24.01.2011 Feature Article

Mills, Odinga And The Ouagbo Code

Mills, Odinga And The Ouagbo Code
24.01.2011 LISTEN

There are now a trillion and twenty-nine radio stations in the republic and this morning, I worked the dial of my small transistor furiously back and forth hoping to come across a station broadcasting an ordered, rational, informed and disciplined debate on national issues but all I encountered were the usual early morning hoarse screaming, shouting and yelling competitions otherwise known as talk shows.

On one station, a lady political activist was ablaze with anger over something a leading member of a political party appears to have done or said and oh, boy, do people have tongues! This lady’s tongue sounded like a huge and very sharp razor vibrating under a hundred volts of raw electricity. Jomo! What!! Who born vuvuzela!

On most of these talk shows, slanted news reviews and purported analysis, personal opinion, commentary and raw partisan political propaganda from the old book of political tricks, get whipped up in one grisly media concoction for our grudging consumption.

Some of these rowdy talk shows pack so much hate discourse you would think that we are not in the least bothered about the free lessons fate and circumstance are offering us as possible war looms large a couple of blocks down our coast.

I had all long taken it that the sharp and barbed jibes ruling and opposition party activists and leaders have been trading was all part of good natured propaganda mutually disguised as conflict and that politicians were very conscious of their responsibility to work toward a peaceful election next year.

Now it appears the rancour and bile-bitter conversation across the political divide is real and based on mutual hate which is dangerous for a nation scheduled to hold national elections next year. Every patriot has a responsibility to help in avoiding the kind of post-election conflict raging on in the Ivory Coast, don’t you think?

Everyone is dying of a mixture of apprehension and curiosity to know what is likely to happen in Cote D’Ivoire next, since there is disagreement over the proposed use of military force to oust Laurent Gbagbo and the man has staunchly refused to leave.

A regional task force of sorts has been mandated to monitor events in La Cote D’Iviore and initiate appropriate responses to them as they unfold next. The exercise we gather, is code named Operation Ouagbgo, an obvious derivative of Ouattara and Gbabgo.

Ouagbo! Is the whole thing now some kind of a joke? I met someone whose worry appeared to be that the West might be laughing at us. Let us face the truth, Jomo: How many people would decline to liberally indulge good quality entertainment for free?

It is bizarre enough: An African nation emerges from a national election with two presidents while the continent and the world look on in gaping, stupefied confusion. The West has probably had many a good giggle over many bizarre happenings on our continent, but this one threatens to beat them all.

Some in the West have in reference to the Ivorian crisis been commenting about Africa’s “copy cat dictators and cartoon democracies”!

In the mean time, President Mills has in the past week found himself in a crisis season tangle and walking a tight rope over the Ivorian crisis:

President Mills attends a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States in Abuja on the Ivory Coast crisis. President Mills signs a communiqué on an agreement reached by the ECOWAS heads of state to send troops to La Cote D’Ivoire to take out Laurent Gbagbo if he rejects an offer of safe conduct to leave on his own volition.

President Mills returns home and informs all and sundry that there is no way he will commit Ghanaian troops to the Ivory Coast. The opposition wants to know what he is up to. Quite conveniently, at this point, the Ghana Mission at the UN informs Accra of a unanimous agreement by the group of African envoys at the UN to reject the military intervention option. Unhuh, says President Mills, I told you so didn’t I?

Mills’s defence of his position is as follows: Ghana already has peace keeping troops in the Ivory Coast. That apart, the casualties if military force were used to try and force out Gbagbo, would be too high and the statistics would unavoidably include large numbers of ordinary ECOWAS citizens living in the Ivory Coast. Considering Ghana’s closeness to the Ivory Coast, the threat to Ghana’s security would also be high.

According to Mills, the crisis meeting of the West African heads of state, at which it was agreed to contribute troops to La Cote D’Ivoire if Gbagbo refuse to leave, was held in atmosphere of democratic discussion and if there were any disagreements, those who held contrary opinions about the military intervention option, only signed the document because it was the outcome finally agreed upon by the majority.

The political opposition insisted that in publicly declaring his objection to military intervention in the Ivory Coast, President Mills had betrayed the other ECOWAS heads of State and split ranks.

Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga acting as an ECOWAS envoy breezed into Accra this week, if I might put it bluntly, to find out exactly what President Mills meant by his “no military intervention” comments.

Odinga emerged from the meeting to inform reporters that Mills was not at all opposed to a military intervention after all. It was simply that he had declined to commit Ghanaian troops to any military operation in the Ivory Coast. Where do we go from here, Jomo?

Two orchestras are now playing: One is playing Laurent Gbagbo, sit tight and don’t budge a millimeter, buddy. The other which is much louder is Gbabgo take a walk while there is sill time.”

The military option though quite tempting, is seen as too dangerous and likely to result in too many causalities. Keep piling pressure on the man from all angles and wait for him to cave in. How long would that take? Ask Odinga.

The Ivory Coast crisis is yet another reminder that we on this great continent can strive for peace and progress if everyone is determined with courage to face the truth about the causes of the unrelenting political stability of the continent: Some prevailing situations are fundamentally just not right.

In most African countries today, sectarian groupings exploit proximity to political authority in appropriating very disproportionate amounts of the national resources to themselves, while the rest of the populations of most African countries barely manage to survive on the fringes of human existence. List all African countries and proceed to investigate.

When it comes to opportunities for personal development, employment, upward social mobility, career advancement in many African countries, it is not what you know but who you know that really matters. It is not right.

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