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July 2011

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Apparently, Ghana’s air force, like its government, is one of the most useless in the world. Its pilots have no planes to fly and according to defence minister, J. H. Smith, they come to work, read newspapers and go home in the afternoon. For doing so little or nothing they get paid. In a bid to change all of that the useless government is making rather expensive moves to make the useless air force a little more useful by ordering a consignment of new aircraft at a cost of 300 million dollars.

When the jets come in, at least, the pilots will have something to do to justify their pay. According to government officials, the country would also make a lot of money using the new jets to ferry peacekeepers and, to cap it all, we would have an air force a little worthy of the name.

That’s all well and good.

Where the decision to buy the new jets becomes a bit of an oddity to me is when I realise that the man who ordered the purchase of the jets opposed his predecessor’s decision to purchase similar equipment just about three years ago. Atta Mills described Kufuor’s decision to purchase the aircraft in 2008 as “profligate” and one of his first deeds in power was to cancel the orders.

Today, he’s changed his mind. Granted that you can’t fault a man for changing his mind but when our president makes such a wide-angled turn around, we deserve to be told why.

In this case, however, Atta Mills is not giving us any different or better reason from the ones Kufuor gave for ordering a fleet of jets in 2008. What Atta Mills has done, basically, is to split Kufuor’s order into two – buy the luxury presidential jet first and order the other aircraft, ostensibly, for the military later.

Naturally, Ghanaians who were angered by the fact that Kufuor would want to buy expensive jets whiles our lactating mothers sleep on the bare floor in hospitals, are asking Atta Mills why he now wants to wallow in what he told us was Kufuor’s folly. The response from the president and his ministers has been a mixture of stupid lies, silly misstatements and utter BS!

Let’s start with the lies. Government claims that the economy today is better than it was at the time Kufuor ordered the jets. This is only true for those in government. Their economy has improved because they are getting fat paychecks for doing so little and their bellies are constantly full. Some who looked thinner than I am in 2008 now have pot-bellies and puffy cheeks. So, of course, their economy has improved.

But look around the larger society. People are still struggling to make ends meet. Over the past few months, almost every major group of public sector employees has complained bitterly about their salaries and threatened to go on strike. Government still owes a lot of contractors and when you speak to people who run businesses they tell you about how things are “hard”. Atta Mills and his governing team can delude themselves, but those of us regular Ghanaians who wake up every morning to work our backsides off for a living – unlike those in government who get paid whether they work or not – know that the economy has not improved.

But then assuming that the economy has improved and there is money to be spent, is splurging on aircrafts the prudent thing to do? How about fixing the hospitals and making sure that no schools are held under trees? Only a fool will tell me that we need aircraft more than we need MRI and surgical equipment for Korle Bu Teaching Hospital? How about filling up the craters in our roads? Are air force jets a higher priority than providing motorbikes and communication equipment for the police?

In answer to the last question, you get deputy information minister, Baba Jamal coming in with a silly misstatement which makes you wonder whether he has been using any powder other than talcum powder. Jamal claims that the new jets can be used to chase armed robbers. Yeah, right! He speaks as if the many elusive armed robbers in this country have been escaping with Embraer 190 jets. If Baba Jamal is so blinded by the pecks of power, someone should slap him back into reality so that he sees what we all see – that our armed robbers are not so smart and they use cars and, mostly, motorbikes. What we need to arrest these armed robbers are motorbikes – not jets. A quarter of the money to be used on these jets can buy a motorbike for each police officer in this country for patrol duties and help chase the armed robbers out of town.

It has also been said that purchasing the aircraft makes sense because they can be rented out to anyone who wants to use them for any purpose and through that the country can make a quick buck. When I heard that I felt like going to take a swim in a cesspit tank! I couldn’t imagine the idiocy coming out of a government official.

To add insult to injury, we get some profound BS from none other than the president himself. President Mills doesn’t seem to know what the aircraft he has ordered can be used for and what they can’t be used for. In defence of his decision to wallow in Kufuor’s folly, the president claims the aircraft can be used to evacuate people marooned by floods. The President’s remarks leave me wondering which of the aircraft he would have used in rescuing people drowning in flood waters at Atiwa. Would it be the Embraer 190 or the BA 42 Guardian surveillance jet? The answer, obviously, is none of the above.

That leaves us where we started in 2008 under Kufuor: why on earth are we buying these expensive jets. From all the BS and lies we’ve heard so far, it’s clear there isn’t any good reason. If President Mills would be honest with himself he would realise that these aircrafts are not a priority now. They should never be for as long as the basic problems he needs to resolve to achieve “a better Ghana” persist. The nation’s biggest hospital doesn’t have an ICU and is even right now crying out for equipment to perform basic surgeries. Three hundred million dollars can turn Korle Bu and Komfo Anokye into a world class hospital.

If we have air force pilots who don’t have planes to fly, perhaps, we should be asking ourselves whether we need them at all. Instead of spending good money to buy jets for them to play around with, we should be buying helicopters and boats and motorbikes. These are what we need for crime prevention and rescue operations – not an Umbrella 190 or whatever it is called.

PS: I have checked. The Embraer 190 is not a military jet. It’s a commercial aircraft. The website of the company from which the government is buying this plane lists military and defence aircraft. Embraer 190 is not one of them. Why the government would buy a commercial plane and tell us it’s a military aircraft, only Atta Mills and his people know.

Over the years Paa Kwesi Nduom has shown himself to be an efficient entrepreneur, an honest, sincere politician and, above all else, one of the best leaders Ghana may never have. I admire his dogged determination to be president. But determination can only take him so far – and that’s nowhere near the Osu Castle (or Flagstaff House), whichever he dreams of living in.

The last time he tried for the presidency, he only managed to poll a mere one percent of the total ballots. That was in spite of the fact that he impressed many and won several hearts with his performances in the presidential debates. He has admitted that his electoral showing in 2008 was the worst failure of his life. To make sure that failure is not repeated next time, Paa Kwesi has sent out an army of pseudo-researchers to test the waters, help determine why he lost and recommend a formula for victory.

All that is well and good. But there is one thing Paa Kwesi is overlooking. That one thing is what his researchers will not tell him. And that’s what I am about to say.

Paa Kwesi Nduom performed as poorly as he did in 2008 because the vehicle on which he is driving his ambition is an old, rickety relic of the pre-independence era. That vehicle is the Convention People’s Party. I call this vehicle the limping cockerel. It’s all but dead and until Kwesi Nduom and his friends decide to put it down, I am afraid, there is no way this limping cockerel, suffering from terminal coccidiosis, can carry them to win power to govern this country.

The CPP has a rich history. It’s the party that led Ghana to independence under the strong-arm tactics of the despot called Kwame Nkrumah. Fifty years ago, the CPP was like the model political party for much of Africa. Today, the CPP offers us the worst example of what a political party shouldn’t be. It has very little following, its few members are bitterly divided and it is broke. All the CPP has is its history – a history which is no longer as attractive as it might have been if this country had been in any better shape than it is today.

Despite the gallant, often uncoordinated efforts, by the likes of Nduom to make the CPP appealing to the Ghanaian electorate, the party remains in the doldrums. It bears the butt of many jokes and the only people in this country who take the party serious are its members – some of whom have publicly declared that they don’t vote for it. The average Ghanaian voter would tell you that “yes, the NDC and the NPP are no good, but we’d rather put up with them than try the CPP – the Confused People’s Party.”

If the confusion surrounding the organisation of the party’s congress, which has been postponed twice, is anything to go by you wouldn’t be far from wrong to suggest that the CPP is in no position to govern even a small village – much less a country.

A fragmented, confused CPP is the reason why a fine man like Kwesi Nduom will never be president of this country. I like the guy. I believe he would make a very fine president. Unfortunately, he has chosen to sacrifice his noble ambitions on a colonial relic like the CPP.

If I met any of Nduom’s researchers, I would tell them to go and tell him to either help kill the CPP or quit – like Freddy Blay has done. The CPP is no longer relevant in Ghanaian politics. Freddy Blay realised this and he’s all the better for leaving to join the NPP. Kwesi Nduom must also leave and join one of the mainstream parties, probably the NPP and fight from there to make his fine brain available for this nation even if the party remains in opposition. Ghana will not forgive him (and neither will God) if he chooses to remain on the irrelevant fringes, spending all his energies and brains on a limping cockerel which must necessarily be put down – and soon!

Following the announcement that Obed Asamoah was rejoining the NDC, I remembered a piece I wrote for the ‘Daily Dispatch’ in October 2008. That was after the first anniversary of the founding the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), the party he formed with the likes of Frances Essiam and Bede Ziedeng. Here is your flashback. >>>

Dr. Obed Asamoah’s Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) is determined to stay the course and not go the way of the Reform Party (just went away as surprisingly as they came) or Charles Wereko-Brobbey’s United Ghana Movement (go on leave). Last Saturday at the Accra Polytechnic, DFP delegates elected a ‘communications consultant’ (I think that’s how some PR people prefer to be called these days) as their candidate for December’s presidential contest. But that’s the easy part. Now they have an election to contest and I don’t think they will have it easy.

After breaking away from the NDC (like DFP recently did), those who put together the Reform Party didn’t waste any time selecting the smooth-talking Goozie Tanoh as their presidential candidate. He was very smart and he had the looks too (which, according to some people, can help win votes in Ghana). After losing the elections in 2000, Mr. Tanoh has hardly been heard or seen in public. It has been rumoured that his political misadventure also turned out to be a massive Tsunami that washed all of his cash away and that he is in serious debt. Poor guy. I really liked Goozie. He said all the right things but he couldn’t win votes. Compared to the DFP’s candidate for December, Goozie was popular.

In 2000, I don’t know what came over Charles Wereko-Brobbey but someone lied to him that he could also form a party, run it like a one man show and win the presidential election. Maybe he was on an ego trip. I don’t know. What we know for sure is that he lost not just the race but a lot of money as well. Then shortly after the elections, he came out with the popular phrase that his party, the United Ghana Movement (UGM) “is on leave.” The party went on leave for doing no work. Luckily, for him, he still had connections; his friends in the NPP still liked him and gave him a job as Chief Executive of the Volta River Authority only to be sacked later. As he was packing out of his office, he claimed that he had neither been pushed nor forced to jump. “I am stepping aside,” he said.

With the examples of Charlie Brobs and Goozie Tanoh still fresh on the minds of the Ghanaian electorate, it might be easier for Obed Asamoah and his DFP followers to scale Mount Chomolungma than convince people that they are different from the NRP or UGM.

I will congratulate them for holding a successful congress. But I don’t really fancy the DFP’s chances in December.

To begin with, their presidential candidate, Emmanuel Ansah-Antwi, is not well-known. Even some of the delegates who attended the congress last Saturday got to know of him at the congress grounds. With just about eight months to the polls, how is he going to market himself to Ghanaians when Nana Akuffo-Addo and Prof. Mills have been in the limelight for years and have repeatedly visited every constituency in this country?

Secondly, I don’t think the DFP has got cash. Elections are won with cash –mostly for running the campaign but, especially in Ghana, you also need to have cash to buy votes. As former chairman of the NDC, Dr. Asamoah should know about this more than I do. They perfected the art of vote-buying. Unless Dr. Asamoah still operates a hefty bank account under his bed (as we all found out some years back), I think the DFP’s campaign is going to be seriously under-funded. And an under-funded party doesn’t an election win… unless, as happened eight years ago, there is an overwhelming desire for change – positive or otherwise.

I have no doubts in my mind that Dr. Asamoah is on his own now and that he is still not tied to former President Rawlings any way. Unless, the two of them are putting up an Oscar-winning charade, I am convinced that the two of them are now sworn enemies. But Dr. Asamoah has to convince voters that he hasn’t got a Rawlings streak in him. That is to say that people need to be convinced that he is not an egocentric control freak.

So far the things we are hearing from the DFP indicates that Dr. Asamoah might not be any different from his former boss. The candidate who lost the race for the DFP’s presidential slot, claims that Dr. Asamoah did for the winner what Rawlings did for Atta Mills a couple of years ago – covertly, anointing a candidate.

This was one of the things that Dr. Asamoah opposed within the NDC that made him fall out with his former boss. Since the formation of the DFP, Dr. Asamoah has done well not to throw his weight about – at least not publicly. But his title of party ‘patron’ smacks like Rawlings’ title as ‘founder’ of the NDC. A fledgling party like the DFP needs a leader not an overlord.

Whatever happens after the elections in December, I hope that the leaders of the DFP will work hard to make sure that they do not follow in the footsteps of Goozie and Charlie Brobs. In politics, the fewer is not always the merrier. So the big parties will always be big and strong. But we need the smaller ones too. It would be great if the DFP stays on and becomes a strong party. But I won’t be surprised if it doesn’t.

When I saw that BBC story a few weeks ago which showed the wealth of five of Nigeria’s top pastors, like many, I was not surprised, not in the least. I have always thought so. The words of Karl Max come to mind easily when I think of religion, people and wealth. “Religion is the opium of the people”, was what he said.

The value of these pastors is calculated in the same way as that of footballers such as David Beckham, Samuel Eto’o, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, John Terry and Steven Gerrard. They speak of their wealth in the same breath as musicians such as Jay Z, 50 Cent, Kanye West, Lionel Richie; and actors like Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. If you have any idea how much these athletes and entertainers earn, it should give you a good picture of the wealth of these pastors.

According to the story published on the BBC’s website, the total wealth of five top Nigerian pastors is about $200 million. Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith World Outreach Ministry, AKA, Winners Chapel is worth $150 million. Oyedepo sensationally owns 4 luxury private jets. Four! Not to even mention his other assets across the world.

Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of the Believers’ Loveworld Ministries, AKA Christ Embassy is worth between $30 and $50million. Temitope Joshua Matthew, AKA TB Joshua of the Synagogue Church of All Nations is said to be worth between $10 million and $15 million. Matthew Ashimolowo of Kingsway International Christian Centre has between $6 million and $10 million to his name and Chris Okotie of the Household of God Church is worth between $3 million and $10 million.
Are these figures not annoying and shocking?

I know that at least 4 of them have branches in Ghana. Which means some of us contribute in making these dudes super-rich for them to enjoy their flamboyancy. The news report did not say that the wealth mentioned belonged to the churches in which these pastors are the ‘Founders and Leaders”. I stand to be corrected but my understanding is that these are personal wealth accrued by these men.

Yes some have businesses which someone may want to argue generates employment for some and so on. But my point is that most, if not all, of these monies were generated in one way another through the church first.

I had a very lengthy discussion with some friends of mine on Facebook a couple of weeks which I found very intriguing. There are people who will quote the Bible to support why pastors should be rich and how God wants his children to prosper as though the flocks that these wealthy shepherds lead are any less children of the same God or they do not deserve the prosperity that God expects of his own.

We generally are religious in these parts. You need to go to church on Sunday after a long night-out just hours before to see almost the same faces you found at pubs and night clubs busily dancing with full vim in the house of the Lord. We will want to associate every fortune and misfortune to some act of faith or another. It does stand to reason why some shrewd persons will want to take advantage of this strong belief particularly displayed by our womenfolk.

Let me explicitly mention that I have no qualms with people making money. But I do have a lot of misgivings about people, be it so-called Men of God or shrewd and callous businessmen, who amass personal wealth at the expense of others, especially those poorer than they. I am aware of micro-finance schemes set up by some companies which offer small loans to local folks and others to start businesses and in some cases inject finance into others.

You may be surprised to know that some of the loans given to these people are sometimes as low as GHc100, and it makes a huge difference in their lives. But what do our beloved pastors do? They build mansions and drive in the latest model SUVs in long convoys. I recall when I was in Legon in 2001 there was a convention or crusade of sort by a leading pastor in Ghana here. He showed up in a convoy of six or so black SUVs with black suit-wearing bodyguards clinging on to the moving vehicles as though the US President was touring a state America was fighting an unsolicited battle like in Afghanistan or Iraq.

You may be one of those who will want to stay away from complaining because the Bible admonishes us not to judge or to speak ill of His anointed (I am personally not sure how to make out His anointed and the self-anointed!). So what do we see as a result? We are taken advantage of continually without an end in sight. I think it is ungodly, unchristian, inhuman and purely wicked to have a wealthy shepherd leading a pitiable flock and not give a hoot about it.

By: Kwame Gyan [Email: kpgyan@hotmail.com]

In rallying the NDC to unite at their just-ended congress in Sunyani, vice president John Mahama told a story which, we hear, is very popular in the three northern regions. It’s the story of three birds – Taka, Tika and Gangale. They used to sing together as a trio to earn a living. But at some point each saw himself as the ‘star’ and they each at different times tried to go solo.

Each failed, only singing to scornful jeers and getting pelted with stones. It was at the point of starvation that they came to the realisation that they were better off performing together, each contributing unique talents to make the trio succeed.

John Mahama couldn’t have chosen a better anecdote for the occasion than the tale ‘Taka, Tika, Gangale’ because in making the point for the NDC to guard against factionalism he also inadvertently betrayed two cardinal attitudes of our political leaders: they are mere singers and they are selfish people who were driven into politics by ulterior motives, not a desire to serve.

Singing means that they just come in and whisper sweet things in our ears, making promises they know they won’t fulfil so they can win votes. After being voted in, they continue to sing all sorts of senseless slogans and for that they get paid. Even when they get voted out, they continue to sing all sorts of silly excuses to defend they abysmal performance in office. In singing, they don’t like anyone in their midst who chooses to strike a note that will disturb their common chorus, even if they know very well that one person is more in tune than any of them.

Also, at the heart of John Mahama’s tale is the very sad reality of politics in Ghana today – many people go into politics to loot and satisfy their greed, not to serve and promote the general well-being of the wider society.

So when there is a problem and they see their positions threatened, politicians want to close their ranks to consolidate the positions that make it easy for them to skim the national coffers, enjoy all sorts of utilities without paying, live in luxury at the expense of the poor taxpayer, receive fat paychecks for doing little or nothing besides singing.

So the morale of John Mahama’s ‘Taka, Tika, Gangale’ story was simply that ‘if we don’t close our ranks, we will all lose the perks we are enjoying now’.

That’s the thinking of the Ghanaian politician. It is not peculiar to the NDC. Even members of the NPP, while in opposition, have convinced themselves that they need to close ranks so that they can return to power to enjoy.
It is very interesting that in ending the ‘Taka, Tika, Gangale’ story, John Mahama quoted former President John Kufuor: “It is better to be a messenger in the ruling party than a General Secretary of a party in opposition.”

Why will anyone think like that?

The messenger in the ruling party is more likely to enjoy more of the loot than the general secretary in the opposition party in this winner-takes-all and loser-goes-to-hell arrangement that we have. That’s our sad reality. It is this attitude of ‘let’s get in and grab what we can’ that’s at the root of all our problems. It’s the ‘Taka, Tika, Gangale’ curse that leaves our hospitals ill-equipped whiles our leaders seek treatment abroad. It’s the same attitude that force thousands of Ghanaian children to hold classes in ill-resourced schools under trees whiles our leaders take their wards to prestigious schools and universities abroad.

Taka, Tika, Gangale may just be three birds in Gonja folklore. But I see them personified in dozens of our leaders: selfish, uncaring, greedy crooks who care less about serving those who voted them into power. They rather choose to unite so they can gobble as much of proverbial national cake as their fat stomachs can take. That’s our curse. When our leaders see themselves as people who should gang up to ‘sing’ to be able to fill their bellies, selfless service is thrown to the dogs and we are doomed. And that’s why, as Kwesi Nduom puts it, “we are where we are”.

I wasn’t in Sunyani but I followed almost every minute of the NDC congress over the weekend. I had to. I followed it not only as a Ghanaian with a keen interest in national politics but also as one of the producers for Joy FM and Multi TV’s coverage of the event. From the TV screens and what I’ve heard from reporters on the ground, I must say that I have been very impressed with the level of planning and organisation that went into the event.

The choice of the Coronation Park was great and the fact that they decided to allow only delegates, observers and the media into the park was the stuff of masterful organisation. It meant that there was more than ample space for everyone to move around freely, making the event stress-free for those who attended and quite pleasing to the eye – for those of us who watched on TV. The only one who complained about the arrangement was the woman whose naivety and lack of vision earned her a meagre 3.1% of the valid votes cast.

Restricting the inner-perimeter of the stadium to the party’s leadership and those who had to be in there for a purpose also ensured that the congress was spared the chaos that has characterised political party congresses in this country in the past.

The exquisite organisation of the congress also ensured that there was no violence – contrary to what most of us had expected. What’s an NDC congress without a few blows being thrown here and there, right? Wrong!

The leaders of the party went all out to break with the past and they achieved their objective in stellar fashion. They should be commended for ensuring that the most acrimonious contest in the party’s history didn’t end up in a liberal, chaotic exchange of blows.

Finally, I was so happy that the by 7pm or a little thereafter, we knew the result of the contest. When I woke up at 4am to prepare for work on Saturday morning, I thought it was going to be one of those long days when voting will drag on for hours for the ballots to be counted the next morning. So I prepared my mind for the possibility that I may have to stay on my feet for long hours, possibly without catching any sleep until the results were declared on Sunday morning. When the results were declared so early on Saturday evening, I felt that was one of the best gifts I would ever get from the NDC. For that I am grateful and I have no doubt that similar sentiments are shared by all the journalists who covered the event, from those on the ground to those in the operational ‘command’ centres outside Sunyani.

For all of that, I say that whoever led the organisation of the congress deserves tonnes of commendation, a fat pay-check and, possibly, a bigger role in government. The organisers have shown that they are people who can be trusted to deliver quality.

Having said all of that, however, I have a few suggestions.

I don’t think it was wise for the organisers to ask journalists to submit their details to Accra for accreditation only for one man to carry the accreditation cards with him to Sunyani. That man was involved in an accident on his way to Brong Ahafo. I don’t think it was the sheer weight of the accreditation that caused the accident but if for any reason the cards had been lost in transit, there would have been chaos. Also what sense does it make for people in Tamale, for example, to come to Accra for accreditation when the event is taking place in Sunyani? The point I want to make is that next time, accreditation should be at the venue of the event, starting a couple of days before proceedings get underway.

Most importantly, I think the NDC should seriously consider building a wider electoral college like the NPP has done. It’s more democratic and it demands less strenuous organisation. Congresses to select presidents are so old-school and it’s about time for the NDC and the other parties to get with the programme and widen their electoral colleges.

As the NPP has shown a bigger electoral college energises the grassroots and enhances the legitimacy of those who win. Atta Mills’ landslide in Sunyani, as historic as it is, could be tainted because a lot of people are asking how he managed to win by such a wide margin if the delegates were not bribed or intimidated. That’s not to take anything from his emphatic trashing of Nana Konadu, which gladdened my heart so. But victory would have been sweeter with a much larger electoral college and it would have provided us with a better indicator of the president’s popularity on the ground. Now all we know is that he is extremely popular among the party’s most senior apparatchiks but we will never know how the grassroots actually feel about him. Hopefully in the coming months, the NDC will take some good decisions to expand its electoral college. It’s a decision best taken sooner rather than later.

I have bought a card for Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings. It reads: “He’s slow and we don’t know where he’s leading us but don’t fonk with Mills. Told ya, mother-fonkar.”

I hope it brings her some joy as she broods over the humiliation she suffered over the weekend in Sunyani, where she only managed a mere three percent of votes cast in the NDC presidential primaries.

If we were still in the dark days of her husband’s brutal tyranny, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings would have ordered an identification haircut, complete with broken bottles, for whoever advised her bid for the mandate to lead the NDC into electoral battle by wrestling the leadership of the party from the sitting president. Even now, I will bet my last pesewa that she has slapped a few people in her campaign team or heaped vituperations on a good number of them.

Why wouldn’t she?

What happened in Sunyani was a crashing humiliation; a resounding rejection of the Rawlingses. And now, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings is the butt of many Ghanaian jokes. With such an emphatic defeat, probably the most embarrassing anyone has suffered in Ghanaian politics, the jokes are not going to end soon.

Nana Konadu should have seen it coming. Or at the very least, she should have heeded the wise counsel of those who told her not to run. Sadly, those she listens to are either sycophants who tell her what she wants to hear or people who are so afraid of her that they are more than happy to play along with her, hoping she self-destructs.

Self-destruction is what happened to her in Sunyani on Saturday. After huffing and puffing for so long, the mighty Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, even with the support of her husband, the founder and CEO of the NDC, could only garner a paltry 90 out of over 3000 votes.

It’s a very welcome end to the dreadful, forgettable era. The NDC doesn’t belong to the Rawlingses anymore and the delegates in Sunyani delivered an emphatic message that Jerry Rawlings and his wife can go to hell. A little over a month ago Rawlings made remarks which were largely interpreted as a warning that if his wife doesn’t win the mandate to lead the party into next year’s elections, “the inevitable will happen”. Now, we are all looking on, with a smirk on our faces, waiting for the “inevitable” to happen.

We don’t know what exactly it’s going to be. But it could be that the Rawlingses will pull out of the NDC to go and form a new party. That would be a very foolish thing to do. If the party they founded almost 20 years ago has so comprehensively rejected them, I don’t see how the Rawlingses can succeed anywhere else with an infant party. Their best bet will be to remain in the NDC – but on the fringes. That would help them preserve and protect the little that remains of their political dignity.

The booing and jeering they got in Sunyani at the hands of their own NDC followers should be proof enough of what I’ve been saying since Nana Konadu launched her bid for the presidency: Ghanaians are simply tired of the Rawlingses. They have been allowed to ride roughshod over this country for far too long and in Sunyani, thankfully, NDC faithful decided to put a stop to their machinations, borne out of sheer greed and vindictiveness.

The only way for the Rawlingses to redeem themselves is for them to take a complete break from politics for a while. They should take a long vacation on an island somewhere in the Caribbean. When they return, they should just stay mum and refrain from commenting on anything anyone does for at least two years. By just looking on, Jerry Rawlings and his wife will realise that the NDC and Ghana will do just fine, even better, without them.

In any case, Rawlings hasn’t been making much sense with his speeches lately. Very few people outside of his inner circle can claim to have gotten the point of his address in Sunyani on Saturday. His speeches have become so senseless that when he speaks the only thing we are able to take away are the ludicrous, incomprehensible stories he has resorted to telling. Most of us pretend to find the stories funny but we turn around to ask each other: “what in heaven’s name was he talking about.”

A couple of years without any public speaking engagement – at least not of the vitriolic sort he’s is noted for – should give Jerry Rawlings some time to organise his ideas and bring some more coherence to his thoughts. Then when he speaks again – say from 2016 – most of us will sit up and listen, hoping he’d make more sense than he’s been making lately.

For his wife, the battered, humiliated mother-fonkar, let’s all hope she’s finally come to the realisation that she’s better off sticking with gari-frying and palm-oil extraction. That crashing defeat in Sunyani should help her accept the fact that she will never be president of this country. The best she can do for us all is to help her husband enjoy his retirement, focussing on helping to raise their grand-children, one of whom might just be able to lead this country someday, if he or she doesn’t use the Rawlings name.

Mrs. Rawlings could also take advantage of her party being in power (assuming she and her husband are sensible enough not to break away to form a new party) to build the network to enable her go back to her beret-wearing, gari-frying ways. It isn’t much but it’s one of the best ways she knows of helping Ghanaian women. Her sorry run for the presidency must have caused a lot of ambitious women to question whether a woman can ever try for the highest office in the last. It’s one of the most devastating drawbacks for women empowerment in this country but she shouldn’t even make an attempt to do anything to repair the damage she has caused. She should just go and fry more gari as an income generating venture for the poorest of Ghana’s poor women whiles we look for untainted, more humane, less vindictive, non-Rawlings women of vision to participate actively in decision making at the highest level of governance in this country.

As I said months ago, any woman can be president of this country, but certainly not this mother-fonkar.

 

This weekend, I hope the NDC delivers a strong message to Jerry Rawlings and his wife that the nation has had enough of their shameless clamour for power. The occasion would be the special delegates’ congress of the party at which they will choose the one who would lead them to electoral battle in 2012.

Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings has put up an animated campaign to snatch the leadership of the party from President John Atta Mills. It’s hard to tell what either candidate has been campaigning on. Beyond mere sloganeering both candidates have failed to spell out any clear vision or policies. All we hear from Nana Konadu is “be bold” and Atta Mills has been busy boring our ears with “better Ghana agenda” – whatever that means!

But that’s alright. Considering that this is just an intra-party contest and the delegates do not seem to be that interested in policies and visions, both candidates can be forgiven for running a campaign of mere slogans.

As they gather in Sunyani, the delegates should be more concerned with what happens to their party after the congress. As is typical of the NDC, we should expect blows and slaps to be delivered freely and received grudgingly and after that, most probably, some people might be so angry and embittered that they might want to break away from the party. Very likely, it would be people from Nana Konadu’s camp – Rawlings and his supporters who want their party back from the slow-but-sure clutches of Atta Mills.

I know my word doesn’t mean much to the NDC delegates. But I am still going to tell them that if they want their party to make any strong attempt at retaining power, they shouldn’t vote for Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings.

Clearly, she has nothing to offer. What the heck is “be bold”? To make matters worse, her motives for running are not entirely kosher. They are merely parochial, borne out of a desperate desire to be in charge. She just wants to come back to power with her husband so that the two of them to loot our coffers some more and make more friends to help them take care of the grand children they have started having.

Nana Konadu also carries behind her a baggage called Rawlings; a baggage that the sensible electorate, those in the middle ground who want nothing but the best for this country, are more than happy to keep on the mad fringes of Ghanaian politics.

A vote for Mrs. Rawlings will be a vote for a ‘Mother-fonkar’ who should not be allowed anywhere near the presidency. The task of retaining the NDC in power is already an enormous challenge for the party with Atta Mills’ floundering all over the place but it’s going to be near impossible with this ‘Mother-fonkar’.

If the 3000 NDC delegates gathering in Sunyani know what is good for them and their party, they will reject ‘Mother-fonkar’ and tell Atta Mills to sit up and stop plodding along like a an amputee tortoise.

 

For more on why Nana Konadu should be rejected, please check out:

www.atokd.com/blogContent.aspx

I am still struggling to make sense of the decision by the National Communications Authority to extend the deadline for the SIM card registration by 90 days.

The authority claims the extension is a window for those who didn’t bother to have their numbers registered within the 18-month duration of the exercise to do the responsible thing. Secondly, the NCA says, it is also an opportunity for those who registered with improper IDs to regularise their records.

The latter reason makes perfect sense but the former sounds more like hogwash to me. If the phone subscriber didn’t see wisdom in having his SIM registered in 18 months and suffered no sanctions for it, why should he attach any more importance to it within 90 extra days?

One might argue that the extension is a very gracious gesture from the NCA. But by taking this very Ghanaian step, NCA has also played into the hands of those who questioned the rationale of the SIM card registration exercise from the very beginning, challenging its legal basis and suggesting that the NCA was up to no good.

The extension is also yet another demonstration of our determination as a nation to postpone our progress at the least opportunity; we are very reluctant to get things done right the first time.

Through all of this, those who are claiming ‘victory’ for getting the NCA to refrain from biting after barking for the greater part of two years, raise two interesting issues, which appear to cancel each other out.

First, they claim that the NCA doesn’t have the legal mandate to de-activate phone lines and that the extension provides an opportunity for the authority to get the necessary legal backing. This is a very arguable point and the only way for us to have settled it was for someone to sue the NCA. That didn’t happen and the NCA has not given any indication as to whether or not it intends to go to parliament to get some law passed to settle the matter once and for all. Hopefully, that can be done within the next 90 days or so.

If the NCA does get the legal issues cleared – if there are any issues to be cleared – the second argument raised by those applauding the extension kicks in. IMANI, which has been breathing down the NCA’s neck all this while, argues that the fact that we don’t have a good national ID card system means that a good number of Ghanaians cannot register their SIM cards. They ask for example: “How do you expect a boy under 18, without a passport who is neither entitled to a voter’s ID nor a driving licence to get an ID to register?”
To this, the NCA has said that a boy like this should simply ask any mature relative or friend of his to register the SIM with his/her ID – passport, driver’s licence or passport.

But IMANI says this is not good enough. And that makes me wonder if the NCA will ever win in this tussle – even if it gets the so-called legal backing for this exercise. At the end of the day someone is going to argue that until there is an efficient national ID system this whole exercise is pointless and should be shelved.

It seems the NCA can never win and by failing to take the decisive action it had warned that it would take, the authority has shot itself in the foot. What I can tell the NCA is that after the 90-day extension, there would still be millions of mobile phone subscribers who either registered with irregular IDs or just simply didn’t give a damn whether their SIM cards are registered or not. If the NCA and IMANI care much more about these people than those of us who have registered, the best that can be done for them, I suggest, is for the deadline to be extended by 90 years. Even then, there will be issues.