from someone I least expected to see. Guess who the visitor was? It was none other than the Honourable Emmanuel Aboagye Dodogya, the MP for Afram Plains North. He had paid an unscheduled visit to a colleague of mine and knowing how passionate I am with politics, he brought him to me. Even though we belonged to different political traditions, the discourse went on amicably. During the discussion, two things struck me about the MP. One was his simple and humble mien and the other had to do with his age. He was very young. At 31 years, he looks too boyish. I referred to him as the youngest Member of Parliament. I may be mistaken but I found him to be too simple, affable and knowledgeable.

When he left, I started asking myself some questions. Would Honourable Emmanuel Aboagye have got the nod as a Parliamentary candidate if he had wanted to stand on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party? The answer is obviously in the negative. The party has no room for the up and coming committed party men and women. The party has room for those in suits, and those who are stingingly rich. Ordinary chaps like, those of us who are 'broke men' have no opportunity of rising to the top. Thus we are perpetually relegated to the background. Those at the helm of affairs have ensured that like members of the politburo, their positions are firmly entrenched. Thus, it is easier for the needle to pass through the eye of a camel than a bloke man to become a Parliamentary or Presidential Candidate on the ticket of the Party. Where is the Sheik I.C Quaye we used to know? He was very humble, simple, affable and ordinary. He lived among the people of Nima and its environs and mixed freely with them. He shared what he had with them and the people loved him for that. But on becoming a Minister he shed all the toga of human kindness, gentility and traces of humility and what have you. His residence became a stockade and that alienated him further from the masses. The same applies to other members of the party. Would it have been better to miss ministerial appointment so that we don't lose sight of reality?

Just before the National Convention of the Party at Legon in December, 2007, I visited a top notched of the party and the discussion moved from one topic to the other. But the one that took the greater part of our time had to do with ingratitude to the foot soldiers and ordinary members of the party. The man showed me a picture which he said was brought to his office by the man himself. The pictures had one man holding the microphone wherever the then Candidate Kufuor went or was addressing a rally. On being elected President, all attempts by the man in the pictures, according to my colleague to see the President were thwarted. Not even a Presidential handshake for the man!

Instead, appointments went to outsiders like Wireko Brobbey and P.V. Obeng who did not contribute anything towards the party's electoral victory at the pools. It was like the apartheid system in South Africa where the landlord became the tenant and the tenant the landlord.

Meanwhile in comes the NDC and a new dawn emerges. Appreciation of various/different types is showered on all those whose role led to the party's victory. John Abu Junapo, Alex Segbefia, Kobby Acheampong, Koku Anyidohu, Ablakwa Okudzeto, James Agyenim-Boateng, Baffoe Bonnie, name them. All have adequately been rewarded. What about Ama Benyiwa Doe, Ofosu Ampofo and Baba Jamal, Haruna Iddrissu? The party did not disappoint them. Some juicy carrots were dangled right before their very eyes and mouths and like all human beings, they have started biting and munching. But who wouldn't do that. Abi, tell me if you would do otherwise. Even, if you are crying and a candy or toffee is put into your mouth, will you spit it out? You must be the biggest “mumu” on earth if you did that. The National Democratic Congress is a party which shows appreciation to its members.

What about the New Patriotic Party? Nothing of that sort is in the offing. Maybe they will be instituted later, but when?

I am looking at the future of the Party with optimism. I am envisaging a situation whereby the party will put in place some sort of a reviling fund for members to draw from. I am looking at the future of the party with Hope. I am waiting for the time when the party will nominate ordinary and committed party men who want to contest any elective position provided they are qualified. I would like to see a much more fair and transparent party Primaries/convention in future whereby contestants will be asked to pay only a token amount of money as nomination/filling fees instead of the colossal amount the party exacts from contestants. This somehow puts paid to the ambition of good/prospective party men who otherwise would have been.

This now brings me to the second part of this piece and it has to do with our collective responsibility in ensuring the success of our nascent democracy. But before I continue, let me digress a bit and recount the winding and tortuous journey the United States went through to arrive at the Democracy she is practising today which has become the cynosure of all eyes.

I would refer readers to the bitter rivalry which existed between the Second and the Third Presidents of the United States, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. John Adams was nicknamed “the Atlas of Independence” whilst Thomas Jefferson was named “the Sage of Monticello” and “the man of the people”. The antagonism between these two personalities was so strong that John Adams became one of the only three Presidents in recorded history of the United States, not to have attended the inauguration of his successor.

Under the existing rules, Jefferson as runner-up became Vice President, although he was the leader of the opposition Democratic-Republican Party, whilst Adams was the leader of the Federalists. Adams had 71 votes to Jefferson's 68. The 1800 Presidential Election was characterized by acrimonious campaign, never before known in the history of the United States. Thomas Jefferson was tagged by his opponents as an Atheist. The Federalist presented John Adams and Charles Pinckney against Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr on the ticket of the Democratic-Republicans. The Federalists had 65 votes against 73 by the duo of Jefferson and Burr. Even though the Democratic Republicans had wanted Jefferson to be President, with Burr as the Vice, since it was not indicated on the ballot paper, a constitutional crisis emerged. Some of Adams supporters aligned themselves with Burr, it took 36 ballots or voting before Jefferson emerged President.

But Adams was not done yet. A few days to the end of his term of office, he appointed a series of Judges called “midnight judges” to make Jefferson's tenure difficult. Most of them were eventually unseated when Jefferson took office and abolished them. However the Chief Justice John Marshall remained.

In spite of the hostility which characterized their public life, both Adams and Jefferson were reconciled in1812 and both died on the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence on 4th July, 1826. John Adams dying words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives”.

I have gone this length to show that Rome was not built in a day. There has to be a break in hostilities between followers of the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress. There has to be some warmth in the atmosphere that has characterized the unhealthy relationship between the two former Presidents. We should not continue to wallow in the “Ananse yeme, na me nso meyee no” mentality [You do me, I do you] If we don't put a stop to what is going on, it will become a canker and we might find it extremely difficult to eradicate such a menace from our political system. We should put a stop to it because with the passing of each day, Ghanaians are becoming politically matured.

And that is why I am strongly opposed to deliberate attempts by some agents of the Mills administration to demonize the immediate past President, John Agyekum Kufuor. All of a sudden, Kufuor is made to appear like the greediest person on earth and one who had never done any good thing for the country. This, I feel is bad and should be condemned. If we did that yesterday, it was bad and we should not continue to perpetuate something which is bad.

Concerning the BMW cars, my understanding is that State Security Operatives stormed the Kufuor's' residence to check the cars there. They took three away and left him with the three vehicles which later became the subject of controversy. Now my questions are: Why did they not go with all the vehicles which the operatives claimed were state property at the time they stormed his residence? Why did they leave the three cars behind? Were the vehicles deliberately left there so that they could use them as an excuse to embarrass the immediate past President?

And even, if at all they wanted to retrieve those vehicles, was that the best way to go about it? Should it be put in the public domain? Was there any need to issue an ultimatum to the former President? What would have happened if those vehicles were not returned after the expiration of the ultimatum? Was there no dignified way the matter could have been resolved amicably instead of resorting to a deliberate attempt calculated to embarrass President Kufuor? The way and manner the National Security Co-coordinator is going about the “whole show” gives one the impression that he has a personal score to settle with the immediate past President. One should not expect such a language to come from a person holding such a sensitive position as National Security Co-coordinator.

This is one of the reasons why during the Kufuor Administration, I wrote a piece titled, “A School to Re-orientate Government Appointees is a Must”. I would want readers and the National Security Coordinator to go back and read that piece. It will help calm down tension in the country.

And by the way, when he said Kufuor went with some security gadgets meant for the protection of the sitting President, the National Security Coordinator should have gone ahead and mention the so-called security apparatus the immediate past President is alleged to have taken away. What are they and who told him they are with ex- President Kufuor? And if he could say with emphasis that they are with ex-President Kufuor, what prevents him from telling us the names of the Minister who are with the so-called “missing cars”? He could not and cannot mention any names because there are no cars with any former minister. Let them arrest and prosecute any former minister or top government functionary who is found with any government car and I will applaud him for a job well done.

All that I have attempted to do is that, the time has come for us to move this nation forward. Whatever we did in ignorance should not be repeated. Let us do things in a civilized manner. To those who get up to abuse Ex President Kufuor and his ministers and refer to them as thieves, I would advise them to compile all the information at their disposal and hand them over to the appropriate authorities to enable them effect arrest and prosecution. If they did not trust the judiciary during the NPP's administration, this is the time to make their move since the judiciary is now under them. The ball is now in their court and they can play it the way they want.

Let us all try to build one and united country devoid of rancour, bitterness, acrimony and divisiveness. Let us strive to build on what our forefathers bequeathed to us. The past cannot be changed. But we must work through the present in order to shape the future.

Daniel Danquah Damptey
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Daniel Damptey Danquah
Daniel Damptey Danquah, © 2009

This author has authored 286 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: DanielDampteyDanquah

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