Out Of This Cocoon The Free Rides Are Over (1)

K.Nkrumah-CircleFollowing high standards set by others, or learning from their mistakes are facts of life. No ifs and no buts.

Granted that the ropes Kodwo used to climb to the top may not necessarily get Kofi there, too. But the least Kofi, who is also aiming for the top slot can do, is to reach for the same rope. Kofi may learn that by twisting the rope in a certain way he will achieve the same objective.  Agreed?

Why then are our mistakes innumerable, most of them leaving the view they have no precedence in global history; that because we are the very first in human civilisation to attempt them we can justify the horrendous mistakes which oftentimes erode our financial and human resources. 

The fact is had we taken the time and the trouble to glean from the mistakes of others we could easily, I repeat easily, have averted not just those mistakes but the throwing away money we can ill-afford to be wasteful with.

This goes on in this country every day, throwing good money after bad; as if we are woefully lacking in knowledge and expertise. We have, since the advent of emancipation, sent legions of our young people , to nearly every corner of the globe, to acquire more knowledge not readily available in this country and which be hugely beneficial to us in our infrastructure building.

Yet the mistakes abound, following us everywhere, not because the intellectual capacity of those we sent abroad was wanting but because the people at the top feel terribly threatened by anything that is new, any knowledge that is brought to the table by others.

Tetteh Quarshie Circle is among the latest to our developmental programmes.  From what I am gleaning from our newspapers, even the fine tuning done on the original designs did not alleviate defects, meaning that sooner or later our experts may have to return to the drawing board.

Only the government and our experts can explain to us why we are being told that corners had to be cut in the construction of the George W. Bush Highway, built with money from the American government,.

Sometimes governments are an embarrassment to themselves, luckily to an electorate that seemingly doesn’t care one way or the other which way the wind blows.  Consider the amount of money, time and energy expended on the Odawna project, whose history, far from, being recent, goes all the way back to the Nkrumah period.

What we see slowly emerging is a scaling down of Nkrumah’s original idea, which was grandiose, aimed at turning  the former Fadama section of the river into a fabulous holiday resort to be built and financed by the Bulgarian government. Cost over-run must be gigantic, some of it a waste, yet the public has never been told how much money has been sunk into the project whose benefits are yet unknown.

Has it ever penetrated to governments that the court of public opinion, often divided along party lines would be more sympathetic and incisive if they could get their spokes-people, paid at tax-payer’s expense, to level with us instead of throwing at us all this lies and political mumbo jumbo, most of which we are too intelligent not to see through?
For instance, I see from our newspapers  that the current government is being roughed up for shoddy work done on Job 600.

But anyone in the know will tell you the foundations of that building were laid in controversy.  The building was part of the complex planned for the OAU conference in Accra. Its construction, in time for the delegates to stay in, was of the essence. There were those who argued, right from the outset, that work on it was below par. Although the criticisms were brushed aside the safety of that building has been in question from day one.

There is a group in this country I defer to as high thinking, high-minded, but whose sense of superiority – they would huff and puff, and with genuineness too to hear me labeling their stance as disdain, and the most noxious form of superiority complex – I cannot stand.  Gifted with intellects or wisdom that is far above average, this group can offer advice that will be of enormous help to our leaders in finding solutions to problems.

They can also be invaluable in getting the noisy crowd who never know what’s going on and are easily led not only to gain a better appreciation of politics but also how to mine politics for the betterment of a whole society instead of a handful.

Haplessly there is this. Out of their conviction, rightly or wrongly, that politics is reducing society into clowns, one they don’t want to be associated with they have taken refuge on the fence. Their arms folded, they stare down at the rest of us, smirking when things go wrong. Every once in a blue moon they get stirred with indignation.

Their indignation last year was over reports that an arm of the United Nations Organisation was going to build a fertilizer plant in this country. Being a Johnny Just Come, I did not know till I heard from some in the group deigned to come down to my low level to question whether officials of this body are not part of the mismanagement, the apathy and the corruption that has us in their grip.

Why, what they were demanding, was the U. N. doing this when it did, on two different occasions, provide money for the same project. On neither occasion did the project come to fruition, and on neither occasion we are learning, did the government account for what happened to the financing.

If this complaint is valid it consolidates criticism against that world body and against foreign governments that more often than not they are part of Africa’s problem with greed. But look,  this is water under the bridge, incidences that have already occurred, that the media is giving attention to; that the public will rise against when it is good and ready. Going over them again bores me silly, so why don’t we take up matters that have not been pored over at all, or with the seriousness they deserve, gun control, for instance.

Gun control? Oh for goodness sake, Kwesi Hayford! Why not? What did you think I was hinting at when right from the beginning of this article I harped on the importance of learning from the mistakes of others?In a global village there is no such thing as your lookout, not mine, your cassava, not mine, or as the Americans would put it your problem, not mine.
It does not matter which part of the world you live in these days.

All of us wiggle our hands and ask how such things happen when we hear of someone or a terrorist group on a shooting rampage. When terrorists attacked American embassies in East Africa, casualty was higher among Africans. Those who got killed had nothing whatsoever to do with Islamist insurgence against the United States of America.

In recent years, and for good reasons the issue of gun control and questions regarding the proliferation of guns in private hands, have topped the news all over the world. An American tragedy?  I wouldn’t  go with that line of thinking if I were you. It is a human tragedy, one that is beginning to touch humanity everywhere – which is why I am not waiting for the strike of disaster, which can be any day before calling on government to review its policy on guns.

From what I am hearing the increasing numbers of foreign made guns that are finding their way into this country, not always through legal channels, are staggering. Our eye balls would fall out of their sockets if we had any idea of the exact figures.  If Ghana is as peaceful a county as politicians and their die-hard are quick to brag then why in God’s name do we need such arsenal in private hands?

Apparently obtaining a permit to own firearms is not as tough as some of us have thought over the years; of course the higher the political office you hold the easier. All you have to do is build up an argument that your circumstance requires your need of  a gun to protect yourself, your family and your property, whi9ch makes no sense to me at all.

Why would a government that spends a decent amount of its hard-earned to give twenty four hour protection to some of its high office-holders, grant licences to same to own guns?  The tacit understanding that the security of those in high political office is of greater importance than that of the citizenry?

When the news reached me in the States that Mr. Jumah, a former Member of Parliament, had made a public confirmation of something some of us have known for ages, that it would take every drop of water from the Rivers of Babylon to cleanse our high-ups of their do you know who I am mentality, I resolved not to be drawn into the debate.

Why bother? Until the masses gained a deeper understanding of politics, the power the ballot gives them, and how they can use the ballot to bargain for better living conditions, politicians would continue to take them for granted, condescend and patronise them.

But why let Mr. Jumah go Scot free?  I hate to burst his bubble but he would be surprised to hear that there are that many in this country who share his exalted view of being an M. P, or to be blunt, his pretensions of grandeur. I for one, don’t, and I will without wasting a minute of anybody’s time, tell you why.

You see, the one advantage of being born in the Gold Coast is that you always have the past to compare with the present. I grieve that the Convention Peoples Party ultimately became the victim of its success, thereby opening its doors too widely to adventurists who didn’t have any commitment to the country or its people but who saw the Party as way to make their fortunes without working for it. But I wilolo give testimony to this anywhere and anytime. Most of those who got engaged in the struggle were a dedicated people, ready to give their lives to the cause.

To understand the politics of Kweku Baako, the Journalist, and a man I have never had the pleasure of meeting, you must first understand the politics of his father, Kweku Baako Senior, the politician, whom I had the pleasure of knowing. If ever this country’s dedicated people are celebrated, Mr. Baako must appear among the very first on the list. Why did Mr. Baako’s popularity dimmed when it surdaced he had slapped a senior colleague of his in the Cabinet, senior not in rank but in age?

An Akan saying illustrates it the best: Adasa know how to tell but never how to explain the circumstances behind what gave rise to the incident they are retailing. Remember we are talking about a time when reverence for the elderly occupied a prime place in our culture.

Why did Mr.i Baakio did the unthinkable and the unforgivable? I can only tell you what Uncle Archie Casely Hayford, at that time a member of the Cabinet, told my father. A company, I was too young at the time to remember, was going to float its shares for Ghanaians who had the wherewithal to buy. Before the sale was made public, Cabinet Ministers bought them all.

Properly infuriated when this reached his knowledge, Kofi Baako told his colleagues off, demanded they shoulde4duce the shares they owned, making most of it available to the public who had the right to buy them. When the colleague, whose name I am withholding, justified the purchases, using what I dcall the prison cassava mentality ( we led the struggle, and we are the ones to benefit from the fruits)  Mr. Baako couldn’t keep his temper under control.

He let his hand fly right onto the face of hissenior colleague. Impertinent, may be, but when the story became public it restored Mr. Baakos popularity and he grew six inches taller in the public’s mind It is this dedication to country and commitment to the people that I use as bellwether in measuring today’s crop of politicians and Parliamentarians.

The very least our lawmakers can do even if they lack the dedication and commitment to the people who put them in that august house is to devote themselves to finding solutions for what is happening to many. Everywhere you turn these days there are Ghanaians decent citizens who are being terrorised, traumatised, or being humiliated with guns.

For someone of these people the experience of waking up in the dead of night to find someone pointing a gun at them is one they will never, ever recover from psychologically. It is their “ntem kesee” Do they deserve this way of life? No !.
Increasing numbers are forced to live in homes that at night take on the atmosphere of prisons. God forbid that there should be fire outbreaks in some of these homes in the middle of the night, the attempts to escape the fire would be greatly hampered by the gates waiting to be unlocked. Why this nightmare?

I agree that the parliamentary way of doing things differs from country to country, that we cannot expect the American or British way to operate here. Still my question is since we excel at copying all the wrong things from other countries, why don’t we, this once, borrow the system whereby a lawmaker with initiative, can, outside of his political party, introduce a Bill which seeks to ban guns or to give the citizenry better protection from criminals?

The way we grant licences to people to carry guns has to be reviewed. The fact that Honourable  Haruna Iddrisu found it necessary to ask a colleague who was being vetted for a high office, whether certain tribes were safe in Kumasi, gives solemn testimony to my concerns that the safety issue is much bigger than we are making it appear. Forget about those certain tribes. One tribe isn’t safe, the rest, it follows, are not either, and it is beyond me that the Minister chose to concentrate on some when it is the safety of a whole nation that should be discussed and at length.

There was something about the late Alhaji Aliu Mahama–  I will not say magnetic that pulled him to you. I liked him, still, but that liking dipped a shade or two when he told the press after his meeting with a visiting American dignitary that because Ghana has had no experience in dealing with armed robbery, he was appealing to the Americans for some help.

Robbery, armed or otherwise, is a huge concern for any country, developed or developed. Each country must devise a way of bringing this menace under control or reducing it. We do not have to go to American or to any other foreign country to help us find solutions to everything that has us under siege. Some of our difficulties we can rein in ourselves.

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