Of a Lying President, an Impotent Parliament and Zenabu’s Piggery
By JayJay D. Segbefia, Accra-GHANA Journalist, Business Person, Jungle Boy Apparently, there are many diplomatic ways to say NONSENSE, and that makes little sense to me. I mean, if you mean to say something, why not just go ahead and say it? After all, do our elders not say, “It is no insult to say a dead man is dead”? Why cook up a dozen ways to say a simple, di-syllabic word? It’s about eight months to the November 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections. This is the sole reason I listened to John Dramani Mahama’s 2016 State of the Nonsense Address (SONA). Uhm… I fully intend to be respectful of the president, you understand? So this is a clear error. I truly meant to say, State of the Nation Address. But, while we are on the subject of nonsense, do you know that the English have dozens of interesting ways of calling out someone for talking utter rubbish? My all-time favourites are balderdash, codswallop, bunkum and poppycock. Of these four, I am indefatigably fond of balderdash and poppycock. Here’s why: Balderdash is thought to have originally been a random mixture of frothy liquors, or the foamy water used by a barber to shave a customer, and Poppycock either comes from a Dutch dialect word for “soft poop,” or from the old Dutch expression zo fijn als gemalen poppekak – literally “as fine as powdered doll’s excrement.” The more I listened to SONA, the more I found myself liberally using balderdash and poppycock every time majority MPs chorused “YEAH-YEAH”. There. Now back to our lying President. It has always been the resort of un-quintessential leaders to resort to base tactics – especially the kind that involve emotional reactions and responses – to be seen and heard. Now, I know this is a weird statement to make of the highest office of the land. He is, after all, at the centre of everything that happens in this country. All Ghanaian journalists are hot-wired to report everything he does. Tune in to any of Ghana’s radio stations or read the newspapers and it’s all about the dead goat. It is a surprise they do not report on what brand of undies our first Gentleman wears. How then can one say that the president lacks platforms to be seen and heard, for which he has had to resort to mediocre tactics to be heard? But you see, being seen and heard because one is president, is not the same as being seen and heard in spite of one being president. The former indicates that the only reason one is listened to is their being president. Take out the presidency, and a pig’s fart would pique more interest. The latter however indicates that one is listened to, regardless of whether one is president or not. Candidates in the first category often have to resort to distasteful theatrics, including gimmicks, sensationalism, and manipulation, in order to acquire meaningful attention. Two events provide evidence for why this writer makes the ridiculing assertion that our President falls in the first category. The first is his response to why he would allow Gitmo detainees into the country without some parliamentary consensus. The president’s answer, and to half a dozen economic and governance issues as well, was not logic but emotion. In the Gitmo saga in particular, he appealed, not to the logic of military or counter-terrorism intelligence, or to the wisdom that comes from building consensus with civil society and relevant organs of government, but to the emotion of “Christian compassion” because the detainees had “supported the Black Stars while in jail”. If that isn’t balderdash, then tell me what is. The second evidence of many is the Abbot and Costello performance of producing laughable evidence at SONA 2016, the most ridiculous being the story of 42-year old Zenabu, a Muslim woman from Ghana’s impoverished north who was said by the President to have invested her grant through the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme in piggery. Social media immediately went berserk with echoes of the ridiculousness of the claim that a Muslim would rear oinkers. Not surprisingly, many of the victims of the whole performance were well-known, die-hard NDC stooges. But the tragedy of the entire SONA was Parliament itself. The cacophony that attended SONA was epitomic of a congress of baboons. There’s no doubt in my mind that Ghana’s Parliament is nothing, other than the business of legislation, than a jocular appendage of the Executive. As to that animal they call Contempt of Parliament, I believe strongly in the School of Thought that the constitutional creation of the concept of Contempt of Parliament was coined more to prevent parliamentarians from making complete spooty patooties of themselves than it was coined to prevent me from calling them “a veritable bunch of babbling baboons”. There’s no doubt that, having failed miserably as President, John Dramani Mahama is having nightmares from the increasing lack of credibility people ascribe to his statements. Less than 24 hours after SONA, the Ghanaian media exposed all the lies in his address, including the outcry of the people of Hohoe when the president described their man-hole festered road as a constructed highway. This is the reason President Mahama and his side-kicks are so hell-bent on pushing down Ghanaian throats the theory of the necessity of his second term, well-nigh attempting to relegate to the pit latrine the record of the (non) performance of the Mills administration. Having failed so abysmally in almost eight years in office, it is necessary for him to deny the first tenure of the NDC and drum home that he, and not the wretched party he represents, deserves a second term. Right there, my dear friends, is the poppycock I took the liberty to define earlier on. Poppycock! And a generous sprinkling of balderdash, I tell you.