The rich man’s wealth is his strong city [protection]; the destruction [woe] of the poor is their poverty – Proverbs 10: 15 KJV
Suddenly, the National Democratic Congress has found a talking point for the ‘babies with Sharp teeth’ in charge of their communication machine – after a three week lull. The lingering topic on the EC, Voters Register and Matters Arising has almost faded, giving way to NDC ‘street’ auditing of Coronavirus19 logistics, cash and political impact into December 2020.
I could imagine NDC’s noisiest youthful communicator waking up in the morning and getting exasperated over his schedules for the day and where the next allowances would be coming from. I also realize the traffic to Ato Ahwois Westlands mansion by more sophisticated party goons had reduced, owing to the almighty lockdown. That’s the power of the Queen called CORONAVIRUS 19. Like a Jezebel, she whips everybody, including husband King Ahab, into submission.
Kenkey and ‘kpanla’
According to the NDC, kenkey and fish with red hot pepper from Nii Lante’s Odododiodioo’s constituency, as well as waakye, rice and raw foodstuffs meant for distribution to residents in the Central Business District and who are affected by the lockdown, were being diverted to party people. The propaganda was that already comfortable pro-NPP MPs were major beneficiaries.
Well…I don’t know how we could prove or disprove that in the same manner that we cannot tell where those scrounging for the kenkey and waakye drop their vote during elections. Similarly, we cannot even say whether those doing the actual distribution would deliberately know everybody and so would pick and choose who are lean and hungry and who are bloated and full.
Of course, that is not to say that some politics didn’t go into the distribution or that issues about the voters register, for instance, is dead or abortive…The fact is that, in the light of the circumstances surrounding our recent elections, backed by our history of incumbents toying with the register, it is in the interest of both parties to ensure a decent work once and for all.
Free at last
Most newspapers had to hibernate, including the well-resourced Daily Guide, Daily Statesman, The Finder and The Ghanaian Chronicle. Reasons have been cited as economic and business. I thought it was the same for the abrasive NDC propaganda papers. The new arena became online media and the NDC Familiar turf – radio and TV.
For those of us who are not too online, we got glued to CitiFM and CNR and JoyNews, which are quite moderate and middle class. Or Kwame Sefa Kayi’s Kokrokoo on Peace FM for the mornings…The rest are pedestrian and Bofoakwa or Swedru All Blacks…in the huge marketplace of ideas and positive noise.
But, the lockdown really locked me down financially because of the extent of my involvement in family and political affairs in a new constituency that I want to take away from the NDC – Shai-Osu Doku. My friend Afotey ‘The Lion’ Agbo is certainly losing Kpone-Katamanso to the NPP. Along the same stretch, I bet that the NPP will be picking Shai-Osu Doku, if the primaries are managed without mercenary motives from loony party hawks.
In all of that, am grateful that the easing of the partial lockdown came on at the right time. I was almost feeling like Jake’s dad or pathologically griping Attoh Quarshie in detention in Nsawam cells. How exciting politics can be is manifested in a funny story about veteran politician Attoh Quarshie, who after his bouts of detention from cell to cell in Ghana, was invited by his La father-in-law to come clean on his future plans about the relationship with the wife, after his release when the 1966 coup toppled Nkrumah.
When the almost 100 year old got to La and the question was put to him as to whether he was ready to choose his wife over politics or vice versa, he said being in detention is part of the game of politics and that he would not be threatened by it. (Not many of you know that he and a couple of other local UP stalwarts trained late celebrity MacJordan Amartey and Co to throw stones at Kwame Nkrumah’s entourage when the late President tried returning to Ga Central on campaign trips, after jailing Gas who played the CPP vigilante for Nkrumah to win Ga Central in 1954).
Attoh Quarshie left his wife’s residence in La, choosing politics over the sweet wife, to the amazement of his father-in-law. And, sometimes, I get the impression that he does not even mind spending his last few days left in this life back at Nsawam prisons over politics. He’s gotten so used to it…It can be contagious…like the case of Papavi Yaovi, who cannot sleep a day, without having to put pen to paper on some political issue – or his Anlo cousin who has quixotic ideas about the Volta Region politically leading Ghana and Africa as the world’s shining star through conscientization programmes for half-baked jobless youth in the region.
New register non-negotiable
Back to the issues, I believe we need a new register, if we have the resources for it. As far as I am concerned, it is the only lingering most controversial issue among the political parties in Ghana today – and I guess for ages to come.
From 1992, when the NDC packed Chinese and Thai names into the register and had those fabricated names from the register slipped to government cadres in constituencies to vote with, at a time when only the NDC had the registers, the issue keeps recurring because of the packing of the EC at the top with political rather than public service appointees. It appears that, after gaining independence from the colonial masters, state and political appointees are finding it challenging to sustain the fight against local constitutional tyrants.
I had a personal experience with this insanity about ghost names in 1992, when I went to my polling station just across the street to vote, only to realize that some animal had beaten me to my own name in my own backyard as a party apparatchik…And my name, as you know, is not one of those names that are multiple like Odoi Laryea or Yemo Tetteh in La; or Teiko Tagoe in Accra and Osei Owusu in Ashanti.
I recall that my late father joined me in making quite some noise until a revered pastor calmed us down. Since then, my angst with the EC Machine and its retired and active teacher cabals who were then placed in charge of the management of the processes had known no bounds till date.
Sorry for the lockdown and the lingering court cases, IPAC disagreements and the saga of barking dogs from either end of the political divide…We must find and chart a way forward – constitutionally. Let’s cut off the Wontumis and Kennedy Agyapongs; Samuel Ofosu Ampofo and General Mosquitos, as well as that PNC ‘pilot without destination’ from the equation, and get over this hurdle once and for all. We must do so in a manner that satisfies the diktats of the WHO advisory on controlling COVID 19, while satisfying our larger national and constitutional interests.
And, I hope the NDC would help show us the way by taking the NPP to the Supreme Court on all of the rest of the issues in lawfully asserting their authority as a credible political party.
De-locking the economy and formalization
The COVID 19 lockdown, however, brought in its wake the impudence of the flies called informal economy workers constituting about 85% of the working population and how they dribbled police to survive with prescriptions, bandaged hands, kayayei and typical market women dressing. Why not, if our local government systems are still squeaky – even though we pay people to man desks for agriculture, environment, trade and research within the assemblies?
So, we are back to square one in our attempts to formalize, now attempting to put market people in IDs through crayon colour marks, without clear, contrived data. Informality causes low revenue mobilization, poor management of social protections schemes and COVID 19 food distribution, lack of access to credit to grow the sector and poor sanitation because it becomes difficult chasing who littered the gutters and the street; the markets and the beaches with garbage.
Additionally, it allows the middleman to swindle the producer over prices or the driver bully the middleman, who works and works after 70, without a planned pension or programme to own a house.
It simply means the simplest way to development and its fruit is formalization. Period.