"It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
(Swans - August 9, 2010) According to press reports, the parliament of Ghana spent the better part of Monday the 5th of May 2010 discussing one Mr. Kofi Wafo.
The eccentric politician had called various MPs some unpalatable names and this, reportedly, got the goat of some of them. At the end the day, after blowing plenty grammar, the threat was made to drag the political maverick before the Privileges Committee of the parliament.
Of course, Mr. Wayo robustly (and characteristically) called the bluff of the puffing MPs. And as to be expected the cowardly MPs blinked first.
After wasting inordinate man-hours, these expensive-to-maintain MPs could only spew one silly excuse after the other on why they would not dare invite Mr. Wayo to appear.
But we know better: he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.
In issuing their stupendously stupid threat, the parliamentarians clearly revealed how badly ill informed they were. Had they correctly read the public mood, they would have known that they were being obtusely silly.
Although our MPs singularly failed to read the public mood, methinks that simple common sense ought to have dictated to them that they were embarking on a very imprudent enterprise.
How could our expensively maintained MPs have hoped to win a shouting match with a very loquacious, basket-mouth character like Mr. Wayo, whose every pore is spoiling for a verbal warfare? Even his very imposing physique suggests a man built to fight.
"Bring it on," cigar-chomping Kofi Wayo cried with joy when he heard that he would be summoned before parliament.
Of course, our "honourables" scurried back to the comfy of the parliament house!
But wait a sec... Was it not the same parliament where members boycotted proceedings a few months ago in sympathy with a guy (Darko) that libelously accused former president Rawlings of setting fire to his own house?
How did the Darko case warrant the emblem of "freedom of speech," while Kofi Wayo is to be criminalized for running his mouth? We truly live in a very funny country!
Sorry MPs, you cannot have your cake after eating it. And kindly credit us with better intelligence.
In issuing the stupid threat, the MPs were clearly embarking on a war they could never win; one in which they would have come out badly bruised, battered, and humiliated.
They should have been better advised to, for once, take their job seriously and start to earn their fantastic pay.
Are our MPs now telling us that each and every time anyone criticizes the parliament as a den of thieves and a burrow of criminals she will be dragged before the Privileges Committee?
I hold no brief for Kofi Wayo since I believe that his mouth is big and glib enough to talk his way out of any situation. But this time, the MPs badly misfired and their ignominious climb-down cast them in very bad light. They spoiled for a fight and lack the guts to fight it through. It portrays them as spineless cowards through and through.
The only sad thing is that our cowardly MPs criminally deprived us of an interesting encounter -- one that could have spiced things up a bit and taken our minds off the drudgery of life.
Mr. Wayo alleged that many of the parliamentarians are criminals. He then went on to mention some parliamentarians who have been engaged in criminal activities.
This incurred the wrath of our so-called "honourable" members of parliament and they huffed and puffed; and they threatened fire and brimstone.
At the end, all was just shakara as our Anago cousins would say.
The MPs baldly withdrew their threat, thus denying the good, hard-working citizens of this blessed republic the joy of witnessing the mother and father of all battles as I am sure that Mr. Wayo would have made a complete fool of those who purport to represent us in parliament.
It ain't fair at all. I move that the MPs reconsider their stand and invite Mr. Wayo to come and defend hisself (let's borrow a Bushism here). And it should be carried LIVE on Ghanaian TV.
Kofi Wayo was quoted as having said that "The parliament itself is a useless place, the people there don't need to be there, they don't! They are criminals a lot of them in there."
Do our pricey MPs have a problem with simple grammar (or ungrammar as it were) or what?
If Mr. Wayo said that the parliament is a useless place, the only honorable thing was for our high-priced MPs to come out and tell us what useful things they have been engaging in to earn their fantastic pay and emoluments and, don't forget it, ex gratia.
I believe that the MPs dodged the impending confrontation because they knew that Mr. Kofi Wayo was going to open a scandalous can of worms that would haunt and hurt many (if not most) of them.
How many of our so-called "honourables" can justify their seats in the house? How many of them have made any (forget meaningful) contribution to debates in the house? How are they paying back the US$ 50,000 car loans they took out? How much does it cost us to maintain an MP in office? How many are faithful in attending proceedings at the house?
The questions are simply endless.
When I first read about the stupid threat, my first thought was: "But who is afraid of the parliamentarians?"
Whom do they think they are threatening to drag a citizen to their so-called Privileges Committee for daring to say what most of us are thinking?
I think that most of our MPs have indeed lost their marbles. Methinks that they have spent too much time cocooned in their parliament house to have totally lost touch with reality.
Any number of Ghanaians will tell you that parliamentarians and politicians generally have long lost respect of ordinary folks who think of them as a bunch of self-seeking opportunists motivated by nothing but crass self-interests. The records are there for all to see.
Some posers for our panting MPs:
What have they done individually and collectively to move the development agenda of our nation forward?
What type of leadership have they provided over the years when our pictures continue to adorn NGO pamphlets on hunger, and when we die needlessly from flood and perish unnecessarily from drought?
If they are providing us with good leadership how do we come to remain a Highly Indebted and Poor Country (HIPC) after fifty-three years of self-government?
If they are not providing us with quality leadership (as they clearly aren't) how do they justify their claims as "honourables," with fat pay packets, emoluments, car loans, and things?
In this age and time, how many of them maintain a Web site where his or her vision for constituency (let's forget national) development is articulated?
Was it not an MP, Mr. P.C. Appiah Ofori, Member for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, who alleged that MPs took bribes of $5,000 dollars each to approve the scandalous sales of Ghana Telecom?
His words: "Every NPP MP who took part in the approval of the Vodafone deal knew in their hearts that they took 5,000 dollars from the former chief of staff."
Were our overpriced MPs slumbering when approval was granted for a loan deal with a fictitious company?
Is it not true that a former member of parliament, Eric Amoateng, is serving a jail term in New York for trafficking in hard drugs?
Were we not all witnesses to an outgoing speaker, Sakyi-Hughes, looting his official residence?
How many MPs refused the scandalous ex gratia awarded at the last hand-over; how much did they skim from state coffer in that infamous ex-gratia scandal, by the way?
How could our MPs, in good conscience, take from our national kitty, ex gratia, for four years of work that is more than what a teacher will get for forty years of work?
It is a pity that these so-called "honourables" refused to see the irony of their position. They come around begging for votes with the plea that they are servants of the people. But their first order is to ensure their personal comfort. They shamelessly collect fat pay packets, yet cannot form quorums on many occasions.
I don't know of a single MP who has built a park or a swimming pool in his or her constituency. How about a library?
People who think of our politicians as great letdowns are fully justified. Had we been better served by our leaders we should have no business being classified HIPC when we should be up there with the Chinese, the Malaysians, the Brazilians, and the Indians.
For the past three decades or so, those that charge themselves with ruling us have urged hoi poloi to tighten their belts in order to build up the economy. They slapped us with the HIPC moniker without much protest from us.
But whereas we are ever willing and prepared to make sacrifices for Ghana, our leaders are not willing to do the same. Never mind that our economy is in a parlous state; their jeeps keep on getting bigger. In spite of the fact that we depend on "donor support" for a sizable chunk of our budget, their allowances and ex gratia are getting juicier.
They awarded themselves mouth-watering ex gratia without telling us why we should be grateful to them for the awards.
They took a loan to build a presidential palace whilst many of our folks are sleeping rough on the streets and they expect us to be vibrating with gratitude.
I live in Kasoa and I invite anyone to come and see the agonies our people face Monday mornings as they struggle for transportation that will take them to their places of work. Yet, we come to Accra, to the ministries area, and see expensive jeeps parked all over the place. We take a tour of the Parliament's House Motor Park and we are confronted with a sea of expensive cars that would make the heart bleed at the callousness of those that govern us.
We are where we are because we have people ruling us who are totally disconnected from the crunching poverty their policies have inflicted on us.
The truth must be told that we are where we are because our leaders, which include the fuming parliamentarians, are totally ruthless and utterly amoral in their rapaciousness. Their capricious greediness is largely responsible for the woes bedeviling our blessed republic.
Our leaders have lost all sense of shame -- otherwise, given the shocking poverty and inadequacies we see around us, they would find it embarrassing to show their faces in public.
Yet, there they are, calling themselves "honourables"!
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About the Author
Femi Akomolafe (see his profile on Swans) is a computer consultant, a writer and social commentator, an avid reader, and a passionate Pan-Africanist who lives in Kasoa, Ghana. Femi is known to hold strong opinions and to express them in the strongest terms possible. As he likes to remind his readers: "As my Yoruba people say: Oju orun teye fo, lai fara gbara. It means that the sky is big enough for all the birds to fly without touching wings." Femi Akomolafe's views, opinions, and thoughts can be accessed on the blog he maintains: http://ekitiparapo.blogspot.com/. (back)