I once attended a lecture at which the well-known New York City civil- and human-rights activist, the Rev. Alford “Al” Sharpton recounted the fact that the most difficult memorial and burial ceremonies for the deceased, for an officiating clergyman, or woman, for that matter, was that of a toddler or a teenager.
“You are almost always at a loss over what to say,” he soberly observed and added, “At such funerals and burial services, you really don’t know what to say. You couldn’t say, for instance, that the deceased was a great achiever or a distinguished citizen, because s/he hadn’t lived long enough to have made any remarkable impact on either his/her community or society.”
Reading the Ghana News Agency (GNA) report in which Vice-President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur was quoted as having commended the late Mr. Paul Victor Obeng, the longtime Rawlings associate and co-conspirator and criminal usurper of democratic governance, for having introduced Mr. Amissah-Arthur to the then-ruling Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), I couldn’t help feeling the same sense of wistfulness that the Rev. Sharpton had alluded to (See ” ‘PV Obeng Introduced Me to the PNDC’ – Veep” Ghana News Agency/ Ghanaweb.com 5/23/14).
I couldn’t help feeling morally and emotionally scandalized, because the country’s raging bleak economic dilemma was almost wholly created by the tandem Rawlings-led governments of the PNDC and its Fourth-Republican incarnation of the so-called National Democratic Congress. And when the Vice-President adds that the late “PV Obeng will be missed because of his selflessness and dedication to work,” I couldn’t help asking the following question: Exactly what kind of work are we talking about here? And, specifically, what kind of productive and/or meaningful results has such dedication to work produced, in terms of the quality-of-life status of Ghanaians at large?
And on the latter note, we also need to quickly add the fact that at the time of his death, Mr. Obeng was also the head of something called the National Development Planning Committee (NDPC). That both Messrs. Amissah-Arthur and Obeng had to organize the so-called National Economic Forum (NEF), or what has become widely known as the Senchi Charade, in order to solicit expert opinions on how to move the country’s seriously ailing economy in the right direction, ought to inform the well-meaning and critically thinking Ghanaian citizen precisely what President John Dramani Mahama has been doing at the helm of the country’s affairs. Clearly, of course, the correct answer is absolutely nothing strategically economic.
It is also significant to observe the fact that the very year in which Vice-President Amissah-Arthur claims to have been introduced to the PNDC’s big kahunas by Mr. Obeng, 1983, was also the year in which Mr. Rawlings reneged on his “revolutionary” economic agenda and decided to shamelessly follow the same IMF-World Bank economic policy guidelines for which he had forcibly overthrown the popularly and democratically elected Limann-led People’s National Party (PNP). At the time of the latter’s overthrow, the then-Chairman Jerry John Rawlings described the Limann government as the most corrupt, incompetent and disgraceful in the postcolonial history of Ghana.
Interestingly, however, only a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Rawlings also insisted that the John Agyekum-Kufuor-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was the most corrupt administration in the history of the country. And the Kufuor government, it is significant to note, took the helm of national affairs almost exactly twenty years after the military overthrow of Dr. Hilla (Babini) Limann.
And so the most logical question that ought to be asked of Togbui Avaklasu I is the following: If, indeed, Mr. Chairman, the most corrupt elected government in Ghana’s history was the Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party, and not the Limann-led People’s National Party, then why hadn’t you waited until 2001 to do your quite familiar numbers, as it were, on the Kufuor administration, instead of Dr. Limann’s PNP government on December 31, 1981?
Ghanaians also need to bear in mind that the twenty years separating the Limann government from the Kufuor administration was fully and firmly occupied by the tandem Rawlings-led governments of the Provisional National Defense Council and the National Democratic Congress. This is also the period characterized by what came to be widely known as “Mr. Rawlings’ Necklace.”
The latter description, of course, refers to the acute and perennial economic depression that marked the period under discussion, manifested by the legions of Ghanaian citizens who lost so much weight and were so malnourished, as well as under-nourished that their collar bones appeared to be dangerously shooting out of their shoulders. This is also the period that Mr. Rawlings would have Ghanaians celebrate as the Golden Age of postcolonial Ghana.
What is unarguably clear here is that Mr. Amissah-Arthur has benefited greatly from his introduction by PV, as Mr. Obeng was popularly known, to the big kahunas of the P/NDC. He has also meteorically vaulted up from the quite cushy job of Bank of Ghana Governor to Vice-President in less than four years. To that personal extent, PV was, indeed, a “political engineer” of genius. But when Mr. Amissah-Arthur attempts to make a broad generalization out of his epic personal fortunes, then, of course, we have to bring him back down to Earth.
You see, what most Ghanaians mean when we talk of economic development, is one that reaches across classes, ethnic groups and political associations. But I guess the poor chap felt strongly that he needed to say something remarkable and, perhaps, even meaningful to meliorate the painful loss of Mr. Obeng’s apprently anonymous widow and the dead man’s relatives. Well, I make reference to Mr. Obeng’s “anonymous wife,” because not a single news article that I have read concerning his death has Mrs. Obeng’s real, or proper, name being mentioned as such. And I have yet to hear any Ghanaian feminist take issue with such flagrantly sexist marginalization of the significance of the great women who have patiently stood by their prominent politician husbands, even the most morally reprobate of these men.