A word to the wise is in Kenya; welcome, Napo

Saw these on social media this week: “No country can progress if its politics is more profitable than its industries.”  

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“In a country where those in government are richer than entrepreneurs, they manufacture poverty.” Sound familiar? Well, both quotes are attributed to Peter Obi, the Nigerian politician. As an African, he knows what he knows, seen what he has seen.

Less than 24 hours after reading his words, Kenya happened. The Gen Z of that country, on June 26, refused to “sit down make them cheat us every day. Walahi!” 

On TV news Tuesday night, I watched and listened to Nii Lante Vanderpuye, MP for Odododiodoo who, with four other Ghanaian MPs and a lady Clerk of Parliament, was caught, literally, in the crossfire.

They were in Nairobi as members of the Ghana Parliament’s Local Government Select Committee to study an aspect of the Kenyan Parliamentary system. “I have seen demonstrations in Ghana in all forms, but nothing like this.

It was brutal,” Nii Lante confessed. Even from the safety of his Nairobi hotel, after having been smuggled out of Parliament through an underground safe passage, his tremulous voice betrayed a heart pounding with fear.

In Ghana, the commentary on radio and TV was suggesting that “Ghanaians are not like this.” I don’t agree. In the Third Republic, (under President Hilla Liman) Amartey Quaye, a staff of GIHOC and cadre of the Rawlings’ June 4 Uprising, entered Parliament House with a rabble, ate the food in the kitchen and destroyed what they couldn’t eat.

The Kume Preko (1995) demo was wild. Police fired live rounds into the crowd. Tame or wild, it was obvious from the commentary by Ghanaians on the Kenyan situation that we are writing our own “people’s warning” on the wall for the attention of any “powerful” politician who cares to read.

It was clear the introduction of high taxes, including a tax on bread, was the last straw that broke the Kenyans’ back. Among those interviewed on Kenyan TV and CNN, one of the demonstrators complained of the “opulent lifestyle” of the Kenyan political class.

Like Ghana. How can someone who, only four years ago, could not afford even a bicycle or accommodation beyond “chamber and hall”, suddenly become the owner of a mansion and a 4x4 luxury vehicle?  

Opulence

Ghanaians know that opulence has become possible and is on open display because we have an Executive President with unlimited power under the “democratic” 1992 Constitution to appoint just about anybody into just about any position on earth.

Under the 1992 Constitution, the President does no wrong – virtually; almost infallible. A word to the wise is now in Kenya. Latest: our President has appointed and/or re-assigned ambassadors.

Only six months to end his term, what do we need new ambassadors for? When will they settle down, present their letters of credence, study the situation in their new environment and start pushing diplomacy? To whose benefit? Ghana?

Yet, it is certain that if Ghanaians had had wind of the appointments and protested or advised against the move, the President, as he is wont to do, would have brushed them aside.

Years after protests against the continued stay in office of Ken Ofori Atta as Finance Minister, the President laughed at the protests and advice to scorn. When, finally, he acted on the advice, it was to immediately re-appoint him to a position which many consider higher than a Finance Minister.

The President has too much power. He controls the Executive, has his way in the Legislature if his party is in the majority and if the Chief Justice is servile, he will also control the Judiciary. Indeed, our Fourth Republican President can do everything and undo anything —indeed, even change a man into a woman!

And we call this arrangement a democracy? That’s autocracy – absolute power in the hands of one person surrounded by a hungry hound of power brokers, election financiers and family members baying for blood. In Ghana, we say “hmmmmm”.

Choice

News in just when I was about to touch the ‘Send’ button to dispatch my piece to Graphic on Wednesday: “NAPO gets the nod as Bawumia’s running mate”. Well, now that the unknowable is known, what does the choice of Napo mean for NDC’s John Mahama Campaign? I’d be worried if I were Mahama, knowing that the choice of Napo is a blessing from Manhyia (he being of royal blood) and, therefore, confirmation that Ashanti will vote NPP and Bawumia en bloc.

Just curious: why was it important for both the Government and the NPP to distance themselves from the National Investigations Bureau (NIB’s) poll “initiative”?

At any rate, what was it about the heightened interest in the choice of Bawumia’s running mate that constituted a threat to national security? Why was the poll result released just a day before Bawumia presented his choice to the President?

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The writer is Executive Director, centre for Communication and Culture. E-mail: [email protected]

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