Monday, December 15, 2008

Merry "election-mas" and a happy new president!

It’s been quite a short and an interesting year for me and the crew at NewsAfrican and the Gazette in Accra. The year has been fraught with interesting issues and events. Reeling the past 11months with a retrospective look will bring smiles and pain to many. Everything has happened so fast to my admiration and at the same time to my disappointed because I couldn’t hit my targets for year ’08. Must have to do better or perhaps strive hard to overcome my challenges next year. Agreed! It’s non-negotiable.

Generally there have been issues in mainland Ghana and issues of global concerns. It’s been a mixed bag of apples and oranges; as a matter of fact one cannot always expect to have a good taste of the old lady’s soup. I’ll attempt to go through some events that I deem to be significant and also share a few thoughts.

CAN 2008
The First thing that pops out is CAN 2008 which we hosted and could not win. It was such an emotional disappointment to Ghanaians considering the calibre of players that made up the BLACK STARS. Looking back, I strongly believe that we missed an opportunity that was clearly ours; we should’ve won. I cannot also forget the disaster that was made out of the accreditation process for journalists.

The artificial shortage of tickets for matches that involved team Ghana and the realisation that the Ohene Djan stadium was not filled to capacity anytime the Stars played. “So where were the tickets?” ask again my brother. Ha! The match against Naija (Nigeria) was a well-deserved victory for Ghanaians, the final before the final. We could’ve lost to any team but not to the Super Eagles, on the day they were like chickens before us; they simply could not soar. Yeah, it was a good tournament that exceeded its expectation, superb goals and good performances from 16teams that featured. An Impressive tournament it was, it will be remembered in the annals of African soccer.

world food crisis
Then the world was faced with food crisis; Ghana was not left out of the trouble, there was a rising cost of foodstuffs as fuel prices persistently increased on the world market. This phenomenon was oft-attributed to the war in Iraq. And as usual the margin of increase was quickly added on to transportation fares; but today we are witnessing an all-time incessant fall of fuel prices on the same world market.

Then again we remember the famous presidential economic intervention that was announced to mitigate the crisis here. Unfortunately elsewhere, the multinational neo-con capitalists decided to use thousands of acres of food land to grow ethanol, absurd huh? They say it’s a free world; hence the free market ideology rules. In the West, it takes $2 to feed a full cow whilst majority of Africans live on less than $1 per day. That’s some food for thought for you.

credit crunch
The credit crunch has been described by Moneyfacts (UK based financial analysts) as a ‘snowball effect’ that financial institutions are currently experiencing due to a lack of available money across the market.

The recession that has presently gripped the United States has been so close to the average American. It has been said that 760,000 jobs has disappeared over just the past nine months in addition to the loss of sub prime mortgaged properties being held by under and middle class Americans through no fault of theirs. Liquidity has dried up and the banks are no more in a position to lend to each other creating a freeze up in the global economy. This has led to stock markets becoming so unstable and people’s credit lifestyle has come to a halt. It’s so strange that Corporate America could call for insolvency after paying huge bonuses to management and over-investing in unprofitable stakes.

At this stage the same taxpayers’ money of $700b would have to be used to bail them out. It’s so unbelievable that this is happening in free market America, where market forces are supposed to be left to determine and to decide. Now public monies are being diverted to save private businesses without any compensation to the family that lost its property through this organised corporate fraud. Away in Europe, Russia has gone to the rescue of 11 Icelandic banks.

This is unprecedented and it is even more shocking that Gordon Brown went looking for money from the Saudis to prop up the British economy. We are living in interesting times, but for continent like Africa that is hugely dependent on foreign-aids, grants, loans and remittances from relatives abroad, we’re likely to be hit too. I can conjecture a fall in the stipend our governments receive. We’re all going to feel the pinch, first world, developing world and everyone in between.

The chairman of the African Union (AU) and President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, has already urged donor countries now going through this stiff credit crunch not to cut aid to Africa as the global financial crisis deepens. In fact experiences from earlier crises show his concerns are well founded.

Barack Obama’s famous presidential campaign on the DP (Democratic Party) ticket and the subsequent victory and the frenzy that has caught up with the globe and especially in Africa can also not be side stepped. An African-American has been elected as president of the USA since slavery was abolished 201years ago and 400 years after the first black slave set foot on the American soil. He has undoubtedly brought hope to many Blacks with his “Yes we can” refrain. History found no other person than Obama, to smile upon.

The struggle for Black civil rights and liberty has been long in coming since the days of Jim Crow through to the turbulent 60’s when the movements were at their peak, some how some where, Obama was born within this period to a Kenyan Lou dad and a white American mom. In his father’s land today, babies are been named after him to signify this historic feat in our lifetime.

Many stayed up all night watching CNN announce the November 4, poll results and the declaration of Obama as winner of the mother of all elections. In the morning the jubilations in the streets were ecstatic. We saw the victory coming after Hilary Clinton was made toast. McCain was just a formality, a loose string. Indeed, this is a time to be proud being Black.

the speaker and the finance minister
We cannot also forget the deaths of the former speaker of parliament, Peter Ala Adjetey and the finance minister, Kwadjo Baah-Wiredu, who saw the end of the road in far away South Africa.

The former speaker of parliament was a venerated fount of wisdom during his period of office from 2001-2004. The old man had been taken ill for sometime, only to pass away a few moments upon reaching the hospital. He spoke with so much confidence and power anytime he called for “order” on the floor of the house and very much respected by both the opposing minority and ruling majority party. It is so sad that Ghana has lost such an experienced mind.

The meek and gentle finance minister bowed out a couple of months ago too when he had gone for a medical examination in SA. Unlike Peter, nobody knew that Baah-Wiredu was getting frail and nearing his end. The announcement of his death was undeniably a real shocker to everyone. The local airwaves were filled with condolences and tributes from people of diverse persuasions. He was also loved by all. Posthumously he was awarded for being the best finance minister in Africa for his reforms and the stabilisation of the Ghanaian economy.

May their souls and others’ who have passed away rest in peace.


Now I wonder why we chose to organise this so called universal adult suffrage in December every four years without regard to its implication on business and festive activities during this period. When we must be winding down the tension we’ve been through during the year and getting refreshed to start another year with vigour.

Christmas is here with us and all we can afford to do is to celebrate an “election-mas.” Ouch! You have to paint a finger more during the run-off. The election has been keenly contested by the big boys leaving the small boys to fall side. Now the small boys’ matter so much that they have to be wooed like ladies before the Rubicon is crossed by whoever is holding the umbrella or dancing the kangaroo.

As a commoner, I do not envy them at all. One can imagine the level of their pulse, being old boys as they are. Even I, my heart skip anytime I get to watch an episode of Prison Break and 24. In fact you need your own heart and a standby life-support gadget to withstand the pressure. How tiring it was staying up all night listening to the boring song of numbers being sung by correspondents and reporters through the wire. Unfortunately we have to do it again.

In the up coming run-off, the contenders have so much to gain and perhaps too much to loose. It’s a win-or-go-into-retirement affair.

Ghanaians would have to put every jolly activity on hold as they prepare to elect a new leader on the 28th of Dec. They are also key stakeholders in this game. The message has been clearly sent out to Santa on behalf of the young ones, “please postpone your visit for now, our thumbs are busy.” The cookies, chicken, drinks and everything can wait; they can make up for the after party. But mind you, it’s likely you’ll not recover from the shock until March in case your man looses steam to get to the new presidential palace.

For me these are interesting and boring times. My ears are tired of hearing words being used repeatedly on local television and radio. There they’ll go again,
electorates, constituencies, recounting, polling stations, polling agents, returning officers, collation centres, rejected ballots and them terminologies but the phrase I cannot hate which has also become rife is “the sophistication of the Ghanaian voter”.

Whatever that means I can’t clearly tell, I’ve been hearing it since last week being used by political analysts and I think I love it somehow, anyways it’s supposed to describe voting pattern in the December 7 election. But I’m also exhausted of our version of Rovian Politics (courtesy the GOP-Republican Party) of smearing negative propaganda and vile invectives against political opponents. The “cockerel man” says he is worried too. I do hope that gradually our politics would be devoid of foul-language and name-calling.

The campaign for peace during the last few weeks has almost paid off and there’s another line to cross. I believe civil societies can also do same for a clean and healthy politics in Ghana. Metropolitan television has been magnanimous to the two contending parties in the run-off, a whopping GHC250, 000 of free airtime has been allocated for their access. Whatever they plan doing with it, I say, “issues and nothing else.” Thumbs up to Metropolitan TV, this is an example of corporate social responsibility (CSR). But hey! Let’s face it, they’ve made enough of the “big six” notes prior to the main election on December 7th.

I’m planning of starting a campaign on clean politics, when I do please be the first to join. I believe in people’s power, there’s nothing you can’t do with it. Yes, we have the power and we must call them to order.

Let me leave you with this latest gag from Yankee; Michelle Obama has been going through Barack Obama’s nomination list for his administration and she’s worried about the same crew from the Clinton administration. She couldn’t help but to storm into her husband and President-elect’s office to seek explanation.

Well, she left the office with a simple and an almost threatening advice to Mr. Obama, “please be careful you don’t bring Monica Lewinsky back into the Whitehouse”. Oops! Imagine the expression on Obama’s face.

Just like Barack Obama, Ghana’s new President-to be carries the hope of the masses who will vote him into power. He shouldn’t be too happy with himself; he should be worried about our welfare. To whom much 50%+1 vote is given, much more economic prosperity for all and not corruption is required.

No matter what happens or wherever the pendulum sways in the next fortnight, we must still chart and sustain this peaceful trajectory we have exhibited so far, on behalf of the entire team at Newsafrican and the Gazette, we wish you a merry "election-mas" and a happy new president!