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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Otumfuo Bares His Mind: NDC-NPP Dirty Politics (1)

By I. K. Gyasi
“They (professional serial callers) are foisting on the nation a new culture – a culture of                                                           insult and abuse in the name of free speech and accountability,”  -  Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene (May 17, 2013).
The advisers of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene, could be forgiven for cautioning him against accepting an invitation by the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) to speak to mark the NCCE’s annual observance of Constitution Week in Accra.
What was one of the concerns of the advisers? Stated Otumfuo in his speech that, “The country is in such a dangerous political minefield that one risks getting blown apart by the incendiary force of combined misinformation, misrepresentation and misconception.”
Indeed, to me, it constituted a great act of courage for the Asantehene to agree to speak. It is true that since the days of Kwame Nkrumah’s Convention Peoples Party (CPP) and the rest of the so-called ‘opposition parties’, we have always had a recourse to insults in our political life.
It is equally true that since the return to constitutional rule, dating from the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution, our partisan political atmosphere has been poisoned by new severe forms of abuse, humiliation and defamation of character, not experienced before.
Ex-President J. J. Rawlings has identified a group of ‘babies’ with hard and sharp teeth, ready and willing to tear away the reputation and character of anyone who dares open his mouth to express an opinion, even remotely critical of the position taken by that group.
It must be noted that these babies with hard and sharp teeth are to be found, not only in the National Democratic Congress (NDC), but also in the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
These babies with hard and sharp teeth come in different disguises; serial callers whose mobile phone credits are reportedly paid for by the gurus of the NPP and the NDC; radio and television panelists; writers who post their articles in the newspapers and the internet, and those who use what has come to be known as ‘social media’, etc.
Religious leaders, both Christian and Muslims, chiefs, members of the judiciary, leaders of certain society groups such as think-tanks, and, of course, political opponents, have all been subjected to scurrilous and shameless abuse. Innocent people’s reputations have been shredded.
Decent people dare not express an opinion on national issues of great importance. If they speak, they are accused of taking political positions. If they choose refuge in silence, they are equally attacked for keeping quite.
They ask: Why does the Christian Council not speak? Why is the Catholic Secretariat looking on? Where is the Peace Council? Is the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) not aware of the injustice? Why are Muslim leaders not saying anything? Would all these bodies have kept quiet if the NDC (or NPP) had been in power?
It is all so unfair. It is like two persons fighting and accusing a by-stander of not coming to stop the fight. We do not need much imagination to know what could happen to our highly respected Kofi Annan if he were to criticise the NDC or the NPP in power over an issue.
So, he regrettably, but wisely keeps quiet, when he could make us benefit from his wisdom and experience.
We seem to have taken the assassination of our leaders several notches higher. When I bought a copy of the DAILY GUIDE of Tuesday, May 28, 2013, I was horror-struck by two pictures – one depicting what looked like President John Mahama allegedly having sexual intercourse with a woman, the other depicting what looked like Nana Akufo-Addo allegedly having sexual intercourse with what looked like Ursula Owusu, a lawyer and Member of Parliament.
I am a self-confessed electronic illiterate. I understand that I am lucky, because the DAILY GUIDE editorial management considerately published a censored version of the picture, as what actually were published on the internet left nothing to the imagination .The persons involved were reportedly depicted naked.
Faking the picture and putting them on the internet was filthy, nauseating, scandalous indecent, uncivilised, immoral, distressing, demeaning, depraved, disrespectful, degrading, disgraceful and despicable.
Where are the Council of Elders of the two parties, their mature people, their lawyers and other sensible people? Did those who faked the pictures never have the benefit of proper family upbringing, discipline in schools they attended, and moral teachings from their churches and mosques?
Hear Otumfuo: “We have allowed politics to so dominate our lives and influence our thoughts that nothing else seems to matter to us, but the good of the party we support.”
Hear him once more: “Our society is so polarised that good is bad if you belong to one party, and bad is good if it’s the other way round.”
Members, supporters and sympathisers of both the NDC and NPP are mostly Ghanaians. You will discover that some of them from both sides attended the same educational institution, practise the same profession, and attended the same church. Some are Members of Parliament, even if they sit on the opposite side. What kind of mindset will drive human beings to do this to their follow human beings?
If political office, other political leaders and others in public life can be so shamefully treated, who else is safe? Tomorrow, people in other walks of life would have their bodies faked and placed in all kinds of compromising positions, merely for expressing an opinion.
Otumfuo did not pull any punches when he took on the politicians. Hear him again: “It is the same people, the same politicians who are funding and sustaining the new breed of serial callers. It is the same politicians who, whether they call themselves communicators or propagandists, are unleashing the blatant lies and malicious gossip on each other.” He was certainly walking through a minefield.
Otumfuo called for “a new format that brings enlightenment from sober, independent minds untainted by party propaganda, and release the party propagandists to refocus on what political parties should really be doing in a democracy – thinking and developing ideas and strategies for their parties to direct the nation to greatness.”
Otumfuo was at pains to emphasise that he did NOT (repeat NOT) consider the existence of political parties inimical to the national good.
He said: “I firmly believe that political parties are vital, indeed, indispensable in any democratic system of governance.”
The NPP and NDC should not bastardise the party system of governance.

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