Echoes of Kutu Acheampong's “I am not God to conjure rain speech ... 'Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot see the falconer Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”.
This opening verse to the great Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe's, acclaimed book, “Things Fall Apart”. Neatly sums up the state of Ghana's ruling NPP party today.
The NPP's world is falling apart, and none other than President John Agyekum Kufuor himself, epitomises that world of desperation and disintegration.
Kufuor's “Kutu-esque” utterances
In a telling giveaway interview on Tema's 'Adom FM radio just before he took part in a crisis meeting at the NPP Headquarters in Accra on Wednesday April 27, 2005, fortunately captured for posterity by the 'Daily Guide' of Friday, April 29, 2005, President Kufuor went the way of his ethnic predecessor-in-office, Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, and in a spirit of desperation and abandonment, burst out that he did not bring hardships into the world – “I am not the author of hardship”, is the way the 'Daily Guide' put it in the headline – “nye me na mede ahokyere baa wiase”.
Ignatius Kutu Acheampong it was who, in his desperate last days as Chairman of the NRC (the National Redemption Council military regime that ruled Ghana between 1974-1978, not the notorious National Reconciliation Commission of Justice K. E. Amua-Sekyi), when nothing seemed to be working for the regime and there was hunger and starvation in the land on account of a very severe and prolonged drought, is reported to have burst out in Asante Twi, “Menye Nyame na m'ato nsuo” (I am not God to conjure rain to fall).
That statement was supposed to have been made within the general context of a wider statement of self-indulgence he made that 'me, Kutu Acheampong, se me twa bi a, metumi ka nkwaseasem paa” (I, Kutu Acheampong, when I get drunk, I can really talk nonsense”).
We cannot tell whether President Kufuor was voluntarily inebriated (that is, drunk), when he made that statement on Adom FM, but other statements he made in that same interview make us doubt whether he was “compos mentis” at the time.
For example, he went on to quote a Twi proverb to the effect that “se wode ohia to wo ho so a, ebe hia wo daa” (if you clothe yourself with poverty, you will always remain poor), forgetting that he single-handedly not only put the cloth of poverty on the whole of Ghana, but he also added the cover cloth of “highly indebted” to it, thus fully clothing us in the “Highly Indebted Poor Country” (HIPC) garb.
President Kufuor's desperation is understandable, because he and his party had become shell-shocked at the scale of the party's defeat in the Asawase bye-election. That in less than five months after winning the General Election, the NPP should lose in its own backyard by a margin three times that by which it had lost the seat in December 2004, was really a mystery to them.
“Wahala” in the land
So for the first time, the President was forced to admit that there was “wahala” (suffering, hardships), in the land, but his excuse was that he was not the author of those hardships; the NDC was.
“But if it is the person who creates the hardships who is supposed to have them removed, then the President should get out of the way for the NDC to solve its problem”, an NDC guru was quick to riposte.
The truth though was that President Kufuor and the NPP had always behaved like the ostrich and denied that there were any hardships in the country. The President himself had said in his 'State of the Nation' Address that these were exciting times to be a Ghanaian.
In Kumasi in the build up to the Asawase bye-elections, NPP spokespersons at the various FM stations declared that “Wahala Yamutu”, that the CJA's 'Hardships' Campaign' was dead.
Asawase awakened the NPP to the living reality of the CJA and “wahala”, hence the NPP's crisis meeting and President Kufuor's “Kutu-esque” utterances.
But even as President Kufuor was conceding that “wahala” was alive and kicking, his senile buffoon of a National Chairman, Haruna Esseku, was denying the existence of any “wahala” and attributing the NDC's Asawase victory to “sympathy votes” for the late NDC MP, Dr. Adamu Gibril, forgetting that that statement itself inured to the benefit of the NDC.
Party in crisis
Every action of the NPP since the Asawase loss, however, points to a party in crisis.
At the party crisis meeting earlier referred to, President Kufuor and Vice President Aliu Mahama were present for the first time since the party's first victory in December 2000.
Blaming the Asawase loss on the various decongestion exercises being carried out by the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development was ordered to make a direct intervention. So he issued an order, Gestapo-style. All decongestion exercises are frozen. Any MMDA wanting to decongest or clean up its city or town should first seek clearance from the “Central Committee”.
NPP Youth up in arms
This panicky directive was clearly prompted by the Youth Wing of the Party who went up in arms. In a petition signed by the Ablekuma Central Youth Organiser, Robert Kwame Dadzie, on behalf of the Greater Accra Regional branch of the NPP Youth Wing, they noted and demanded the following:
(i) The decongestion exercise was eroding the support base of the party and therefore it should be stopped;
(ii) The decongestion exercise should be suspended while pragmatic steps are taken to address the issue;
(iii) There are viable alternative solutions to the current decongestion exercise;
(iv) The decongestion exercise which has been extended to the Tema municipality and other big cities was unacceptable;
(v) Attempts to offer alternative solutions to the Tema Municipal and Accra Metropolitan Assembly bosses fell on deaf ears, since they claimed they were only responsible to the President and the Chief of Staff;
(vi) The AMA Chief Executive is rather using and collaborating with members of the NDC like Gans Lartey, who contested the NDC primary election at La Dade Kotopon in 2004 but lost, and is now the MCE's special assistant, and the coordinator of the decongestion exercise;
(vii) The AMA and TMA Chief Executives are being misused by elements of the NDC to demoralise the NPP's support base, calculated at waning their supporters to stimulate voter apathy;
(viii) The Asawase defeat was largely informed by a similar exercise by the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) in Kumasi where the NPP supporters affected by the exercise refused to vote for the party;
(ix) The decongestion exercise was necessary, but badly handled;
(x) The AMA and TMA chiefs, without consultation with the sector Ministers, have resorted to draconian actions without actions which are eroding the support base of the NPP. Demonstrations All over the country, people have been up in arms, demonstrating for or against one cause or another.
Teachers on study leave at the tertiary institutions took to the streets and Osafo-Maafo shot himself in the foot by implying that they had no case, only for him to be compelled to set up a Committee within 48 hours to look into their grievances.
The people Ga-Dangme also hit the streets to protest their marginalisation in their own lands. Lawlessness Lawlessness was everywhere.
In Accra, motorbike riders beat up TAYSEC workers and innocent traders around the Kwame Nkrumah Circle area and looted their wares.
In Accra, National Association of Sachet Water Producers (NASWAP), producers of sachet water, remained defiant and refused to pay the ¢450 million monthly demanded by the AMA before being allowed to operate.
In Accra, a group of about 215 Sudanese refugees from the Darfur region suddenly appeared in the city without anybody appearing to know where they had emerged from.
At Bortianor in the Greater Accra Region, two people were shot dead and eight others wounded following a gun battle between the Gyasetse's faction of the village with an allied force from the destooled chief, and the embattled chief of the area.
In Kumasi, 40 uniformed soldiers beat up innocent residents of North Suntresu in revenge against the murder of one of their colleagues. The Ashanti Regional Minister, S. K. Boafo has set up a Committee to probe the incident.
At Aflao in the Volta Region, Togolese soldiers shot into Ghanaian territory, injuring three Ghanaians.
Talks between the Andanis and the Abudus aimed at burying the late slain Ya Na Yakubu Andani II ended in a deadlock, with the Chief Mediator, Otumfuo Asantehene Osei Tutu II suspending the mediation efforts to undertake trips to South Africa and Sierra Leone.
At Bole in the Northern Region, Ivorian troops conducted a raid into the Ghanaian village of Saru and abducted a chief and two elders to the Cote d'Ivoire.
At Sunyani, Police L/Cpl Azegisnaba shot and killed Mr. John Tereku, former bodyguard of the late President Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso.
At Mampong-Ashanti, an irate mob attacked a private FM station, the official residence of the DCE and Government Departments, destroying public and private property running into billions of cedis.
At Odoben in the Central Region, a 15-year old chieftaincy conflict was all set to hit an explosion with the installation of two rival chiefs.
At Somanya in the Eastern Region, a melee between the youth of Manya Krobo and Yilo Krobo over a lady during a post-BECE dance resulted in a blockade between the two districts and several injuries to the youth of both districts.
Whilst all this lawlessness was going on with the NPP Government looking on helplessly, the armed robbers were having a field day, probably emboldened by the Presidential comparison between their arrested leader Ataa Ayi and the President of the Republic John Agyekum Kufuor, in the now notorious “Wahala” demonstration couplet, “Atta Ayi nie, Kufuor nie——Awi nie, Kufuor nie——Koromfoo nie, Kufuor nie——Ya Na Ti nie, Kufuor nie——”. Cocaine Dealers The cocaine dealers were similarly having a field day, with rumours of official connivance and condonation, prompting a few spectacular arrests spectacularly reported on the front pages of the 'Daily Graphic' to try to deal with the new image of Ghana as a cocaine dealing, cocaine-transiting country suddenly painted by a United Nations report on drug trafficking under the NPP Government.
Import Duties on rice and poultry products
President Kufuor's headaches were made more severe by the severe backlash that the pastoral letter written by the “Christian Gang of Four” at his instigation and on his prompting, received, as well as the backlash that his indecisive policies on import duties on rice and poultry products had received.
Kwame Pianim's volte-face Worst of all, President Kufuor's top midnight Chief Economic Adviser, Kwame Pianim, was forced to eat humble pie and within a week, had to contradict himself with a “Yes, Utility prices will go up——No, utility prices will not go up” no-policy policy, throwing the Government's programme with the IMF and the World Bank into jeopardy. The “Wahala” Bogey All this President Kufuor must have blamed on the “Wahala” people, for if his one-time ally Kwesi Pratt and his CJA comrades had not championed the “Hardships” agenda, Ghanaians themselves would never have realised that there was “wahala” in the land, so goes the NPP credo.
“The President's plaintive cry that he “is not the author of hardships” must be understood in that context”, one leading CJA member commented. “It is a plea for sympathy, an acknowledgement by the President that there is “wahala” (hardship) in the land, but that he has no idea what to do about it”, the CJA member added.