It seems to me that some of our Ministers and high Government officials are, in their actions, failing to take adequate account of the bad history of political praxis in this country in the immediate past.
If they were, three recent incidents might not have occurred.
The first is the alleged “invasion” of the offices of ModernGhana.Com and the arrest of three of its editors. The National Security personnel who executed this enterprise ought to have known that comparisons would be drawn, inevitably, with the sort of arbitrary actions that were taken against journalists by the PNDC Government, which are still remembered with a shudder by most politically-aware persons.
On 11 October 2000, an Accra newspaper printed a letter from the then Deputy Minister of Defence, Mr Tony Aidoo, denying knowledge of the “shit-bombing” of the newspaper’s office.. “I do not shoot my enemies in the back!” he wrote.
But he did admit that he had engaged in a spat with the paper prior to the paper’s office being sprayed with excreta.
His letter was, in fact, disngenious because (1) miscreants in the power structure of the time had been known to take the law in to their own hands at times and (2) it is a well-known historical fact that when powerful people are displeased with certain persons or institutions, they can use their “body language” to incite minions of theirs to brutalise their bosses’ opponents. Without being told so, they know their actions would be secretly approved by their bosses — even if the bosses don’t give an express order for such acts to be perpetrated.
“Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” (This saying, sometimes given as “troublesome priest,” was muttered by King Henry II of England, and it inexorably led to the murder of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1170. In other words, the sweetness of the revenge is in the “hinting”. Raising an eyebrow, can, in some cases, be as damning as the downward thrust of the emperor’s hand, after a gladiator has been downed by his opponent.
The names of Tommy Thompson, John Kugblenu, Eben Quaicoo and others should be etched in the minds of all Ghanaian security personnel who are tempted to rough up Ghanaian journalists. Without these poorly-celebrated journalists, the regime(s) that appointed many of the current security personnel might not have come into existence at all.
These guys and many others like them in various sphere of national life exhibited tremendous bravery in putting pressure on armed rulers to quit office and hand the country over to a democratic government. Indeed, if he had the time, I am sure President Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo would like to take some of his officials through the trials he and others – in organisations such as the Movement for Freedom and Justice – went through before democracy was achieved in Ghana. To stain the reputation of an administration led by such a man with practices that befit the dictators of the past is quite unfair, to say the least.
And pray, what were the remote causes of the most widely publicised brouhaha? Apparently, the dismissal of one high University official and his replacement by another.
Is this really a matter that National Security should be exercised about? Where is its sense of proportion?
Okay, so some journalists may have used uncouth words about some powerful politicians alleged to be on one side of the contestants for office or the other. Is this something that politicians who should be hardened by the violent language experienced at the hustings, cannot live with?
Suddenly, the abuse of politicians turns into accusations of cyber fraud (!) against the journalists. When did the cyber fraud occur and why was it discovered by National Security only after the journalists had hurled abuse at their boss? Was this affair important enough to bring the name of the NPP Government into disrepute with regard to “torture” and “brutalization”?
What all politicians in power ought to be aware of is that in their job, agent provocateur goes with the territory. And it will intensify as elections draw nearer. People can act in a way that tempts the unwary to over-react. The ensuing controversy never fails to redound on those who, without much reflection, seek revenge.
Look also at the way the proposal to build a new Parliamentary Chamber has been handled. At the moment, Ghanaians are suffering from incessant power shortages. Many of our roads are still in extremely bad condition. For example, a video that has gone viral on the Internet depicts a bridge in the Ashanti Region, over the River Pra, that has become visibly dangerous to both motor vehicle traffic and pedestrians alike.
The populace is entitled to expect its Government, if it was caring enough, to take emergency steps to repair such a bridge.. Now, such emergency steps cost a lot of money. And, of course, the Government has to carefully husband the budgeted resources at its disposal. Emergency expenditure eats into projects given priority as being of crucial importance to the national weal.
Is a new Chamber of Parliament a priority? Obviously, not even the Government thinks so, but because of very poor public relations, news of the project has been dominating discussions on the airwaves. A uniformed other rank from the armed forces has even joined in, via a Youtube video! What did I say about agent provocateur activity? I hope that National Security will remember the 15 May 1979 episode and its denouement, as it handles this particularly nasty affair.
And it should read the riot act to the leadership of our Parliament, making it clear to it that our Parliament does not enjoy much popularity in the country, what with its failure to help address such problems as that of galamsey effectively.
ENDNOTE : As I write, we’re all on tenterhooks regarding the Black Stars’ match with Tunisia. Our relatively poor performance against Benin, in particular, has put the fear of God into some of us, and it is to be hoped that the Black Stars will rise to the occasion and do what Ghana did to Tunisia a whopping fifty-fours years ago.
It was 21 November1965, and Ghana was defending the African Nations Cup that she had won in 1963.
We were playing the Tunisians on their home ground.
Frank Odoi scored the first for Ghana in the 37th minute. Chetali equalized for Tunisia 10 minutes later. In the 67th minute, Tunisia went ahead through Chaibi. Every Ghanaian’s heart was in his mouth. But then wizard dribbler Osei Kofi got the ball and magically equalised for Ghana in the 79th minute.
Come and see!
2-2 at after 90 minutes.
96th minute: Osei Kofi gets the ball.
He puts through a marvellous pass to Frank Odoi.
Odoi (who has netted one already) makes no mistake.
BANG! In goes the ball into the net!
Result: Ghana 3, Tunisia 2.
Ghana has retained the African Nations Cup.
What we’ve done before, we can do again.
Especially, as, this time, the Tunisians don’t even have home advantage.
COME ON BLACK STAAAAAAAARS!
By CAMERON DUODU