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21.03.2009 Feature Article

Who got the president's goat?

Who got the president's goat?

What do folks mean by a drink problem, Jomo? I quaff litres of booze, get drunk, tumble on my face onto the dust, spring to my feet and stagger happily along, whistling a great tune and feeling as merry as the day is long: So who says 1 have a problem?

I have no problem and anyone who argues with me about that is the one who has a problem, yes sir.

A fellow with professed ambition is jogging on the same spot stopping occasionally to take a few steps backwards before resuming his on-the-spot-trot and all the while, he is singing "'I am going forward."

These are precise analogical scenarios which aptly sum up our attitude towards the development of our democracy and I am scared about the potential consequences.

If we do not acknowledge the problems facing this nation, some of the failed states around us will soon recover and run past us while we keep spot marching and singing "'We are the great star of Africa."

Since the beginning of January, I have been hoping that someone would put one issue worthy of urgent note high up on the public and security agendas:

A lot of the post election analysis has been very hypocritical and has dangerously downplayed the issue of the close shave we had with the kind of chaos which has ruined many states in our region.

Right after the election we fell into an orgy of self congratulation, patting ourselves on the back for having outpaced others in our region in the pursuit of democracy.

Anxious to convince the world that ours is indeed an island of absolute political stability and tranquility in an ocean of larva-hot boiling conflict, our friends from the West who must protect their investments and other interests at all cost, joined in the congratulations.

It is not unlike the case of the chap who was rescued from a cliff edge deep in the woods and who then emerged swearing he had never been in any mortal danger whatsoever.

Yet at one stage, when the nation was awaiting the election results; hundreds of supporters armed with machetes and hand guns waited across two sides of town to get at each other if the tally did not satisfy them.

The spirited attempt to stop the declaration of the results was the point at which we miraculously pulled back from the brink of disaster and let everyone take note of that, even as they take an ostrich snooze. Lady luck is not a prostitute and won't always be available to us on demand!

Three months into President Mills's administration the language and tone of the conversation going on between the new administration and the brand new opposition remains provocative, acidic and volatile.

Even the normally very peaceable and emotionally restrained professor appears to have had enough of it already. Mills appeared quite flustered on TV on Tuesday night, reminding all and sundry that at the election, it was he and no one else, who received the mandate of the people to rule Ghana.

Mills said some people were mistaking his meekness for weakness. He was aware he said, that some people were not happy that he had been elected the nation's new leader but they had to respect the will of the people. I agree.

Imagine that you are a factory worker, Jomo. There is one emotional malaise eating at your very being: You hate the guts of the new boss like hell. Now, you are on your way to the factory plant and you encounter him. What do you do? Curse the bloke and steer clear of his path?

Nah! You parade a grand smile and say, 'good morning sah." He says, "hey Abugri Kusasi, come right over here." You go. He says "go up over there." You go. Is that not hypocrisy? Not at all Jomo. It is called respect for authority.

As long as they remain leaders, those in authority are God's designated earthly representatives in every social organisation. To show disrespect for authority could get one into a tango with the old man upstairs.

President Mills said he intends to exercise his mandate and added a bit about his determination to ensure that the rule of law prevails with regard to everyone's actions.

Some interpreted this as a blunt threat to the opposition and others as a declaration that he would not be cowed by anyone into letting wrong doing escape sanction.

There are so many democracy activists and civil society groups exercising vigilance over governance and it would be difficult for Mills to engage in persecution of innocent political rivals. Whether Mills is the wicked and vengeful type is left to everyone's observation anyway.

Some say it is fast becoming fashionable for people who have engaged in wrong doing to run off and take refuge under party colours where they begin to scream "help folks, they are hunting witches all over the place."

At any given time and in every situation, there are constantly two forces at war; the forces of good and the forces of evil. If you can say with a clear conscience that you are fighting on the side of good in any situation, then we might say you are sincere.

Even the dull can tell the difference between malice and goodwill, constructive criticism intended for the ultimate good of society and actions and attitudes meant to distract and undermine those in authority.

Professor Mills has a complaint and those to him it is directed have a choice: They can say he is blowing hot carbon and ignore him or they may consider his complaint with an honest conscience.

Some of the opposition's politics seems so much personality-driven with former President Kufuor and Nana Akufo-Addo constantly made the focus of public attention and that could be part of the problem.

High profile activities in politics unfortunately tend to send a boomerang effect playing up and down and round and around, sometimes trapping political rivals in its whirl.

Some suggested that Mills was chagrined that Nana Akufo-Addo on his arrival at KIA from a trip to Europe during the week, was met by large crowds of party supporters.

If Mills was indeed chagrined, then he was in good company: Supporters of Alan Kerematen who has an eye on the NPP's presidential candidature in the next elections also responded angrily, reminding Akufo-Addo that he ceased to be party leader the moment the elections ended.

Mills may have also intended his warning for aides of doubtful loyalty who have been playing a confusing and contradictory orchestra around him in the name of making public statements. I won't be surprised if party hardliners go gunning for the breed one of these days!

Credit: George Sydney Abugri

Abugri George
Abugri George, © 2009

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