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Feature: Flies In The Mouth   
 
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18-Dec-2009  
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I have once asked an unanswered question about political parties in Ghana today, especially as it relates to my own New Patriotic Party, about who exactly a “leading member” is. The phrase “leading member” has been so used, abused and misused that anybody with remote association with and affiliation to the NPP, carries the title without understanding its implications.

Needless to say, the mass media has been a purveyor of this erroneous impression, thereby perpetuating this erroneous anomaly and in effect, conferring on people of questionable loyalty to the Danuqah-Busia tradition, the title “leading member”. If for example a social commentator with sympathies towards the NPP decides to contest for a position in the party, he automatically becomes a leading member, the same way that an individual who resigns from the party and returns Nicodemously through the back door appropriates the title, perhaps for politically expedient reasons.

Be that as it may, the term has gained a certain de facto acceptance, so that news reportage on events pertaining to the NPP are almost always preceded by “A leading member of the opposition NPP, Mr. Maaka Maka, has …” That tendency, whether by accident or design has indirectly shown that the next General Secretary of the party must be really up and doing, to the extent that no media house finds it necessary to confirm or crosscheck from that secretariat, whether those about whom the news is put out qualify to be leading members in accordance with the party’s rules and regulations. Without checks and balances on the appropriation of such titles, can anyone really blame another entity if the party, its image and its membership are brought into disrepute by loose canons?

Mr. Kwame Pianim is someone who commanded respect across the broad political spectrum in Ghana and beyond. His forthrightness is legendary, especially when he throws light on issues that fall within his training and profession. I personally think nobody in Ghana today deconstructs economic concepts to the understanding of the “ordinary Ghanaian” better than Andrews Kwami Pianim. Indeed so simple and effective was Mr. Pianim that his own friends from the opposite side of the political divide openly wept when he was effectively petrified by the Supreme Court of Judicature in Ghana from contesting for the highest office of the land.

It was a day that broke the hearts of many, but also a day that elevated him almost to “Mandelaic Stature” for he bore no malice to those who passed his death sentence, including the judge who retired into his chambers immediately after the verdict and wept his heart out at what he had done, without realizing that his door had not been properly shut. Today he still sits there on the bench and one wonders what he will be thinking of the “Pianimic Pains”, inflicted on his otherwise well-focused self in these days of fire and brimstone. Kwame Pianim has in one fell swoop, decimated whatever astuteness he has earned and commanded within the body politic of Ghana and dare I say, across the globe. I will not recount in detail, what exactly it was that he said.

What I would share herein however is the implications of this major faux pas of a senior statesman as far as role models and father figures are concerned. I will be blunt and state that I do not envy Mr. Pianim at all in his time of distress, for that is what he has effectively brought upon himself: as far as the NPP is concerned, he can liken himself to a leprous recluse, for while smiles may greet him when he mixes with party apparatchiks on any given front, everybody would be extremely guarded whenever and wherever he shows up. If nobody would tell him, I dare say he has become a pariah within a multitude, at once higher than Judas the Iscariot and simultaneously lower than a snake’s belly.

Most people in the NPP would never take him seriously again, especially because his hawkish opponents have always had suspicions of him, while some have even gone to the extent of calling him a one-man sleeper cell in the mould of Kim Philby. His other friends in the ruling NDC would be extremely wary of him, for even if he was doing his best to cross-carpet, his statements have portrayed him as a “loose talker” who is unlikely to exercise discretion in the public domain so that if given a position of trust or placed in a sensitive environment, one cannot guarantee his adherence to group think if that is what is required of him.

Kwame Pianim no doubt, is a schoolmate of His Excellency President Mills and has been a very close associate of the man over the years. Those of us with institutional and political memory, remember vividly that Candidate Mills as he then was in 2000, publicly expressed his desire to include Kwame Pianim in his economic management team if he won that election. That was when most people started toying with the idea of Kwame Pianim’s questionable allegiance to the NPP.

This gestating idea in the minds of many has been further boosted by issues relating to his political career including but not limited to his resignation from the party, his persistent refusal to take up the position of Chairman after he has been implored to do so by many, his “re-engagement” with the NPP, his statements on the Vodafone Deal in which he asserted that without the infusion of the cash, the economy of Ghana will grind to a halt and some other matters that I cannot recount here for obvious reasons. The sum total of all these, is to send the signal and foster festering beliefs that he is and has been nothing but a mole all these years. Yet, this cannot be entirely true for a number of reasons.

It was Kwame Pianim, who after his release from jail on trumped up charges of preparing to overthrow the PNDC government, added the needed GH¢500 to complete the transaction that bought the NPP its first headquarters as Kokomlemle. Five million cedis in those days was a very very huge sum of money.

He also contributed immensely to debates, funded many youth activists in the party to promote the party’s work in politically suicidal or dangerous places such as parts of the Volta Region, paid a chunk of the money that facilitated the famous Kume Preko Marches throughout Ghana and helped raise funds for the successful prosecution of numerous campaigns waged by the party.

Kwame Pianim also sold his house at Roman Ridge to finance the registration exercise conducted by the NPP in 1995-96, bought a Nissan Patrol for the late Agyenim-Boateng, former General Secretary to facilitate his work and paid for several medical operations of very senior members of the NPP.

As for his very sound economic brain, it has been priceless, especially in the days when the Parliament of Ghana was bereft of an organized opposition as it is in contemporary times. Many thriving businesses in Ghana today make use of his expertise and advice and dare I say influence to sustain themselves, whether within the exclusive Ghana Club 100 or in profitable but unlisted small and medium scale businesses. He is indeed an economic icon par excellence whichever way one looks at it.

This is why he has disappointedly disappointed disappointment disappointingly. When you reach a certain level of public elevation and stature, you avoid loose talk like a strange disease. One may ask how much of life I have seen to be able to make such statements about my Uncle’s classmate at Achimota.

My response is simple: it is true that what an Old Man sees when sitting down will elude a young man standing at his full height. So also is it true that what a Baby sees when crawling would totally elude an Old Man when perching. Kwame, who I worked for in 1996 together with many including Sam Ellis, Amankwa-Manu, Nana Osafo Maafo, Isaac Osei, Wereko-Brobby, Victor Newman, Cecilia Dapaah, Courage Quarshigah, Nana Yaw Attafuah, Kweku Poku, Kwamina Bartels, Gladys Asmah, Christine Churcher, Osei Adjei, Kan Dapaah, Peter Mac Manu, Asuo Banin, Theresa Tagoe, Amadu Kalim, Esther Ofori and Nyaho Tamakloe among others has done the unthinkable. Simply put, he has let all of us, who used to call him “Master” down.

How does he think the aforementioned people would think of him, his judgment and posturing after this classic status-deflating spree he has embarked on? Pathetically enough, the more he opens his mouth to defend, rebuff, correct or redress the situation, the more flies he invites to feast on the carcass he has unleashed into the Ghanaian political piranha-filled atmosphere.

I honestly think he is so gone with the wind with this sad act of being momentarily carried away. Until he spoke the unthinkable, I was inclined to think political rallies were the only grounds upon which such loose talk is spewed. If a small gathering can elicit such momentary flights of indiscretion, I shudder to think what a Kasoa-type rally would bestow upon a “leading member” if and when called to address the charged crowds that show up at such gatherings. Kwame, in my opinion fell into a trap, one created by himself but unfortunately set for no other but the trap-builder.

Let this be a warning to those old men in political parties, especially those of the NPP who think rather pathetically that they are not prone to mistakes or put more bluntly, their political careers have spanned over 30 years and therefore cannot be wrong. There is a new breed of interpreter in Ghana today. That breed is generically called “Youth” and they are as smart as they are vicious and eager to overturn any semblance of pretentiousness at the highest echelons of any political party.

I have always held, that those who cannot understand and comprehend the changing dynamics of political activity today have absolutely no business trying to become political players. There is always a price to pay for loose talk or emotional outbursts irrespective of whom they emanate from. If Pianim’s pain is anything to go by, let his contemporaries begin the process of fine-tuning their act for a time is coming when so-called leading members would be told openly in the face to go burn the sea.

If anybody is in doubt, and as I have stated two weeks ago, the results of the upcoming NPP National Executive elections would make that statement, even if some people think those are the effusions of a parochial bloc. Our so-called “big men” must start learning to face bitter truths for although one cannot teach an old dog new tricks, it is also true that learning is a life-long experience so that the old notions must necessarily give way to new ideas when they are directed to the improvement and benefit of the collective.

Kwame Pianim’s aiming has perhaps shown us the fallibility of the most astute under much unexpected circumstances. It has also taught us not to overrate the abilities of human beings, created in the image and likeness of God. If I learnt anything personally, it is the fact that those we used to hail to the highest heavens as being the very embodiment of wisdom, knowledge and understanding may not be what we thought they are after all. Instead, those who otherwise inspired awe and near adoration from us are indeed coming to their wits end, displaying signs that a first-year student would easily circumvent given the same circumstance.

What does that tell us? The time has come for those who fear transference of power and influence to the younger generation to change their game and embrace reform. An ‘eternal’ subservience and subjugation to old ideas that have proven unworkable is bound to yield the same dividends that old ideas do. Let Pianim’s pain be the sacrificial platform upon which redirection and repositioning takes place within the body politic for to brush it aside as a one-off event is to bury our heads in the sand as the proverbial ostrich only for reality to batter us in ways we have never envisaged.
 
 
Source: Calus Von Brazi - [email protected] The Statesman
 
 

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