The stuff of nightmares, and the rise of masks

BY: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari
The election of the Speaker of the 8th Parliament turned chaotic
The election of the Speaker of the 8th Parliament turned chaotic

The unbelievably stormy, disgraceful scenes in Ghana’s Parliament captured on live television on Thursday, January 7, during the dissolution of the Seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic and the beginning of the Eighth Parliament, can perhaps best be described as the stuff of nightmares.

But it was perhaps not strange that this particular transition, already noted for its controversies, would experience such chaos during its final stages.

The process of voting for a Speaker that was supposed to happen with only minor hiccoughs, if any, to pave way for the swearing in of the second term of Pesident-elect Nana Akufo-Addo, embarrassingly degenerated into protracted, serious conflict, over various issues.

And as is now well known, at one stage the disorderliness even led to the unprecedented intervention of armed military men in the House.

So rowdy had the situation become that somebody thought it necessary to bring soldiers in to help restore order.

Prior to that, the indication of what was to come manifested when at about 9 p.m. the previous day, the NDC members reportedly took their seats not in the Minority side of the House, but on the Majority side, apparently backing their claim that they have more seats in the Eighth Parliament.

Interestingly, and curiously, almost all of the NDC members were clad in victorious and celebratory white outfits.

After a long delay, the voting took place and he NDC nominee, Alban Bagbin, was elected, beating the Speaker of the Seventh Parliament Prof Aaron Mike Oquaye, clearly to the shock of the NPP who had wanted the Prof retained.

Also, it became apparent that at least one NPP Member had broken ranks and voted for Mr Bagbin.

Significantly, Mr Bagbin’s election marks the first time that the country’s Parliament has a Speaker not from the ruling party.

An inexplicable aspect of the voting was when after the first balloting the NDC began to celebrate their victory and somebody from the NPP side, identified as Mr Carlos Ahenkorah, reportedly snatched away the remaining ballots.

Who could have predicted all these odd happenings?

Certainly, the Eighth Parliament had an extremely rocky beginning, even if historic.

Nevertheless, things calmed down after the election of the Speaker and the election of his two deputies was done in an amicable atmosphere, by consensus.

Yet, later, during the swearing in of President Akufo-Addo and Vice-President Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the NDC MPs were conspicuously absent from the ceremony.

But then considering that their flagbearer, former President John Mahama is contesting President Akufo-Addo’s victory in Election 2020 through a petition to the Supreme Court, their absence was not surprising.

Courtesy of the virus, for the first time, the SONA was delivered not in the chamber of Parliament, but in a giant marquee in the forecourt of Parliament, apparently dictated by the pandemic protocols of social distancing.

Intriguingly, by a strange coincidence, another remarkable occurrence that night was that at the same time in America, the scene in the house of representatives there, the Capitol, in Washington, D.C., was experiencing complete anarchy.

Some die-hard supporters of ‘sit-tight’ outgoing Republican President Donald Trump had mounted an attack there, trying to stop the certification of the presidential results in favour of incoming President Joe Biden of the Democratic Party.

It led to four deaths.

Going over the scandalous developments in our Parliament, I can’t help wondering why none of Ghana’s very assertive, vocal seers, men of God and prophets didn’t foresee them and alert the nation, although they gave countless prophesies about who would win, or not win, Election 2020.

But then similarly, it’s puzzling that that not one of the self-acclaimed prophets was able to predict the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, the COVID-19, not to mention the consequent rise of the hitherto practically unknown face or nose mask.

Noticeably, and not surprising, one common item which had pride of place during the ceremonies of January 7 and, before that on January 5 at the Parliament premises where the President gave the SONA, was the now ubiquitous nose mask.

Everybody, Presidents, VVIPs, VIPs and others had all masked up; masks of all colours and quality.

Some people had even colour-matched their masks with their outfits.

My admiration for the people who had the wisdom long ago to establish or invest in companies that manufacture nose masks knows no bounds!

I’m thinking especially about the surgical or disposable sky-blue mask which appears to have gained universal popularity.

The manufacturers and dealers must be rolling in money by now.

It’s remarkable that every time one comes across images of gatherings or events anywhere in the world, invariably most of the people featured will be sporting the sky-blue masks!

I’m not forgetting those who, similarly, had the good sense to enter the hand sanitiser production business early.

Again, with all the money some people are evidently earning from mask sales, my complaint is: how come none of Ghana’s renowned seers, soothsayers and prophets couldn’t foresee the coming era of masks and alert us?

Recalling, for example, their election prophesies, if they had given even a hint of the approaching pandemic and the masked era, some of us could have planned ahead to profit from it.

For example, I could have persuaded my bank to give me a loan to invest in a mask manufacturing business.

But apparently it’s mostly political visions and predictions that our prophets are gifted with.

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