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Critical News: Shadows and roosters on an umbrella
From: Sydney Casely-Hayford          Published On: November 25, 2012, 14:44 GMT
 
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Critical News: Shadows and roosters on an umbrella

Sydney Casely-Hayford

I am not going to comment on Hassan Ayariga. I take umbrage with those in the People’s National Party (PNC) who made him a presidential candidate. Comic relief aside, I think it is high time we shifted the blame to the king makers. They should be ashamed for asking Ghanaians to consider a candidate of such patchiness for president. He won the Tornoo of the week again on Joy fm’s Weekend City show.

But Joy did poorly on Newsfile, not allowing an extra five minutes on Saturday to establish real truths on pertinent issues of Nana Addo’s qualifications amid mischief making by Felix Ofosu Kwakye, who I have concluded is simply a semi-educated NDC foot soldier. Closer to Election day we are degenerating into an abyss of hollow thought, which I find rather distasteful. There are levels of political discourse at mezzanine points you expect decorum and civility to guide discussions and combative deliberation. It could be desperation driving us to silliness and I hope the issues drive us more into creativity than this stupidity of whether one left out an item in their CV. In my world, when you submit a CV, you highlight your achievements and record of success, not your failures. Not sure if Kwabena Agyepong held his cool after the program, he sounded livid during a hot exchange with Mr. Ofosu Kwakye. And then of course, this week Ablakwabish raised his right to be heard, making fodder of a discourse between Nana Addo and debate moderator Kojo Oppong Nkrumah after the presidential debate.

But for me, the highlight of the debate was the fallout from the PNC’s own support base and disowning Ayariga as an NDC prop. And of course, Ayariga’s crude German.

Minister of Education Mr. Lee Ocran has chosen a handicap bout with the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS). He is not even offering to split the difference of seventy pesewas between Government and the CHASS for a school feeding program, which the NDC has said is a well considered poverty safety net for underprivileged children. The Ghana Education Service had previously approved ghc2.50 and now wants CHASS to down this to ghc1.80. But the students have been fed at ghc2.50. Who will carry the 70 pesewas can? Lee Ocran is fighting at bantam weight, in the heavy weight division. He is definitely on a loser, especially with two weeks to election day. Foolishness. Some people don’t know how to pick their battles. And free education is the key campaign issue at heart.

And the National Health Insurance scheme is also headed the same way, with payments from Government now falling behind 3 months and more. I have been asking why Government is borrowing so much in T Bills at such high interest rates because it seems it is cash broke.

Rawlings raised the temperature of expectation in the Western Region then dropped it to freezing when he mounted the stage and spoke on peace and corruption rather than lead a chant for NDC supporters. For a moment there, the NDC stalwarts hoped for a straw but the former chaos manufacturer and coup maker took a new path of peace. He is tentatively welcome to this civil fold.

But the Presidential debates overshadowed the head to head collision between Dr. Mensa Otabil and NDC action troopers. Before now, what had started as one to one condemnation of some religious leaders by NDC troopers Asiedu Nketia, Tony Aidoo and Allotey Jacobs looked as if it would go away quietly. But alas it went farther and the NDC group went public to fashion a conspiracy between the NPP and the Churches even to suggest that the NPP had deliberately manned a campaign to create the impression that the NDC was against Christians. A most peculiar press conference took place on this issue led by Tony Aidoo and company. The conundrum here is after yelling and abusing Church leaders why would the NDC expect that Christians continue to revere them. You have to borrow the classic Malcolm X cliché and say it. The chickens came home to roost, this time they found an open umbrella. But it is beginning to look as if all NDC woes emanate from the NPP whether in or out of Government. I think the NDC called this on themselves and gave Otabil his day on the podium to make statements he probably would have preferred to keep to private circles. Now that they have Christians thinking about the matter every Sunday, I wonder if the Christian vote count will be distorted at the pulpits.

It is quite likely the Research International voting survey rattled NDC pundits. They released what appears to be a credible poll, the NPP in the lead with 52%. Things have been jittery for the Government since this went public. An earlier poll by Damina also had the NPP in the lead by the same margin, the Economist intelligence Unit (EIU) published their prediction for the NDC, but did not quantify their winning margin. My analysis poses more questions than answers but I think there will be a couple more releases before voting day and I am expecting an update from Damina at least a week to election day.

Who will win this election? For the first time, the field might be the most level we have ever had in our history. Once we sail through smoothly and give the Biometric Voter Register a credibility boost, we might just do away with police security and calls on the army to man flash points, where Winneba rang the morning bell during the week. The Chieftaincy dispute in Winneba has dragged for too long and it is about time some sanity prevailed. The dispute has fuzzed party lines with traditional rule. Resolution after the election?

The Electoral Commissioner is flexing. Under-age voters cannot be stopped from voting, but their vote can be challenged and cancelled. Even better, if the number of votes exceeds the names on the BVR, polling station votes might be excluded from the count. All well and nice, but will he do it? Some say he will, after all he has disqualified Nana Konadu as a Presidential candidate. You have to muse. Could he have done this, sixteen years ago?

Chief Justice Georgina Wood has issued a warning though, that any underage person caught voting will be prosecuted. Jail those who registered them too, no? They surely are the guilty ones.

Unfortunately, former AG Martin Amidu did not get his day before the Supreme Court. One of the judges was “indisposed”. He is challenging the constitutional route that allowed Agbesi Woyome to walk away with ghc51.2million of taxpayer money, which by the way President Mahama tried to defend during the debate, labeling them problems created by contract abrogation from previous government. His sole commissioner opened up its office this week and will start broadcasting live on GTV. You have to feel sorry for Ghana. I have lost count of how many bodies are investigating this case. Eventually, I suspect the commissioner will come out to call a ceasefire from everyone, except his outfit. Agbesi will walk if the NDC stays in government.

Have you ever been to Ashaiman? It is a municipality. An NDC strong hold with over 85,000 voters. The NDC candidate Mr. Alfred Kwame Agbesi won 60.3% of the vote in 2008. His NPP competitor, managed 38.2%. The police say there are more than 20 flash points that could flare into violence in Ashaiman, where there is virtually no drainage on the main road of the town. There is dust, filth, sewage between business and residential areas; cars and human persons share the road with helmet-less motorbike riders, Goro boys weave carts between traffic as you plow your police-less way through and the cuisine by the wayside is a questionable diet of fine dust and polluted foods. The 2010 population census reports just a shade under 50,000 households and 119,150 persons over 18 years old. This is the most backward water I have ever seen, even for a ghetto in Ghana. If I lived there, I would not bother to turn up to vote. This is a place raped and stripped of nobility. But residents disagree with my view. They vote every year, with the same result.

By the way, there is a shortage of rock blasting material on the market. I am digging a hole in my backyard to harvest rainwater and Ashaiman is the only place where you can find gunpowder for blasting rocks. There are shadows in the alleys; waiting, waiting.

Ghana, Aha a ye de papa. Alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!


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