Thursday, July 15, 2010

Political power is transient, Mr. Mayor!

I’m still not sure if any of our politicians have learnt any lessons about being in power. They are so much intoxicated with it such that the positions they occupy almost make them tin-gods. Or better still impervious to logical reasoning. I’m not old enough but I have been lucky enough to witness how miserable those arrogant officials of former President Limann became.Especially those who thought being in political office means they could literally piss on the ordinary Ghanaian.

It took a dawn broadcast by a certain Jerry Rawlings on New Year’s Eve to bring them to reality. Soon those powers on which they so much hanged on and issued ridiculous instructions were gone. Scared and pissing in their pants at the slightest noise for fear they might be arrested, they sought refugee from the very people they had so much overlooked and disrespected.

That coup was totally unwarranted but that’s another subject well left to the dustbin of political history. Then Jerry Rawlings had almost two decades in power and some of his ministers began behaving like tin gods. They lost the plot. Blinded by fake allegiance and fan-fool respect most of his officials-including senior party members- almost saw themselves as gods who could do no wrong.

Their egos were larger than themselves. They carried with them the pride of arrogance were never afraid to show them off. No single advice worthy of consideration ever went into their skulls. They were simply impervious to any logical reasoning. After all they have the power and can even decide whether or not people should breathe, granted they had been given the chance.

But what did we see when they lost the elections? Most of them became extremely miserable. I personally remember one of them who was then a district chief executive somewhere in the Ashanti Region. He was a close friend’s uncle. This man respected his dog more than those around him.

He could speak and embarrass them in the presence of visitors. His decisions were final even when he was clearly out of order. Nobody could overrule him. He became a wretched and I’m not sure he’s been able to recover, at least from the last time I met him a year ago. I could not believe the same man huffing and puffing is the same person with his hands behind him speaking with such an angelic tone.
Clearly his symbol of arrogance has been taken away from him.

Then you come to the era of John Kufour and, I must be blunt, the greatest level of arrogance was exhibited. Even ordinary party flies with no constituency had the effrontery to look Ghanaians in the eye and talk back at them panache. They were LORDS OF THE RINGS and wouldn’t listen to anyone. They had no time for any logical reasoning. It means nothing to them.

Only theirs matter because they controlled state power. They were simply arrogant and not ready to entertain any thoughts. I still remember an encounter one of them had with a custom officer around the airport. ‘I’ll make sure you are sacked from here. Do you know who I am? He quipped with such air of arrogance. His party was kicked out but the custom officer is still around and has moved up in rank.

Some current officials in the Mills administration are walking on the same rope and decisions they take are final. One typical person is the Mayor of Accra Alfred Vanderpujie who believes his words are final and no matter of pleas could make him change his mind. A case in point is new rates he has directed members of the Advertising Association of Ghana to pay if they want to continue with their outdoor advertisements.

The new rate, which the association says represents eight times more than what they used to pay, will drive most of them out of business. Despite their pleas for Mr. Vanderpujie to have a rethink of the rates, he has on the other hand maintained his stance.

He is the lord of Accra and his words are final. His refusal to change his mind has since compelled members of the association to seek the intervention of parliament.
“We are presenting a petition with the support of the AGI to draw the attention to the anomalies in the procedures and processes which the AMA adopted in fixing the rates and the fact that they ignored all our concerns were thrown to the dogs,” says Francis Dadzie, a member of the association.

Mr. Vanderpujie’s ‘Lords of Lords’ attitude is more felt when he decided to replace a technical team responsible for determining the rates for outdoor advertising with a private firm for the next eight years. Rumours are that he has shares in the company. I’m yet to ascertain that but there in Ghana rumours have some iota of truth in them, so I’ll like to go by that.

Vanderpujie certainly has a job to do but he must understand that he’s dealing with people who have feelings and any decision take could have an effect on them and their relations. It is clear his stubbornness is borne out of the fact that he controls power, thanks to political victory which is but transient.

I personally don’t know him but I happened to have bumped into him during the periods of the elections and he was pretty much measured in his speeches with most of the people who had converged around the party’s headquarters. He literally had his two hands behind him anytime he wanted to speak to anybody around.
These are surely interesting times!