Ghana: Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey makes a lot of sense

By IndepthAfrica
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Mar 28th, 2012
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By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

The NPP’s Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey has done something that I consider as appropriate and worth commenting on. He has written a letter to President Mills, drawing his attention to a very serious problem that has the potential to cause havoc in the society if not curbed.

He has deplored the arming of operatives of the government and appealed to President Mills to act expeditiously in controlling these operatives so that they don’t misuse power and the instruments of violence in this electioneering period. That’s a laudable move to make, and I commend him on that score.

The problem he has raised is everybody’s to ponder. I wonder why gun-toting should be the norm in a democracy that demands conciliation and not the tendency for people to be at each other’s throat.

In fact, it beats my imagination why those walking the corridors of power rely on guns and intimidation of defenceless civilians as a means to have their way in our kind of politics. It is unfortunate that guns should be the source of “power” for such people.

The incident in the Odododiodoo area that prompted Jake’s letter is deplorable, especially when we view it against the event taking place at the time. The news reports had it that it was a peaceful meeting by NPP functionaries that was violently disrupted by their NDC counterparts.

So far, no one in government has condemned the waywardness of those NDC activists nor is the incident likely to be fully investigated and the culprits prosecuted by the police. We all know how politically motivated cases of this sort are handled in a slip-shod manner because someone will certainly give instructions “from above” to dampen it.

President Mills will do us a world of good if he heeds Jake’s advice to rein in those operatives. No one except those who have something to hide will take delight in brandishing guns about in public. In any case, during elections it is people, not guns, who will determine the fate of the politicians. So, why should any politician take delight in using guns to intimidate people?

I have said it several times and will continue to do so that the problems that we face are mostly self-created. Especially at this time when the electioneering campaign season is dawning, we will definitely have many awkward incidents happening all over the place just because some politicians are intolerant and mischievous enough to organize hooligans to intimidate political opponents.

That’s not how to do politics in a democracy; but knowing very well how unconscionable some power seekers can be, we shouldn’t expect any change for the better. They will flex muscles and cause trouble wherever they go.

Within this context, Jake’s advice to President Mills qualifies as well-intentioned, coming in the nick of time, and worth heeding.

On the flip side, though, one will wonder why it has taken Jake (and other silent voices in the NPP seeing things as he does) so long to identify this problem and to draw attention to. I opine that it is not only when political party activists brandish guns about that we should be alarmed. Guns are not the only instruments likely to cause mayhem.

Misguided pronouncements by hot-headed politicians are equally dangerous and must not be countenanced. One expected long ago that Jake, National Chairman of the NPP, would come out to comment on Akufo-Addo’s irritating “All-die-be-die” war-mongering clarion call; but he didn’t, apparently because that mantra serves the NPP’s cause.

Despite all explanations given by Akufo-Addo and his handlers to suggest that the “All-die-be-die” slogan is not meant to instigate mayhem, everything exists for me to doubt them. In truth, the slogan is fraught with everything sinister. In and of itself, it qualifies as a “buga-buga” tactic. It is couched in nothing but a penchant to cause anarchy. Democracy abhors “buga-buga” too.

I am yet to find any better way to comprehend it apart from what it registers on my mind, which invokes horrid images of political violence. I suppose those who have already come out to condemn it also think the way I do that the slogan has the potential to motivate the NPP’s activists to cause trouble.

No one seeking peace will use “All-die-be-die” as a source of motivation. It will appeal to only those who seek to foment trouble. That is clear-cut and will remain so until it is withdrawn by those who coined it.

All things being equal, I expect that President Mills will take a hard look at Jake’s letter and ensure that no one associated with his government or the NDC misuse his proximity to the Presidency to create tension anywhere in the quest to retain or win power.

In our search for measures to solve our country’s problem of under-development, we don’t have to create conditions for anarchy. The political environment is already charged and no one should be allowed to muddy the water any further. We already have too many existential problems to contend with and should be allowed to live our lives in peace. Democracy and gun-power don’t really mesh.

Under normal circumstances, though, anything from or by Jake won’t turn my crank. In fact, he is not the kind of person I will look up to for anything. Ever since he began doing politics, he has given me good reason to doubt his integrity. I will justify why I have such a poor opinion about him.

As the Minister of Presidential Affairs in the early period of Kufuor’s administration, he played a huge part in the duplicity and thievery that occurred. I recall the adroit manner in which he caused billions of Cedis to be spent on the Osu Castle refurbishing project without passing the contract through any tender process. We all knew why that project was undertaken in the first place.

Kufuor and his gang of anti-Rawlings elements had accused him of desecrating the seat of government (Osu Castle), which rendered it unappealing to Kufuor to use as his residence. Thus, until the evil forces that they accused Rawlings of commiserating with as he indulged in occultism were exorcised and the Osu Castle itself cleansed and sanctified, Kufuor won’t reside there.

That calculating manouevre prompted Kufuor’s stealing of 41 million Cedis from the national coffers to rehabilitate his private house in the Airport Residential Area for use as office and residence. Indeed, after the rehabilitation of the Osu Castle, a group of clergymen, led by the Methodist Reverend Samuel Asante Antwi, performed ceremonies there and declared the place holy enough for Kufuor to occupy.

He still refused to reside there, thus commuting daily from his private house to do government business at the Osu Castle whenever convenient for him. We all know how he nearly lost his life on such to-and-fro commutes following the accident that mangled the Gaddafi-donated Mercedes Benz conveying him.

Jake was also fingered in the controversial allocation of a parcel of land in the Osu area to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). The controversy generated by that deal and the allegation that Jake profited from it—getting his daughter enrolled at a university in the United States and visiting her on the ticket of the Mormons—dented his image. He might have protested but who cared when those making the allegation had enough to persuade them that something fishy happened to cushion him?

Then, Jake went out of his way to attempt buying the official bungalow he resided in even when he had ceased to be a Minister in the Kufuor government. The furore raised by this self-acquisitive move hasn’t died out completely because the matter is in court.

Creating credibility problems for himself through such deals, Jake doesn’t really come across to me as someone worth my bother; but on this occasion, he deserves praise. I hope he will extend the same pacifist hand to his party’s activists too. It takes two to tango and what he has put on the NDC’s table is worth spreading to that of the NPP (or any of the mushroom parties too). At least, his is a good move.

 

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