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Friday, January 21, 2022

FROM BIBIANI TO DABOASE …………… on the Campaign Trail


Rtd Capt. Nkrabeah Effah Dartey
One of the greatest Emperors of the Roman era was CLAUDIUS who reigned for about 20 years after the insane rule of CALIGULA.

Clandius was a poet and a historian of rare gem and he seemed to literally document every event that took place in his time.

It is extremely amazing reading the writings of Clandius. I Kwame Nkrabeah, have no ambition to become a Clandius, but it is a thrilling experience documenting events in the political arena as they unfold, especially from the personal point of view, shorn off prejudice and jaundiced glasses of hereafter historians.

To be honest with you, reader, six months back, I had no idea desire or yearning to do any political campaigning. In fact, I remember somewhere in July or thereabout some chap came to my office and said “Captain, why don’t you stand for NPP General Secretary? All the MPs now want a former MP to become the General Secretary…’

I brushed him off brusquely, saying “I am not interested”. And truly, yes. I enjoy going to Court, arguing before judges at the High Court, especially in grey areas of the law, like the other day when a High Court Judge clashed with me over whether a prosecution witness can refresh his memory in the witness box with a piece of paper he has prepared without wanting to tender it in evidence!!!!

Well, well, well, reader, much as I was totally unprepared, the reality today is that I’m back on the familiar terrain of national political campaigning, seeking to don the apparel of chief scribe of the largest opposition party, the NPP.

Thus far, the campaign machine is juggling along, fairly well, and thus it was that the Steering Committee of my campaign decided after a stormy debate that lasted long after midnight that at all costs I must visit every Constituency in Western Region from Friday January 10 to Sunday January 12.

Accordingly, at about 10:30pm on Thursday January 9, 2014 a two-car convoy left my law office, Citizens Chambers Asylum Down for Operation Graceful Steps – objective, BIBIANI.

Reader, do you know Ghana very well? We have 10 political administrative regions, and one of the most compact tightly knitted together is Western Region. It is one of the most heterogeneous regions in Ghana, inhabited by several ethnic groups – Ahantas, Nzemas, Fantes, Wassa, Sefwi, then the farm hands from all over the country, working either in the rich vast cocoa farms or labourers in the several mineral mining companies.

Western Region is the bread basket of Ghana; it is the home of the largest forest reserves, and home of gold production and now home of oil.

Whether you like it or not, you cannot write off the Western Region in your political calculations. You need the region in order to win any election.

And so I was compelled to abandon all my clients in court and set out in the night, sleeping all night in the car until the driver told me “Captain, we are in Bibiani”.

BIBIANI is located at the north eastern tip of the region, relatively a big community, a mining centre, and if our local government were to be very strong, a city by all standards.

By the time I entered the hotel room, it was 0400 hours – the time for usually waking up to start the court going routine.

When day broke, we met at the Bibiani Constituency, then zoomed to Sefwi Wiawso – I slept all through the journey so I saw nothing, then over to ESSAM-DEBISO where we met the NPP at the Local Presbyterian Church. Adabokrom for BIA East, JUABOSO, DADIESO and then Enchi. We drove to Asankragwa through torrential rains for the night in a hotel that can compete with Novotel in standards.

What struck me, the main reason for writing this article, is that the northern part of Western Region, the epicentre of cocoa production and timber looks so very under developed that I was shocked to the bone. The laterite dirty streets of Essam-Debiso, Dadieso and other villages – so, since Kwame Nkrumah’s time, what has successive governments been doing? All those bureaucrats running COCOBOD in Accra – so can’t they even TAR the roads that crisscross the rich cocoa producing areas? What a shame.

Call it exploitation and you won’t be far from right.

From Asankragwa we descended to the mineral rich areas where you can see evidence of metropolitan life – Wassa Akropong, Tarkaw, Bogoso, the mining companies – and the long drive on the international highway to Elubo as we tried to find our way to JOMORO.

By way of comic relief, we missed our way to Half Assini, then after about 20 kilometres, we saw a police barrier and asked, ‘How far we are from Half Assini?’

“Oh, you are lost!!! Turn around, go back and at the next police barrier, turn right…’ I saw some white saloon car pass by while we spoke to the Police. We went forward a little and tried to make U-turn – then the white car signalled us to stop. We did, and out came a handsome young soldier, tall, athletic, very smart who ran to our car… ‘Oooh, this soldier is coming to bother us….’ we are late to Half Assini by two hours!!!…’

When the soldier got to our car, he came to attention and saluted regimentally, then to our surprise, he asked:

“Sir, are the policemen wasting your time?”
“Oh no, no, no – they are helping us to find our way’.

“Yes sir!!! Permission to carry on!!!’
We all burst out laughing in the car.
While on this comic relief let me say that there were three men in my Advance car – driver, a journalist and Western Regional Coordinator for our campaign. The air condition in their car was not working, and with dust from the road, they each bought fresh duster at some filling station, then they tired their faces like the Taliban of Afghanistan or AI-Qaeda troops in the mountains of Pakistan.

As they drove on they came face to face with a pick up loaded with soldiers from 2BN on patrol duties, and when the soldiers saw these strangely caparisoned men in the dusty Toyota Land Cruiser, naturally they became suspicious: ‘Are you terrorists from Ivory Coast or where? In the Cocoa forest belt of Ghana? Get down! Hands up! We will search the car…

The journalist among them had to do a lot of talking before the tension was broken and they were allowed to go. A few minutes later my car met the soldiers, who stopped us, and then plenty of salutes, chats and permission to carryon!!! Reader, at times I wish I were back in uniform as an infantry officer….. my mates from intake 20 are now Brigadier Generals….. wow!!!!

We entered Axim, capital of EVALUE EWIRA Constituency around 7:00pm and I was saddened by the decay of the city – obviously in the colonial era, Axim must have been a major commercial hub.

Finally we entered the oil city around 8:00pm and the vast contrast – the double highway, electricity, street lights, the airport. Can you blame any youngster from Sefwi who comes here and refuses to go back to the cocoa farms?

Sunday morning January 12, 2014, we met Sekondi NPP, Kwesimintim, worshipped Almighty God at Kwesimintim Presby Church, then EFFIA, drove over to SHAMA at INCHABAN and ended the tour at DABOASE, capital of Wassa East Constituency, close to Takoradi but far away from the metropolitan airs close by.

Three hours later we were back in the city of Accra with its traffic jams and frustrations and as I entered my abode to see my father-in-law’s daughter in beachwear lying on the sofa watching a film on television, I just shook my head and whispered to myself: some people are born to enjoy, others to suffer all along…”

 Written by Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey

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