By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
My initial reaction to Prof. Kwaku Asare’s lawsuit against Speaker Edward Doe Adjaho and, I believe, Chief Justice Georgina Wood, as well, was squarely predicated on the imperative need for the nation not to be unwisely sidetracked by the quiddities of legal technicalities to the detriment of Ghana’s political development. We witnessed something similar on the legislative front, with then-opposition parliamentary leader, Mr. Kwaku Baah, taking a ball of corn dumpling, or kenkey, to the august floor of the House, and creating a drawn-out circus – and effectively stalling deliberations on other critical aspects of our national life, such as education and health – until when nobody appeared to be vigilantly looking out from within, then-Rtd. Flt.-Lt. Jerry John Rawlings took advantage of the situation to install and perpetuate his dictatorship for twenty of the longest years in Ghanaian political history.
Indeed, one of the first statements that Mr. Rawlings made, shortly after declaring himself strongman and Chairman of the so-called Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), was sneeringly and sarcastically about Mr. Baah’s patently cynical decision to stall parliamentary proceedings for the better part of two weeks, simply because the price of a ball of kenkey had shot up from whatever it had been a little earlier to C 1.00 (One Ghanaian Cedi, as it is called these days). And such sharp rise in the price of a ball of kenkey, according to Mr. Baah, was squarely due to the gross administrative incompetence of the Limann-led government of the People’s National Party (PNP).
At the time, the gruff Scottish accent of Mr. Rawlings, then 33 years old, sounded so knowingly confident – some call it “charismatic” – that many a naive and unsuspecting Ghanaian citizen fell for it hook, line and sinker, as it were. By the middle of 1983, scarcely two years later, the Rawlings-led PNDC government had effectively run Ghana’s ship-of-state aground. The Akans have a saying that “A fool does not permit his gonads to be trampled twice at will.”
In other words, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Already, the man who twice forcibly imposed himself on the Ghanaian people has begun talking about the grim and imminent possibility of rank corruption in the Mahama government leading to the political destabilization of the country. And those of us who are old enough to remember are eerily mindful of the fact of the phrase “political destabilization” pointing to nothing short of the hint of a military putsch. Of course, we Ghanaians pride ourselves in the fact of our relative political enlightenment vis-a-vis the overwhelming bulk of the countries on the African continent. It was, by the way, the same naive and exuberant sense of self-preening enlightenment that governed the attitude of the key players of the Busia-led Progress Party (PP) administration. And, of course, the rest, as they say, is history.
What gives me a little hope, this time around, is that the lawsuit reportedly filed by Prof. Kwaku Asare against Speaker Adjaho has more to do with the latter’s apparently cavalier attitude towards the duties pertaining to the cardinal political portfolio to which he voluntarily offered himself, and for which he vigorously lobbied long before the fact. If, indeed, this is the main and sole intent of the plaintiff, and there is absolutely no reason to believe otherwise, then Prof. Asare can only be unreservedly commended for his conscientious and yeomanly efforts at making democracy work the way that it is supposed to work in any political system and dispensation worthy of such designation.
Clearly, in insolently cherry-picking what constitutional obligations to observe and/or subscribe, Speaker Adjaho stands irredeemably guilty of being integral to the rank and abject state and insufferable level of corruption which the overwhelming majority of Ghanaian citizens have been up in arms about in recent weeks. And if the highest court of the land can be successfully prevailed upon to set “corrupt politicians” like Speaker Adjaho aright, and promptly so, then, of course, all one can say to Prof. Asare is tersely as follows: “More power to you, homeboy!”